30 Games Of April – Day 21

Developed by:Atari
Published by:Tengen
Format played:NES

What could be better on this sunny Spring Saturday than jumping on the wild rivers?

Originally released in the arcades as a competitive river race, you must negotiate a series of tricky, obstacle laden river courses, riding on your titular tube.

Converted to numerous home systems of the day, the NES version introduces a single player option. Whilst the cabinet version allowed a single player experience, it retained a second racer, either human or AI controlled. This ensured that races were constantly competitive, as much about steering your opponent into obstacles as it is about avoiding them yourself.

In the home version, whilst a 2 player mode is available, single player removes the second racer from the equation. It’s just you against the river as you attempt to master the course. Movement is simple, the d-pad letting you move up, down and all around. River currents can occasionally offer a speed boost whilst scoring gates let you pick up extra points. Dotted around are various ‘treasures’ to collect, although to the untrained eye they look more like rubbish, your avatar feeling like he’s on a peculiar strain of community service.

But it’s not all plain toobin’. Amongst all these currents and treasures are plants that tie you up, fishermen that hook your tube and even snappy crocodiles that will quickly deflate more than your mood. With a constant scroll, you are forced to keep moving down river. Get ahead of the current and you can edge back up to pick up any items you may have missed but otherwise you are pushed along the screen. Those currents can be great to ride for quick progress but watch out as obstacles are often placed fiendishly at the end of them. With the speed currents almost outrunning the screen it can feel a little unfair at times, not to mention taking some of the joy out of using them if you know that there is little in the way of reward waiting for you. Still, if you’re quick enough, you can fire off a tin of pop, taking out obstacles and allowing you safe passage.

A quirky and fun little racer.

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