Gyruss was a game that could’ve easily been tweaked a wee bit and made to fit within the larger Gradius universe. While those games are made by Konami and this is made by Ultra, you might not know that Ultra was just an imprint under the Konami umbrella and that the arcade version of this game had Konami all over it. The main reason for Ultra’s existence was due to some weird laws regarding licensing in North America.
Anyway, this has a Gradius feel to it, even though the gameplay style is much different.
You play as a spaceship and shoot your way through waves of enemies, progressing from stage to stage. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.
The big difference between this and the more popular side scrollers like the Gradius series is that you control the ship from a first-person point of view, as you movie the ship around the edge of the screen on a 360 degree circular rail.
While the perspective is initially cool and works well in the original arcade version of the game, it makes the controls in the NES port somewhat problematic due to the limitations of the D-pad. It’s mostly just clunky and doesn’t respond as well as you need it to.
Additionally, the game is initially fun but it gets really repetitive. Where the Gradius games are pretty much simple side scrolling shooters, they at least have really good level design and environmental changes that make the stages interesting. Gyruss, on the other hand, just has you starring at a black screen that you roll around while shooting in one small area of the screen.
This is a game that started with a cool idea but had poor, unimaginative execution, especially on the NES port. It just doesn’t work well and there are much better games within this genre.
Pairs well with: other spacecraft action shooters for the NES.