Konami’s next game is a masterpiece in design and gameplay. It’s the shooter that looped around Galaga’s frantic waves… GYRUSS!
The graphics are displayed using one-point perspective, with the vanishing point in the center of the screen. The player’s ship is restricted to a circumference around the edge of the screen and may move in either direction along this path. All shots from the player converge at the vanishing point.
The majority of enemies are spaceships, which must be destroyed to complete a level. They appear either from the center of the screen or from one of the edges, and move in swirling patterns. They can shoot the player’s ship or destroy it by contact. They hover near the center of the screen after completing their deployment pattern, and occasionally fly outwards and shoot at the player. If not destroyed by the player, the enemy ships gradually fly away one by one.
There are also several other types of enemies: satellites, asteroids, and laser beam generators. These appear intermittently and soon disappear of their own accord if not destroyed by the player.
Satellites materialize in a group of three just in front of the player after the ordinary enemy ships have finished deployment. They gyrate in small circles and shoot at the player. If the player has the basic weapon when the satellites appear the middle one will be a sun-like object. If destroyed, the player’s ship gets a better weapon. If the better weapon has already been gained then all satellites are identical.
Asteroids fly straight outwards from the center of the screen at regular intervals. They cannot be destroyed, but a small points bonus is given for shooting at them.
Laser beam generators occasionally fly straight outwards from the center of the screen. They consist of two generator segments with a laser beam between them; destroying either generator deactivates the beam. The player’s ship is destroyed by contact with either the generators or the beam.
The player begins the game “2 WARPS TO NEPTUNE”. After completing each level, the player is one warp closer to a planet. Each time a planet is reached, the player’s ship is seen flying towards it and then a short bonus round is played, where the player can shoot enemy ships for bonus points without worrying about being destroyed by them. Each enemy destroyed in the bonus stage scores 100 or 10,000 for all 40. After reaching Neptune, the player is then three warps from Uranus, and progresses through Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and finally Earth, taking three warps to reach each planet, then repeats thereafter. Stage one and every 10th stage thereafter the enemies do not fire on the player when entering the screen.
After completing Earth’s bonus stage, the player must travel through the very fast “3 WARPS TO NEPTUNE” level before returning to the start of the game.
Extra lives will be given, but vary from one machine to another; when over 999,990 is scored, no more lives thereafter.
The game’s background music is an electronic, up-tempo arrangement of J. S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. Gyruss uses stereo sound, which according to the bonus material for Konami Arcade Classics, was achieved by utilizing discrete audio circuits.
Let’s get our Toccata and Fugue on and play some Gyruss!
There were plenty of ports of Gyruss on lots of systems in the 80s!
Two I want to highlight-
The NES port hits it out of the park by giving a fantastic backstory and boss fights!
And the GBA port (on the Konami Arcade Advanced cartridge adds something really cool. Do the Konami code at the title screen… this happens!
That’s’ right- after Earth- you are swept into a BLACK HOLE! The game gets really hard- as gravity affects all the ships! If you get a chance- check these out!
As a special treat- let’s listen to the song that inspired music programmer Masahiro Inoue to add this song- in STEREO by the way- Toccata, a rock arrangement by the UK-based instrumentalist group Sky.
Fun Fact- Gyruss is the second and last game Yoshiki Okamoto designed for Konami, after Time Pilot. Due to pay disputes, he was fired after the release of this game, and he soon joined Capcom, where he wrote 1942 and produced Street Fighter II.
Have you ever Played Gyruss? Have you ever made it to Earth?
Let me know in the comments!
Keep Playin’ Like It’s 1981!