Jump to content
Atariperson23

River Raid Atari 2600 Review

Recommended Posts

Do I have some personal vendetta against Activision? Believe it or not, yes. Almost all of their games require more hand-eye coordination (which i'm bad at) and less strategy (which i'm good at.) Also, they didn't put much effort into their box art, almost symbolizing that they didn't care about anything because they were the best, and companies with detailed box art put zero quality into their games. Actually, in Mythicon's case... Anyways, I might sound a little biased towards River Raid, because I am. I'm sick of everyone saying River Raid is the best game of all time, and that anyone who hates River Raid is a mentally unstable person. Yup, River Raid is the Atari's golden boy, and you can't say anything bad about it. (Right, Rom Hunter?) So in this review, if I don't give River Raid an A+, don't freak out. I warned you in advance. (By the way, this review will be the second to use the Solaris format)

Image result for river raid atari

Background (Story): B
The manual/cartridge has some elaborate story on you being in the River Of No Return. Spooky, huh? It sounds like a cheesy movie. "In the year 1950, the situation is grim. The Alien War has begun, and Captain Obv I. Ous has taken the perilous task of massacring 1.8 Octodecillion fuckin' aliens that are invading through the glorious Earth. However, a dangerous plan was being hatched by the aliens. A plan to turn Justin Bieber's voice recordings to the ultimate killing machine..." Anyways, the story is kind of hollow. I kind of wanted Activision to be a tad bit more creative, because they usually had creative stories for games, like Keystone Kapers and Frostbite's stories. It's a shame, because a good plot is usually pretty important to a game.

Depth/Sophistication: A-

This game is like most of Activision's games, challenging to play but eventually monotonous. I mean, the enemies eventually get really repetitive in the later levels, and the gameplay, backgrounds, mechanisms and a lot of other parts of the game also repeat themselves. It eventually becomes too boring to play, and you eventually look for another game. Fortunately, River Raid has a deck in it's hand that lifts it up from being not sophisticated enough for any play: You get an reward if you reach a million points. Yup, you actually get a reward with the name of !!!!!!. Not a lot of Atari games has this feature. I guess that makes River Raid quite sophisticated for it's time, a reward system. Now if the gameplay repeated itself a little less, River Raid wouldn't earn an A- in sophistication.

Gameplay: B+

The gameplay is actually FUN for me in the first five minutes, unlike a lot of Activision games. (COUGH, Double Dragon, COUGH) I can't believe that Activision made a pretty fun game with good graphics! But the novelty wears off when you actually play River Raid for some time. All you do is blast ships, dodge grass, get fuel, and shoot a bridge. The later levels are the exact same as the first level, only a bit harder. Why are so much Activision's games repetitive? Skiing, Laser Blast, Barnstorming, Sky Jinks... The monotony is the main reason I don't like most Activision games! They look cool, and have cool sound effects, but in the end their gameplay eventually falls flat on their cartridge label. River Raid is also the case. Good graphics, cool sound effects, but in the end, the gameplay repeats itself and falls flat. I could've been a tad bit more lenient on River Raid if it wasn't like the standard run-of-the mill Activision games, but unfortunately it still manages to be, even with some fancy 1982 stuff.

Graphics: A-

Carol Shaw did everything she could to make the graphics disguise the repetitive gameplay. She added houses, trees, foregrounds, backgrounds, multicolored sprites, smooth animation, blah blah blah... I have to say the graphics are definitely top-notch for an Atari game, which was Activision's specialty. Unfortunately, there is a quite wonky part of the game. You die when you hit the grass. That was what I always thought was weird as a kid. I studied every pixel of the game, and concluded that the airplane was slightly above sea level, because the wings were matched to the boat, which was above sea level. So is Carol Shaw stating that grass can grow from 20000 feet under the sea? Yes, I know that this is an friggin' Atari game, but this is an annoying and almost unnecessary way to die sometimes!

