River Raid is a scrolling shooter video game designed and developed by Carol Shaw, and published by Activision in 1982 for the Atari 2600 video game console. Over a million game cartridges were sold. Activision later ported the title to the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Intellivision game consoles, as well as to the Commodore 64, IBM PCjr, MSX, ZX Spectrum, and Atari 8-bit family home computers.
One of the few absolutely wonderful games for the Atari 2600, River Raid took a simple premise and honed it to near-perfection — a vertically scrolling shooter filled with tons of obstacles and hazards, as well as the bridge and island canal choke points to restrict your movement while navigating around said hazards. And if that wasn’t enough, a gas gauge keeps you constantly refilling fuel from fuel depots that can also be accidentally or deliberately destroyed.
It is a challenging yet rewarding game that does not rely on modern shooter gimmicks like bullet hell, and rewards actual skill over being just needlessly cheap. It is games like this that demonstrate the need for well thought out gameplay that makes the player feel responsible for his own mistakes rather than the unfairness of the game which is where modern games go so wrong.
And one of the handful of games that you can point to when people say the Atari 2600 had no games that really hold up today. The game is just as enjoyable and challenging as it was back in 1982. Good games from that era are timeless; modern games are stuck in their own time and will be mostly forgotten in 20 years.
At least I hope so.