Codex Gamicus

Gyruss (ジャイラス Jairasu?) is a shoot 'em up video arcade game developed by Konami, and released in 1983. It was designed by Yoshiki Okamoto, who had earlier created Time Pilot for Konami. Gyruss was licensed to Centuri in the United States, and was ported to numerous games consoles and home computers. It follows in the tradition of space war games such as Space Invaders and Galaga.

Gyruss was the second and last game Yoshiki Okamoto designed for Konami, after Time Pilot. Due to pay disputes, he was fired after the release of this game, and soon joined Capcom, where he would write 1942 and the first Street Fighter game.

The game's background music is an electronic, fast-paced arrangement of J. S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565; this particular arrangement is superficially similar in sound to "Toccata", a rock arrangement by the UK-based instrumentalist group Sky. Gyruss is notable for using "stereo" sound, which according to the bonus material for Konami Arcade Classics, was achieved by utilizing discrete audio circuits.


The gameplay is very similar to that of Galaga but with an added twist: the game is presented in a forced 3D perspective, with the player's ship facing 'into' the screen and able to move around the perimeter of an implicit circle - essentially, Gyruss was Galaga mapped onto a Tempest-like cylinder. This gameplay style is called a tube shooter, and Gyruss is one of the very few examples that exist. The familiar scrolling starfield of earlier space shooter games was arranged to fit the 3D perspective, with the stars coming into view at the centre of the screen and flying outward, giving the impression of the player's ship moving very fast through space.

The majority of enemies are other spaceships, all of which must be destroyed before a level is completed. They appear either from the centre of the screen or from one of the edges, and move in swirling patterns. They can shoot the player's ship or destroy it by contact. They hover near the centre of the screen after completing their deployment pattern, and occasionally fly outwards and shoot at the player. If they are not destroyed by the player, the enemy ships gradually fly away one by one.

There are also several other types of enemies: satellites, asteroids, and laser beam generators. These appear intermittently and soon disappear of their own accord if not destroyed by the player.

Satellites materialise in a group of three just in front of the player after the ordinary enemy ships have finished deployment. They gyrate in small circles and shoot at the player. If the player has the basic weapon when the satellites appear the middle one will be a sun-like object - if destroyed, the player's ship gets a better weapon. There is only one upgrade possible and if the better weapon has already been gained then all satellites are identical. This is not always easy, as the satellites' shots do not need to travel far to hit the player's ship, and the player only has a few seconds to destroy them before they fly away.

Asteroids fly straight outwards from the centre of the screen at regular intervals. They always fly just to the left or right of the player's ship, so unless the ship moves it will be never be hit by an asteroid. They cannot be destroyed but a small points bonus is given for shooting at them.

Laser beam generators occasionally fly straight outwards from the centre of the screen. They consist of two generator segments with a laser beam between them; destroying either generator deactivates the beam. The player's ship is destroyed by contact with either the generators or the beam.

The player begins the game "2 WARPS TO NEPTUNE". After completing each level, the player is one warp closer to a planet. Each time a planet is reached, the player's ship is seen flying towards it and then a short bonus round is played, where the player can shoot enemy ships for bonus points without worrying about being destroyed by them. After reaching Neptune, the player is then three warps from Uranus, and progresses through Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and finally Earth, taking three warps to reach each planet. Stage one and every 10th stage thereafter the enemies do not fire on the player when entering the screen.

After completing Earth's bonus stage, the player must travel through the very fast "3 WARPS TO NEPTUNE" level before returning to the start of the game.


Early Ports[]

Gyruss was ported to many early systems, including the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, and ColecoVision.

Nintendo Entertainment System[]

Gyruss was also slightly remade for the Family Computer Disk System in Japan, and later the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, released by Konami's subsidiary Ultra Games. In these versions of the game, the gameplay is still largely the same, but there are several revisions. Despite the revisions, the game was still well received in North America. Revisions include:

  • Updated graphics
  • The music from the arcade version of the game was slightly remixed, and several additional tracks were added.
  • The player starts off at "Three Warps To Neptune" instead of "Two Warps"
  • The player can use a super phaser attack in addition to the normal guns
  • There are additional enemies, including boss fights when the player reaches each planet
  • Bonus stages after each planet's boss is defeated, for a chance to gain additional powerups
  • There is a definite ending to the game. In the NES version, it's a brief text about the Universe being at peace. In the FDS version, there is a full ending sequence with credits.
  • In addition to the satellites providing the usual double guns and bonus points, they can also provide extra phasers, a smart bomb, and even an extra life
  • Instead of the arcade's looping 24 stages, there are 39 looping. In the arcade, the player starts from Neptune and proceeds to Earth. On the NES version, the player travels through the entire Solar System, including the Sun and Pluto.
  • The player can enter the Konami code at the title screen for extra lives, but with a twist: the code must be entered in reverse (A-B-A-B-right-left-right-left-down-down-up-up) instead of in the original sequence.

This version of the game was included in the Majesco TV Game Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced. This isn't to be confused with the Game Boy Advance game of the same name, which featured an actual programming of the arcade Gyruss.

Modern ports[]

Faithful versions of Gyruss can be played in modern compilations. Gyruss has a perfect emulation (minus the attract mode) in Konami Arcade Classics for the PlayStation. There is also a very faithful implementation in Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced for the Game Boy Advance. In addition, there is the Konami Live! Plug and Play PC controller that includes Gyruss with an online scoreboard, as well as five other Konami titles. On April 18, 2007, the game was released on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service with optional enhanced graphics and online high-score leaderboards. A clone of the game also exists as one of the minigames found in various convenience stores featured in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Dance Dance Revolution ULTRAMIX 2 contains a remix of the Gyruss music as a playable song.

Gyruss was made available on Microsoft's Game Room service for its Xbox 360 console and for Windows-based PCs in July 2010.

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