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Monday, July 24, 2017

Whitewater Madness

Atari are crazy!

Whitewater Madness was under development in 1989 by Scott Williamson and Ed Schneider for Atari themselves and was designed specifically for their, then, brand new Atari STe. It's a weird shoot 'em up; just imagine what would happen if you took Toobin' and then slapped in a dollop of violence. Whitewater Madness is the result, a vertically scrolling shooter that has us sailing down a bizarre river through space and time shooting stuff.

Sadly, this game was never released even though it was completed and therefore ready to be published. So what Atari was thinking when they decided not to bother is anyone's guess! And it would have (probably) been the first STe-specific game to be released back in the day. You know, I love Atari but sometimes I hate them!

The controls are superb but you can also use the rapids for extra 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 too 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 re-charge the Pod and stop it from going BOOM but these are few, so collect as many as possible.

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 their style. It actually feels like something you'd expect of an 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.

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.

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-action which is perfectly balanced yet challenging without ever feeling impossible. There's so much going on and I think this is a great shoot 'em up.

Why Atari didn't release this is unbelievable 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!

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