3 Warps to Uranus

Source // Arcade Museum

There are titles that you're familiar with or that sum up a game nicely. There are titles that you've never heard of or haven't got a clue what they're about. Gyruss, to me, fits somewhere in the middle. I know I must have come across it somewhere because it feels familiar. But what is all about?

It sounds a little like gyroscope, but that could conjure up a few games. Gyrate could have been the root word for the title though... Either way I was at a bit of a blank until I fired it up.

It's another space shooter!

Fun Times

Gyruss tasks you with getting from the outer solar system back home, battling waves of alien threats as you go, but in stark contrast to every other space shooter that came before it (certainly in this list - I don't claim to be a walking talking video game encyclopaedia) you do so from the edges of the screen, shooting inwards, stuck to the end of a circular tube, kind of like Tempest.

Instead of rigid or 'unrealistic' movements,the ship you pilot looks graceful as it circles around the screen, always facing the threats. Flying in from either the edges or the center are said opponents, and dealing with them swiftly seems to fit the look of the game, so keep on the move and keep shooting. It's a space shooter, what other advice do you need? Things blowing up means points, forward progress without exploding is good progress.

I'm playing the NES version of Gyruss, which does have some differences to the arcade version in the video above, but is easily a worthy choice among the many different ports that can be found across the systems and over the years since it's arcade release.

Whatever the version, Gyruss just looks fun to play. The formations of the enemy fighters are, from a tactical standpoint, probably pretty useless, but they are neat to look at. And to shoot down. Quickly. All swirly and full on explosions. You can't go wrong, with a simple theme and stages that, as you expect, get harder as they go on.

Your weaponry can be upgrade and threats come in a variety of guises, from ships to asteroids. It's like Space Invaders mixed with Galaga wrapped around a pipe. Go with it.


You tell me what's going on there. I arrived at Neptune and either the next segment is a little bit broken on my emulation, or I'm up against one really unusual mid level boss. It might be a cross between the latter, I don't know.

If you can get past these sections though, the NES version is pretty good. It has two control schemes, one of which I can't get to work (I'm chalking that one up to emulation woes - the game doesn't want to run after selecting it), the other leaves me a little caught out sometimes.

As a tube shooter, you can only move left or right. Other tube shooters I'm familiar with have taught me that I can hold left and my ship will keep moving left, and left, and further left. It's left or right, no matter where it is in relation to anything else on the screen.

Not with this default set up on the NES though. Left will go left, until it seems more appropriate that I'd need to push up, and so up will make the ship keep going to the left, across to the right of the screen, where it'd make more sense to press down or right - I already forget which, trying to explain it. The point is, it's not immediately intuitive, if you've been brought up later on in video game history.

Control scheme B might change this behaviour, but I'm unable to test it out.

Final Word

Those are minor gripes though, and easy to overcome in time, meaning Gryuss can keep you occupied and entertained for a while, if you're any good at it.

From planet to planet, stopping off for a round of bonus points along the way, Gryuss puts a neat little spin on the space shooter genre, and that's before mentioning the inclusion of a Johann Sebastian Bach cover for the music. You'll know it when you hear it.

It's a nice little shooter. I'm not as good at it as I need to be, but it's not an insane challenge that cannot be overcome. I'll get back to Earth at some point. Until then, I'll just circle menacingly...

Fun Facts

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features Gryuss as one of the games available in the in-world arcade machines.

Gryuss, developed by Konami, first released in 1983.
Version played: NES, 1989, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1983.