Written by Carol Shaw for Activision and published initially for the Atari 2600 in 1982, River Raid is an early vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up with simple graphics, challenging gameplay, and its own unique set of rules.
Like, for example, the fact that when you shoot you can only have one bullet on-screen at once (which teaches you to NOT fire into thin air, willy nilly…), or that you have to actually fly through fuel dumps to refuel, NOT shoot them.
As you fly up the river you will lose one of your four lives if you touch the side of the valley, crash into a ship, aircraft or bridge, or run out of fuel.
Reaching a bridge (which you must shoot to pass) acts as a checkpoint, so you can carry on from that point if you die.
The controls in River Raid have a “sluggish charm” to them. The aircraft you control does take its sweet time to bank left and right, and some of the gaps you have to move through are very tricky. By stage four the action becomes more frantic, especially when fast-moving enemy aircraft join in the fight.
River Raid might look at bit basic by today’s standards, but make no mistake: this was a huge game in 1982 and sold more than a million cartridges overall. I remember playing it as a young teenager and loving it.
River Raid‘s a video gaming classic and has stood the test of time quite well. Meaning: it’s still fun to play now. For a short while.
More: River Raid on Wikipedia