Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Lost in the outer reaches of the solar system, a lone spaceship battled its way back to Earth in the 1983 hit Gyruss. Designed by Yoshiki Okamoto (who would go on to create Street Fighter II), Gyruss fused the gameplay of arcade classics Tempest and Galaga into a fast-paced new challenge.
At the game’s start, your ship was two “warps” away from its first destination, Neptune. As you circled around a mock-3-D space well (shades of Tempest), enemy spaceships and other deadly objects swooped by in linear formations. Once a full armada of attackers settled itself at the bottom of the well, a few fighters would break off from the pack and dive toward you to fire their lethal blasts, giving a new perspective to the familiar Galaga routine. Once all the enemy ships were destroyed, your craft sped one warp closer to its destination.
After two warps, you arrived at Neptune, where a “Challenge Stage” (again, the Galaga influence) offered a chance to score heavy-duty bonus points by wiping out the attackers that flew in, circled about, and ran away. Then it was back to the long trek home.
Each planet after Neptune took three warps to reach, and even the most skilled players had trouble lasting through Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars before finally making the last three warps to Earth. If you somehow managed to survive the journey, the game sent you back out into the cosmos, with three warps to Neptune and on through the path you’d already followed.
Gyruss’ unique gameplay (controlled, surprisingly easily, by a joystick instead of a rotary paddle) helped make the game a major success for Konami, but part of the credit must go to Johann Sebastian Bach. The classical composer’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” was electronically re-created as Gyruss’ background theme, one of the most well-remembered fusions of game and music in early arcade history.