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Gyruss (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Reviewed by: wanderain Global Trader - willing to trade internationally Has Written 9 Reviews Canada
Reviewed on: 3-Jun-2011


Most shooters from back in the day drove me nuts, with only a couple exceptions. You would play half a level, get destroyed five times, and explode back into stardust, only to reincorporate into an exact replica of the ship that just blew up. These games made no sense to me, even though I understood then that games were not supposed to make sense, they were just supposed to be fun. There were very few shooters that I ever found to be fun: R-Type (stand-up arcade version), Life Force (NES) and the game that I am now reviewing, Gyruss.

It should be said that I don't like to do half-assed reviews. What I mean is, I don't think it is right to review a game when I have only played a couple levels of it. This leads to an unfortunate disclaimer: I cheated. It's nothing new for me to cheat. I cheated on a test in high school and on my first girlfriend, and yes, I have cheated and continue to cheat at video games. How, you ask? I employed the infamous Konami code. The Konami code is in reverse for Gyruss however, but once you enter it you get 30 lives. But even with 30 lives I didn't finish the game. I got to level 39 (there are 40 levels) and felt, upon exploding for the hundredth time, that I had achieved enough to do a proper review.

The above must seem like a lot of filler and in truth it is. Because this game is short. Very short. I played 98 levels of this game (reaching level 31, 28, and 39 in three tries) in under an hour and a half. While I know for a fact you need to play through the game twice to beat it, that means you can play the entire game in around an hour. Content-wise for a person that usually plays RPGs and strategy games, this is a huge failure.

The graphics are quite decent for an NES game, nothing special, but compared to today nothing would measure up from 25 years ago. The framerate only suffered once the whole time I played the game, and that was around level 36 or 37 and the slowdown was caused by too many enemies on the screen. Overall, the graphics make a strong showing for a Konami game especially since their games quite often had framerate issues.

I have always liked the sound effects and music in Gyruss. The sounds are fairly typical, but they mesh well and integrate really well into the gameplay. The music has always stood out for me. The music is Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. DA-NA NAAAAAAA, NA NA NA NA NAAAA NAAAA. Using classical music in video games has always struck me as a great idea. The music is tweaked to add electronica elements and integrate new sounds to befit a space-themed game. The music really flows with the game as well.

Gyruss' gameplay was very unique when the game first debuted. Instead of traditional shooters, which moved horizontally or vertically, Gyruss is a "tube shooter." This changes the traditional perspective so that you are moving towards the middle of the screen as if it is a distant point. Your ship rotates 360 degrees around the center point and the enemies come at you from the middle, moving out in every direction. It makes for a very interesting shooter experience. There are two options for movement: Control A and Control B. I don't like Control A because it doesn't seem to flow right, making for any annoying gameplay experience. I recommend Control B. You shoot at enemies with a single shot that can be upgraded to a double shot. You also have a limited supply of some kind of missiles that destroy everything in a straight line in front of you.

The enemies are fairly standard for a shooter. Early on they only shoot back occasionally and are easy to destroy. As you progress, they shoot back more often, and asteroids, force fields, amoebae, spaceships, bombs, and other obstacles begin to make it a lot more difficult to advance. The levels are set up as a progression of warps that begin at the edge of the solar system (Neptune) and move in towards the sun.

The replay value of Gyruss is fairly low, at least from the perspective of someone who doesn't really care about shooters. With the extra lives cheat the game is very short. With no alternate difficultly setting, most players won't have much interest in replaying the game a second time. Without the extra lives cheat the replay value increases somewhat, but with no continue option, I can't see people having the patience to keep playing after dying for the tenth time on Level 14. I can't drop the replay value too low though, as this is a shooter and they have always been designed to pick up and play for short periods of time.

All in all, Gyruss will always be one of my favorite shooters for the NES. It is action-packed, quick-paced, loaded with enemies, and it has great music and lots of levels. Yes the games is short, but that just means you'll have more fun in a short period of time.