Sound Effects: B+

For a 4K cartridge, the sounds are pretty diverse. There's the engine humming noise, fuel refill, getting blown up, blowing things up, shooting your bullets, and running out of fuel. I hear almost six different sound effects! Although, the sound effects are kind of annoying (I can't say "too 80s," because people will be going at my throat again). The engine humming noise is particularly annoying, so annoying that I had to mute the damn volume! If it wasn't for that steady humming noise, i'd find River Raid more pleasant to hear. But as it stands, River Raid gets a B+ for one sound effect being so annoying it's unbearable. (Eggomania, is that you?!)

Final Grade: B+
While River Raid is kind of enjoyable, I don't regard River Raid as highly as most people do. It's repetitive gameplay, mediocre depth and background, and sometimes annoying sound effects make this an usual Activision cartridge if not for the reward system. Still, i'll give it an solid B+, because that's what I feel like it deserves. Howzat? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know I'm in the minority but I never liked River Raid. Just didn't hold my interest. I appreciate it as a technical achievement though.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife loved it....and actually finished the game. Took her hours, all I heard was bling, bling, bling, bling...refuelling, and bang, bang, bang (shouting 'Die you Nazi schwein'), she was on fire with this game.....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, high voltage said:

My wife loved it....and actually finished the game. 

Finished?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This whole thread has me scratching my head a little. I'm not the biggest River Raid fan out there (although I do enjoy it) but I wouldn't ding it for being repetitive or monotonous. I'm trying to think of a game from the genre and time period that is less repetitive. Here's part of a write-up from a different review...

 

For its time, River Raid provided an inordinate amount of non-random, repeating terrain despite constrictive computer memory limits. The game program does not actually store the sequence of terrain and other objects. Instead, a procedural generation algorithm manifests them by employing a linear feedback shift register with a hard-coded vector. Because this starting value is hard-coded, the algorithm generates the same game world every time the program executes. The enemy crafts' AI, however, relies on a random number generator to make enemy movement less predictable.

 

It was groundbreaking and looks like Carol Shaw did everything possible to ensure the scenes were fresh and the enemy movement wasn't repetitive.

 

I don't think this game has an ending. It's the River of No Return!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, cvga said:

This whole thread has me scratching my head a little. I'm not the biggest River Raid fan out there (although I do enjoy it) but I wouldn't ding it for being repetitive or monotonous. I'm trying to think of a game from the genre and time period that is less repetitive. Here's part of a write-up from a different review...

 

For its time, River Raid provided an inordinate amount of non-random, repeating terrain despite constrictive computer memory limits. The game program does not actually store the sequence of terrain and other objects. Instead, a procedural generation algorithm manifests them by employing a linear feedback shift register with a hard-coded vector. Because this starting value is hard-coded, the algorithm generates the same game world every time the program executes. The enemy crafts' AI, however, relies on a random number generator to make enemy movement less predictable.

 

It was groundbreaking and looks like Carol Shaw did everything possible to ensure the scenes were fresh and the enemy movement wasn't repetitive.

 

I don't think this game has an ending. It's the River of No Return!

I've only got one thing to say to your thread... !!!!!!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, high voltage said:

!!!!!!

 

Does the game stop when you roll the score over? That happens in Megamania for example. Or is there a 256 bridge limit?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Atariperson23 said:

I've only got one thing to say to your thread... !!!!!!

That's a good point. Even if the game doesn't end, I'd agree with you and count that as finishing the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/29/2020 at 4:26 PM, cvga said:

This whole thread has me scratching my head a little. I'm not the biggest River Raid fan out there (although I do enjoy it) but I wouldn't ding it for being repetitive or monotonous. I'm trying to think of a game from the genre and time period that is less repetitive. Here's part of a write-up from a different review...

