When you resurrect a 25 year old arcade game that hasn't been seen much since, it's always interesting to see if the gameplay has stood the test of time. Is the game really a classic, or is it just from the classical age of gaming? Take Gyruss for example. Gyruss has popped up occasionally on one system or another over the last quarter century - just enough so that people wouldn't forget about it, but not enough so that they'd remember exactly what it was about. Now thanks to Xbox Live Arcade, an Xbox 360 and $5 will let you get reacquainted with the game. Let's see if the reunion would be a happy one...
Gyruss is a shooter that's a lot like Galaga, well, Galaga played inside a paper towel roll that is. Gyruss has you facing waves of enemies that come swooping onto the screen and into formation, after which they begin to break ranks to swoop around while launching missiles at you. After every few levels you're given a challenge stage where enemies fly across the screen in crazy patterns as you try your best to hit them all. After the challenge stage things begin anew, although the enemies' flight paths change up a bit as they enter the screen. So far this sounds exactly like Galaga, but the twist in Gyruss is that instead of moving horizontally across the bottom of the screen you move along a circle that rings the screen. It's like you're in a tube or pipe, but you're stuck to the walls. This was probably an early attempt to bring a 3D feel to the distinctly 2D world of 80s shooters, but it also makes the game a bit different from all of the other Galaga/Galaxians clones of the day.
Well, that's Gyruss. The Xbox 360 version includes the original arcade version of the game which can either be played alone or with another player alternating turns between lives. Since the original game used an upright monitor in portrait mode, the game screen only occupies the middle third of the entire screen with the dead space filled in by a rather dull static border. Your scores in this mode are automatically uploaded to the online leaderboards so you can see how your best score stacks up against those of other gamers. I wish the game would save its high score table between sessions, though. As it stands it's reset each time so you'll only ever see your best score on the leaderboard.
Online gaming can be done in cooperative or versus modes, but these modes basically have you playing side by side with your teammate/competition. In co-op your scores are added together and in versus the high score wins. It's not really any different than playing alone, but at least you can pick up a few extra achievement points and you don't have to look at the dull borders.
The biggest problem with Gyruss is that there's just not a lot too it. Once you've played it for a little bit you've seen it all, and the only motivation to keep playing is to squeeze a few more thousand points out of it to add to your high score.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 62%. The good thing is that it's true to the original Gyruss, but that's the bad thing as well.