Review: Moon Patrol (Atari 5200)

In this review, we get it in gear as we play the Atari 5200 game Moon Patrol. We find out if this action game is worth trying.

This game was released in 1983. It is a port from an arcade game.

As the player, you take control of a moon vehicle. The goal is to make it to checkpoint “Z”.

Along the way, you’ll encounter various hazards in this auto-scrolling game. At first, it’s just pit and rocks. Run into any of these and you’ll blow up. In fact, you are on a one hit kill basis with everything. The pits can be jumped over and the rocks can either be blasted or also jumped over.

Next up, you get to encounter various enemy ships. Some may fly randomly while others follow you around. They all, however, drop missiles. Some of these missiles also create small craters you need to jump over. You can blast the rockets to prevent these holes from appearing.

In later parts of the level, you’ll also encounter uphill sections. In these sections, you’ll encounter rolling rocks that you can blast out of your way.

If you go far enough, you’ll also encounter invulnerable tanks and small rocks you can’t destroy with your main weapon. Both of which need to be jumped over if you can manage it.

You have a duel weapon to utilize. Every time you hit the fire button, you’ll not only fire a bullet straight forward, but also one that goes directly upwards at the same time. the other button, of course, allows you to jump.

In addition to this, you can either go faster or slower by moving the joystick left or right. If you move your vehicle as far as you can go to the right, you’ll go faster. It isn’t always wise depending on the obstacles, but it can help you cut down on time if you try and push the peddle to the floor from time to time.

In total, there are 24 checkpoints for you to get to. If you cross over any checkpoint big or small, this will be the place you respawn at should you perish shortly after.

In addition, there are large checkpoints highlighted by your progress bar. If you make it to any of these checkpoints, you’ll get a progress assessment. The game gives an average and record time. The game, as you’d imagine, times how long it takes for you to make it from one large checkpoint to another. If you beat the record time, you’ll earn bonus points. For every second you beat the record time, you’ll earn 100 bonus points. In some checkpoints, this seems to be a near impossibility, but for others, beating the record time by about 20 seconds isn’t that big of a deal. Not all big checkpoints have the same record time.

There is one downside to this game: only three lives. If you lose all three lives, then you can say goodbye to the score you earned up to that point. You can choose to continue by hitting the number 2 button key and you start where you last crossed a checkpoint, but your score resets to zero. It’s great to see a continue system of some sort in this game, that’s for sure. The continue system actually gets a thumbs up from me.

What I also like about the game is the fact that this game relies much more heavily on skill than anything else. You have a chance to react to just about anything the game throws at you. Still, it does challenge you pretty good because there are certainly parts in this game that require quick thinking.

It’s hard for me to really think of anything to complain about other than a limited number of lives. There is one nitpick about the game though, it can get a little on the repetitive side from time to time. It’s not a huge problem as there is variety, but repetition can seep in from time to time.

Generally speaking, this game is very well done. There is a nice amount of quantity in the game itself. There is a very nicely done continue system. The checkpoints work very well. The only real complaints I have are the limited number of lives and a very slight complaint about repetition. Otherwise, this is a very solid game.

The graphics are nicely done. I really like how well the scenery is not only laid out, but how well it changes as well. The uphill stages may not be perfect, but everything is very well realized.

The music works pretty well. The sound effects are nicely done too. Not a whole lot to complain about as far as audio is concerned.

Overall, this is a very well done game. It’s got nicely realized variety and the quantity is definitely there. The continue system is really good and the checkpoint system works great. I wished there were more free lives available and there is a hint of repetition in this game. The graphics in the mean time are solid and the music and sound effects work pretty well for this game. A definite hit with me.

Furthest point in game: Made it to the second checkpoint “C”.
High score: 17,850

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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