Moon Cresta: Classic Arcade Game Video, History & Game Play Overview


Moon Cresta is one of the first outer space themed video games to premiere in arcades. Created by a relatively obscure Japanese video game developer named Nichibutsu, Moon Cresta was the precursor to Galaga, Space Invaders and other space themed first person shooters that emerged in the early 80s. Moon Cresta was designed by Shigeki Fujiwara.

Distributed on arcade machines and home video game consoles by the likes of Sega, Gremlin, Dempa, Taito and Centuri, Moon Cresta was pretty well received by the gaming community at large. Although this title never gained a lot of popularity, it did become a fan favorite of those who enjoy outer space shooting platform games. Originally released in June of 1980 to arcades in Japan, Moon Cresta didn't come to the United States until September of the same year.

A total of five sequels to Moon Cresta have been released over the years. Starting with Terra Cresta in 1985, and ending with Terra Cresta 3D in 1997, Nichibutsu was able to create a profitable franchise that thrived for almost 20 years. All of the sequels to Moon Cresta continued the outer space first person shooter theme that was established with the original. Dangar - Ufo Robo, was released in 1986, Terra Force came out a year later in 1987, and Terra Cresta II was released in 1992. Some sequels were strictly home console or PC based releases while other better received titles were initially released on arcade machines.

Because Moon Cresta was licensed to a number of distributors, there are numerous versions of this game. A Moon Cresta port for the ZX Spectrum came out the same year that Terra Cresta was released. This version of Moon Cresta is most similar to the arcade machine variation. Gremlin was the primary distributor of Moon Cresta in the United States and was solely responsible for all marketing and promotions stateside.

Most recently, an updated version of Moon Cresta was published for the Japanese Wii Virtual Console home gaming device. In addition to inspiring several sequels, Moon Cresta has inspired multiple other outer space themed shooters and clones.

Moon Cresta can be played in both one and two player modes.


Game Play Overview

There are eight levels in Moon Cresta, with four waves of alien attacks occurring on each stage. Although all of the levels are defined, there is no end screen in Moon Cresta. In addition, players are able to sustain more hits by attaching the main space ship to new pieces. This process is referred to as docking.

Players are given 30 seconds to dock their space ships. This process is more difficult than it seems because you must line up your ship perfectly, just above the new section. If you are successful, you will have a slightly larger ship that is capable of firing two bullets at a time. In addition, you will receive bonus points. Every time that you dock a ship, a message on the screen that reads “Right on!” will appear.

If you aren't able to dock your ship within the time allotted, you will move onto the next round and you will receive no extra points. Although you will have more opportunities to dock further along in the game, realize it will be difficult for you to defeat each wave of alien attacks. The aliens move faster and become more aggressive from the second board onward.

The game starts with a fully docked space ship entering the screen from the bottom. One portion of the space ship will break off, and the first wave of aliens will emerge. This space ship has a single large scale weapon that can shoot just one bullet at a time.

Once you survive the first few waves, you will be given access to the first docking port. You will know that the dock stage has begun by way of the message that appears. It reads, “Make rockets dock.” When the first and second portions of the player ship have docked, you will have a triple action weapon. This will make it much easier for you to hit fast moving aliens.

In general, all enemies will attack you in kamikaze style. After diving bombing in the direction of the player ship, they will continue to the bottom of the screen and then disappear. They will reemerge toward the top, and then attack again in a similar pattern.

There are five groups of enemies, and players gain points by shooting them down. The first enemy group that you will encounter resembles large eyes with long eyelashes. These aliens require two shots to be completely destroyed.

Another group of alien enemies turn into downward shooting arrows after being on the screen for a few moments. You will also have to shoot and avoid a group of enemies that look like fireballs, and they attack quickly in a diagonal pattern. There is a slow moving group of aliens that look like scorpions, and finally a group of two toned winged alien ships.

Each group of aliens is worth a different amount of points. Shooting arrow ships are worth 100 points each and the winged aliens are worth 60 points. The large eyes are worth 150 points in total. Players get 50 points for the first shot and 100 points for the second. Fireballs are valued at 100 points a piece and scorpions have a 30 point value.

Alien space ships attack players in a pattern similar to the ones seen in Galaga. Each alien group has a unique attack style, and they always show up at the top of the screen if they are not destroyed or if they do not crash into their target.

In total, players can be armed with five weapons. Each hit that you sustain will cause one dock and the corresponding weapon to be eliminated. Periodically, text that reads “Far out!” will appear after you survive a number of waves.

There will only be eight alien fighter ships that attack on each level, and none of them have weapons. However, they will aim for the player ship and attempt to take you out by crashing into you. Each alien group also has a special move or power that can make it difficult for you to defeat them.

Players can have multiple weapons in Moon Cresta, but you will not have the ability to fire rapidly. More specifically, all bullets have to make contact with an enemy or go off screen before you will be able to trigger your weapon. Although this may seem like a huge limitation, this is actually the standard way that space themed shooters were originally structured. This detail also makes playing Moon Cresta much more challenging.

