The Game: You’re piloting a fighter jet on a canyon run through enemy territory. You can’t fly outside the canyon walls, so stay over the river and blast everything in sight. Well, almost everything – flying your plane on top of “FUEL” buoys instead of shooting them puts a little bit of gas in the tank, and if you run out of fuel, you might as well just swallow the next enemy bullet, because you’re goin’ down. (Activision, 1983)
Memories: Early in Activision‘s foray into publishing games for the Intellivision, the company issued a strange edict to its programmers: if it was a port of a game also released for the Atari VCS, don’t make the game look significantly different from the Atari version. River Raid is a good example of what happened once Activision abandoned that extremely odd policy.
River Raid makes significant improvements on the graphics of the 2600 edition of the same game, and features extremely slick controls, even with the Intellivision’s occasionally clumsy controllers. There’s no problem controlling the plane’s speed and direction; slowing down to refuel isn’t an issue. Occasionally it’s easy to get going too fast and slam into obstacles on the ground, but that happens in any version of River Raid.
While earlier Activision titles like Stampede and Pitfall! aped the 2600 versions on Intellivision’s superior hardware, River Raid represents a rethink of that curious trend – perhaps thanks to Imagic‘s string of stellar Intellivision games that didn’t look a think like their Atari counterparts (thank goodness!) – and that rethink was only a good thing for Intellivision fans.