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River Raid is a vertically scrolling action game. You fly a jet up a river in an attempt to destroy bridges which 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 the 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.


River Raid ZX Spectrum Jets and balloons start to appear.
River Raid ZX Spectrum Destroying a bridge.
River Raid ZX Spectrum Control keys.
River Raid ColecoVision Title screen

Promo Images

There are no promo images for this game

Alternate Titles

  • "Carol Shaw's River Raid" -- Alternate title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Simple, yet a masterpiece. Atari 8-bit jose vargas (20)
An incredible game - one of the best ever Atari 2600 MagFram (43)
One of the best games on the Atari 2600 Atari 2600 James Eldridge (64)

Critic Reviews

Tilt Atari 2600 Jul, 1983 6 Stars6 Stars6 Stars6 Stars6 Stars6 Stars 100
Defunct Games ColecoVision May 22, 2015 A 100
Retroage Atari 2600 Aug 07, 2010 9.7 out of 10 97
Le Geek Atari 2600 May, 2008 4.5 out of 5 90
The Video Game Critic Atari 5200 Oct 05, 2000 B+ 83
Atari HQ Atari 2600 2002 8 out of 10 80
All Game Guide ColecoVision 1998 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
Zzap! Commodore 64 Jun, 1987 70 out of 100 70
Digital Press - Classic Video Games ColecoVision Jan 29, 2007 5 out of 10 50
Tilt MSX Jul, 1985 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 50


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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 Raider" patch from Activision if they sent in a screenshot to the company.


  • 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

Related Web 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)
Contributed to by PCGamer77 (3001), RKL (5605), Terok Nor (23104) and Servo (55746)