Sunday, July 18, 2010

Game of the Week: River Raid for Atari 2600

River Raid

There is little disagreement among fans of the Atari 2600 home video game system that many of the best games made for that system were made by Activision. In the early 1980s, Activision made games with crisp colors, quality graphics and great gameplay. What more could an Atari fan want?

Atari 2600 Video Computer System ConsoleThen 1982 rolls around, and Activision tops itself with the release of a game titled River Raid.

At first glance River Raid seems like any other random scrolling shooter game. But it's not. It's THE random scrolling shooter game for the Atari 2600, and introduced the concept of a scrolling shooter to many home gamers back in the day.

The basics of gameplay are simple. You fly a fighter jet along a river while shooting at enemy planes, helicopters and boats. Every once in a while you have to fly over a fuel depot to add fuel to your jet. If you get shot, you die. If you run out of fuel, you die. If you run into the sides of the riverbanks, you die.

Simple stuff. For about thirty seconds. Then the game gets tough. The riverbanks close in on you, forcing you to fly into tight squeezes. The maze that is the river starts forcing you to speed up or slow down to avoid crashing into things. Then the enemy crafts start coming at you from all kinds of angles. And worst of all, those fuel depots you desperately become more and more rare.

River Raid proved extremely popular, so much so it was eventually ported for tons of other home gaming systems and home computers, including the Intellivision, the Colecovision, the Atari 5200 and more.

There was even a sequel game, River Raid II, that was introduced in the late 1980s, and while it was a quality game, it never achieved the popularity of the original River Raid.

Activision is still around today making newer games, but the company can always be proud of the quality work it did back in the day, especially the work done on River Raid for the Atari 2600.

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