Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Gyropod (1984)

Time:40 minutes
Won:Not possible

Gyropod is a very strange game. Depressing music plays in the background before you start the game. It's not that of a sci-fi game, it's a funeral dirge. (perhaps I'm wrong, I don't recognize the classic piece it's inspired by) My version is quite cursed. To start it up, you need to switch from a P2 joystick to a P1 to get past the pirate intro, but the game itself only works with P2 joystick. Then you need to go to the options menu so you get more than one life. I'm not kidding, by default I got one. You can get 8 or you could just activate the trainer and play as long as your patience allows.

The story is that you're just going around killing aliens and destroying their planet. You're not exactly the good guy here. You do this by shooting down all the alien ship defenders and the rest is mostly automatic. This is not some grand reversal of The Dreadnaught Factor, you are, in fact, completely outclassed. You get shields, for the ship itself. Enemy ships automatically crash into it. (this doesn't kill them because this game hates you) It's even divided into two parts, one for the pod and one for the rim. Your gun dies in one hit, and you have limited ammo. Very limited ammo, basically one planet's worth. Oh, and if you die, all the enemies you killed respawn.

The control scheme is the novel part about this. You can completely rotate around the ship. Movement is very loose here. It really feels like you're sliding around, movement keeps happening even after you let go of the joystick. Shooting is way too fast for a game that puts a harsh limit on your ammo. If it wasn't for the fact that it seems to be designed around the ammo limitation, I'd swear it was added really late in development.

When you inevitably need more supplies, you can go to the planet by pressing left left right on the joystick. If you didn't have the manual you're screwed. This puts you in a weird Lunar Lander sequence. It's weird because you don't move, you just control how slowly you descend by holding down the fire button. You're always going down, it never stops you or takes you back up. There's some trick to this, because the second you get here you seem to be on a timer until an enemy also lands.

This introduces an aspect that makes this part seemingly impossible. You have to grab crates to bring back to your ship to get supplies. This is reasonable. Enemy ships fly down; one gets out and shoots at you, you can shoot back. This is reasonable. One pops down left and another one on the right. That's also reasonable. What's unreasonable is that you can't kill them, you just push them back with your shots. This breaks the central concept of the game for me. I can understand having a high difficulty curve, but this gets simply unmanagable. You're basically screwed.
The trick, in as much as there is a trick, is to just speed through it. Go down as fast as you can, grab a crate and fly off. You can go back to the planet as many times as you want and the crates will respawn. Fighting them is a losing battle. It's not great, but at least you get something out of it. Considering how bizarrely stiff this second feels, this is about all you can do.
Getting back to shooting down enemy ships. Enemies fly around quite a bit, so it's not easy to get a shot on them. They also disappear and reappear sometimes, not a cloak, just going off to the side. Which, when you think about it, is a bit goofy in a space game. Where can they disappear to? You shoot down all but a couple, and you keep missing. They dodge a lot, they disappear a lot. But it's at this stage that I see the cherry upon this crap sundae. They have such a tiny hitbox. You can't hit the wings, no, you have to hit the body and just the body. I could figure out how to master the game's sliding turret, it's very loose but I could get it eventually, but I'd rather just quit.

Bog standard attack. 1/10

I didn't get that far, but the only enemies seem to be ships with annoying AI and ground soldiers which are invulernable. 1/10


Generic outer space and weird planet. 1/10

Player Agency:
Loose and awkward, with obtuse actions for anything more simple than moving and shooting. 2/10


I like the way this game implies there's much more to it than there really is. 1/10

Not terrible, but very limited. 2/10

It's a mildly interesting twist on the usual space game, but it feels less like galactic conqueror and more space terrorist. 1/10

Nice, but really short loops of music and the usual sound effects. 2/10

That's 11. Tried to find something interesting about this one, but there just isn't much.

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