A classic game that was released as a cartridge game for the Commodore Vic 20.

With nice gravity effects, and vector-style graphics, this game is ok. The object is the usual "feel out the gravitational effects and land on the platform".

Other isotopes of this game, like Graviton are more interesting when there are obstacles, and wacky terrain, and ground turrets.
Lunar Lander predates the Vic 20 by many years. I remember goofing around with this on a DECwriter after writing the program in BASIC, then using up all of the tractor-feed paper playing it.

I had gravity set as an input variable, but most versions of this game has it set to 5 meters/sec^2. It was fun pretending you were landing on the event horizon of a black hole with gravity set at 65538 meters/sec^2, but I digress.

To set up the BASIC program, you had to use the following equations:

```
H = Hinitial + Vinitial * T + .5 * A * T^2

V = Vinitial + A * T

V = SQR( Vinitial^2 + 2 * A * H )

where:
H = Height
V = Speed
T = Time
A = Acceleration due to gravity
and:
Initial Height = 500 meters
Initial Speed = -50 meters/sec^2
Fuel on board = 200 units
Acceleration due to gravity = 5 meters/sec^2

```
I'll leave it up to you to write the program, as it's a good exercise in logic for new programmers. If you do write a new version, please add it to this node. I have a version that runs on a TRS-80, stored on cassette tape. Ah, those were the days...

Lunar Lander was an old arcade game released by Atari Games way back in 1979.

The story

This was Atari's first vector game. Atari thought a game where players piloted a realistic moon lander would be a great game, even though it had been ten years since the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. Technically this was not a new idea, as variations on Lunar Lander had existed on mainframe computers for many years before this title was released. Production of this title was cut short so Atari could crank out more Asteroids machines. In fact over a thousand Asteroids machines were shipped with Lunar Lander sideart (they used identical cabinets anyway).

The game

In Lunar Lander you control a Lunar Module on its descent toward the lunar surface. The graphics are monochrome vector in nature, and show quite a lot of detail (at least in the landscape), for a black and white game. You control your lander with an analog thruster and three buttons (left, right, and abort). This game uses actual realistic physics when it comes to the crafts movements. It takes a little practice to get any good (in other words, this game is hard). Any use of the thruster takes away fuel from your total (which will be anywhere from 450 to 900 depending on how the machine is set). You can drop in more than one quarter to build up a larger fuel supply. You also lose fuel by crashing, or using your abort button.

This game has a Mc Donalds coded into it as an easter egg. It appears every once in a while, if you land on it the game scolds you for destroying the only McDonalds on the moon. If you land near it, an astronaut pops out and gets a burger.

The Machine

Lunar Lander came in a large black upright cabinet, which is a bit heavier than most (OK, a lot heavier, I have one of these cabinets that has been converted, and it weighs a ton). The sideart is a (predominately blue) space scene, that doesn't fully seem to fit in with the title of the game. There is no front art at all, and the monitor bezel is relatively unadorned. The marquee features a "Lunar Lander" blasting off from the surface of the moon (some of these have a black background, while others have blue, it appears that there were two print runs of these).

The control panel is dominated by a large analog thrust controller (no one makes this part anymore, so any repairs will have to be done to the original unit), and 3 buttons.

Like all vector games, the PCBs are a bit complex, and slightly problematic. Luckily they have been well documented, and can be repaired rather easily.

Where to play

You can play this title with the MAME emulator, just be aware that you will need an analog joystick to play (something most Mame cabinets are usually not equipped with). Although emulation is not needed, as this title has been cloned (with various names), for nearly every operating system available for nearly every computer system ever made.

If you are lucky you will be able to locate an actual Lunar Lander machine, which is by far the best way to play this title. They have become a bit rare over the years, but there are still enough of them around that you should be able to locate one if you look hard enough. This is a fine game to add this to your arcade game collection, just be aware of the fact that vector games tend to be a little more problematic than other titles, so you may have to repair it one day. Prices vary on this title, but expect to pay around a thousand dollars, unless you are buying from someone who is ill informed as to the value of vector games (who knows what you will pay in that case).

O

13.

The ESA spacecraft Harissopulo was a fifteenth generation Eurotype Star Freighter weighing some 44,780 tons. Powered by a plasma rocket engine making up over a quarter of that weight, it wasn’t a fast ship, or a particularly maneuverable one. By comparison, the two American battleships Lexington and Bermuda used against the Moon during the Independence weighted around the same, but boasted sixteen plasma pulse engines and were much more maneuverable. The Harissopulo did have an array of neon gas thrusters for guiding it down while landing, but the plasma engine would have to be engaged for the majority of the decent to keep it from falling from the sky like a 45,000 ton meteor.

