I have no hesitation in deciding where to start with the first review article for Retrollection.net – ‘Gryuss’! This has to be one of, if not my all-time top favourite video game.
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‘ was also sold as a conversion kit in many territories, which demonstrates how popular the game was after its initial release.. ..as do the many subsequent ‘ports’.
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’ 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.
A highly modified version was released on the Nintendo NES, by Ultra Games which has really nice game play, but very different graphics compared to the arcade version. It’s not that they are bad, just different.. ..it also animates very well for a NES game and I really enjoy playing it. I also think the artwork on the game box is fantastic.
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.
Insight – video games as artwork
The artist Rosemarie Fiore has created some beautiful images of ‘Gyruss‘ and other arcade games in action. They are fascinating and really convey the movement of the games in a way I have never seen before.. ..this is particularly the case for ‘Gyruss‘ and her work captures both the movement, frantic nature and fluidity of the game really well.
Many thanks to Rosemarie for allowing me to share her image, you may want to check out some of her other work at her gallery, it’s fantastic and goes well beyond video games and the use of time lapse photography.. ..its really stunning work.
Never played it?… …you don’t know what you’ve been missing!
‘Gyruss’, ‘Konami’ and ‘Ultra Games’ are registered trademarks, ‘Gyruss’ ™ & © 1983 Konami Digital Entertainment Inc. MAME® is a registered trademark of Gregory Ember. All Rights Reserved. Used under fair dealing and fair use for research and commentary purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. Please refer to the ‘Welcome to Retrollection‘ page for full terms and conditions.
The ‘Gyruss 1’ image is courtesy of and © Rosemarie Fiore Studio, New York City.
Page layout, original text, images and design are © 2015 Dr Woody and Retrollection.net.