Gyruss is one of the most well-remembered fusion of music and video games of all time. The fantastic musical score that plays throughout - “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, engulfs you like an ocean wave and doesn’t let you down off the surf board while it is rolling in. It’s quite a rush, and can put you deep into the gaming “zone”. Why didn’t all games have cool music like this? Soon after, most arcade hits did.
Gyruss is mostly a hybrid of Tempest and Galaga. Like Galaga, formations of ships enter each stage in attack waves, swoop about and fire at you and the settle back down into a central formation. You circle about their formation and always point and fire inwards while they rest in a space well (Tempest). Actually it is more like you and the enemy ships are moving through a circular space corridor, or worm-hole. After the fourth attack wave arrives, a set of three satellites appears outside the formation. When the middle satellite is eliminated, you are given dual shot (firing) capability. Having this dual shot capability is a must, especially to survive the later stages, and to score the maximum bonus points in the chance stages. Until all ships are destroyed, a few ships at a time break away and dive towards you, attack, and then settle back into formation. Other perils include large meteors that come hurtling outward at you, and a pair of ships that work together with a deadly force field between them. The meteors cannot be destroyed, but taking out either of the force field ships knocks out the force field as well.
When all threats are vanquished, you complete the stage and are now one warp closer to your destination, Earth. You begin the game 2 warps from Neptune and then 3 more warps to reach each planet inward in the solar system. After reaching Earth (quite a challenge at the arcade), you’d start the entire sequence all over again, beginning at 2 warps from Neptune.
One of the unique aspects of the game was the controller choice. Instead of using the same rotary paddle from Tempest, an 8 directional joystick was used to move around the circumference. Awkward at first, it becomes second nature to push the stick around the circle in the direction you want to go.
You receive a slight break in the action upon reaching each planet, and its chance stage. Shoot all 40 (4 sets of 10 formations of ) ships to earn the maximum bonus 10K. Otherwise 2000 points per ship. Your ship cannot be destroyed in the chance stages, only score points. Destroying an entire formation before it completes a maneuver (warp stage), or leaves the screen (chance stage) and you earn even more bonus points. The warps from Mars to Earth are extremely difficult due to the fierceness of their attacks and maneuvers. You earn a bonus ship at 60,000 and every 100,000 points thereafter.
Arcade Game Designed in 1983 by: Centuri for Konami, by Yoshiko Okamoto.
Classic Platforms all done by Parker Brothers: Atari 2600, 8 bit, Atari 5200, Colecovision, and Commodore 64 (Joe Hellensen 1985).
Categories: Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls
All 5 classic carts, and a partial C64 screen
shot - (sorry about the poor quality).
The Controls are nice (8), but seem sluggish. Maybe it's just the slower speed that you are allowed to circle about in the 2600 version. The Gameplay is fair (5). Not counting the lack of both sound effects and the formation of ships, additional elements missing are: the force field ships, a pause, any text indications of bonus points, and the ever popular last second Meteor - which rushes at you just when you thought the stage was cleared. Fortunately the 2600 does offer 4 levels of skill difficulty and a choice of either 3 or 5 lives to begin with.
Have Nots: Atari 5200 (36)
Bronze Medal: Atari 8 bit (41)
difficulty levels. The Sound is crisp (8), with a wonderful musical score, but some of the effects seem cheap and unpolished. Unfortunately, the Graphics are only decent (6), offering little to no sharpness to any of the objects. But the Atari 8 bit (& 5200) has no problem with animating all the objects smoothly in this motion-filled game. The Addictiveness is quite enjoyable (8) and you'll be motivated to keep trying until you make it to Earth. The game is available on cart, disk and emulation, and better to play this one over the 5200. The Graphics, Sound and Gameplay notes and scores apply to the Atari 5200 as well.
Silver Medal: Colecovision (43
The CV port may have the best, superb (9 or 8)
Gameplay, including a pause, difficulty options, and all other elements. There
may be a glitch in the 2 player game, or my cart. I lost a ship on the first
wave of a stage, only to find that when that player resumed play there were no
more waves. The formation, although not complete, was done forming and what
ships were there came out for attack, not allowing a chance for the satellites,
or the dual shot capability. The Controls are outstanding (9), but only when I
put aside the CV controllers and play it with an Atari stick. Hmmn, but then can
one pause, other than using a Y-cable, or playing the 2 player version?
Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (47)
OK, why didn’t Parker Brothers make a TI version of this game? Given the same quality programming PB included in their other arcade hits, I'm sure that the TI port would have beaten the CV and maybe pushed the C64.
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