River Raid

Publisher: Firebird
Machine: Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #26

River Raid

As the best pilot in the air force you've been volunteered for the most mega-important mission ever. Now, backed up by a fleet of four planes, you're ready to penetrate deep behind well-defended enemy lines.

The objective is to fly up a large vertically scrolling river, taking out the bridges which are encountered at regular intervals. Points are awarded for destroying a bridge and for achieving the secondary task of destroying as many military targets as possible.

The plane has to keep a course directly over water, as straying onto the bank results in its destruction. As the mission progresses, the river becomes increasingly congested with helicopters, ships and balloons, shuttling back and forth across the raging torrent. Contact with enemy aircraft is fatal, so dodging or blasting is absolutely necessary.

River Raid

On later levels aeroplanes fly across the river at high speed and tanks fire explosive charges from safe positions on the bank.

The plane's fuel supply is represented as a diminishing bar, with supplies replenished by flying over the striped rectangular fuel depots marked 'fuel' - the slower the plane flies the more fuel is collected. A complete lack of fuel results in the loss of a plane.

As the mission continues the river becomes increasingly thinner, more congested with enemy vehicles and fuel depots become scarcer. Well, nobody told you that it was going to be easy...


River Raid

Yeah, this is what I want! I remember playing this on an old Atari and it's still got that same mindless appeal that it had then. The graphics are coarse and the sound grates, but it still have the stuff classics are made of - playability and the urge to return for 'just one more game'.

River Raid may look dated, but it plays considerably better than most recent releases - so go grab your two quid, but this and get playing!


This must be the oldest vertical scroller on the Commodore, but it still manages to knock the pants off new stuff like Xevious, Aftermath and Terra Cognita.

River Raid

The graphics give an initial air of simplicity, but the scrolling is dead smooth and the action is fast and furious.

On later levels, things get pretty hairy, what with the density of the traffic jam increasing as the width of the river decreases. Having to stay on the river adds a little twist to the gameplay, and keeping an eye on the fuel keeps the adrenalin pumping.

Definitely the best budget shoot-'em-up around.


This ageing and simplistic shoot-'em-up may still offer a decent blast for fans of the genre, but I didn't find it particularly enthralling.

The screens get progressively tougher but do not alter graphically, which makes things a little repetitive.

Although looking a little dated now, River Raid is certainly no disaster - but your budget collection won't suffer by its absence.


Presentation 87%
A one or two player option, pause mode, and four separate entry levels.

Graphics 42%
Very simple, but the scrolling and sprite movement is very smooth.

Sound 29%
A few simple but suitable spot effects.

Hookability 78%
Instantly enjoyable pick-up-and-play shoot-'em-up action.

Lastability 54%
Eventually palls due to lack of variety.

Value For Money 81%
Sensibly priced for a couple of weeks' entertainment.

Overall 70%
Suitable fodder for the shoot-'em-up fan, providing a simple but very enjoyable blast.