This is a classic arcade shooter created by Konami in 1983. The purpose of the game is to pilot the ship through the solar system, beginning three warps from Neptune and heading towards the Earth, planet by planet. It is indeed possible to reach Earth, at which point the game will loop, and the difficulty will increase. The game is often described as Tempest meets Galaga - Galaga because of the space-based theme, enemy formations, and shoot-em-all bonus stages, and Tempest because of the stage layout where the player's ship is constrained to circle around the screen, and enemies appear to come up through a forced-perspective "tube." Also, much like in Galaga, an important strategy in Gyruss is to get double fire, allowing the player to fire two shots at once. This is much easier in Gyruss than in Galaga, however, where the sacrifice of one of the player's lives is required to obtain double fire. Gameplay is incredibly straightforward - the player's ship is controlled using the joystick, and the firing is controlled by prodigious, RSI-inducing pressing of the fire button.

Gyruss was designed by Yoshiki Okamoto, a famous Japanese game programmer whose later credits while working for Capcom include the megahits Time Pilot, Final Fight and Street Fighter II. One of the most memorable features of this game is its soundtrack, which consists of an extremely catchy synthesized rendition of Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.

In addition to the arcade version, distributed in the United States by Centuri, this game was released for:

Gyruss can be played under emulation using MAME.


a small comment for your consideration - does anybody besides me miss playing games
like Gyruss in a dark, smoky, bleep-bloop-filled roller rink arcade, or in the corner of a dusty
grocery store, next to the firewood and road salt? to me it was a huge part of the charm.
/msg me with any fond reminiscences (or to tell me to drop this comment) ^_^

Gyruss is a classic video game that was launched in 1983 by Konami. It was lisenced to Centuri for U.S. distribution (and was also bootlegged as "Venus"). The original was programmed by Toshio Arima, designed by Yoshiki Okamoto with character design by Hideki Ooyama, and sound by Mashahiro Inoue (names are given first, surname last). Shortly after coming to Konami, Okamoto designed Time Pilot. After this success he created Gyruss, but Konami's first mistake was timing. After the video game boom (Space Invaders, Pacman, Frogger, Defender, Donkey Kong) in the late 70s, early 80s there was a midterm slump. Despite being well-loved by players, Gyruss' sales to arcades did not surpass Time Pilot. Because he had joined at an entry level, graphic design position but was responsible for these successful titles, Okamoto asked for a raise, or he would quit. The next day, when he showed up for work he was fired. Konami's second mistake was letting him go: Okamoto is now executive producer at Capcom, where he has designed Sonson, Gunsmoke, 1942, 1943, Sidearms, and was project leader for Final Fight and Street Fighter II and all its sequels, spinoffs, and tie-ins (which for better or worse altered the contents of arcades forever). He was also executive producer for the recent Resident Evil movie.

Three billion miles is a long way from home. But there's no shorter route from outer Neptune to Earth. As if that weren't enough . . . it's got to be a shoot-out all the way.

You alone in your rapid-firing spaceship, swirling in a circular flight pattern . . . orbiting to the right . . . arcing to the left . . . trying to mow down wave after wave of enemy plane formations, rocketing meteors and run-away satellites. Stops at Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars will mark your progression towards Earth. Each one's a short visit, though. Then it's off again to the next planet -- and the next wave of enemies. Reach Earth in one piece and maybe you'll think twice about leaving home. Then again . . . maybe not!

excerpt from the manual (Atari 2600 version)

The original arcade game by Yoshiki Okamoto, released in 1983, sported a combination 6809 and Z80 processor architecture, and an array of five AY-8910's (capable of playing 15 simultaneous squarewave voices at once) to pump out Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" with a catchy drum beat. Other versions include: Parker Brothers' Gyruss for the Atari 2600 (#PB5080) and Atari 5200, and for the Colecovision (#9980, 1984). They also released an excellent (i.e. faithful) version of Gyruss on cartridge for the Commodore 64, and one for the Atari 800. Later, Ultra Games (distributed through Konami) released a version of Gyruss for the NES console in 1988 (this version includes graphics updates, music and sound updates, challenge updates, and you beat waves and bosses all the way to the sun).

The game itself is played by hurtling toward Earth in essentially a straight line. To avoid asteroids, satellites, and enemy spacecraft you can corkscrew around your central flight path. As a result, it appears that stars are spewing from the center of the screen, and your ship circles around the outer edge. When you fire, the shots dissappear into the distance at the center of the screen. Each enemy ship takes one hit to destroy while they stream in from behind or venture in from long range to attack. When a satellite approaches, it will keep pace with you for a limited time and then pass on. Destroying the center of three satellites will double your fire power, so don't pass them up.

The progression of the game follows a simple pattern: you start three warps out from Neptune. When you destroy a wave of enemy fighters you progress one warp at a time until you reach a planet. At that point you play a chance stage where fighters stream in and you must destroy the entire run for bonus points. During this phase the enemy craft don't attack. Upon completing the chance stage it's another three warps to the next planet. Play continues like this until you reach Earth, at which point the cycle begins anew three warps from Neptune, however the play is more difficult (the enemy's attack more often and shoot more often, asteroids stream by more frequently). The score count continues as you blast enemies and score shots on asteroids and satellites until it hits 999,999 points, then rolls over to 0 again. The top scorer on the Twin Galaxies Scoreboard is Anthony Fodrizio at a score of 41,090,450 (confirmed by referee on a standup arcade machine).

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Sources:
Gyruss Service Manual at http://www.io.com/~adastra/rancourt/gyruss/arcman.txt
Twin Galaxies Scoreboard for Gyruss is at http://www.twingalaxies.com/cgi-perl/search_scores_game.pl?&game_id=1582&track_id=1265&Platform=Arcade&game_title=Gyruss
Various Gyruss fan sites

Note that in the NES port of Gyruss, play doesn't loop around at Earth. Instead, you fly all the way to The Sun, whereupon the game ends. Play becomes markedly more difficult after Earth. In particular, the Sun stages are bloody near impossible unless you have lots of comet-cannon shots left.

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