Tuesday 27 October 2015

Gryzor (Amstrad CPC review)

Developer: John Brandwood
Publisher: Ocean Software
Released: 1988

Gryzor is a run 'n' gun game that was originally released in the Arcades as Contra (1987).

It supports 1 or 2 players (turn based, not co-op) and your objective is to stop an alien race from taking over the world. Your Pea Shooter is always available but you can pick up a number of automatic weapons such as a Laser, Fireball and Spread Gun. One downside is that the screen doesn't scroll in the horizontal stages and instead there's static screens that change once you reach the right-hand edge. It's not a huge problem but it can be a bit jarring as it leaves you with less time to react to enemies. Considering the lack of buttons available the controls have been ported across well; movement and shooting feels responsive and you can fire diagonally which helps to clear enemies on lower / higher platforms. However, you can't jump and fire straight downwards which can cause issues in later levels. The variety in the Arcade original was outstanding and it's pleasing to see that almost everything has made the transition to the CPC; in fact, the only parts I noticed were missing were the Snow level and the section in Hangar where mine carts appear. Even the Waterfall stage is here and the screen orientation changes to portrait mode for some smooth vertical scrolling. The 3D corridor battles are amazing with great sprite scaling when your character moves towards the next area. The bosses are gigantic and play exactly the same as in the Arcades. The game is tough and requires memorisation but the shooting action is so satisfying that it makes you want to keep progressing. 6128 users can load the entire game into memory but unfortunately you have to choose between SFX or music and the main theme isn't even present. The graphics look fantastic though with rich, vivid colours and tons of detail in the backgrounds.

Gryzor is an impressive conversion of the Arcade classic and it's a credit to the developers that they managed to cram so much in. While it's not the longest game in the world it's very addictive and the diverse gameplay styles ensure that the action never gets boring.

Random trivia: The ending in this version is bizarre as you're congratulated before being told that by defeating the final boss you've activated a self-destruct mechanism that destroyed the entire planet!

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