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


Moon Patrol, released in 1982, is categorized as both a shoot ‘em up and vertical combat themed game. Created by Irem and co-published by Irem and Williams Electronics, Moon Patrol was copycatted at least twice. The names off these knock-off games are Moon-Buggy and Moon Ranger.

Takashi Nishiyama is credited as the designer for this arcade game. Home console ports for Moon Patrol include; the Commodore 64, Sony PlayStation, ZX Spectrum, Atari 5200 and the Sega Dreamcast. No sequels to Moon Patrol have been developed.

Up to two players can play Moon Patrol, taking alternate turns at the controls.


Game Play Overview

Players, navigating treacherous surfaces, control a small all-terrain buggy within Sector Nine. Assuming the role of a Luna City law enforcement officer, players are given the task of battling extraterrestrial foes and avoiding obstacles on the ground while earning points. Moon Patrol is set in Sector Nine, an unknown galaxy somewhere in the vast universe.

Enemies include tanks, UFOs, craters, rocks, outer space plants, rocket ship cars, tri-orb spaceships and elliptical spaceships. Some of these opponents will not appear until the latter portion of the game. Every foe that is destroyed earns players points.

The moon buggy can only move forward, however, players can control its rate of speed. Holding the action button down causes the moon buggy to drive faster. The jump button allows players to fly over obstacles such as craters. A gun that is hitched on the top of the vehicle is fired with the other action button. This weapon is capable of defeating enemies in the air as well as some enemies on the ground.

An impressive cast of enemies are dispersed throughout Sector Nine. Some enemies, such as outer space plants will appear to be seemingly harmless at first, but they are actually a great threat to the moon buggy. You will get 100 points just for evading an outer space plant, but you can earn 300, 500 or 800 points for shooting it.

Tanks can also be avoided, which earns players 100 points. Shooting down a tank will give you 200 points. Elliptical space crafts have a 100 point value. Rocks, which come in three different varieties, also have different point values. The smallest rocks in Moon Patrol are worth 50 points if hopped over, and 100 points if destroyed. Medium sized rocks yield 80 points when evaded, and 100 points when blown up. Lastly, large rocks, which are actually two medium sized rocks fused together, have multiples ways of being handled.

Two shots from the moon buggy’s gun are required to fully destroy large rocks. This action yields 200 points. If you opt to hop over a large rock, you will receive 100 points. Players that hit large rocks once and jump over the remaining boulder get 180 points. If you are only able to manage shooting a large rock one time and don’t jump over it, you will get 100 points.

Rolling rocks cause already rocky terrains in Moon Patrol to be even more dangerous. Receive 100 points for shooting rolling rocks, and 50 points for avoiding them. Land mines cannot be shot, just hopped over. Successfully navigating the moon buggy over land mines is good for 50 points.

Rocket ship cars can be destroyed with the moon buggy gun for 500, 800 or 1,000 points, or players can choose to evade it with the jump button and receive zero points. Craters, which will appear throughout Moon Patrol, come in the large and small varieties. They cannot be shot, just avoided. Large craters have a 100 point value, and small craters are worth 50 points.

Tri-orb crafts are another type of enemy that can only be destroyed with gunfire. Shooting them yields 100 points. UFOs can attack singularly or within structured groups. Shooting down a single UFO gives players 100 points. Up to five UFOs can assemble in a formation, and the point value for destroying those increases as they grow larger in size. When three UFOs are present in a group, players get 500 points for shooting them all. A group of four UFOs yields 800 points and a group of five earns players 1,000 points.

Special Features

This game is broken up into courses, stages and ending checkpoints. Moon Patrol is programmed in a manner that calculates the amount of time it should take for players to complete each section. If the basic course is chosen at the start of the game, you will get 1,000 points for reaching the ending checkpoint quickly. When the advanced course is selected and completed in less than the average amount of time, 2,000 points are awarded.

An additional 100 points are added to players’ scores for each second that remains on the timer at the end of a course completed quickly.


Craters – In Moon Patrol, craters can be small or big. Hit the jump button to send the moon buggy sailing over them.

Land mines – Land mines can blow up the space buggy if players are not careful. Your only option is to evade them completely.

Moon buggy – This is the space vehicle controlled by players. Use it to defeat enemies and reach checkpoints.

Tanks – Carrying powerful missiles capable of blowing up the moon buggy with one shot, tanks should be jumped over or fired up immediately.

Elliptical space ships – Similar to UFOs, elliptical space ships are aerial enemies. They can be either shot or maneuvered around.

