Title: Hunter's Moon
Developer: Martin Walker
Date Published: 1987
Platforms: Commodore 64
One of several classic Commodore 64 games published by British software house Thalamus in the late 1980s. Hunter's Moon's is a top-down, 360 degree scrolling shoot-em-up, combining the best aspects of Boulderdash and Time Pilot with a graphical style described by some (well, me) as "Jeff Minter minus the llamas".
Each level takes place in an inky void, inhabited by you, and several "cities". These cities are formed from long chains of crystals, created by the White Worker Cells, who speed along the crystal chains, quickly plugging any gaps they find, and shooting at percieved dangers nearby, namely you. Contained within these labyrinthine deathtraps are the starcells you need to collect to complete each level.
You, equipped in your nifty little ship, have to shoot your way into these crystal cities, nab the starcells, and shoot your way through the other side, all the time watching out for the White Worker Cells, which move around replacing crystals at a terrifying rate. To make things trickier, the crystals start spewing bullets out themselves before too long, which leads to an uncomfortably large proportion of things on the screen that are trying to kill you.
In your favour, you can swap between three kinds of engine - retros, which are standard issue, cruise, which is short for "cruise straight into a crystal", and turbos, which is essentially the same thing, only quicker. You can also change the spray job on your vehicle, or turn on your shields, which will run out after a very brief period.
Finally, when the depressing inevitability of your failures becomes too much to bear, you can swap over to offduty mode, and watch sedately coloured crystals zig-zag around the screen in pleasingly hypnotic patterns.
It's not the most complex game ever made, but Hunter's Moon is very compulsive, beautifully presented (by 1987 standards), and easy to emulate.
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