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Gorf - August 16, '00 by Personan
Game:GorfCompany:Midway
Type:ShooterPlayers:1/2

Gorf was a Midway came which came out in 1981, following hot on the heels of mighty early shooters like Space Invaders and Galaxians. Instead of attempting a new game, Midway took the innovative step of combining existing genres to produce what must be one of the first video games composed of distinct sub games. In addition to this ground breaking move, the Gorf videogame was also one of the first to feature speech. I remember being totally freaked by the Gorf speech as an 11 year old child and I have to admit, it still spooks me now.
The structure of Gorf is divided into five stages providing hints of both past and future iconic eighties videogames. The first and third stages are blatant descendents of Space Invaders and Galaxian while other stages borrow ideas form games such as Phoenix. Gorf undoubtedly also contributed ideas too, being one of the first shooters with true 8 way directional movement. Indeed, we can also see some Gorf-like gameplay appearing in later videogames such as Exerion and Gyruss. The garish Gorf background colors and freaky explosions with creeping red lines and unusual motherships must also be testament to the influence of the Atari cold war classic Missile Command. All in all, Gorf was a huge and rich mix, melding old ideas with new, and pushing the old Z80 board to produce what must be one of the first examples of Slowdown, now fully emulated by the faithful MAME driver (or is it my useless Athlon 700?). Sound effects and particularly explosions were handled in a brash, over the top fashion which somehow ended up sounding good combined with the frightening speech of the alien consciousness, reproduced by a spine-jarring demonic Speak and Spell. The constant (almost personal) vocal taunts "The end is near, Space Cadet; Survival is impossible, Space Cadet; Prepare yourself for annihilation, Space Cadet" combine beautifully with a deliberately frustrating pulse firing system (not one for the autofire enthusiast) creating real frustration, tension and anxiety.
All in all, I think you can see that I like this game, but providing a score isnít going to be easy. The graphics are nothing special, even for 1981, and you feel that there is a distinct lack of animation frames in comparison to say, Phoenix. The sound and speech could prove annoying if you donít have the time to explore what the voice is saying and appreciate the originality, apparent for a 1981 game. Likewise the slowdown might be annoying for some, if they canít appreciate the limitations of a 1.78MHz Z80. On the plus side emulation in MAME is near-perfect (if I remember the arcade machine correctly) but you do need the sound samples. And at the end of the day it must be worth hearing the dialogue on this, the first dark videogame (Gorf is Frog spelled backwards), so play alone, in the dark, with the sound cranked up.
Graphics
6
9
Sound
Play Control
8
7
Challenge
Replay Value
7
7
Performance

Screen Shots

Screen Shot 1
Screen Shot 2
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