Moon Patrol EX
Irem's classic is back, and in good form.
I consider myself a classic gamer, but I missed Irem's Moon Patrol when it hit arcades in 1982. Irem went on to develop several arcade classics in the years following including Lode Runner and mega-franchise R-Type, but Moon Patrol seemed to always maintain a curiously strong fanbase, despite the Atari 5600 being the most advanced home hardware the game ever hit.
After spending a considerable amount of time with Bandai Wireless' mobile update, I now understand what all the fuss was about. Gamers control a lunar rover (surprise surprise), which traverses the mostly flat, ever-scrolling 2D lunar landscape. Menacing UFOs drop missiles from above, but the craters that litter your path probably result in more deaths. Later on more obstacles are introduced, incuding rolling boulders, mines, and tanks. Your rover fires vertically, to take out the alien invaders, and horizontally, to eliminate the no-less-dangerous boulders.
What makes the game so addicting is its emphasis on frequent checkpoints. You begin at checkpoint A, with the ultimate goal of making it to checkpoint Z (although like all good arcade titles, things just cycle all over again, with enhanced difficulty). No individual section is very long, consisting of just a few waves of UFOs to shoot or craters to jump, and when you die, you're sent back to the start of each section. With a little patience even me, with no previous Moon Patrol experience, was able to make it to the second cycle of checkpoints, thanks to the game featuring unlimited continues.
Where the game truly shines is in its shiny new arranged mode, however. The arcade original, while still enjoyable, is extremely dated thanks to its Atari-style graphics. Arranged mode updates the visuals to a level that's probably about a half-step above the NES, and features multiple gameplay enhancements as well. Besides the entire experience feeling less clunky, new lunar lander options and new enemies and obstacles were introduced as well.
Bandai Wireless also intelligently included a level select option. Now that I've reached the second tier of checkpoints I'm able to begin at that point, if I want. It's true that this erases some of the challenge, but it's no fun to play mobile adaptations of arcade classics and have to experience the same early levels over and over.
I had a lot more fun with Moon Patrol than I expected to, given the game's (very) oldschool roots, thanks in large part to the developer's decision to go well above and beyond the call of duty by including a polished, updated Moon Patrol experience.
What's Hot: Includes classic version and an enhanced remake
What's Not: Gameplay remains somewhat dated, despite updates