Moon Patrol

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Moon Patrol
Moon Patrol
North American arcade flyer
Developer(s) Irem
Publisher(s) Irem
Williams Electronics
Atari, Inc.
Designer(s) Takashi Nishiyama[citation needed]
Platform(s) Arcade (original)
Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, C64, VIC-20, MSX, IBM PC, TI-99/4A, TRS-80 Color Computer
Release 1982
Genre(s) Scrolling shooter
Mode(s) 1-2 players alternating
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Irem M-52 hardware
Main CPU: Z80 (@ 3.072 MHz)
Sound CPU: M6803 (@ 894.886 kHz)
Sound chips: (2x) AY8910 (@ 894.886 kHz), (2x) MSM5205 (@ 384 kHz)
Display Raster resolution 240×252 (horizontal)

Moon Patrol (ムーンパトロール, Mūn Patorōru) is an arcade game by Irem released in 1982. It was licensed to Williams for distribution in North America.[1] Moon Patrol is widely credited for the introduction of parallax scrolling in side-scrolling video games.[2] Taito's Jungle Hunt side-scroller, released the same year as Moon Patrol, also features parallax scrolling.


Gameplay screenshot

The player takes the role of a Luna City police officer assigned to Sector Nine, the home of the "toughest thugs in the galaxy". The player controls a moon buggy that travels over the moon's surface, viewing it from the side as it moves towards the right side of the screen. While driving it, obstacles such as craters and mines must be avoided, and various enemies such as UFOs from above and tanks on the ground must be shot down.

Gameplay is within a number of courses, and each is divided into 26 checkpoints, named after the letters of the English alphabet. Of these, the five major checkpoints—E, J, O, T and, Z—denote a new "stage" with a new background and theme; for example, the third stage starting at J introduces mines. The top portion of the screen shows a timeline-style map of the course, with the five major checkpoints clearly marked. Above the map is an indicator of the current checkpoint, the time spent in the stage, and three indicator lights: the top light indicates upcoming enemy aerial attacks, the middle one indicates an upcoming minefield, and the bottom one indicates enemies approaching from behind.

At the end of a stage, that time spent is compared to the average, and bonus points are awarded accordingly; completing an entire course gives an additional 5,000 points. There are two unique courses: the "Beginner Course" and the "Champion Course". The Champion Course "loops" forever, and each loop is numbered for convenience, up to 3.

The music during gameplay appears to pay homage to the baseline of James Brown's "Soulful Christmas."

Ports and re-releases[edit]

Moon Patrol was ported to the Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari ST, Commodore 64,[3] VIC-20, MSX, IBM PC, TI-99/4A, and Tandy Color Computer. Many of these were published by Atari's Atarisoft label. Ports to the ColecoVision and ZX Spectrum were not released.

It was included in the retro compilations Arcade Hits: Moon Patrol & Spy Hunter for Game Boy Color and Midway Presents Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Midway Collection 2 for Dreamcast, PlayStation, and Windows.

In 2006 Bandai released an enhanced version as Moon Patrol EX for cell phones.[4]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Moon Patrol received a Certificate of Merit in the category of "1984 Best Science Fiction/ Fantasy Videogame" at the 5th annual Arkie Awards.[5]:42 Arcade Express reviewed the arcade version in January 1983 and scored it 8 out of 10.[6] Scott Mace of InfoWorld stated that Moon Patrol for the Commodore 64 was his favorite Atarisoft game, with good use of the computer's sound.[7]


A bootleg version called Moon Ranger was released in the arcades the same year.[8]

Home clones include Desert Patrol for the TRS-80 Color Computer (1983),[9] Gas Hog for the Atari 2600 (1983),[10] Lunar Rover Patrol for the Dragon 32 (1983), Moon Buggy for the Commodore 64 (1983), Moon Alert for the ZX Spectrum (1984), Luna Rover for the ZX Spectrum (1985),[11] Moon Control for the Amstrad CPC (1985), Moonrider for MSX (1986), and Overlander for the Amiga (1993).

Battle Through Time (1984) for the Commodore 64 re-themed the gameplay to be about major wars of the twentieth century.

An open-source clone named moon-buggy runs in Unix-like terminals.[12]


  1. ^ "Moon Patrol - Videogame by Irem". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  2. ^ "Page 3 - Gaming's most important evolutions". GamesRadar. 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  3. ^ "Moon Patrol - Commodore 64 Game / C64 Games, C64 reviews, downloads & SID tunes". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  4. ^ Buchanan, Levi (June 29, 2006). "Moon Patrol EX". IGN. 
  5. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "Arcade Alley: The Arcade Awards, Part 1". Video. Reese Communications. 7 (10): 40–42. ISSN 0147-8907. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mace, Scott (1984-04-09). "Atarisoft vs. Commodore". InfoWorld. p. 50. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Moon Ranger - Videogame by Unknown". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  9. ^ "Desert Patrol - 1983 - TRS-80 Color Computer Game". YouTube. 
  10. ^ Trionfo, Adam; Federico, Chris. "Gas Hog". Orphaned Computers & Game Systems. 
  11. ^ "Luna Rover". World of Spectrum. 
  12. ^ "moon-buggy". Games on the Linux console. 

External links[edit]