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 Post subject: River Raid (Atari 2600 - PC - XBOX - PlayStation 2)
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:59 pm 


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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 228
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
OK, 21st Century Kids. Time to relax from all those dogfights in Seven Tier and battling Ver'miths. This time we will be revisiting a shmup of the gramps era: River Raid on the Atari 2600.

Image
Low altitude flight down Memory Lane.

River Raid is a vertical scrolling shooter which (like any other Atari 2600 videogame) only had one goal: Reach the highest score possible. To do that, you have to shoot down helicopters, sink ships and even destroy fuel depots.
While you're not allowed to move up or down, limiting you to a left or right direction like Space Invaders, the game grants you the ability to control the scrolling speed by holding up or down to either increase or decrease the speed, acting like a jet throttle. Unlike any other shmup where difficulty comes from bullet patterns and attack formations, River Raid relies on collisions with the riverbank and with suicidal boats and helicopters which will ram against your jet.
Collisions are gonna be the least of your troubles as the geography is also against you, becaue the riverbank will become narrow with a small range of movement and lesser room for error. Keep in mind, your fuel doesn't last forever, so you'll have to fly through the Fuel Depots to refill your jet, and that's when the throttle function comes really in handy as you can recharge better when you're flying at slow speed. Also, you have to keep an eye on your aim 'cos the Fuel Depots can be destroyed by your shots. But there's light at the end of the mess up tunnel, the Fuel Depots worth points if they're destroyed. So, once you've done with the refueling, you can blast it out of existence if you want.
Also, if you're shot down or crashed, the bridges are your checkpoints as long as you have spare jets (lives) an you try to survive as long as you can.

To finish the gameplay part of the review the score goes like this:
TANKERS: 30 points
HELICOPTERS: 60 points
FUEL DEPOTS: 80 points
JETS: 100 points
BRIDGES: 500 points

The game was re-released on the PlayStation 2 as part of the Activision Anthology compilation, with its less popular sequel River Raid II, and other games such as Kaboom!, Keystone Capers, Enduro, and shmups like Chopper Command, Megamania and Plaque Attack. So you'll be in for a good vintage shmupfest in your PS2.

Graphically, there's not too much to talk when it comes to the Atari 2600. But Activision is mostly know for making a better effort on the graphics than Atari as their games throw more colors and detail than any of Atari's developed titles, along with slightly better shapes as it makes diagonal riverbanks, using "gradient" tones in the buildings and the jet is decently animated as it moves to the sides, there's nothing to criticize about the game's graphics.
One of the bonus features of the Activision Anthology was the inclusion of unlockable filters called "modes" which allows you to play the game with some effects like a cube view, weird coloring (Disco), Hyperspace, Cloud Cover and more. These can be unlocked after reaching high scores in other games like Chopper Command, Crackpots and Megamania. The PS2 port also includes unlockable game commercials including River Raid's. (It's only a game.), Chopper Command, (¿You men, got the guts?, Go get your own game.) and the hilarious "¡¡ICE HOCKEY BY ACTIVISION!!".

The sound department is what you would expect from an old console like the Atari 2600: a constant "KH-H-HH-H-HH-H-H-HH!" for engine noise that sounds all the time, "PTMM" firing sounds, "TGHH!" explosion sound and the "TN-DNDNDN-DNDN-DADA-DADADA!" while you're refueling. Basic stuff but still envolving for a very early vertical shmup.

As part of Activision Anthology, it features a playlist of licensed songs:
- Twisted Sister - "We're not gonna take it"
- a-Ha - "Take on Me"
- Naked Eyes "Always Something There To Remind Me"
- Berlin - "No More Words"
- Squeeze - "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)"
- Men Without Hats - "The Safety Dance"
- Missing Persons - "Walking in L.A."
- Wall of Voodoo - "Mexican Radio"


Nothing says nostalgic retro shootout better than sinking boats and shoot down helicopters while hearing Dee Snyder and the band yelling "We're not gonna take it...anymoooooooore!" along with a bowl of nacho chips as time flies by during your mission in the River of No Return.

FUN FACT RAID
- This game is the percursor of the Procedural Generation as the game used an algorithm to produce an inordinate amount of non-random, repeating terrain by employing a linear feedback shift register with a hard-coded vector. Because the starting value is hard-coded, the algorithm generates the same game world every time with a less predictable enemy intelligence.
- River Raid was also the first video game to be banned for minors in West Germany by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften (Federal Department for Writings Harmful to Young Persons).


River Raid is a good example of how a basic shooter doesn't need to throw bullets at you to be challenging and fun enough to keep you playing for a while. Old-schooler or not, this is a timeless shooter that is worth to give a try.
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