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Shorts!

"White Water!" for the Intellivision!
by: -RoG-
 

Ahhhh... 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 with a 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.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOO SHINY BOX!

One of 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 indeed!

GRRRRRRRREAT GRRRRRRRRAPHICS!

It may 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 waterfall!

GAME ON?

So 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.

RUN RUN RUN!

Yep that's you, the running rafter just waiting to brave the white water rapids!

THREE MEN AND A LITTLE RAFT!

After 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 things.

Anyway, 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 OUT!

DONKEY KONG? DID YOU PUT THESE IN THE RIVER? BEWARE THE MIGHTY WHIRLPOOLS!

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.

SWIM JOHNNY! SWIM FOR YOUR LIFE!

If one 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.

CAPTURE THE FLAG? UH, NO THANKS, I WAS JUST HOPING I COULD RENT A JETSKI

The 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.

Now 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 whitey does.

But what 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?

TEMPER! TEMPER!

That's 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 dead.

But what 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.

Still, I 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.

OH SO LONELY :(

Well 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...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And as 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.

A VICTORY, BUT AT WHAT COST? :(

But hey, 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.

So there you have it... that's Imagic's "White Water" game in a nutshell.

WOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! THE GREAT OUTDOORS!

Now I'm 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...

DON'T FEAR THE REAPER!

HE MIGHT BE WAITING THERE FOR YOU!


Want a look at another bizarre classic? Then check out our review of:

Ninja Golf!
NINJA GOLF!


If you 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!
 


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