When people hear the name Irem, they think of one game and one game only. But 5 years before they were to create the seminal R-Type, Irem coders were cutting their teeth on a very different battle to destroy the alien invaders.
Moon Patrol takes place, unsurprisingly, on the moon and has you patrolling Sector Nine in your 6 wheel armoured buggy. Using your front and top mounted cannons you must shoot down the invading forces before they can drop a bomb on your head or blow a hole in the moon's surface for you to fall into.
On initial viewing it would be easy to miss some of the subtleties that make Moon Patrol stand out and I could spend the next few paragraphs extolling the virtues of its parallax scrolling, in-game music and suspension mechanics. But that would do an injustice to the main reason why I still play Moon Patrol today. The simplistic joy of bounding around the craterous surface blasting UFOs is as strong as it was when I had to sit on a stool to see the screen properly. The only difference is that making it through the minefield without having to pump in a handful of coins no longer rewards me with a chocolate bar on the way home.
Moon Patrol is not a difficult game to master though, so in their wisdom the clever programmers implemented a masterstroke of unparalleled proportions to keep people playing once they had made it through check points A to Z. The two simple rewards that were given not only made you want to continue further, they made you gather your friends and start again to show off.
So what were these rewards that made an average games player like me feel like a world beater? They re-sprayed your buggy Ferrari red and they named the second run through of the game Champions level! What more could a 10 year old want?