The Game: As the pilot of a super-fast intergalactic rescue ship (which is also armed to the teeth, which explains the absence of a red cross painted on the hull), you must navigate your way through hazardous comets and space debris, entering low orbit around various planets from which you must rescue a certain number of stranded civilians. But there’s a reason you’re armed – some alien thugs mean to keep those people stranded, and will do their best to blast you into dust. You can return the favor, and after you rescue the needed quota of people from the surface, you must align your ship with a series of launch rings to reach orbit again. (Imagic, 1983)
Memories: Not terribly different from the Atari 2600 edition of the same game, Colecovision Moonsweeper gets a big graphical boost from the step up to the most powerful console of the early 80s. The game play – even the way the game is controlled – remains largely the same, but now instead of somewhat abstract representations of planets, motherships, killer satellites and comets, a vast planetscape takes up the background, and it’s almost like Moonsweeper in widescreen – just that little graphical addition makes the whole thing seem “bigger”.
There are some unique differences, though. The game begins with a screen allowing you to select which “galaxy” to plunge into, a la the skill selection screen at the beginning of Atari’s Star Wars arcade game. As with arcade games utilizing a similar device, the harder each area of the game is, the more points you are rewarded for surviving it. Completing each round takes you back to that screen, though there’s no saying that you can’t replay a level. This is a game that the Super Action Controllers work wonders for. The default option of the Colecovision’s mushroom-shaped first-party joysticks are an exercise in frustration. At least for this player, Moonsweeper demands a controller with some “throw distance”. An interesting take on a classic game I already liked, I’m once again surprised that Moonsweeper hasn’t been brought back in some form.