Another problem that made landing difficult was the gravity differences between the Moon, the spaceship, and Tranquility City. The Moon’s gravitational field was more or less constant depending on what part you were flying over, but the spaceship and space-city had their own “gravity” due to the G-diffusers located in the floor plating of the spaceship and Tranquility City’s own docking bay.

To land safely, first the G-diffusers in the docking bay had to be cycled down. If they were shut off instantly the dock would break apart. Then the spacecraft had to cycle down its G-diffusers so that it could land on the Moon. Then the docking bay’s diffusers had to be cycled up, slowly so that the ship wouldn’t be squashed like a tin can.

Additionally, the magnetic field protecting the docking bay from radiation and cosmic rays had to be shut off to keep from affecting the plasma engines.

It was a full six hours before the ship finished landing once the docking sequences began. The ship took it slowly, minor adjustments with the thrusters kept it nearly stationary as it lowered centimeter by centimeter into the large circular docking bay.

The ship wasn’t pretty. It was a box with a conical tip. Unlike the American battleships it had no paint, windows, or anything else “fancy”. The only decorations were European Space Agency decals and the name of the ship in sharp black over the nose.

The Europeans liked to get their money’s worth with each launch and the ship would not only be carrying the forensic scientist but also cargo and supplies. The supplies were around seven tons of “Moon Eggs” and other refrigeratables including flash frozen steaks, flash frozen fish, and flash frozen whole chicken.

The cargo also included screws, bolts, blocks of metal to be turned into machine parts in the factory and several books on law for Sarah.

This would have been a routine delivery. Except that when the ship finally settled in the bay and the airlock was closed and the mag-fields turned back on and the G-diffusers properly calibrated, the docking crew weren’t the only ones to head out to the spacecraft.

Kilmar, John, and Sarah were waiting to meet the crew. The ship didn’t have a ramp like in a sci-fi movie, but it did have a massive slab-like disc that unsealed with a pop like a soda can as it rolled aside.

The captain of the ship was the first out, a beefy man with a thick French accent, he surveyed the waiting officials.

“Full greeting today. I like it,” he said. “Captain Learde.”

Kilmar shook his hand.

“Mas Kilmar, president,” Kilmar said. “This is my vice-president, John Vada, and my Public Relations Officer, Sarah Yelm.”

“It is a pleasure,” Learde said. “The rest of my crew is readying for,” he paused thinking and then said, “cargo dispensement.”

“Fine, fine,” Kilmar said. “We hear you have a doctor for us.”

“Yes!” Learde said. “He is with us a large bit much.”

The three Selenites exchanged amused glances then looked expectantly toward the hatch where as if by some magic cue the doctor appeared.

He was a short, compact man dressed in jeans and a Associazione Calcio Milan t-shirt that looked out of place on the Moon with the ship crew wearing Euro-space flight jackets and everybody else lunar jumpsuits. His dark skin glowed in the LED lights, and his eyes were quick and bright.

Badr is fine,” the doctor said. “Did I catch the names okay? Mas Kilmar, John Vada, Sarah Yelm?”

His accent was a curious mix of North African and French with some unstable British English thrown in. He over-enunciated each word, so that while perfectly clear, the accent was even more apparent.

“Yes,” John said. “That’s right.”

“Good!” Badr said. “I am so excited to be here. It has been a life long dream of mine to take a moonwalk and to see the American rovers.”

“I think that could be arranged,” Sarah said with a sideways glance at John. “We’ll get you settled in first.”

“And I must stress,” John said, nearly cutting Sarah off. “We do have a serious problem we need some help with.”

“Of course,” said Badr, still smiling. His nature was light and he smiled a lot. “I try to keep happy. With a job like mine! You understand.”

“Of course,” Kilmar repeated, a slight smile on his face. “Doctor, this way…. And captain, thanks for your efforts.”

Captain Learde gave the president a kurt nod. “A pleasure.”

The four left the dock bay to its work and headed out toward the habitation modules.

The captain walked off and his crew, glad to stretch their legs, went to various parts of Tranquility City. Some went to the cafeteria for an early supper, others went to Armstrong Park for some sightseeing. These were not sailors; hardened men who swore a lot, but Europe’s best. Outstanding military and scientific personnel of high caliber. They were polite, civil, in good humor, and where their English failed, their manners took over.

The Lunar citizens loved it when a spaceship visited and often gave impromptu tours of the city if they found out there was a new crewmember who had never been to the Moon before.

So, today, the crew found themselves a little dejected when the carnival atmosphere was a little heavy, and the citizens reluctant to mingle. The strain of the last few days had worn them out.

One of the crew was glad for the absence of people as she made her way to the habitation modules, checking information kiosks every so often to bring up a map to where she wanted to go.

