Gorf C64 Review - reviewing the first game I ever played

My First Computer Game: Gorf (C64)

Last Updated on December 22, 2023

Anthony Yates relives Gorf, the first video game he played way back whenever that was.

While my obsession with gaming was nurtured by the Game Boy and Sega Mega Drive, the first machine I played games on was the Commodore 64. I vividly remember how a few games looked, but I only remember one title. With this in mind, let’s check out Gorf through a modern lens.

A trip down memory lane

Gorf‘s gameplay is similar to Space Invaders. You pilot a ship at the bottom of the screen and can move from left to right. There’s a little vertical movement, although I’ve rarely found a use for it. Gorf mixes up the gameplay with a small selection of stages. While the title is still a score grinder, I welcome the added variety.

As expected with a game from 1981, the visuals are pretty basic, but it’s easy to see my ship and the enemies. There’s no music, and sounds are your typical electronic bangs and pops. That said, some explosions are accompanied by a satisfying ‘boom,’ and I have little to complain about with the sound design.

The first stage is like a single wave from Space Invaders, although there is a one-way force field to protect from gunfire. Movement feels smooth, and while basic, I know what I’m looking at. The 2nd stage is much more interesting as there are 2 large ships to battle. These enemies go down pretty fast, but the variety is welcome.

Gorf C64 Review - reviewing the first game I ever played
Image by GamingRetro

The 3rd stage is strange as I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at. Enemies come out of a circle in the middle of the screen with straight lines protruding from it. I’m unsure if it’s an attempt at a 3D cylinder like in Tempest, but the gameplay is the same as before: just shoot anything that moves.

Stage 4 pits you against a Flag Ship, and I love how this works. The boss rains down gunfire, but your shots leave tiny dents in the enemy’s hull. Once you hit the red bit in the center, you win and are treated to a glorious explosion.

Image by GamingRetro

A sign of the times

I’m unsure if this is a design choice or a technical limitation, but I could never get used to shooting in Gorf. If you fire before your previous shot hits anything, it just vanishes. I don’t mind this, as it discourages spamming, although timing shots feel awkward.

Sadly, the most significant limitation of all is the length. I can finish Gorf in a little over 3 minutes, and although it’s fun, it’s not something I could spend an entire gaming session on.

Gorf (Commodore 64): This 1983 game is fun, mechanically sound, and has some good ideas but is woefully short. Chasing high scores is fun, but I imagine a modern audience tiring of what's on offer. Anthony

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About the author

Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing his retro games rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He also loves speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.

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