Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Welcome to Moon Patrol! This early gem was released by Irem (they'd later develop R-Type) way back in 1982 - The Golden Age! Long a favorite of mine, I remember playing the cocktail (sitdown version with glass overlay) as a kid..
Forced side-scroller, though rather than piloting a galaxy-faring spaceship you're charged with driving a rover over the surface of the moon. Your abilities are jumping and firing, discharging shorts vertically and horizontally at the same time. As well, you can accelerate or slow down, for those situations when you must carefully manuever obstacles (holes, bolders, landmines).
This game throws a fair amount of opponents at you, there are often a few little nagging monsters flying above you and raining terror down above your head - take them out with your guns before they do the same to you! That pretty much sums up the meat of the gameplay - keep progressing forward to each checkpoint ASAP, and maybe nail a Best Time record.
Graphically, the game was fairly colorful at the time it was released, with some nice parallax scrolling which was considered revolutionary at the time (ohhhHH!!!!) The rover had a cool little design as well, and the music/SFX were bouncy and kept things moving nicely. It was a game that you just wanted to keep feeding coins into until you saw everything! The gameplay was simple yet varied, a nice mix of straight shooting/jumping with just a little bit of logic thrown in to keep you on your toes.
Moon Patrol is a nice little effort that's aged well for what it is, though I'd say it's not really up there with such standard go-to's as Galaga or Pac-Man. I can still get a little charge of picking it up now and again - check out the barebones 2600 version in the shot above, this was developed by GCC (sued by Atari, before partnering with them). Funky looking to be sure, but it played fairly well at the time. My personal favorite back-in-the-day was the Apple IIc version, with extra enemies and altered levels - and MUCH harder than the arcade!