 

For its time, River Raid provided an inordinate amount of non-random, repeating terrain despite constrictive computer memory limits. The game program does not actually store the sequence of terrain and other objects. Instead, a procedural generation algorithm manifests them by employing a linear feedback shift register with a hard-coded vector. Because this starting value is hard-coded, the algorithm generates the same game world every time the program executes. The enemy crafts' AI, however, relies on a random number generator to make enemy movement less predictable.

 

It was groundbreaking and looks like Carol Shaw did everything possible to ensure the scenes were fresh and the enemy movement wasn't repetitive.

That's how I feel too and probably because I remember playing it when it was new.  Activision games in general were usually a breath of fresh air and quite fun compared to the more repetitive and limited gameplay of other carts. River Raid is an A+ game to me (although I prefer the expanded 5200 / A8 version) and it is in my top 3 Atari 2600 games (RR, Kaboom! Enduro) .    I have never come close to rolling the score however!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO the game relies too much on the mechanic of having to continually refuel your jet. How small is the plane's gas tank? Did it get punctured by enemy fire and is constantly leaking? I love the general layout and play mechanics otherwise, although it would have been cool to have the opportunity to fly over land to take out select high-value targets, etc., even if it had been made a significantly more difficult risk to do so, with tight paths through trees or somesuch. Another possibility would have been a base/boss at the end of every level, as seen in arcade Zaxxon, but the 2600 didn't exactly provide unlimited resources to the programmer, so it's somewhat understandable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/28/2020 at 5:33 PM, Atariperson23 said:

Unfortunately, there is a quite wonky part of the game. You die when you hit the grass. That was what I always thought was weird as a kid. I studied every pixel of the game, and concluded that the airplane was slightly above sea level, because the wings were matched to the boat, which was above sea level. So is Carol Shaw stating that grass can grow from 20000 feet under the sea? Yes, I know that this is an friggin' Atari game, but this is an annoying and almost unnecessary way to die sometimes!

OK hitting the "grass" may seem a little odd but in a plane but it is just limiting the available space you have to move in to add an element of difficulty.

It has been a long time since I has a prolonged session so maybe in the higher levels the enemies shoot back, but if not there are only two way of making a game where you only die if you hit any ship, helicopter, plane or bridge difficult and that is to limit the amount of space you have to move in. It would be too easy to avoid those objects if you had unlimited space to move in so dying when hitting the grass limits the space you have thereby increasing the difficulty of the game.   

19 hours ago, Kripto said:

IMO the game relies too much on the mechanic of having to continually refuel your jet.

This is the other difficulty method, and in some ways is also adds a slight strategy element into it is running out of fuel. Do you go for the ship/helicopter/plane or shoot the fuel to get point now as you chase that high score instead of refuelling, hoping to find some later before you run out or do you collect the fuel now and make up the points later as you reach the next refill point extending you playing time instead of running out and crashing.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are flying deep enough to collide with bridges, ships and fuel tanks. So it makes sense that you collide with the river banks.

 

I always assume it is a deep canyon (and ignore the fighter planes). :) 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

You are flying deep enough to collide with bridges, ships and fuel tanks. So it makes sense that you collide with the river banks.

 

I always assume it is a deep canyon (and ignore the fighter planes). :) 

 

I'd never thought about the type of flying those jet pilots would have to be doing to cross the screen like that.  Now I feel bad about shooting them down.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't say it's an A+ game either, but I've always loved it and thought it head and shoulders above the majority of the 2600 library.  Enjoyed your review though.

 

Side thought: is there any chance River Raid was a direct inspiration for Xevious, which came out a year later?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, fluxit said:

 

I'd never thought about the type of flying those jet pilots would have to be doing to cross the screen like that.  Now I feel bad about shooting them down.

But they are worth 100 Points each! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, glazball said:

Side thought: is there any chance River Raid was a direct inspiration for Xevious, which came out a year later?

Xevious (arcade) was developed by Namco, and the arcade attract screen says (c) 1982.

Edited by aramis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...