River Raid is a top-down, vertically scrolling shooter, originally released for the Atari 2600. The player controls a small plane, flying over a river and between canyon walls. Points are earned by shooting down enemy ships, planes, and helicopters. The game also features a decreasing fuel gauge that must be frequently replenished by flying over fuel tanks.
The game is widely considered one of the best games released for the Atari 2600, and one of the most technically sophisticated. In addition to standard left-right movement, the game provided the ability to speed up and slow down, and the fuel gauge depleted at a corresponding rate. Most significantly, the game featured a large number of non-randomly generated levels, something which was very rare at the time due to memory constraints. The game achieved this by algorithmically (but not randomly) generating the terrain and location of enemies, rather than storing this information on the cartridge.
River Raid was designed and programmed by Carol Shaw, believed to be the first female video game designer.