Atari Classic Gaming at its Best
River Raid is a scrolling shooter video game that sold over a million game cartridges for the Atari. The success of the game saw it converted to the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Intellivision game consoles, as well as to the Commodore 64, IBM PCjr, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and the lesser known Atari 8-bit family home computers.
Like most Atari games the playability is simple – Viewing from a top-down perspective, the player flies a fighter jet over the River of No Return in a raid behind enemy lines. The player scores points for shooting enemy tankers (30 pts), helicopters (60 pts), fuel depots (80 pts), jets (100 pts), bridges (500 pts), and (in non-Atari 2600 versions of the game) hot air balloons (60 pts). The jet refuels when it flies over a fuel depot. A bridge marks the end of a game level.
The player’s jet crashes if it collides with the riverbank or an enemy craft. In non-Atari 2600 versions of the game, tanks alongside the river also fire at the player’s jet. If the player’s jet runs out of fuel, it crashes. Assuming fuel can be replenished, and if the player evades damage, gameplay is essentially unlimited.
Unlike later scrolling shooters, there is little or no enemy fire in River Raid. Also, the player’s jet cannot maneuver up and down the screen, only left and right. It can, however, accelerate and decelerate.
River Raid continues to be one of the most talked about Atari games to this day.