River Raid

aka: Carol Shaw's River Raid
Moby ID: 6947
Atari 2600 Specs
Buy on Atari 5200
$34.97 used on eBay
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Description official descriptions

River Raid is a vertically scrolling action game. You fly a jet up a river in an attempt to destroy bridges that are vital to the enemy. The river is heavily guarded, however, with balloons, ships, choppers, and enemy aircraft trying to stop you. Along the way, you will need to fly over fuel stations to refuel your jet and keep flying.

The plane is armed with a cannon with unlimited ammo. It can be used to destroy enemy vehicles and bridges, but a careless player can accidentally destroy a fuel station. Colliding with the riverbanks or with the enemy aircraft destroys your plane and makes you lose a life.


  • リバーレイド - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Atari 2600 version)




Average score: 87% (based on 19 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 124 ratings with 4 reviews)

One of the best games on the Atari 2600

The Good
So simple and so much fun, I like the urgency element of the game. One moment you could be dodging helicopters and ships then you are low on fuel. Competing with other people for the best score was also fun.

The Bad
The game seems like it has no ending.

The Bottom Line
River Raid is a game where you have to shoot your way through various moving objects while staying within the river. Fuel is also a thing to keep an eye on.

Atari 2600 · by James Eldridge (38) · 2013

Simple, yet a masterpiece.

The Good
River Raid is, if you aren't acquainted to it, one of the most famous and highest recommended games for the Atari 2600. However, my review is about the Atari 8-bit version, so I invite you to read my impressions on how it stands. The game itself is very simple. From a top-view perspective, you are in control of a plane and fly through a river with enemies on it. You have unlimited ammo, and a fuel gauge. Your goal is to move forward, destroy enemies, and keeping yourself with enough fuel to stay on air. Despite as plain it may sound next to current generation video games (2015), this is the very beauty of River Raid. I would like to call it more a survival game, rather than a shoot them up. Here are no power ups; your weapon serves its purpose well. You also don't have to destroy every enemy on sight, in fact on even stages - where the river splits in two sides - you can't; nor you have to complete every stage in certain amount of time. You don't even have to defeat a mighty, formidable boss to advance to the next level, as a matter of fact with just destroying bridges - even from far away - you'll do so. However, your fuel will unavoidably deplete, and just because you can fill it up by flying through air carriers, sometimes it won't be possible. The enemies will eventually make you notice seriously that you are outnumbered, and then, you will lose. The early stages are very easy, and will allow a fair learning curve, so most players won't feel frustrated about River Raid. However, it's more likely that many will come back to do better than before.

The Bad
The graphics are very simple and to some, it may reflect how good or bad this game has aged. The colors are bright and aren't what most people would consider the standard for a war game - darker, in my opinion-. However, one has to be aware of the time it was created, and personally I have a very hard time trying to find anything bad on it. Nevertheless, being this a version ported to a more powerful machine as the original, one could expect it had an upgrade - but fortunately, besides a few cosmetic changes, it doesn't.

The Bottom Line
River Raid is, to modern shooter games, like an early chariot wheel next to a current Formula 1 wheel. It can't have the same performance, but it's full of class. I recommend this game to anyone with an Atari 8 bit computer, and it's not even hard to get. If you are in doubt, give at least a try, there are many places online to test drive it.

Atari 8-bit · by jose vargas (22) · 2015

This classic on PC? Yeah!

The Good
Everyone who was at least a bit in touch with gaming in 80's must know this game. Simple basic mechanics resulting in lot of fun and challenge. Regarding PC version, it's 16-color, there's PCjr/Tandy 3-way sound support and of course controller support, so everything you need for good arcading on almost Atari/Commodore level of quality.

The Bad
I'm not sure if it was only emulator issue (in both DOSBox and DOSBox-x) or it was also in original game, but game didn't have stable framerate. There were some slowdowns, then returned back to normal. It was always no matter what I tried, fast emulation, slow emulation, CPU type, cycles, etc.. This can affect playability a bit, especially in later harder levels.

The Bottom Line
I still think that 8-bit versions (with more fixed HW which was also more suited for arcades) were a little better, but this PC version is really close! Solid 4*!

PC Booter · by Vladimir Dienes · 2023

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


German index

With this game, the German BPjS (Federal Examination Office for Youth-Endangering Publications) expanded into the area of computer games. Put on the German index for being, among other things, a "para-military training game for kids" on December 19, 1984. For about 18 years, this game was not just an adult only game in Germany, but it was also illegal to advertise for it and therefore (as advertise also means the pure presence on a store's shelf) it could only bought per request. However, it was eventually de-indexed by the BPjS in January 2003 after a verification request by Activision. Otherwise it would be on the index until December 2009 (25 year statute of limitations law appendix; originally, it wouldn't be de-indexed automatically).


River Raid was based on the arcade game Scramble; it was made into a vertically scrolling game as this allowed for smoother scrolling.

Programmer Bonus

The original Atari 2600 version sold very well. As a result the game's programmer Carol Shaw was awarded a cash bonus equivalent to her annual salary.

River Raider Patch

Players who were able to rack up 15,000 points or higher were eligible to receive the "River Raiders" patch from Activision if they sent in a screenshot to the company. Here is a picture of that patch at AtariAge.


  • Flux Magazine
    • April 1995 (Issue #4) - #87 in Top 100 Video Games of All-Time* Retro Gamer Magazine
    • January 2008 (Issue 46) - #3 in the “Top 25 Atari 2600” Games poll* Zzap!
    • May 1985 (Issue 1) - #50 'It's the Zzap! 64 Top 64!'

Information also contributed by Big John WV, PCGamer77, and Xoleras


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Related Sites +

  • AtariAge (Atari 2600)
    for Atari 2600: downloadable ROM; scans; manuals; additional material
  • AtariAge (Atari 5200)
    for Atari 5200: downloadable ROM; scans; manuals; additional material
  • AtariMania (Atari 2600)
    for Atari 2600: database; downloadable releases; artwork; additional material
  • AtariMania (Atari 5200)
    for Atari 5200: database; downloadable releases; artwork; additional material
  • AtariMania (Atari 8-bit)
    for Atari 8-bit: database; downloadable releases; artwork; additional material
  • Game Base 64
    for C64: Downloadable links, Database, Music, Emulation, Frontends, Reviews and Articles
  • Internet Archive
    for ZX Spectrum: downloadable release; online emulation of game; additional material
  • Lemon 64
    for C64: games, reviews and music
  • Wikipedia
    combined platform entry
  • World of Spectrum
    for ZX Spectrum: release information; additional material; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 6947
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Servo.

Intellivision, Commodore 64, ColecoVision added by PCGamer77. Atari 5200 added by RKL. Windows, Xbox 360 added by Alaka. BREW added by Kabushi. Atari 8-bit added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Guy Chapman, Alaka, formercontrib, LepricahnsGold, FatherJack, ZeTomes, robMSX, 64er.

Game added August 10, 2002. Last modified June 3, 2024.