#31 Gorf

Posted: 25th July 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

257th played so far


Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1981
Developer: Dave Nutting Associates
Publisher: Midway

When starting on some of these older games, it’s quite humbling to see what they brought to the field.  Gorf, for example, was the first to have synthesised speech – the first with voice acting, so to speak. Not on the level that we know it as, but considering how amazing it was to have that years later in Gauntlet, it seems like it’s still a major achievement.

Then again, it was barely imitated for some time, so maybe it wasn’t that impressive yet.

(We’re ignoring the book’s comment that it is the first game with distinct levels. Looking at, say, Eamon, it’s clear other games did that sort of thing earlier and Donkey Kong was released in the same year. True, but graphically each level is graphically distinct unlike those two games you mentioned)

Our Thoughts

The influences of this game are clear. The first level is clearly Space Invaders, the second Galaxian. That also describes the remainder of gameplay – the enemy patterns change and there’s a warp tunnel style effect at one point, but not a lot of the game is actually different.

It’s not a bad thing, really. Leaving alone the age, it’s a simple concept that has the right sort of difficulty curve and can get addictive quickly. More time than Space Invaders, sure, but that makes it more fun.

Another part that helps is the ranking system. While the game keeps repeating the same five levels, they speed up each time. This is indicated nicely by the ranks you gain – I believe the voicing will change to address you using that same rank too, which is a sliver of awesome.

There’s not much to call out about that game – it’s a fairly standard shoot ’em up and a lot of the gameplay is seen again. The things marked as innovation are special, but not as notable, with it affecting the game only indirectly. It will have been awesome at the time, but isn’t as notable.

There’s one control issue we noticed. While you may be used to firing multiple shot in these games, this game doesn’t have that. More annoying though, pressing ‘fire’ a second time doesn’t just prevent you from firing – instead it cancels the shot and refires it. This is a feature, and it sort of makes sense as it allows you not to get in too much trouble from accidental firing, but it’s annoying when you’re used to multi-shots or get your timing wrong and cancels that shot just before it’s hitting the enemy.

At the same time, however, the game does it well. It is clearly influenced by other games, but the developers took that and made it more awesome. The gameplay is tight, with only a slight controls annoyance, and the variety in levels does make the game fun.

Final Thoughts

Seeing how this game really is a product of identity theft rather than influence it is an interesting that this was allowed to be produced for the arcade. The fact that the home ports had to remove the Galaxian rip-off really speaks to that. As usual it’s an interesting game but for me the lack of originality made me question its place on this list.

  1. […] games), we somehow managed to play through a chronological progression of shoot ‘em ups. Both Gorf and Juno First were of the basic Space Invaders vertical shoot the alien type, each with its own […]