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Gryzor

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Gryzor

Konami / Ocean Software (1988)

Synopsis

Armed with a basic gun and bandana combo, you're faced with enemies out to claim your dog tag. With the ability to upgrade your gun or become temporarily invincible, they'll have their work cut out.

You're in the army... now!


Graphics

Pros:

Very similar style to Renegade, with great attention to detail. Disgustingly awesome loading screen!


Cons:

Shots fired towards you can sometimes prove difficult to spot.





Sound

Pros:

The sound effects are of a better standard to the rest here.


Cons:

The sparsely heard tune is fairly ordinary.





Gameplay

Pros:

You'll believe that you can eat green berets for breakfast!


Cons:

Tricky timing needed for some of the third-person perspective levels.




Graphics

Pros:

Smooth scrolling, as ever.


Cons:

The phonetic spelling of the graphics is 'kræp'!





Sound

Pros:

Probably one of the best C64 opening tunes I've heard.


Cons:

In-game music is of a good standard, but repetitively torturous.





Gameplay

Pros:

A nice simple first level that leads you into greater difficulty.


Cons:

The flat atmospherics make this a decidedly ho-hum 'run and gun' game.




Graphics

Pros:

Quite a decent loading screen - lots of Predator/Alien imagery, and Arnie! Fast, detailed sprites.


Cons:

Thanks to your character adopting whatever background colour he's set against, you'll rarely see him!





Sound

Pros:

Good sound effects.


Cons:

A tune would have been nice!





Gameplay

Pros:

Good game, good game (that one's for Brucie!).


Cons:

You can't move left, so avoiding some enemy fire becomes nigh on impossible.



Welcome to the Jungle




Way back to the very beginning of time itself (well, okay... 1968!), a certain cocksure electronics upstart named Alan Michael Sugar had taken his initials and prefixed them to an abbreviated version of the word 'trading' (AMStrad). I wonder what ever became of that man? It must have been quite the trend back then because, in the following year, the first two letters of three Japanese entrepreneurs' surnames were formed together to create the name of one of the most enduring companies in the history of video gaming… 'Konami'.


Konami's foremost successes in video gaming came about in the early eighties during a time when an arcade machine would occupy an area even if it meant sacrificing all levels of practicality. For instance, on boiling summer days, my mates and I would go to the local chippy not to buy any food, but to play the arcade machine wedged in there. This was Konami's Scramble, and there would be a half-dozen kids loitering around the machine egging the player on to complete the level. Never mind that the already claustrophobic chip shop was raising the indoor temperature up by 30° whilst a bunch of enthusiastic kids jumped up and down in their school blazers!


It wasn't just in chip shops that you'd see these arcade machines, either. They'd be spawning in pubs, working mens' clubs, and cab offices. But, most importantly for me, they also became commonplace in snooker clubs! My brother and I often played snooker at the peak of its popularity around the mid-80s and they'd be open all night, so we'd just play snooker into the early hours whilst fitting in the odd game of Tetris or Poker. Even the 'Nugget' himself, Steve Davis, used to spend hours on his club's arcade machines, but that's where the similarities between us meet a crucial end, unfortunately for my cue action!

Adversaries try to fill you with more lead than a petrol station in the eighties

A few years passed and our club upgraded one of their arcade machines considerably with Konami's latest offering - Gryzor! Outside of Europe and the Australian continent, Gryzor was known as Contra and, as thirty years have cruelly passed, I couldn't tell you whether their machine was actually really called 'Gryzor' or 'Contra', but it should have been the former.


On the European 8-bit computer systems, and under Ocean Software's direction, the game was most definitely titled 'Gryzor'! The game delivered two-player action, if required, but it differed from the arcade version in that you couldn't play simultaneously. It's been said that Gryzor's simultaneous arcade play was something of a novel feature back there in 1987, but I would have to disagree considering Pong achieved this in 1972, even if it was very basic.


In Gryzor, you begin your machismo mission in some kind of far flung jungle, side-scrolling towards imminent danger like Arnie in Predator or something (there's an undercurrent of Sly/Arnie influence throughout the game), with your wonderfully clichéd bandana wrapped around your head and rifle at the ready. But you're not the only openly manly man flirting with peril on this taut, testosterone-taxed day, because danger presents itself to you in the form of adversaries trying to fill you with more lead than a petrol station during the eighties. You'll also encounter some unusual wall-mounted proximity shooters that open up like an eye and rain bullet fire towards you. No one said it was going to be easy, so stay frosty, soldier!


During these side-scrolling set pieces you and your enemies will be able to jump on and off ledges, sometimes having to wade waist-deep in the dirty bogs of the jungle whilst keeping your gun above water. You'll also gain power-ups by shooting either a proximity sensor in the walls, or flying capsules (prototype drones?) that pass by. These upgrades provide you with much more menacing weaponary, like the laser gun (my favourite!), a scattergun, a corkscrew pattern firing gun, rapid fire, and temporary invulnerability.


At the end of that level you blow a hole into a compound in order to infiltrate it, and from here (level 2) you enter a third-person perspective of a corridor in which you need to strafe-jump over certain traps that roll down towards you, whilst simultaneously trying to shoot out sensors at the end of the corridor that control the electric force field preventing your progress. From hereon, the first two level designs are subsequently reused in varying and more interesting ways.


All versions contain a tune, but the opening soundtrack on the Commodore 64 is something quite special indeed. Unfortunately, the in-game music is not so wonderful and is coasting along in an endless loop on the road to Hell. The CPC & Spectrum versions thanklessly relieve us of any in-game music, but a little here and there might have been nice. Sound effects are nothing to get your knickers in a twist about, to be honest, but they are considerably more realistic on the Amstrad.


Perhaps the biggest shock is in the graphics department between the Amstrad and Commodore versions. It's almost as if some spaced out Commodore cadet convened a meeting and announced, "Greeeeeyyyyy! Give me more… greeeeyyyy!" It's absolutely chock full of the dismal colour, as well as being incredibly blocky. The CPC, on the other hand, surprises with wonderfully colourful, clear, detailed sprites and backgrounds. And even though this version employs flick-scrolling instead of side-scrolling, it doesn't detract from the game at all. The Spectrum's colours suffer with the usual nightmare of your character melding into the background like a thief in the night. One minute he's there and then… poooof… he's gone!


The Amstrad really does stand out well here above the remaining versions. The only thing that provides any competition is the opening music on the Commodore, but that in itself isn't particularly essential. Yes, the gameplay for each version is really enjoyable but so much work has been put into the Amstrad's level design and character fluidity that it's just much more immersive. Plus, it also has one of the silliest and highly amusing game endings of all time!




Graphics

Elaborate characters and scenery on the Amstrad, nice detail on the Spectrum, but a lifeless and simplistic concoction of grey and silver tones for the Commodore. Smooth player movement and background scrolling all round, though.


Sound

One of the best opening tunes I've heard on the Commodore, although the in-game music becomes a bit irritating after a while.


Gameplay

Varying level designs and boss-type checkpoints will keep you entertained.


Overall

Gryzor plays evenly on all systems, but the Amstrad rendition was clearly given more attention.



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ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

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