REVIEW – Gyruss (Konami, 1983)

I have no hesitation in deciding where to start with the first review article for – ‘Gryuss’! This has to be one of, if not my all-time top favourite video game.

Gyruss Title

‘Gyruss’ title screen, arcade version

What is it? Basically a ‘shoot ’em up’ with a twist.. ..unlike most arcade shooters that came out in the early 1980’s this one had your ship travel in a circular loci around the edge of the screen, with the enemies mainly travelling out from the centre of the screen. It is best described as a cross between ‘Tempest’ and ‘Galaga’; sometimes refered to as a ‘tube shooter’.

Your aim is to travel through our solar system and return to Earth, famously starting ‘2 WARPS TO NEPTUNE’, whist fighting off the enemy spaceships. There were also asteroids, laser generators and satellites to either shoot or avoid.

After each planet is reached there is a bonus round. After completing Earth’s bonus stage, the player must travel through a faster “3 WARPS TO NEPTUNE” level before returning to the start of the game.

The game play dynamic was fantastic and the novel movement of your ship and the associated control system, whilst sometimes slightly frustrating, felt really novel at the time.

Gyruss Game Play

‘Gyruss’ game play screen, arcade version

Made in 1983 by Konami (distributed by Centuri), it was designed by Yoshiki Okamato, who would later go on to produce ‘Street Fighter’ whilst working at Capcom.

Gryuss Flyer

An advertising flyer from Centuri

Gyruss PCB

The complex ‘Gyruss’ PCB’s; several custom chips and processors were used to power the game

The game featured a fantastic stereo soundtrack, stunning at the time, based on a lively arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor; sounding similar to ‘Toccata’ by the instrumentalist group Sky. To achieve the incredible sound track the game used five AY-3-8910 PSG sound chips and a DAC! In addition there were three other processors – two Z80’s one 6809, as well as a  8039 micro-controller for the game play and graphics.

GYRUSS Arcade Machine

‘Gyruss’ upright arcade cabinet

Gyruss’ was released in both upright and cocktail cabinets. There were multiple conversions to home computers in the early 80’s, mainly by Parker Bros., unfortunately none of them matched the splendour of the arcade version. There was even a version made for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Interface 2 ROM cartridge, but it was sadly never released. A highly modified version was released on the Nintendo NES, which was OK, but very different from the arcade version. Near perfect ports can be found for the Sony Playstation , Nintendo Gameboy Advance and Microsoft XBOX 360 via collections of Konami classics. Clones of the game exists in ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and in ‘Contra: Legacy of War.

Perfect emulation is available via MAME, if you own the ROMs.

Gyruss ZX Spectrum Prototype

The unreleased ZX Spectrum version by Parker Bros.

Retrollection recommendation?

Never played it?… …you don’t know what you’ve been missing!

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‘Gyruss’ ™ & © 1983 Konami Digital Entertainment Inc., All Rights Reserved
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