Atari 5200 Review: GORF

by CBS Electronics

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"The evil Gorfian Empire has launched an all-out attack. You are Earth's last hope!" As a lowly Space Cadet, you command of a squadron of five spacefighters in an attempt not only to deflect the Gorfian onslaught, but also to lead the counterattack against the Gorfian space armada, culminating in the final? Battle with the Gorfian Flag Ship! While this premise for a game, even a space-shooter game, isn't getting any less stale, there is actually a storyline that you can follow in the game itself, and not just in the manual. There are four distinct levels which chronicle, albeit crudely, this storyline. In "Astro Battles", a shameless Space Invaders rip-off, you deflect the Gorfian invasion. In "Laser Attack", you begin the counterattack against the Gorfian armada. You travel to the Gorfian's home galaxy in "Space Warp", a lame precursor to Gyruss/Tempest, and finally dual the enemy flag ship in "Flag Ship".

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I was a fan of the original, and was quite excited when I bought this game for the 5200. With very simple graphics and gameplay, Gorf should have been a very easy game to translate to the 5200. However, besides that the 5200 Gorf looks pretty similar to the original, there are many shortcomings to this game that aren't inherited from the original.

First, anyone who has played the original Gorf will be appalled to find out that the Galaxian rip-off level is entirely absent in the 5200 version. While this fault will be overlooked by those who have not played the original, the absurdly twitchy and unstable controls will appall old fans and newcomers alike. (Perhaps control is improved with a third-party joystick, but probably not enough). This last fault alone is enough to spoil the game for me, but unfortunately there are other inadequacies. I seem to remember a pretty cool synthesized voice in the original which taunted you when you lost the game with "Ha Ha Ha, Space Cadet" or something like that. This feature is also absent in the 5200 version. In fact, the cool ranking system of the original, where your rank was displayed on the game, thus creating a pecking order among your friends, has been relegated to a chart in the manual and difficulty setting.

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All of this is not to say that Gorf for the 5200 is a terrible game. If you have an extremely steady hand and do not move your joystick more than a half a centimeter in any direction, the control problem can be managed. Also, while the "Space Warp" mission is completely unfun, the other three levels, especially "Flag Ship", are enjoyable. Overall however, there is just no excuse why CBS couldn't have made a perfect translation of Gorf for the 5200, and there's even less excuse for the abysmal control. I recommend this game only to die-hard Gorfers who don't have access to a better version of it, and to those who can find a copy of it for less than a few bucks. I paid five dollars and feel that I've paid too much. A real disappointment, but not quite a dud.

Title Gorf
Publisher CBS Electronics
System Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Graphics 4
Sound 5
Gameplay 5
Overall 5
Reviewer Karlis Povisils

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