I am bad at checkers, or draughts as we call it over here, but I’m not going to turn down a chance to play an early game by Carol “River Raid” Shaw.
In fact, legend has it that Carol Shaw’s Atari 2600 version of Checkers put Activision’s similar effort to shame by such a significant degree that she was offered a job with the company. And the rest, as they say, is history. Now in commemoration of such a heartwarming story, enjoy my terrible attempts to beat the lowest difficulty level on a 41-year old video game adaptation of a very simple board game.
River Raid is probably my favourite game on the Atari 8-bit. The Atari 2600 version is arguably more well-known, but the Atari 2600 version — which also appeared on the ill-fated Atari 5200 — is superior in pretty much every way.
For the unfamiliar, River Raid is one of the original vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups, and made use of some clever programming techniques to squeeze the entire game into a tiny amount of space. It’s one of Activision’s finest games of the 8-bit era, and a game I still enjoy on a regular basis today.
One of my favourite things about working on this series is how I come across interesting bits of trivia during my research.
Did you know, for example, that today’s game, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe, was the work of Carol Shaw, an immensely talented programmer perhaps best known for one of my favourite games of all time: River Raid?
It’s not really all that surprising that someone who is good at programming worked on more than one thing in their career, I guess, but, hey, I found it interesting. And 3D Tic-Tac-Toe is a lot harder than it looks!