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 )

 H = Height
 V = Speed
 T = Time
 A = Acceleration due to gravity
 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).

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