Professional, Originally Released On Cassette Only
Game Type : Arcade; Scrolling M/code
Author : T. & M. Monkton
Standalone Release(s) : 1985: MOON BUGGY, Kansas, £3.95
Compilation Release(s) : None
Stated compatibility : Electron
Actual compatibility : Electron
Supplier : KANSAS CITY SYSTEMS, Unit 3, Sutton Springs Wood,
CHESTERFIELD. Tel: 0246 850357.
Disc compatibility : CDFS E00, DFS E00
Extra Moon Buggy for every 10,000 points scored.
Bonus awarded for every completed mission.
Jump or shoot rocks or tanks.
Watch out for rocket silos, tanks and UFOs.
Z - Left, X - Right, <RETURN> - Fire, <SHIFT> - Jump, Q - Music On/Off
Instructions' Source : MOON BUGGY (Kansas) Opening Screen
The boxes and inlays to all of KANSAS CITY SOFTWARE's games (being simply a filled-in coloured box, the words "Micro Computer Software" and the title of the game only on the spine and cassette itself) would certainly not sweep the board at the Fashion Awards. Plus, contrary to some ELECTRON USER reviews complimenting them on their "model" instructions, each of the KANSAS titles at EUG HQ contains none at all; frequently they merely flash up on screen during loading. As all were mail-order only though, it's not difficult to see why they remain so few in number and are now so collectable. With such little effort made to explain what to do, if you'd originally bought one and not been able to figure it out, would you have bought another?
MOON BUGGY is one of KANSAS' most famous titles and is a Mode 2 "navigate the landscape and shoot away the obstructions and overhead flying nasties" scroller. After two loading screens, explaining the keys required and brief instructions, the very top of the screen shows a row of zeros and a number representing your lives in a customised font. The rest of the screen, from the side-on, shows a blue mountain range reaching halfway up the screen, your green multi-coloured Buggy in the foreground and the red terra firma it sits upon.
In the Electron's high resolution Mode, graphics can appear 'chunky' unless a lot of care has been taken with them. MOON BUGGY is by no means the worst offender but some of its elements do suffer from this appearance and the yellow surface of the red moon (?) is bumpy in a strangely 'squarey' fashion. But the Buggy and backdrop sprites are of a higher quality and rendered in an attractive number of colours.
To get started you must "hit a key" and doing so begins a very slow trundle accompanied by a horrendous series of blips that are quite evidently meant to be a backing tune. Although it is the background and red foreground that, by its "shifting" from right to left, gives the most impression of movement, you can move within the confines of the present screenful with the Z and X keys, jump with SHIFT and fire with RETURN. Unfortunately all of these actions are equally as slow.
The aim of the game is apparently to get as far across the Moon as possible. This is about as boring as it sounds - with the obstacles hindering your progress for the most part being holes of various sizes on its surface. On starting the game, you will trundle along for almost a half minute before even meeting the Entering Stage A sign. Ho hum!
Your next exasperation comes with the leaping of the holes themselves - it is nigh on impossible to gauge when to jump correctly and even the last pixel of your Buggy coming down over empty space results in the destruction sequence. One would assume from the mechanics of the vehicle that this should not be the case.
One also feels that the creators of this game have wanted to make a very professional-looking title. The backdrop mountains, for example, are not merely stationary but occasionally scroll at a different speed to that of the constantly moving foreground. By colour switching, as you complete each stage, more of the backdrop is lit up, illuminating a very nice scrolling picture. Such techniques with a 6502 processor were quite ahead of their time when this game was released [1985, fact fans - Ed] and it's notable that the game packs the whole Electron full of code. The constantly fluxating 'music' and speed of scroll when keys are pressed however show that playability has been sacrificed in order to achieve such presentation.
It should be explained however that, with SLOGGER's Turbo Board installed, worries on both the blippy music and fluxation factor can be virtually ignored, much improving the game. What is irksome even taking this into account though is that there is no saved high score facility! If the objective is to get as far as possible across the surface of the planet, the only way to measure how well you did is by the score you've racked up. But as soon as you lose your last life, the screen blanks and the game re-runs. Not only do you not get to enter your name but the machine simply forgets you'd been playing at all!
As the game continues, you have flying saucers above you to contend with as well as obstructions in your path to blast away. Pressing RETURN fires one bullet straight up and the other horizontally before you. But concentrating on the landscape, obstructions and baddies overhead is too big a job and, bearing in mind that it is quite common to see the Buggy explode when it seems it completely cleared the hole, the temptation is to reach for that BREAK key before too long.
The destruction of the Buggy is an interesting one. Should you make a fatal mistake, it changes into three red balls which bounce up and down several times and then disappear. Why? Well, it's just another attempt to throw out an impressive graphics routine, and another which fails due to slow speed of execution and fluxation of gameplay.
MOON BUGGY is not a good game on either the standard or the Turbo Electron because it is just too much damned hard work for no reward other than getting to see the background picture. The dubious pauses and collision detection employed make it a real nightmare on the lesser machine, giving it more the feel of a bad BASIC type-in SPROG clone than a professional release, despite all of its pretty graphics. It also takes a long time to load from tape and loads some sections in Mode 2, which causes real problems for the unexpanded machine loading from cassette. At a pinch, if you have a Turbo Elk with CDFS or DFS, you may like to give it a whirl. However, considering it was released before any of these hardware extensions were available, it has to receive a less than enthusiastic reception.
Dave Edwards, EUG #58