Points are earned by docking new portions of your space ship as well as destroying alien fighters. Only one type of alien will be present on each board. After you have finished the eight levels in this game, you will start again from the beginning.

Special Features

Moon Cresta does not give players the ability to earn extra lives, but each docked section of the player ship counts as an extra life. For instance, if you have docked your ship twice, you will have three sections in total. This will allow you to sustain three hits before the game is over.

There is also a bonus given to players every time that they are able to dock successfully. The number of seconds remaining on the docking clock is multiplied times 100 and added to your score. If you are able to achieve a score of 30,000 points, you will automatically get a fully docked ship. This fully docked ship will count as three turns.


Docks - These are the portions of the player ship that can be combined together for extra lives and additional fire power. You will have several opportunities to dock your space ship in Moon Cresta.

Player ship – This is the main space ship that stays toward the bottom of the screen and is controlled by players.

Alien ships – Any object on the screen that is not the player ship is an alien. Multiple waves of alien space ships will appear during the game.

How to Play Moon Cresta

Your main objective should be to avoid being hit by your enemies. The 'game over' message can appear early on if you are not careful. This is because player ships that have not been docked have no protection.

In order to stay alive, you will need to dock your ship. Docking is tricky mainly because the player ship will continue to drift even after you have stopped moving the directional keys. After you have obtained all three pieces of the player ship, you will be able to fire off five bullets at a time, thus hitting your enemies at a higher rate.

Level 1
The first level in Moon Cresta features multiple large eyeball enemies. Because each enemy requires two shots, you will need to be mindful of their position at all times. After you have defeated all of the large eyeballs that are purple in color, you will immediately face the next stage.

Level 2
On level two, you will have another group of large eyeballs to defeat. They will move in the exact same manner, but they will be a different color. There will also be fewer eyeballs on this level.

Bonus Round – Docking Stage
When the text that reads “Docking of Rockets” appears, you will know that the docking stage has begun. The next portion of the player ship will slowly emerge from below, and the counter will start to run. You will have until the counter gets down to zero to attack your ship to the next portion.

Try aligning your ship to the left or right, just above the dock in order to land directly in the middle. If you overshoot your position, your ship will continue to drift past the dock. You can get a point bonus if you dock your ship with time remaining on the clock.

Level 3
The next group of aliens that come up are the scorpions. They will fly in a looping pattern, with one or two eventually swooping down toward you. As soon as you have eliminated all of the red and green scorpions, a group of purple and blue scorpions will take their place.

Level 4
When the eight purple and blue scorpions enter the screen, you will need to start shooting immediately. Although these enemies don't move particularly fast, they tend to attack in pairs. Defeat them all in order to get to the first docking stage.

Level 5
Depending on whether or not you have been able to dock your ship, level five can be extremely difficult or fairly easy to complete. At the beginning of this stage, multiple fasting moving winged aliens will be assembled at the top of the screen. These aliens glide around the screen, circling until they attack again and again.

If you have the second dock, you will be able to send three bullets in their direction at a time. If you do not have your ship docked, you will need to move quickly in order to avoid getting hit.

Level 6
A second group of winged aliens, this time purple and yellow in color, appear on stage six. You should be familiar with how they move, but it will be no easier for you to defeat them. Note that alien groups are capable of moving in unique patterns, so you might not be able to anticipate their moves.

Level 7
On level seven, you will be attacked by blue fireballs. These enemies are different, mainly because they will not all be on the screen at the same time. Two fireballs appear at the top, and then they quickly travel downward, moving in opposite directions. Even if you are able to shoot one of them before they make it to the bottom of the screen, they will continue to regenerate in pairs.

After a couple of passes, the blue fireballs will turn lime green. At the end of this board, you will have the opportunity to dock your ship again.

Bonus Round – Docking Stage
If you haven't been able to dock before, this will be your last opportunity to attach your player ship to the second section. For those that already have the first two sections docked together, you can complete the player ship. In either case, you will again have until the counter winds down to zero in order to complete your task.

Level 8
Level eight contains many downward shooting aliens. Each alien starts off by staying toward the top and rocking back and forth. Without warning, they will begin to shoot arrows that will come toward you quickly. After you have either killed or avoided the first group of arrow shooting aliens, a second formation will appear.

At the end of this level, the game starts over from the beginning. You will only have access to the first portion of the ship again, regardless of the number of sections that you have been able to dock. In essence, the game will cycle back to the beginning again although you will retain all of the points that you have earned.

Hints and Tips
- The outer edges of the screen are not a safe haven for the player ship. Depending on the particular alien enemy group that you are doing battle with, the corners can be a very dangerous area to stay in. If you have to avoid an attacking alien by going to the edges, try to move back toward the middle as quickly as you can.

- Remember that you only have as many lives as you have player ship sections. This means that the game will be instantly lost if you are hit before you have had the opportunity to dock.

- You should be extremely selective about the shots that you take. Only fire at an enemy when you are nearly certain that you will get a hit.

- Maneuvering is a good way to get away from an attacking enemy, but try not to move into the path of a different alien. If one enemy is unsuccessful in taking out the player ship, you can almost be certain that another enemy will take its place almost immediately after.


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