Classic Retro Video Game Reviews

CBS Electronics Gorf -Atari 5200
Retro Gaming Review

Atari 5200 Super System console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game ReviewCBS Electronics Gorf for Atari 5200 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Title: Gorf
Manufacturer: CBS Electronics
Platform: Atari 5200
Release Date: 1983
Part #: 4L2711
Rating: 2 out of 5
ESRB Rating: N/A

Rating: CBS Electronics Gorf Classic Retro Video Game Review Rating
CBS Electronics Gorf Screenshot:
CBS Electronics Gorf for Atari 5200 screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review

How many of you first mistook Gorf for Space Invaders when it first hit the arcade scene? If you were a casual player you might not have know there were multiple modes - five in all- that sort of made Gorf a 5-in-1 game. Many dismissed it as a Space Invaders rip off having never seen the higher levels. Although it looked similar, Gorf featured some vertical mobility as opposed to the horizontal-only movements in Space Invaders.

As arcade games go, I wasn't a die-hard fan of Gorf, but it was a frequent play in my days of haunting arcades. After being released to a variety of computer platforms, the 5200 was a primary console release. Alas, the translation left much to be desired. Almost everyone hated the lack of horizontal control.

The Gorf arcade controls were pretty straight forward using a joystick with integrated fire button. So its hard to fathom why it was so botched on the 5200. Many control issues have been blamed on the horrible Atari 5200 joysticks, but the problems with Gorf transcend shitty controllers. Something went wrong in development or execution. Pushing the joystick slightly left or right made the ship move irregularly and a hard push left or right sent the ship to the far corners of the screen.

Gorf Story Arc

So, what's a Gorf?
The Interstellar Space Force Command was destroyed by the Gorfian Empire and as is always the case you are Earth's only hope. You have to fend off the fleet until you are up against the Flag Ship. Advance as best you can and advance to each new challenge from the Gorfian Robot Armada.

Gorf Game Play

1 or 2 players begin with 5 ships and the desire to kill the advancing enemy. You begin at the Cadet level, but can start at higher levels by using the Rank Level button on the Gorf overlay for the 5200. As you move through the missions you will see that the Galaxians level is missing.

If you begin on the first level you'll see a familiar looking Space Invaders type setup and you may be tempted to start blasting away. Don't! Whereas it seems as if you have a multi-fire capability. A missile that has not yet hit an enemy will disappear once a second shot is fired. Aim carefully - which is hard with the lame controls.

Holy shit! Check this out...
Gorf hit arcades in 1981 and picked up a lot of Space Invaders fans although some claimed it was more of a rip off. Gorf is an acronym for "Galactic Orbiting Robot Force". There were 5 modes of play, making it seem like 5 games in one. The Space Invader's clone is called Astro Battles and the Galaxian clone is called Galaxians.
The other 3 modes are: Laser Attack, Space Warp & Flag Ship. Gorf was originally intended to be a tie-in with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but when the game designers read the film's script, they scrapped the idea.

Mission 1- Astro Battles:
This initial level features a shield protecting your ship as enemies descend. As they penetrate the shield, you can then shoot through it. Until some openings appear you are relegated to the corners of the screen where you can often take out an entire column of enemies.

Mission 2- Laser Attack:
Enemies are grouped in 5's with 3 kamikaze Invaders accompanying a Laser Ship along with a Flying Gorf. Shoot em down while avoiding the laser blasts a diving kamikaze dudes.

Mission 3- Space Warp:
Enemies converge on you from the center of the screen in a Tempest or Gyruss fashion. They'll spiral out at you one at a time.

Mission 4- Flag Ship:
Protected behind a force field, the Flag Ship fires heat-seeking missiles at you and debris from the ship comes at you after hitting it's outer hull. Your goal is to fire into a vent leading to the internal power reactor (think Star Wars IV). An explosion ensues and you go back to Mission 1, but the enemies are faster and pose more threat.

The key to this game (on the Atari 5200) is to move the joystick very slightly and slowly. This is counter intuitive to playing an arcade shooter, but it's the only way to squeeze any enjoyment out of it. Should you dare venture into 2-player mode, get ready to pass the controller as only one port is active for Gorf.

Atari 5200 Super System console Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review
Final Judgement:

CBS Electronics Gorf

is nowhere near the arcade game. We easily excused the missing Galaxian mission, but the controls are horrible. We can't blame the 5200 controllers - it's just a nasty quirk to this game. I loved Arcade Gorf, but this version is nearly unplayable. We'd easily have given this version a full point higher, but we can't let this one slide.

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