We're playing Gorf because it gives us a glimpse of what could have been had Bally stuck with the Bally Arcade system. Maybe if the original Bally Arcade console systems didn't overheat from their initial release, then Bally would have added more memory and supported the hi-res ("commercial") mode that is built into the Astrocade's chipset. Perhaps this would have been called the Super Bally Arcade and released in 1981 once the price of RAM dropped. I guess we'll never know, for in 1981 Astrovision, Inc. released the Astrocade in the same configuration as its original January 1978 release by Bally. What did we really miss out on? We'll never know.
Gorf is an arcade game released in 1981. It was programmed by Jay Fenton, who (among many other arcade games and Astrocade projects) programmed Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC" for the Astrocade. I will be playing Gorf using the MAME emulator. If anyone knows of any classic arcade collections that contain Gorf, then let me know and I'll add information about it here.
Here are a few screenshots of Gorf. Some of these screenshots include the bezel overlay, which is actually nearly-required to play the game, as there is analog feedback that lights up part of the bezel to tell the player which rank they have reached:
Here is a zip file that includes all of the files needed to play Gorf on any version of MAME that doesn't emulate the Vortex voice synthesizer. I think that this means any version of MAME that is pre-version 0.181. Just place the files in the three appropriate directories in MAME (artwork, roms, and samples):
Gorf (MAME).zip 925.14KB 58 downloads
The upright version of the Gorf game looked like this:
Here is a close-up of the game's marquee:
The front of the arcade flyer for Gorf looked like this:
Gorf uses a non-standard joystick. It looks like this:
I have a little experience playing the arcade version of Gorf. This arcade joystick made my index finger tired, so I'm glad that I'll be playing the game in MAME using either an Atari CX40 joystick or the Edladdin Supreme 7800 joystick.
I'm not overly familiar with Gorf, so I'm relying on background information from its Wikipedia page, which you can read in its entirety here:
I've excerpted some of the key points and paragraphs from Gorf's Wikipedia entry:
"Gorf is an arcade game released in 1981 by Midway Mfg., whose name was advertised as an acronym for "Galactic Orbiting Robot Force". It is a multiple-mission fixed shooter with five distinct modes of play, essentially making it five games in one. It is well known for its use of synthesized speech, a new feature at the time. [...]
"The player controls a spaceship that can move left, right, up and down around the lower third of the screen. The ship can fire a single shot (called a "quark laser" in this game), which travels vertically up the screen. Unlike similar games, where the player cannot fire again until the existing shot has disappeared, the player can choose to fire another shot at any time; if the previous shot is still on screen, it disappears.
"Gorf consists of five distinct "missions", each with its own patterns of enemies. The central goal of each mission is to destroy all enemies in that wave, which takes the player to the next mission. Successfully completing all five missions will increase the player's rank and loop back to the first mission, where play continues on a higher difficulty level. The game continues until the player loses all their lives. The player can advance through the ranks of Space Cadet, Space Captain, Space Colonel, Space General, Space Warrior, and Space Avenger, with a higher difficulty level at each rank. Along the way, a robotic voice heckles and threatens the player, often calling the player by their current rank (for example, "Some galactic defender you are, Space Cadet!"). Some versions also display the player's current rank via a series of lit panels in the cabinet."
The five different screens in Gorf are:
- Astro Battles
- Laser Attack
- Space Warp
- Flag Ship
The newer versions of MAME don't use the prerecorded voice samples, and instead emulate the Vortex voice chip that was included with the game. I prefer to play the game using my slightly-older version of the emulator (MAME 0.177). If you have trouble emulating the game, then try reading this thread on AtariAge:
There are quite a few fun-to-watch video for Gorf, both using real hardware and emulation. Here is a selection of a few that I've browsed:
"John's Arcade Game Reviews & Tech" has a video called "GORF Arcade Game Review - Bally/Midway 1981 - John's Arcade on the Road!" The video allows you to hear the digitized speech and see how a real machine functions:
Here is a video by "gan9e" called "GORF 1981 HD." This shows Gorf running in MAME, with speech and with the bezel overlay. This is how it looks when I play the game in MAME:
"bill heatherly" has a short video that does a good job of capturing the voice in the game. This video is called "Gorf Video Arcade Game:"
This video, by "Gaming History Source," shows the arcade game and various different home conversions of the game. The video is called "Let's Compare ( Gorf ):"
Midway sold a 28-page manual called Gorf Combat Manual for $1.95. It gives many hints on how to play the game. I've never seen another manual like this before for an arcade game. I'm also not sure where this manual was available for sale. The manual has been scanned and is available here:
There is only one option for Gorf: start the game with three lives. You can insert additional quarters to start the game with more lives, but please don't do that for this round.
Up to ten points are awarded for playing Gorf. We are playing for the highest score.
Nuke the #%@$*&!!
The BASIC bonus "game" is Nuke the #%@$*&!! by Jay Fenton.
This was released in 1982 on a tape as the "B-Side" to the game Life.
George Moses sold Jay's Life program. Advertisements for Life are here included in the October and December Arcadian newsletter:
Arcadian 4, no. 12 (Oct. 07, 1982): 122.
Arcadian 5, no. 2 (Dec. 3, 1982): 35.
Here is what the ad says about Life (and "Nuke"):
"Sure, you've seen Life games before. A BASIC program was published in a magazine a year or two ago. It took 5 or 10 minutes per generation! Well, how about one generation per second? Yup!!! Jay Fenton, the guy who wrote Bally BASIC, Gunfight, Scribbling, Calculator and Gorf has revved-up you Z-80 processor to give you a full screen scan and a new LIFE generation each second! Put some LIFE in your Arcade (and give some spending money to Jay Fenton to keep him in "programming mode!"). Buy Life and get Nuke the !$&! free!"
The 12 pages of instructions for Nuke the #%@$*&!! and Life are available at BallyAlley.com:
http://www.ballyalle...uke the ---.pdf
The twelve-page manual has ten pages devoted to Life, and just one page devoted to the "B-Side." Here is a picture of the one page of short instructions for this round's bonus "game:"
I've OCRed the short instructions for Nuke the #%@$*&!!:
NUKE THE @&#%$*
© Jay Fenton, 1982
Nuke the @&#%$* will automatically start after loading with the command:
Use hand control trigger one to drop the bomb and to "speed up" the program. (Pulling the trigger will shorten the wait period for the title and score frames.)
After Arcade power-up you should RESET without BASIC inserted before loading Nuke the @<&#%$?. This will set the alternate color map registers which are used to display a "fallout" pattern.
The object of this game is prevent nuclear war by showing the emptiness of life even if you win the battle, because you have no human organisms left to share the victory with. So, if no nuclear war breaks out in the next five years, please give the credit to this program and its creator, Jay Fenton.
In the meantime, have fun and remember... aim for the nuclear power plant for the most devastation for your bomb dollar!!!
You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of Nuke the #%@$*&!! here:
There are many bonus points available this round for both games.
- Gorf (1 Point) - Video Review - Unlike most games we play, there are scores of videos for Gorf. Still, as always, anyone who makes a video review of Gorf will get a bonus point.
- Gorf (1 Point) - Highest Rank - The player who reaches the highest rank among us players will receive one bonus point (i.e. you don't have to earn the rank of "Space Avenger" to get a bonus point-- just the highest among us players).
- Gorf (1 Point) - Play Home Versions - Gorf was released for many home systems in the early 1980s, but never for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. Anyone who plays home computer/console versions of Gorf from the 1980s will be awarded one bonus per version that you play. Some suggestions of versions of Gorf that you can play are for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200/Atari 8-Bit, Commodore 64 and any of the many other systems that this game was released on. If you like emulating other systems, then there are a ton of points that can be earned here. To keep this semi-fair, the maximum amount of points that can be earned for playing other versions of Gorf is five points!
- Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Playing Nuke the #%@$*&!!
- Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Secret bonus point - I'm not saying how to earn this bonus point. Try playing the game in a number of different ways to see the ending of the game. Post screenshots of what you find. To be fair, I don't qualify for this point.
- Nuke the #%@$*&!! (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of Nuke the #%@$*&!! will get a bonus point.
Nuke the #%@$*&!! isn't much of a game. It's not meant to be one; it's more of a political statement. I didn't miss the irony of the distribution of Nuke the #%@$*&!!. This game, which could have just as easily called Death to Them All!, is on the opposite side of a tape on which the main game is called Life. The game "Nuke" is everything that Life is not.
Nuke the #%@$*&!! gives us an interesting glimpse into the human condition: do we want to play a "game" in which, with the push of the trigger button, we can kill millions of people? In this "game," we're not out to save the Earth from invaders from space. No, it's simply "us against them," and we just might be the bad guys. Can we handle that? Will you drop your one bomb, or will you allow yourself to be ridiculed for being weak and flying over the city without releasing death to millions of people?
Post your scores as you play Gorf over the next couple of weeks. If anyone finds any tips while playing these games, then please share them.
In the next round, we'll be back to playing a regular Astrocade game on cartridge. For now, enjoy playing a classic arcade game that's got a touch of the Astrocade inside of it. Have fun!
Edited by ballyalley, Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:37 PM.
Ignore the name of this post-- yes, this is round 8, NOT round 7. I wish I could change the post's title.