In Moonsweeper your goal is to rescue miners from the moons in Star Quadrant Jupiter. You begin your mission in space where you must avoid deadly aurora flares, photon torches, and space bullets from the sun in this quadrant. From time to time, you will see a moon pass by, and by flying near it you can descend to the surface. As you sweep along the surface, you will see stranded miners which need to be rescued by flying over them. Also on the moon's surface are various obstacles which must be avoided or destroyed, such as towers and lunar satellites as well as alien surface destroyers. Should you survive and rescue six miners (the maximum your ship can carry), then you may take off from the surface by using the accelerator rings. There are several different types of moons found in this quadrant, each with a different level of difficulty. To help out, your ship is equipped with photon torpedoes and shields (though you will lose points while using the shield).
Credits (ZX Spectrum version)
Average score: 81% (based on 7 ratings)
Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 20 ratings with 1 reviews)
Moonsweeper is a space-themed shooter where the goal is to fly through a galaxy, traveling from moon to moon and rescuing miners trappers on each moon. The game's main selling point is the pseudo-3D effect of flying over a lunar landscape, which is actually a very impressive effect. All of the sprites are very colorful, and some of larger sprites, like flying saucers and the flickering sun on the galaxy screen, look very impressive.
Gameplay consists of flying through a galaxy, dodging and shooting comets and sunflares, until you find a moon to land on. You then have to rescue 6 miners while dodging alien towers and enemy attacks before flying back to the galaxy screen to find another moon. Conquering moons can be quite satisfying, especially in a situation where action begins to get intense as you try to leave a moon to return to the galaxy.
Most of the sound effects are well done, too, and the game even plays a rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" when the game is over. Although it's an odd soundtrack selection for a shooter, it actually fits the game rather well.
Despite the game's impressive graphical effects, there is some sprite flicker, and some of the sprites look oddly designed. Objects also have a tendency to distort if they reach the horizontal edges of the screen, especially the right side.
Speaking of objects, regarding gameplay, fights with smaller enemy saucers have a tendency to stalemate, leaving the saucer basically floating in one area. Getting too close to the stuck enemy will often result in a collision. Should 2 saucers be on-screen at once, the game renders no more objects on the moon surface, meaning that you're stuck fighting these saucers just to get more miners to show up. This wouldn't be such a bad premise if it wasn't for the game randomly deciding to drop another saucer every time you kill one, making it impossible for a couple of minutes to have any miners show up.
The galaxy screen also has some problems, as your ship is positioned very close to the bottom of the screen, and randomly orbiting objects can clip past the edge of the screen and slam into the bottom of your ship without warning, which results in either a death that feels undeserved, or being sent to a moon your don't want to engage.
Also, as mentioned above, most of the sound effects are great, but one sound effect in particular, which would be a drone of the large flying saucers, is incredibly annoying! It's like a cheap phone ringer that won't quit, and I often found myself trying to take out the large saucers just to make the noise stop.
The Bottom Line
The game has its share of design problems, but for the most part, this is a good action-based game with pretty solid gameplay, and any fan of space-themed shooters should give this game a try. If you can look past the flaws, you'll find a enjoyable game with plenty of action.
Atari 2600 · by Jeff Hazen (118) · 2011
Cancelled Intellivision version
This game was listed in the Fathom manual but the Intellivision version was never released.
- MobyGames ID: 13909
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Servo.
Game added July 6th, 2004. Last modified August 17th, 2023.