Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!



Large CAESAR Logo

Lunar Lander (rev 2)

Lunar Lander (c) 08/1979 Atari.

In Atari's first vector game, the player must guide the 'Eagle' Lunar Module on its descent towards the moon's surface. The game applies realistic physics to the landing craft's movements, with both gravity and inertia affecting the way the Lunar module handles.

The module is equipped with an on-board thruster which is used to steer the craft left and right, and though the thruster has only a limited amount of fuel, extra fuel can be 'bought' by the player by inserting more credits into the arcade machine. Fuel is also lost by crashing or using the 'abort' button.


Approximately 4830 units were produced. Lunar Lander came in a large black upright cabinet, which was a little heavier than most. The sideart is a (predominately blue); there is no front art at all, and the monitor bezel is relatively clear of decals. 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).

Game ID : 0345xx

Main CPU : M6502 (@ 1.512 Mhz)

Sound Chips : Discrete

Screen orientation : Horizontal

Video resolution : 256 x 231 pixels

Screen refresh : 40.00 Hz

Palette colors : 32768

Players : 1

Control : Lever (increase or decrease the THRUST)



Licensed to Sega for Japan market.

Atari's first vector game. "Lunar Lander", was inspired by "Moonlander", a game written by Jack Burness in 1973 as a demo for the DEC GT40 vector graphics terminal (based on a PDP-11/05 CPU). This game used a light pen to control thrust and rotation.

If the player landed at exactly the right spot, a McDonalds appeared. The astronaut would leave the lander and walk over to the McDonalds and order a Big Mac to go, before walking back to the Lander and taking off again. If players crashed directly into the McDonalds, the game displayed a message reading 'You clod. You've destroyed the only McDonald's on the Moon.' After a short run of Lunar Lander machines were manufactured, production was shifted over to "Asteroids" and the first few hundred Asteroids machines were housed in Lunar Lander cabinets. Atari donated a gold edition version of the coin-operated video game to the Discovery Center of Science & Technology in Syracuse, New York.

On 17 June 1980, Atari's "Asteroids" and "Lunar Lander" were the first two video games to ever be registered in the Copyright Office.

Michael Mize holds the official record for this game with 3,470 points.

A Lunar Lander units appears in the 1984 movie 'The Philadelphia Experiment'.


Scoring in this game is pretty simple : you can score anywhere from 0 to 100 points depending on how well you landed your Lunar Lander. In addition, these points are multiplied by the landing pads multiplier value (i.e. 2X, 3X, etc.) to give you your total score for that landing cycle.


* You start with 450, 600, 750, or 900 fuel units depending on how many quarters you put in the machine. Each extra quarter will give you another 150 fuel units.

* When you start the game, your Lunar Lander will be floating above the moon's surface. Immediately, your lander will start to descend. Figure out where you want to land and maneuver your lander to that landing pad. Fuel is a valuable commodity in this game. To get the most ''bang'' for your quarter, try to use as little as possible. Since everything burns fuel (even rotating your lander left and right), do your best to get centered over a landing pad so you don't have to overreact at the last minute.

* Use the thrust lever sparingly. It is easy to move it up and down so you can easily put on full thrusters before you realize what's happening. This can be especially dangerous if you are in a canyon and are going sideways. Your lander will become part of the moonscape very quickly. Just use short bursts to correct your downward and left/right movement. This not only gives you better control, but it also saves you on fuel.

* After you have decided on the landing pad, start maneuvering your lander toward it. Use minimal thrusters to keep your lander from going too fast toward the moon. Also, only tap on the right and left rotation buttons so that you keep your left/right speed as near to zero as possible.

* When you get near enough to the moon's surface, the view will change and you will get the close-up view. This is the time you can start doing all your finishing maneuvers. If you set yourself up right when you were way above the moon's surface, you shouldn't have to do much to ensure that you are over the landing pad. If you find yourself in trouble and there is no way out, press the ABORT button. The effects are that it automatically straightens out your lander, stops all left/right movement, and moves you a little ways off the surface. The penalty for this is approximately 100 units of fuel.

* On your final descent onto the landing pad, watch your speed. If you land at anything greater then 10, you run the risk of damaging or destroying your lander. When you have landed, the game will give you an assessment of the landing and the points earned.

* Over time, the easy pads will go away and you will have to land on pads located on the sides of mountains or very deep, steep sided ravines. It will be even more critical that you know how to do small maneuvers since some of the landing pads are not wider then your lander.


Original design by : Jack Burness

Programmed by : Rich Moore

Vector generator display system by : Howard Delman


* Consoles :

Sony PlayStation 2 (2004, "Atari Anthology")

Microsoft XBOX (2004, "Atari Anthology")

Nintendo DS (2005, "Retro Atari Classics")

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2005, "Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander")

* Computers :

PC [Booter] (1983, "Eagle Lander", part of the "Friendlyware PC Arcade" suite)

Tandy Color Computer (1983 "Lander")

Tandy Color Computer 3 (19??)

PC [MS Windows, CD-Rom] (2003, "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One!")

Microtan 65

VTech Laser-VZ

* Others :

Nokia N-Gage (2005, "Atari Masterpieces Volume 1")

Atari Flashback 2 (2005)


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc