Salmon Run (video game)

Salmon Run is a 1982 computer game for the Atari 8-bit family created by Bill Williams and distributed via the Atari Program Exchange. Salmon Run was the first game in Williams's career, followed by a string of successes noted for their oddball concepts.[1]

Salmon Run
Salmon Run Coverart.png
Developer(s)Bill Williams
Publisher(s)Atari Program Exchange
Showcase Software
Platform(s)Atari 8-bit, VIC-20
Release1982: Atari 8-bit
1983: VIC-20
Mode(s)1-4 player

The player takes the role of Sam the Salmon, as he attempts to swim upriver to mate. Along the way he encounters waterfalls, a bear, fishermen and seagulls, all attempting to eat him. If he survives to the spawning grounds, he is met and kissed by his mate.

In 1983, Salmon Run was released for the VIC-20 by Synapse Software using the name Showcase Software.[2]


In basic gameplay terms, Salmon Run is similar to contemporary bird's-eye view racing games like Bump 'n' Jump. The player's character is movable within a fixed area near the centre of the screen while the scenery scrolls down from the top of the screen, simulating travel towards the top of a large map. As the map scrolls, the player moves primarily side-to-side to avoid obstacles.

Each player starts with one life and gains another for each successful round.[3] Hitting the rocks or bank of the river drains Sam's life slightly. Along the way there are a series of rapids which will stop Sam's motion upriver until he jumps them by pressing the fire button. After landing, Sam dips underwater, and can stay there by holding down the button. More dangerous are the bears, fishermen and seagulls that will kill Sam instantly if caught, but can be avoided by careful swimming or hiding underwater.

On reaching the end of the map, Sam meets and kisses his mate, and the round starts over with a new map and more enemies.


Softline in 1982 noted the unusual gameplay of saving things, not destroying them. The magazine praised the "outstanding ... remarkably lifelike" sound effects, and concluded that "Salmon Run is a charming game that gives the player a genuine sense of ecological accomplishment; it's also quick to learn and quite contagious".[3]


  1. ^ James Hague, "Bill Williams Remembered"
  2. ^ "VIC-20 Cartridge Rarity & Gameplay list". Digital Press.
  3. ^ a b Bang, Derrick (November 1982). "Salmon Run". Softline. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 27 July 2014.

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