Moon Patrol

Lots of video games from the 80’s were set on or around the Moon, probably because it’s reasonably familiar, yet still just out of reach for most of us. I suppose, then, that developers looked to the near(ish) future and wondered what it would be like to live, work, or play on the Moon. Unfortunately, thus far it doesn’t appear that any of them has been particularly accurate.

I have recently learned, just minutes before writing this entry, that the pilot of the Lunar Buggy (that’s you!) is a Lunar Cop that works to keep the citizens of Luna City safe from Lunar thugs by going on Lunar Patrols in Sector 9 (home of some pretty tough customers!).

The top of the screen shows your progress, it looks like a zoomed-out view of the playfield, which is to say that it’s a line with a dot on it, I believe that these are called ‘mini-maps’ these days. On your patrol, you just drive in a straight line, from markers on the ground that are labeled from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, with checkpoints every so often. Littering the landscape are craters and rocks, and if you collide with either one, your buggy explodes. But don’t worry, you’ve come prepared.

Your buggy can jump over the craters and the rocks and can shoot the rocks (shooting the craters does very little good). You can also shoot straight up as well as straight-ahead, which comes in handy since the tough customers I mentioned before attack you from above… In their Lunar Space Ships.

So you have to get to the end of your patrol while:

  • Jumping over craters
  • Jumping over or shooting rocks
  • Shooting down spaceships and
  • Avoiding fire from enemy spaceships

Quite a series of activities that they packed into a game with a two-way joystick and two buttons, quite a feat for 1982. As you can imagine, it’s got a fairly steep learning curve. I could hardly manage to finish one patrol.

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