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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #40: Moon Patrol

Some games fared poorly when ported from full arcade cabinet splendor into the confines of an Atari cartridge or a home computing system. Moon Patrol was not one of them. This was a game of such elegant simplicity, so addictively replayable and so innovatively rendered that it was one of the biggest hits of the early eighties. I think we actually played a ton of it on the doughty Commodore 64, that decade's indefatigable gaming workhorse.


Moon Patrol sounded great, and it looked great - it was the first video game to introduce something called parallax scrolling. Apparently this is a visual technique in which the foreground where the action takes place moves faster than the background, providing a 2D depth of field and a more rewarding, more realistic sense of motion. Who knew? Not me. I just wanted to jump over ditches and mines, shoot rocks and bad guys, and make it to the next letter checkpoint. And then do it again. Not long ago I was at Funspot, the world's largest arcade, in the New Hampshire lakes region. Moon Patrol swallowed its fair share of my tokens, and boy, was I rusty. Patrolling the moon, it seems, is a young man's game, and one that requires constant training.

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