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Gorf

Too bad, Space Cadet.

The white noise of Space Invaders clones was becoming deafening in the industrious arcades, and operators were increasingly turned off by yet another space based shoot out. But Gorf (Galactic Orbital Robotic Force) brought a lot to the table; enough to make the most overfed and bloated arcade owner open their coin fed gullets for one more mouthful. In this one cabinet, gamers were given five terrific variations on the well established theme.

Originally pegged for a possible Star Trek: The Motion Picture tie in (which, this writer would like to add, could've worked nicely if the film hadn't been quite such a meandering space opera), remnants of the early work can still be seen in the Enterprise shaped ship, the defence shielding of the first level and the warp round. Still, it made no matter to Gorf that a film license wasn't to happen, and the five mini-games (as we like to call them today) thrilled those badly dressed 1980s arcade creepers.

A clever design drew gamers to the raster glow of Gorf like mecha-moths to a super nova. The first level was a quick, clean and shameless Invaders clone, while subsequent levels (which were reached easily enough) added wildly varied gameplay. The designers made no apology for combining elements from other popular games of the time (the entire concept, in the case of Galaxian), to create a genuine, thrilling space adventure right there in the arcades: even turning the Invaders theme on its head for the brilliant final level, where the player goes on the offensive against a dominating, shielded flag ship.

With revolutionary concepts like digitized speech (that never shuts up, but does add to the sci-fi atmosphere superbly) and the option to buy extra lives as well as extra credits, Gorf really was the best friend of the jaded arcade owners and met with directly proportional success.

8 / 10

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