Tag Archives: clone

Moon Patrol for the Atari 2600

Moon Patrol was a classic 2600 conversion of the arcade game of the same name. Developed by Irem and launched by Williams, this side scrolling driving game was the first of its kind. The arcade version also featured parallax scrolling, a simple optical illusion where different background graphics move at different speeds to give the illusion of depth.

moon patrol marquee Atari 2600
moon patrol marquee Atari 2600

Moon Patrol Atari 2600 version

Back to the 2600 version and your mission, as pilot of the moon patrol vehicle, was to traverse the lunar surface, avoiding multiple challenges along the way, and complete the journey as quickly as possible. Sounds pretty basic, but this was an Atari 2600, and backstory was not always a huge feature of these early games!

Moon Patrol Atari 2600
Atari 2600 Moon Patrol
The classic Atari “orange button” joystick allowed you to speed up or slow down by pushing left or right, and pushing up would jump – handy for getting over the craters and also for jumping missiles or other enemy characters, rocks and landmines.

Multiple waves of enemy ships would drop missiles, which also need to be avoided, especially those that create new craters with their bombs. You also suffered ground based attacks from the rear by enemy buggys, which you had to jump to get in front of you and destroy, as well as oncoming enemy tanks. Fortunately you were armed with a laser that fired both forwards and upwards, destroying both enemy ships and obstacles. The game required careful thought as to when to shoot and when to jump, and whether a long jump could clear several obstacles at once, requiring a lot of strategy for a humble 2600 game.

Successfully clear 5 zones with increasingly agressive enemies, and more and more tricky obstacles, and you start again on a new difficulty level.

Moon Patrol had the kind of simple gameplay mechanic that translated well on the seminal Atari console, and this was a well executed example, and still playable today.

Arcadians retro game review for the BBC Micro

In my retro games reviews I’ve covered a few BBC¬†arcade conversions including Killer Gorrilla, so won’t repeat what I’ve aleady said about some of the liberties taken in the early days by developers like Acornsoft.

Arcadians for the BBC Micro
Arcadians for the BBC Micro
But if they hadn’t stretched the boundaries of IP infringement we would not have arcade perfect conversions such as Arcadians (a thinly veiled Galaxians clone). All seems to be in order, from the swooping aliens to the large player ship at the bottom of the screen. In fact the player ship was huge, making bullet dodging quite a challenge.

Arcadians was quite a repetitive game, sitting somewhere in between Space Invaders and Galaga in the arcades, with not much variation in gameplay if any between waves. Galaga took the Arcadians model with swooping aliens and added in bonus screens and dual ships, perfecting for many the formula and providing some much needed variety.

Anyway, back to Arcadians, in addition to the perfectly replicated gameplay, it also featured an arcade-style high score table and a novel “attract” screen with a demo of it being played, just like a real cabinet, making it feel really authentic.

Arcadians was also released later on the Acorn Electron, the BBC Micro’s younger brother, and it was just as good despite it being a less powerful computer. Anyone with a BBC or an Electron back in the 80’s should remember this game, another great example of what the BBC was capable of in the right hands and the closest thing to the arcades for a home gamer.