Mechanical Lunar Lander arcade game.

Atari ‘s classic arcade game  Lunar Lander was a huge hit with me and my buddy’s back in the days of arcade machines and so will also be a special part of my gaming history. We used to spend ages stood in front of that beautiful big cabinet, mesmerised by the crisp vector graphics on screen  as each of us  ‘astronaut’ took it in turns  using the thruster bar  to see if we could out do one another with the trickiest landing. Save fuel and increase the score and go for the easy landing or use more fuel and go for the higher scoring landings…choices, choices…aaaah, moon rock wall!…..er… Houston?

Lunar Lander’s control panel showing the  left/right rotate buttons and that unique thruster bar.

Sadly, as always, arcade owners would replace these ageing games and replace them with newer ones and so for us, one Saturday afternoon  our Lunar Lander days were over and I’ve never seen a full size cabinet  since.

Lunar Lander (and many variants of the name) has been replicated many many times on a wide range of  8-bit computers and consoles and have played many great (and not so great)  conversions over the years. The homebrew release for the Vectrex is on my want list.

You can still play the original today via Mame etc or via various Atari releases for modern consoles and portable devices. In fact, if you haven’t played Lunar Lander before, you can play a web browser version on the  Atari website.

http://www.atari.com/lunarlander

It was whilst i was Google-ing around on the subject that i stumbled across this rather unique version of Lunar Lander, built a few years ago. It appears that someone has taken the game concept and reimagined it as a  mechanical version  using an a Lander and Moon scape models, various motors, Arduino boards and a whole host of electronic wizardry including sound effects and recorded voice. This this is Awesome-ness!

Said someone is a chap called Iain Sharp and you can read all about his Lunar Lander and many more projects at his site – LushProjects.com

It’s a fascinating read and goes right into the details with plenty of photographs during the project build.

I aso read with interest that his Lunar Lander game was on display and available to play at Southwold Pier on the Suffolk coast.  It’s a loooong drive from here but as I’ve got to play this thing and with some holiday time coming up  shortly , I’m drawing up plans for another camping trip Suffolk way!

The Pier also hosts the ‘under the Pier show which is home to a hilarious looking collection of homemade amusement machines.  Fancy a go on ‘whack a banker’, ‘Pet or Meat’, ‘ Autofrisk’  or my favourite looking  ‘Mobility Masterclass’?

These wonderful creations are that of Tim Hunkin who also has his own site – http://www.timhunkin.com/control/d_clocks_index.htm

I sent an email this afternoon to the Pier’s admin office to enquire if the Lunar Lander machine was still on display. Sadly it’s not and they didn’t know when it would return. Major bummer!

I also emailed Iain Sharp via his website to make enquiries as to whether his Lunar Lander machine is still assembled and would it be making a public display some time soon. He kindly responded that it was currently in storage and that he was trying to find a new home for it. Lets hope he manages to soon as my buddy’s and me are waiting to replay Lunar Lander (albeit in a different form) all over again 🙂

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