Moon Patrol (Atari 5200)
When Moon Patrol hit the local arcade it quickly became one of my favorites. By the time my 11th birthday came I had pretty much faced the reality that games for my 5200 were no longer going to arrive. This would have been in the spring of 1985 and after 1983 showed up the 5200 games seem to have stopped. For two years I kept hoping that I would see a new game for my 5200 show up somewhere. Nope. The only thing I really seen was the sudden rate at which prices were being dropped on anything for my 5200 and some 2600 titles as well. So I was surprised when I unwrapped a brand new 5200 game called Moon Patrol. Where Mom found it I had no clue and I still have no clue but it was the only gift I got that day and that was enough for me.
It took everything in me to wait until after my birthday to play Moon Patrol on the 5200. And that time is when I believe I started to pick up the habit (a bad one) how to block out anything else around me to concentrate on a game. And what seemed like a few minutes was actually a couple of hours. The friends I had sitting next to me were no longer there...and, yes, I shared the game with them. I remember taking turns for a while and then it seemed like the asking to play stopped all of a sudden. Other than that my eyes were stuck on the purple moon buggy on the screen, watching for holes and rocks, while firing at enemies.
Just before writing this review up I took some time to play this game again on the 5200 to refresh my memory and to get my mind set on what to write about. The memories of getting this game as a gift came back. The timed reflexes also returned to aide my quest. I managed to make it to "Y" before a second rock caught me off guard after I jumped over a rock while trying to shoot at enemies above me. After that my whole thought process seemed to not want to work any more. I guess you could say I lost my mojo.
Moon Patrol is a side-scrolling arcade-style game that is a bit of Space Invaders and a bit of something else. The side-scrolling action is automatic but the player can adjust the speed at which the moon buggy is traveling with the joystick. It's not just the enemies flying down out of the sky that the player has to worry about either; there's rocks (which you can shoot or jump over), holes, mines, robot tanks, and if you manage to make it to the Advanced stage, there is a hovercraft that will attack you from behind. Basically anything possible to destroy you was put in the game...and it actually works well.
The player travels from A to Z in five rounds; A to E, F to J, K to O, P to T, and U to Z. As the player progresses the more challenges the player faces. The nice thing about Moon Patrol is that the rounds are pattern-based, meaning that no matter how many games you play the way the rounds are setup will remain the same. Where ever a hole or rock was before it will be in that exact same spot the next time through.
One of the things that I really love about Moon Patrol on the 5200 is the artwork. While it is the same used on the 2600 with the exception of the red sky the 5200 Moon Patrol has the blue sky background to match the system's dedicated color. It's one of my favorite box arts on the 5200...it makes you want to play the game instead of trying to figure out what the artwork is doing.
The 5200 version of Moon Patrol does not include a keypad overlay so if you get a complete, or new, copy of this game don't think they are missing. There simply wasn't any made for this game. I will say this; Moon Patrol on the 5200 may require you to use your best working controller. Immediate responses from working controls can make the difference in the overall experience of this game.
Moon Patrol is one of many arcade titles that made it to the 5200 ... and it is a well make port. The graphics, sounds, and controls are good even with the analog controls. It will not disappoint. I couldn't see my 5200 collection being without Moon Patrol and you shouldn't either.
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