Moon Patrol

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Moon Patrol
Moon Patrol
North American arcade flyer
Developer(s) Irem
Publisher(s) Irem
Williams Electronics
Designer(s) Takashi Nishiyama
Platform(s) Arcade, various
Release date(s) 1982
Genre(s) Run and gun
Mode(s) Up to 2 players (alternating turns)
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 240×248 (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 an early side-scrolling shooter and is widely credited for the introduction of parallax scrolling in side-scrolling video games.[2] One source argues that the graphics in the 1981 game Defender would count,[3] and 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.



Moon patrol was ported to the following systems:


  • ColecoVision (restored & released by Collectorvision in 2014)
  • ZX Spectrum (completed but not commercially released)

As part of retro compilations:

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]
  • An open-source clone named moon-buggy for Unix-like terminals is included in most modern linux distributions.[citation needed]


  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. ^ Before the Crash: Early Video Game History - Mark J. P. Wolf - Google Books. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  4. ^ "Moon Patrol - Commodore 64 Game / C64 Games, C64 reviews, downloads & SID tunes". Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  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. 

External links[edit]