River Raid (HONORABLE MENTION)

Original version: River Raid, released on 1982/08/19 for Atari VCS a.k.a. Atari 2600

Recommended version: River Raid, released in 1983 for Atari 800

Isn’t it amazing how war, the greatest misfortune, often provides the greatest backdrop for a story? Whether it’s an epic tale of a warrior’s fight as in The Iliad, or the slow torment of a man’s mind as in “Lawrence of Arabia,” war has a seemingly limitless capacity for showcasing the ultimate struggle in all its manifestations. It makes sense then that video games, tasking the player with overcoming a struggle, would be so well suited to war. What makes River Raid so special, though, is that it’s one of the first shooters to take place on a “realistic” depiction of Earth. The cover of the manual even appears to be alluding to the mountainous jungles of Viet Nam. So let’s go raid that river!

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Kaboom!

Original version: Kaboom!, released in 1981 for Atari VCS
I discussed in my review of the 1970s that Activision was the first third-party developer in video gaming. They took advantage of their new-found license to make games by producing a slew of titles for the Atari VCS, some of which were even good. OK, that’s a little harsh. Compared to the standard fair Activision’s games were better than average–well, most of them. Some games were still shovelware.

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