Tri-orb ships – Tri-orb ships attack from above, dropping bombs on players.

Space plants – Appearing on the terrain only, space plants can be hopped over or shot with the moon buggy’s weapon.

UFOs – These foes appear individually and in groups. They have a higher point value when they attack in formations.

Rocks – Rocks can come in three different sizes, or roll across the terrain. Shoot or avoid them.

Rocket ship cars – Speeding across the ground, rocket ship cars are tricky to deal with. Again, they can be shot at or evaded with the jump button.

How to Play Moon Patrol

At the beginning of Moon Patrol you will prompted to choose a course type. The basic course type is the easiest to complete, and is the most suitable for beginning players. The advanced course contains more enemies as well as a greater number of obstacles. In total, there are 26 levels that are categorized five main sections. Within each section will be anywhere from five to six levels. These sections are labeled with the letters of the alphabet.

Players are able to monitor their progress by viewing the map that remains fixed on the top of the screen. As you advance through each stage, you will see how much of the course has been completed. Although there is no fixed amount of time given to complete a course, moving faster allows players to earn more points.

The terrain itself will only different slightly throughout each level. The enemies and obstacles, however, will change depending on where players are at in the game. The very last stage, Level Z, is considered to be the final checkpoint and the end of the game.

Section 1 – Levels A through E
Level A

There will just be two rock and three craters on this stage. After destroying or evading them, players automatically progress to the next level.

Level B
First, two UFOs come into the sky and attack the moon buggy. After they have been dispatched, you will need to defeat two elliptical space ships. This will mark the end of stage B.

Level C
Level C consists of three elliptical space crafts and two craters. They must all be defeated or evaded in order to advance to the next board.

Level D
Players must defeat two UFOs, two tri-orb ships and a number of craters in order to complete this level.

Level E
There are two elliptical space ships and two tri-orb ships on stage E.

Section 2 – Levels F through J
Level F

This stage consists of only ground based enemies. After taking care of a number of craters and rocks, you will move on to level G.

Level G
Rolling rocks, craters and two UFOs will be present on this stage.

Level H
Level H is completed once the four UFOs and tri-orbs have been blown up.

Level I
This stage will be both longer and more difficult to complete than previous stages. First, several tri-orbs will fly into the sky, attacking players from overhead. Next, a treacherous field of varying sized rocks and craters will have to be navigated. After all of these obstacles have been overcome, you can move on.

Level J
Land mines appear for the first time during level J. Press the jump key to over them unharmed.

Section 3 – Levels K through O
Level K

This is another area where there will be nothing but land mines.

Level L
Players will encounter land mines that have been grouped together in twos. You will need to time your jumps in order to land safely over them all.

Level M
UFOs assembled in groups appear on level M. Next, a trio of elliptical space crafts will make an appearance.

Level N
There will be three elliptical space ships and four tri-orb ships on level N.

Level O
Level O is made up of three UFOs and four tri-orb ships.

Section 4 – Levels P through T
Level P

A steep incline will need to be navigated at the start of this board. Along the way, rolling rocks will attempt to crash into the moon buggy. Shoot them all and add points to your score.

Level Q
Large rocks, craters and four elliptical space ships must be avoided or shot down during level Q.

Level R
This stage is mainly a hill that sharply inclines downward. Two UFOs will fire upon you as you drive the moon buggy to the end of the stage.

Level S
A formation of three UFO will be present from the start of this stage. In between, craters will appear. Then, three tri-orb ships attack during level S.

Level T
Players will be bombarded with an assortment of rocks and craters. Completing this stage requires repeated use of both the jump and fire buttons.

Section 5 – Levels U through Z
Level U

A total of six tanks will attempt to shoot the moon buggy down during stage U.

Level V
This is another stage that consists almost entirely of a step incline. Avoid the craters and rocks as you drive forward.

Level W
Three elliptical space ships and four UFOs attack during stage X.

Level X
There will be six tri-orb ships and UFOs to shoot on this level.

Level Y
Craters, elliptical ships and UFOs make up all of the enemies that attack during stage Y.

Level Z
At the end of stage Y, you will transition to the final stage, or the checkpoint. When reached, Moon Patrol is completed.

Hints and Tips
- While most enemies can be shot for points, some have to be jumped over. When too many enemies are present, opt to hop over them. You will still earn points for simply avoiding the majority of enemy groups.

- When there are no enemies present, travel at a higher rate of speed. The faster that you are able to complete the course, the more points you will score at the end.


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