A forced scrolling 2D shooting and jumping game featuring constant action, nice variety, and parallax layered backgounds? My kind of game! Moon Patrol seems nothing like the typical Williams games of the day, like Defender, Stargate, or Robotron. Although Moon Patrol also contains constant action, its in a more laid-back form than in those other more frantic Williams games. Before reading my actual review and comments of the game, take a moment to soak in the absolutely gorgeous art created for the game, shown to the right! It's stunning how good it is!

In 5200 Moon Patrol, you have to put your brain and reflexes on multi-tasking -- there's a lot to keep track of to succeed. You have to concern yourself with (1) shooting spacecraft above you, (2)shooting/jumping over rocks on the ground, (3) jumping over crevaces, (4) avoiding bombs from the aliens, and (5) keeping your speed fast enough to earn end-of-level bonus points. That's 5 things you have to keep track of, and the beauty of Moon Patrol is when you have to do them all at once! (as a side note, I think that it would've been neat to have had to pick up fuel as well, like in River Raid and Scramble).

Alien spacecraft will play cat-and-mouse with your lunar buggy, trying to bomb it. You have to pay special attention to one particular craft -- its bombs create brand new crevaces in the ground, usually directly in front of your patrol vehicle, so shoot 'em and prepare to jump!

Holy smokes! There are 3 layers of parallax backgrounds in this game! This is something you'd never see in the 2600 version! Yes, mountains and lunar cities scroll in the background while darker mountains scroll more slowly in the far distance. I've always been a sucker for good 2D Parallax, maybe that's why I always was pleased by 5200 Moon Patrol's visuals. The explosion animation is also more animated and pleasing the unmoving, bland stuff you'd get on other early systems like the 2600. Finally, there is a variety of stuff to deal with -- big and little rocks, 3 kinds of flying craft, alien plants with chomping mouths, land mines, buggy-seeking rockets, crevaces, tanks, and also the terrain scrolls upwards diagonally in some stages. The 5200 version of Moon Patrol does justice to the original coin-op -- the Moon Patrol buggy itself looks like an aardvark, however!

In the area of control, the 5200's twin firebuttons again save the day -- no more pressing 'up' to jump, but instead the lower buttons fire and the upper buttons jump. Left slows down your buggy, and right accelerates. There's a nice conflict of speed vs safety in Moon Patrol, since you are rewarded for speedy completion times. No controller problems exist, except that your trigger finger & thumb may get tired.

Moon Patrol is one of the few games on the 5200 with background music -- a catchy little riff plays, one that would really sound cool with real instruments instead of the BOOP-BEEP tones that the 5200 offers. 5200 Moon Patrol is a great, addictive little game, and I can't imagine owning the Atari 5200 Supersystem without owning this one! A recommended game! Oh, and check out this old advertisement for the game:

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