the Intellivision. My old friend. It was a video game system that I
spent countless hours playing when I was a kid. While most people had
the Atari 2600 at the time, I had the Intellivision. It was a weird
looking video game system, no doubt about it. Instead of a joystick,
you had controller with a disk on top and tiny buttons on the side
which were guaranteed to give you the ol' "numb thumb" syndrome after
playing any game for a while. And speaking of the games, each one came
custom overlay that you would
slide in over the controllers. Most people hated the controllers, I
actually loved 'em and thought that the Intellivision had much better
games than the far more popular Atari 2600 system.
those games was "White Water!" by Imagic (a company who made a
lot of the best games at the time). I love it when games have
exclamation points in the title don't you? You just know it's going to
be twice as exciting as a regular game simply because they went with a
more dramatic form of punctuation. Oh and the box was shiny silver.
And we all love
shiny things now don't we? Yes
not look like much nowadays, but I can't tell you how excited I was
when this game first came out. Those graphics were amazing to me. "Look
at that waterfall! It's so realistic!" These are the kind of words
that spewed out of my eager young mind like a... like a... like a
anyway, the game starts off simply enough by allowing you to choose
what type of challenge you wish to take on. In some games, you're
invincible and the only thing you're trying to do is make it down the
river in your raft as quickly as possible. In other games, you can
fall out of your raft easily so you have to be more wary of the
obstacles. And in other games, well... let's just say that the rafting
is the least of your worries. See that statuesque guy over on the left
there? He's not doing much now, but that's because you haven't pissed
him off yet. More on that later though... right now let's take a look
at some more classic Intellivision animation.
Yep that's you, the
running rafter just waiting to brave the white water rapids!
you've selected which game you want to play, you have to walk off the
screen to the right to join your 2 other friends in the raft. If you
go don't walk to the right, and go in any other direction, your guy
will walk off the screen and somehow die as if he just walked off the
edge of the world. Hey, it's a video game and we can't question these
once you walk to the right you'll come to a little beach where your
pals are waiting for you in the raft. So you set out on your journey
downriver, but as I said before it's not all smooth sailing... LOOK
Apparently Donkey Kong wasn't the only game where you could get killed
by barrels, because there's lots of them floating randomly through the
rapids. They can bump you into a rock and knock ones of your guys out
of the raft. Then your guy can get impaled on a rock, on another
barrel or sucked in by one of those deadly whirlpools.
of your guys does get knocked out from the boat he'll panic for a bit,
but if you're a skilled rafter you can pick him back up before he gets
killed. Of course, depending on the difficulty of the game you
selected, this can be a lot harder than it looks.
regular game simply has you doing time trials, but the thing I always
liked about White Water is how there is another completely insane game
within it. After you raft down the river for a little while, you'll
come to another beach. If you pull up to it and have one of your guys
hop out and walk to the left, you'll come to another screen that looks
like the one you started on. But things have changed a little bit.
there is a white guy who wishes to play a game with you. A deadly
game. You each have to take turns picking up the flags one at a time
until there are none left. Then as soon as there are none left you
have to make a run for the giant bag of gold. Well it's either that or
a giant perfume bottle. Either way, it's made of gold and clearly
valuable so it's something you wanna get.
Depending how hard you have the game set, some screens will have a lot
more flags than just the two you see in the above screenshot. So
you'll have to choose the flags wisely and in the proper order so that
you have a better chance at making it to the golden treasure before
if... just WHAT IF you decided to be a greedy bastard? What if
you decided to ignore the rules of the flag capturing game and went
straight for the gold? Well, let's just see shall we?
right. If you decide to skip the capture-the-flag game and go straight
for the gold, that statuesque guy on the pedestal will get pissed off.
No I'm not talkin, "Hey jackass! You're a cheater!" kind of
pissed off. I'm talkin, "Oh you think you can cheat at this game?
Well I'm gonna THROW AN AXE INTO YOUR FACE!" kind of pissed
off. Yep, I guess that guy is supposed to be an angry executioner of
some sort. Whatever the case may be, he has an endless supply of axes
and he won't stop throwing them at your cheating ass until you're
does this have to do with white water rafting? NOTHING! I went
down a river in a canoe with my father when I was a kid and we had to
pull it up onto the shore to walk around a waterfall at one point. And
when we were on the shore? No capture-the-flag games. No golden
treasures. No axe-chucking executioner with a bad temper. That was the
whole reason I went on that goddamned canoe ride... imagine how my
dreams were shattered the day I learned that I wouldn't be dodging
axes that were being hurled in my direction.
can't imagine that this game was made up. The idea for it had to come
from a real-life experience. I bet there was a group of rafters who
experienced this madness... and that executioner is still out there
waiting for more greedy victims to come his way.
anyway, after you're done stealing those treasures and/or getting axed
to death, it's back to the rapids. Your raft is looking a lot lonelier
now that your pals have either been murdered or drowned. Don't worry,
the inevitable result of this game is that you too will die...
your raft bounces helplessly against the rocks, all you can do is
watch your last living guy scream for help as the rapids take him
downriver and he's eventually sucked in by the undertow. What a game
eh? You buy it expecting some kind of sporty action game, and instead
you discover it to be filled with pure morbidity. Ahh... they don't
make 'em like they used to.
it's not all gloom and doom. Sometimes you'll get lucky (or you just
happened to set the game to low difficulty) and make it to the finish
line. Winning in this game isn't that much of a show. It just plays
the little intro theme and then shows your time. Considering two of
your friends died just so that you could make it to the finish line,
they could've at least had a bigger celebration for ya. Truly a
Pyrrhic victory if I've ever seen one.
you have it... that's Imagic's "White Water" game in a nutshell.
sure you're all inspired to go out on your own rafting adventure. And
yes, you might actually make it down that river without succumbing to
the icy cold waters or having your body crushed against a rock. Just
remember one thing: when you finally get back to land...
HE MIGHT BE
WAITING THERE FOR YOU!
Want a look at
another bizarre classic? Then check out our review of:
want to learn more about the classic Intellivision system and all the
other fun games that were made for it, check out the
Intellivision Lives web site!
There's even a few free games up for download on their site. If you
want to play "White Water" though, you'll have to pickup the "Intellivision
Rocks" CD which I highly recommend. Still if you're cheap, there's
also an Intellivision emulator out there called "Bliss" which you can
find pretty easily on Google along with a variety of games for it,
including White Water!