Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Gorf

Retro Game of the Day! Gorf

Gorf by Midway (Jamie Fenton developer), arcade release in 1981.

"Gorf." You don't get many games with titles like "Gorf" anymore, that's for sure. You might get "Professor Layton" and "Cheese Chaser," and of course "Lost Planet Extreme Condition," but you sure aren't getting anything called "Gorf" ever again.

So what is a Gorf exactly? Born into a time when the likes of Space Invaders and Galaxian were ruling the arcades, Midway needed something else other than those foreign-developed quarter munchers to keep their own coffers full. This was their answer - rather than "just another single-screen shooter," Gorf wowed 'em all by making it 5 different spins on the genre, rather than just one.

And so we got round one "Astro Battles," basically the Space Invaders knock-off. Kill all those guys and advance to Round 2 for Laser Attack, Round 3 following on its heels with Galaxians (ahem, no comment). Round 4 throws you into WarpSpace with Space Warp, and Round 5 engages you in a one-on-one battle versus the enemy Flag Ship.

The game is also known for being an early example of using synthesized speech in-game, though I've never personally witnessed this (I only got my hands on the Atari 400 conversion as a kid). Still, the soundtrack overall was very shrill and certainly alien-sounding in that freaky, old-school sci-fi way.

It's hard to look back at a game like Gorf now and understand how revolutionary it seemed, but back when space shooters were incredibly limited (and for what they were at the time, in itself that was pretty impressive) Gorf seemed like the Smart Kid in the class. It was basically a bunch of different games wrapped into one package!


  1. I'll always remember the first time I heard the machine talking to me... "Too bad, Space Cadet". The Galaxians level was licensed for the arcade version but missing from the home computer versions.

  2. Forgot to add, Gorf is of course Frog spelt backwards