Our Nostalgic Games: Moon Patrol

Famitsu - Moon Patrol
Magazine: Famitsu
Publish Date: 04/26/2018

Our Nostalgic Games ~Retro Gamer Roundtable~ #179

Editors passionately discussing games playable on modern hardware that are just as good as they’ve ever been!

Arcade Archives Neo Geo (PS4) – Moon Patrol

A side-scrolling action game from Irem. Controlling a moon buggy that shoots up and forward, this game features Beginner and Champion courses.

Original Release Year: 1982
Hardware: Arcade
Date of Digital Release: 03/22/2018
Maker: Hamster

This Week’s Participants

Dedeo: A Famitsu editor that used to play this game at his local candy store. His point of view has changed since then, so these days he’s surprised at how great this game is.

Missile Ono: Another Famitsu editor that had a North American copy of the Game Boy version. He played it, but his memory is a bit fuzzy.

Opone Kikuchi: Yet another Famitsu editor that just happened to be passing by. This is his first time seeing this game, but he’s interested in it’s graphics and characteristics.

A Famous Game Featuring A Wealth Of Skill And Ideas

A True Classic

(Ono) Our game this time is Irem’s Moon Patrol.

(Dedeo) Ohh, this is so nostalgic. I didn’t care much about it back then, but the way the tires move is so cool!

(Ono) The ground surface is really uneven, but the suspension seems to work just fine. You can see such fine details, like the strange way the moon buggy shakes.

(Dedeo) Is that dual-layer parallax scrolling with the background?

(Ono) With your vehicle moving as well, I think it might be multi-layer parallax.

(Dedeo) That’s so cool! To think this is a game from 1982…It was using technology that was way ahead of it’s time!

(Kikuchi) What’s this? The movement of the tires is really amazing, huh?

(Ono) It’s Moon Patrol.

(Dedeo) We’ve already finished talking about the tires! (Laughs) And about the scrolling too!

(Kikuchi) I didn’t say anything about that yet! (Laughs) You shoot up and forward at the same time? It kinda seems like the forward shots are a little too weak?

(Ono) The forward ones are just for clearing obstacles out of the way, so I think they’re fine.

(Dedeo) Even though both falling rocks and robot tanks appear in front of you…

A Deep Game With Simple Controls

(Kikuchi) Let me take a turn already!

(Ono) Alright. We’ve got the X button set to rapid fire, and Square and Circle are jump. You can control your speed by using left and right.

(Deodeo) You can accelerate pretty fast if you hold down Right.

(Kikuchi) Huh…Whoa, I fell!

(Dedeo) If you focus too much on the enemies up top, it’s easy to miss the obstacles in front.

(Kikuchi) I just remembered the old saying “Pay attention to your ship when you’re playing shooters”.

(Ono) Ah, when those enemies that look like connected spheres attack, the ground…

(Kikuchi) They make holes in it!

(Dedeo) Now the map has to be redrawn…

(Ono) The map reminded me, but there are 26 checkpoints throughout the course: A-Z.

(Dedeo) And when you reach E, J, O, T, or Z faster than the set time, you get a bonus.

(Kikuchi) So reaching the goal as quickly as possible gets you a better score. This is really well designed.

(Dedeo) So in other words, this aspect of it is a lot like a racing game.

(Ono) Yeah, obstacle racing.

This Is Actually a Jumping Game?!

(Deodeo) This is actually a game in which jumping is really important.

(Kikuchi) I can see that from playing it a bit, but it’s tough because you can’t control things very well when jumping.

(Ono) And your jump height and distance change depending on your speed.

(Dedeo) Depending on where you’re at, you can miss your jump whether you’re going too fast or slow.

(Kikuchi) Wow. This area with the land mines is crazy.

(Dedeo) You can’t destroy the mines, so you have to get over them by jumping!

(Ono) Luckily since there are no enemies in the air here, you can concentrate on your route.

(Kikuchi) But you’ll go too far if you’re going too fast, so you’ll miss your jump if you don’t slow down a bit.

(Dedeo) Yep, It’s important to establish a pattern.

First Loop Clear?

(Kikuchi) At any rate, what a game this is!

(Dedeo) It’s a technical marvel. I said this earlier, but the way the tires move feels really good!

(Kikuchi) It really does. The backgrounds feel like they came out of a PC game of that era.

(Ono) The reason it wasn’t ported to the Famicom back in the day had to have been hardware limitations, right?

(Kikuchi) Probably. Slightly later Irem games like Zippy Race were ported though.

(Ono) Alright, I’m going to clear the first loop!

(Kikuchi) Eh? Ono, aren’t you going a bit slow?

(Dedeo) There’s no way you’re getting the time bonus! (Laughs)

(Ono) Yeah, but the faster you go the more likely you are to crash. There’s no time limit, so I’d rather drive safely.

(Kikuchi) Fine, do whatever you want.

(Ono) Ahh, I messed up…