The Game: The aliens are taking their complaints to the home office! As the pilot of an agile space fighter, you have to blast your way through the alien forces from Pluto all the way back to Earth. Occasionally you can boost your ship’s firepower, but that’s the only help you’re going to get. The rest is up to your speed, your strategy, and your ability to nail the attackers in mid-dive. (Centuri [under license from Konami], 1983)
Memories: Konami’s cult classic basically put a vaguely Tempest-esque 3-D spin on the strategy of Galaga, borrowed some music from a certain Mr. Bach and blasted it out as a stereo techno-symphony, and got a lot of people to blow their hard-earned money. It was also a lot of fun.
The music and unique sound effects helped a lot. There’s nothing like having a thumpin’ techno mix of Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue” blasting in your ears while you’re evading enemy fire. The game was easy to control, easy to learn…and anything but easy to beat.
One of my favorite things about Gyruss, to this day: the journey-through-the-solar-system aspect of the game. I have always been an avid space buff, and I got a big kick out of the idea of fighting my way past Neptune, past Uranus, to Saturn, to Jupiter…it made it cooler than having the action take place on Planet X.
Parker Brothers grabbed the Gyruss license like a shot and turned out Atari 2600, 5200 and ColecoVision versions of the game. The 2600 version was almost pathetic – the graphics flickered mightily, but the guts of the game (minus the music) were still there. The Coleco and 5200 editions of Gyruss fared better, but even at their best, those games never quite matched the arcade experience. In late 1999, Konami finally mined their own back catalog of arcade titles, Namco Museum-style, for a Playstation emulation compilation, and this collection features a perfect version of Gyruss. The game is there, the music is there, and it is good. Highly recommended!