Saturday, August 1, 2009
Gyruss by Konami. Ah, that's a cool name for a game. I would name a dog that as well. "Here Gyruss! Good boy!! HEEL!" Whatever - anyway the game released to the arcades in 1983, and ported all over the place. Of course the NES saw a port in 1988. Interestingly, this title predated Konami's own flagship shooter game Gradius but ported to the NES years later..
Anyway, what we have here is an interesting game which tried to combine the vertigo-inducing perspective of Tempest with your gameplay of Galaga. It works pretty well actually, and the game can be quite fun - but it never gets to the level of "fushion" the player feels with Galaga, and the abstract charm of Tempest escapes it as well (by a good county mile). Gyruss was an in-between game, one would suppose..
Still, the game is a good hectic blast-fest. You use the stick to steer your fighter in a circular rim, firing inwards towards the enemies - when you reach a half-turn, the controls sort of "flip" and control your fighter in the opposite direction. It's tough to explain, and though it works well enough, it still doesn't feel as good as if they'd just gone and stuck a proper spinner on this cabinet.
Other niceties are the powerup shots (thanks Galaga!) and of course the Boss Showdowns. In all the game has all it needed at the time to be big, and it did alright, but it's a shame they abandoned the whole thing for going the flat 2D route and nothing but for years afterward. I wouldn't exactly call Axelay a spiritual sequel either-
In spite of the blase sound of things, Gyruss is a good time and can be a hectic experience. It does take a little while to grow accustomed to the controls, but even now they feel unique and give the game it's own identity which has never been replicated. A good blaster if you're a Galaga man looking for something a little different..