It wasn’t easy patrolling the rocky terrain of Moon Patrol, but if it was any consolation, they gave you a really cool car. The purple, six-wheeled, high-jumping, laser-blasting vehicle at the center of Moon Patrol was a dream machine, a weird hybrid of an ATV and a monster truck. Your job was to drive that baby on the deadliest beat this side of the Sea of Tranquility, hopping over vast craters and blasting away rocks, tanks, and enemy spacecraft on your way back to safety.
Starting at point “A,” the Moon Patroller raced from left to right, its speed controlled by your two-direction joystick. The cruiser came equipped with dual laser guns—one in front (for boulders and other obstacles) and one on top (for flying menaces).
With just two buttons—jump and fire—Moon Patrol was easy to understand, but that didn’t make the game any easier. Obstacles were everywhere, including rolling boulders, pits, volcanoes, mines, and enemy bombs that created even more pits. Any impact caused a crash, which sent your patrol car’s tires flying. There were brief rest stops at points E, J, O, and T, but even if you managed to reach point Z, your patrol merely started over, now at the “Champion” level.
Moon Patrol’s enjoyable gameplay was enhanced by its technical wizardry. The audio background contained a catchy musical score, but the game’s biggest achievement was its visual background. Two different layers of background images scrolled by at different speeds, giving the illusion of depth. It was an old trick from movies and television, but it was a novel advancement for video games.
The game’s appealing look, sound, and gameplay won it a devoted cult of fans, but the majority of mainstream players stuck with Donkey Kong, Frogger, and other more famous titles. Despite the lack of attention from the masses, Moon Patrol remains a classic of its era and a favorite of many die-hard gamers.