Review: Gyruss (Atari 5200)

In this review, we travel the various planets in the Atari 5200 game Gyruss. We find out how well this shooter game plays.

This game was released in 1984. It is a port from an arcade game.

You play as a ship traveling from planet to planet.

Impeding your way are the various enemies that seem to travel in swarms. You must survive each wave as you make your warp points. In the first planet, you have two warps to make to get to Neptune. After that, you have three warps to make it to Uranus. Don’t know about what happens after.

In total, you have 5 lives to work with.

What makes this game more or less unique is that you fly your ship around a ring instead of the standard top down shooter style most other games like this has. This makes for a somewhat more unique playing experience.

On occasion, three enemies will appear an just float neat your ship. Shoot them and you’ll not only get a bunch of bonus points, but also an upgraded weapon that increases the chances of a hit.

The major downside this game has is the controls. If you use left and right only, the game starts to get confused on the top/down movement. If your ship is on the far right hand side, pressing left can push the ship down, but usually, left or right pushes the ship back up. Also, the game makes it so your ship stops on the far left or right sides of the screen if you simply keep pushing left or right. This can be circumvented somewhat by pushing up or down to make sure your ship goes in the right direction, but the controls still end up being somewhat clunky.

while the levels are short, the difficulty is surprisingly high. This makes for some extremely short games, even if you are doing half decent. The difficulty can be attributed in part due to the clunky controls, but the fast paced play does add to the difficulty in its own right.

The leaning curve, meanwhile, is respectable. Even though the difficulty curve is a little steep, the game is, at the very least, easy to figure out.

Generally speaking, this game features strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses include clunky controls and a somewhat steep difficulty curve. The learning curve, meanwhile, is nice. Still, gameplay tends to be short.

Graphically speaking, this game is pretty decent. While I wouldn’t call it amazing by any means, it isn’t bad. The ship you fly is nicely rendered. The enemy ships are a little on the basic side. the passing stars do add visual interest.

The audio is definitely where this game shines. While the tracks are short, the music is nicely realized even if it’s music ripped from the public domain. The only real problem here is the fact that the sound effects tend to disappear on most levels (bonus levels aside). Decent all around here.

Overall, this game features both strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses include short gameplay, steep difficulty curve, and clunky controls. The strengths include an easy learning curve and an interesting “ring” perspective. The graphics are pretty good, but the audio is nicely done even though the sound effects are somewhat lost in all the action. A decent game all around.

Furthest point in game: Two warps to Uranus.
High score: 37,750

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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