Retro Coin Op Synopsis
“Prepare yourself for annihilation!”
What if you could play both Space Invaders and Galaxian on a single quarter? From that drool-inducing dream, Gorf was born. Arcade giant Bally/Midway had imported both of those hugely successful Japanese games to the U.S., and some bright employee figured out a way to turn the two into one, together with three similar games.
Gorf, along with the previous year’s Phoenix, was one of the earliest multi-stage games, offering several variations on a theme. Progressing through five stages, you controlled the Interstellar Space Force’s battle against the evil Gorfian Empire. With a pistol-grip joystick and trigger button, you maneuvered your ship out of the way of enemy fire, launching a counter-attack with your “quark laser.”
“Survival is impossible!”
The first stage was a straightforward Space Invaders clone, replacing that game’s four shields with a single, arcing force field. After clearing that wave, dubbed “Astro Battles,” your ship moved on to “Laser Attack.” This aptly-named stage featured two Gorfian ships armed with long-range laser beams. It took some tricky shuffling to dodge the zappers and take out the laser fighters and their kamikaze escorts, but once you did, it was on to the next level.
The third stage, “Galaxians,” delivered exactly what it promised: a faithful recreation of the arcade hit. Blow away the dive-bombing Gorfians without losing all your lives, and you’d progress to level four, “Space Warp.” The funky radiant pattern at the top of this stage was actually a web created from the enemy Flagship’s exhaust. From the center of this vortex came a wave of fighters, which had to be eliminated before reaching the fifth and final stage.
“My Gorfian robots are unbeatable!”
Waiting at the climactic fifth level was the Gorfian “Flag Ship,” a large, moving craft protected by a forcefield arc. As the Flagship launched fireballs at your defenseless craft, you blasted through the forcefield for a clear shot at the “internal power reactor vent” (which, loosely translated from Gorfian, means “tail pipe”). A direct hit not only resulted in a spectacular explosion, it also put you on track for a nice promotion. Every five missions (the five levels only equaled one mission) moved you up the Interstellar Space Force ranks, from Space Cadet to Space Captain, Space Colonel, Space General, Space Warrior, Space Avenger and beyond.
“I devour coins.”
In addition to the multi-stage gameplay, Gorf brought in players with its colorful graphics and taunting robot voice. Players flocked to the machines, always eager to get five games for the price of one. Unfortunately, success was short-lived. Gorf hung around the arcades for several more years, but Space Invaders and Galaxian were starting to pass the torch to a new generation of more cartoony games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Gorf may not have been able to hang with those big boys, but Donkey Kong’s mocking grin will still never be able to match the shaming wit of the Gorfian Empire:
“Some galactic defender you are… ha-ha-ha!”