Monday, July 24, 2017

Whitewater Madness

Atari = crazy

Whitewater Madness was under development in 1989 by Scott Williamson and Ed Schneider for Atari themselves. In fact, it was specifically designed for the new Atari STe and is possibly one of the first games to utilise the enhanced hardware? Sadly, the game was finished but never released which is disappointing, to say the least.

This is a shoot 'em up taking place on a river; just imagine what would happen if you took Toobin' and then slapped in a dollop of river-raid violence. Well, then you have Whitewater Madness, a vertically scrolling shooter that has us sailing down a bizarre stretch of water that takes place through space and time like Dr Who.

In Atari's wisdom, they decided not to bother with this and it was left to gather dust in the halls of the forgotten. You know, I sure love Atari for giving us the ST/STe computers but there are times when they tested our patience somewhat! Well, cheer up because I have a treat in store for you with the full and finished version of Whitewater Madness to download and play for yourself. That's right, the disks have been found and guess who has been given a copy? ;-)

Please note, for many years there has been a demo version to download. Do not bother with that. It's a lame and very old beta which plays nothing like this final release here. Okay, it's screenshot time...

The controls are superb but you can also use the rapids for additional effect.

A Toobin' River Raid?

Okay, we're sailing down a magical river in our little Pod and searching for green energy cells. Collect these to raise your Warp Energy levels to maximum capacity so we can travel further through time. If successful, we are presented with an information screen telling you just how good (or bad) we did. However, if you failed to collect the required amount then you're sent back to the start again to do it all over again. (I saw that a lot)

Our dinghy is equipped with a rapid-firing mounted gun! This is a good job because we are under a constant onslaught of hazards and weird creatures. Try and avoid the many dangers such as rocky rapids, mines, artillery and other crazy stuff like kamikaze dinosaurs who love to leap from the shores! There are lots more causing mayhem; cavemen, something that resembles a pterodactyl, a giant turtle, and centaurs. Frantic and I love it!!

The controls are dead easy to get to grips with - and superbly responsive to I might add. I really love the directional method which works for fast and efficient guidance down the insane river raid. Picking up green "L" pills will recharge the Pod and stop it from going BOOM but these are few, so collect as many as possible.

This is a fun game alright, so let's check out another screenshot from this crazy Toobin...

Those rapids are ace but you better watch out for the nasties - like kamikaze dinosaurs!

An Atari STe game that never was!

Old gamers, like me, will love the graphics which are 8-bit in style. It actually feels like something you'd expect of an ancient Atari console with a striking palette and dinky sprites that are small and with little animation, but detailed. Well, with one exception, a huge kamikaze dinosaur that loves to leap from the shores!!

Scott informed me that the Blitter co-processor was used to handle the visuals. And it shows with brisk movements that keeps up perfectly with the player and the hectic action without any trouble.

The sound effects are pretty nice with lots of shooting, explosions and more. The DMA coprocessor is used to play and is super-duper. However, I must admit to being disappointed with the title music because it sounds like it's using low-frequency samples so is quite "STFM" in quality. A bit odd considering what the STe is capable of.

It's time for another screenshot and here is that crazy dinosaur again...

Watch out for dinosaurs, mines, birds, riverside cavemen and lots more!

The CryptO'pinion?

Whitewater Madness has the hallmarks of a fantastic oldskool game and is something I'd expect to see on an Atari console. And yes, that's a compliment. I love the frantic Toobin-style action which is perfectly balanced yet challenging without ever feeling impossible. There's so much going on and I think this is an excellent action/shoot 'em up.

Why Atari didn't release this is unbelievably sad because it's a great arcade game so easily sails into the seas of gaming gold!! It's simple, it's fun and it's now freely available to download after being 'lost' for three decades. That alone makes this extra special so enjoy what would have been the very first Atari STe game. A superb and delightful arcade game!!

Download the official disk images
(with source code) kindly supplied by Scott.


  1. THX for download pack with sources.
    I didn't know, this game wasn't released. Maybe is not finished - the music in splash screen plays at 6,25KHz and requires 16MHz for playing.

    1. Sorry not sure I understand. The developer kindly released the game. Doesn't need 16mhz

  2. Was this ever released in a retail box?

    1. Unreleased game. This is the final version here, check out the video etc