Busty, blonde, beautiful even in her unflattering Euro-space jacket. Her left arm was bionic, her right eye artificial too. Both easy to miss if they weren’t being specifically looked for. In her natural arm, she carried a brightly wrapped package with a festive red bow.

She walked alone, counting the residences until she got to one labeled 64. She knocked.

The door swung inward. Essica Jenners’s flat brown eyes met the two electric blue ones.

“Slow dock,” the blonde said. “We had some trouble with a few thrusters.”

Essica snorted and pushed the door wider.

Her apartment was littered with electronic junk. Circuit boards, old transistors, fuses, and wiring made up most of it, but there was a good amount of bio-batteries, screwdrivers, pulse pods, a few lunar console interfaces and a zero-G digger; a device incapable of functioning near the city’s G-diffusers lay in a corner. A narrow path had been cleared to a table near the kitchen. There were no chairs except for two metal crates provided for that purpose and the table was bare, an island of order, except for a thin computer tower. there was no screen: It was holographic. Essica didn’t appear to own a bed.

“You live like this?” Lauren asked. She didn’t say this with distain, but with a detached curiosity.

“I live,” Essica said, shrugging. “Sit down.”

Lauren set the present down on the table and then perched on one of the metal crates pretzel style.

“Is that it?” Essica pointed to the present that so prettily sat with its pretty bow.

“Yes,” Lauren said. “I tried wrapping it myself, but eventually had to go to a bookstore and had them do it. Is that okay?”

“This is terribly ostentatious. Nobody questioned you about it?”

The blonde smiled. “They are trusting people, your selenites.”

Essica returned the smile and tore away the wrapping paper. A featureless black cube was uncovered.

“What is it?” the European asked.

“Ha!” Essica said. “You didn’t try to scan it?”

“I did in fact. Mag-scans, ultrasound, Q-A-P period imaging. It doesn’t scan. I tried opening it too.”

Essica laughed. She threw her head back and let her humor rock her thin frame.

“How’d you try opening it?” she said when the last laugh had passed.

“Cut it, weld it. Talk to it. Does it have a password?”

“Of course,” Essica said. “Here watch.”

She tapped the cube quickly with her thumb. A thin golden seam appeared, traveling from top to bottom, from side to side, splitting the cube into quarters. The cube remained closed, but a thin electronic voice said:

“Who are you?”

And Essica said, “I am number eighteen. That’s EX VE Triple I to you. When my greatest friend covers me, I am bloody; a red eye, an egg that’s often yellowed yolk, silver cheese-- Aye! But I’m never sad-- that’s to say seldom blue. I’m punctual to a fault; my period is monthly, my path predictable-- be I marked man or woman so, and so marked they’ll hold some street corner bathed in my blood and say, ‘My love, my love, my love. Not into the setting sun, not its opposite. Toward their cousin she goes. That eye, that egg, that marble containing my beating heart, and the ocean’s too.’”

The cube cracked with minuscule thunder. It vaporized. Burned itself up in golden lines.

A bottle of scotch sat on the table. Expensive scotch, the kind found in vaults, not on shelves.

“That’s a password?” Lauren said. “I would have never gotten it!”

“The longer and weirder the better,” Essica said, examining the bottle as if for defects. “I was going to have it just be ‘amen’ because nobody here would have ever thought of that word, but then I realized people from Earth would be handling this thing, so I went with a riddle.”

“Don’t know,” Essica said, standing up and carefully making her way to the kitchen, bottle cradled like a baby in her hands.

She stashed it in a cupboard.

Lauren raised an eyebrow. Her artificial eye glowed a slight blue in the dim light.

“You’re not going to open it?” Lauren asked.

“No. If I did, the city’s computer would alert Operations to it instantly. Sealed oxygen environment, G-diffusion. Makes for a large bang followed by decompression. They don’t want liquor around.”

“Ah,” Lauren said, nodding. “And you want it for--?”

“It’s expensive.”

“Yes. And my payment?”

“Here,” Essica said, removing something from the cupboard then tossing it to the European.

Lauren caught it with her bionic arm. A small whitish/gray rock lay in her palm.

“To think,” Lauren breathed, “this will pay off my debts.”

“Your debts, house, and your own spaceship, I dare say,” Essica said flatly.

“This rock… will it set off the city computer?”

“Don’t worry,” Essica said, she had pulled a small machine from the cupboard. It came alive in her hand, sprouted legs, and began to walk spider-like up her arm, tiny electric blue eyes looking left and right. Essica poked at it playfully and the thing chirped. “I’ll give the computer a hiccup. Five minutes. If your rock’s not on the ship by then, you’ll be paying your debts from a prison.”

“I can’t have your fancy box?”

“One time use, I’m afraid, and I don’t have another.”

O

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