Gorf [Model 873]

Arcade Video game published 43 years ago by Midway Mfg. Co.

Listed in MAME

Gorf [Model 873] screenshot

Gorf © 1981 Midway.

The player's goal is to defeat the Gorfian Empire and safeguard the future of mankind. Gorf is a single screen shoot-em-up in the classic "Space Invaders" mould, the prime difference being that Gorf offers five distinct levels of shooting action. The levels are as follows :

* Mission 1 - Astro Battles : The first mission is more or less a straight clone of "Space Invaders", set against a sky-blue background. The player is protected by a glittering parabolic force field, which is gradually worn away by enemy projectiles. The force field also works in BOTH directions, and therefore must momentarily deactivate in order for the player's ship to fire out. To advance to the next mission, the player must destroy all the invaders.

* Mission 2 - Laser Attack : The other missions are all set in space. In this mission, the player is faced with two formations each made up of five enemies. The formations are cross-shaped, and at the bottom of each formation is a single laser gun. The laser guns fire a long, dangerous yellow beam at regular intervals. At the same time, the other enemies may break formation and attempt to dive-bomb the player. Destroying a laser gun causes the corresponding formation to break apart. To advance to the next mission, the player must destroy all the enemies.

* Mission 3 - Galaxians : This mission is a clone of "Galaxian". The player is faced with a swarm of galaxians, which continually dive-bomb and shower the player with deadly projectiles. To advance to the next mission, the player must destroy all the galaxians.

* Mission 4 - Space Warp : A wormhole is situated in the middle of the screen out of which enemies ships emerge, one at a time, and spiral outward at increasing speed; whilst growing larger and flinging fireballs at the player. The Space Warp level would have an influence on Konami's superb "Gyruss", released two years later. To advance to the next mission, the player must survive a number of these enemies.

* Mission 5, Flag Ship : The final mission is a one-on-one confrontation with the alien Flag Ship itself. The Flag Ship is one of the earliest examples of the 'boss' enemy in mainstream video games. It is equipped with its own force field, through which the player must blast in order to get a clean shot on the ship. It is also armed with a powerful fireball weapon. The player's weapon has a minor effect on the Flag Ship's hull, and can only blast off tiny pieces of it. This adds to the player's problems, as stray pieces of hull can destroy their ship. These pieces can be destroyed with a single shot. The only way to destroy the Flag Ship is to hit the glowing reactor at the heart of the ship, either by first blasting away the hull to expose it, or by managing to fire a shot directly into the tiny vent that leads to the reactor.

Each time the Flag Ship is destroyed, the player advances in rank. Initially, the player begins with the rank of Space Cadet, before moving on to Space Captain, Space Colonel, Space General, Space Warrior, and finally Space Avenger. The player's spaceship is equipped with a Quark Laser which allows the player to cancel a poorly aimed shot and fire another shot.


[Upright model] [No. 873]

Gorf upright arcade units came in a blue and grey dedicated cabinet with sticker side art of several spaceships locked in battle.

Bally Midway Astrocade hardware

Main CPU : Zilog Z80 (@ 1.789773 Mhz)
Sound Chips : (2x) Astrocade (@ 1.789773 Mhz), Votrax SC-01

Control : 8-way 'flight yolk' controller with a trigger


Released in February 1981 in the USA, Gorf was the first game ever to show multiple scenes.

Gorf has achieved the status of 'true status' and became legendary for its groundbreaking, yet almost unintelligible speech.

This game featured some early speech synthesis that was done in a similar manner to that in "Wizard of Wor" (Gorf and Wizard of Wor ran on nearly identical hardware). Here is a list of the humorous phrases Gorf says throughout the game; [rank] denotes where Gorf speaks the player's current rank :

Attract mode:
1) Insert Coin!
2) I am the Gorfian Empire.
3) Long Live Gorf!
NOTE: Move the controller any time during the attract mode to trigger the speech.

Ready to play mode:
1) Long Live Gorf!
2) Push a player button.

Mission start-up:
1) Prepare yourself for annihilation, [rank]!
2) You will meet a Gorfian doom, [rank]!
3) Survival is impossible, [rank]!
4) You cannot escape the Gorfian robots!
5) I am the Gorfian Empire!
6) I am a Gorfian consciousness.
7) Gorfian robots...Attack! Attack!
8) Robot warriors, seek and destroy the [rank]!
9) My Gorfian robots are unbeatable!
10) Gorfians take no prisoners!

Player loses a ship:
1) Got you, [rank]!
2) Bad move, [rank]!
3) Some galactic defender you are, [rank]!
4) Another enemy ship destroyed!
5) Your end draws near, [rank]!
6) Ha ha ha ha!

Player loses last ship:
1) Too bad, [rank]!
2) Bite the dust, [rank]!

At game over:
1) Gorfians conquer another galaxy.
2) You cannot escape the Gorfian Robots.
3) All hail the supreme Gorfian Empire!
4) Try again; I devour coins!

Player destroys Flag Ship (and advances in rank; [new rank] denotes where Gorf speaks the player's new rank) :
1) Nice shot! You have been promoted to [new rank]!
2) For hitting my Flag Ship, you have been promoted to [new rank]!
3) In the Gorfian chronicals, you have been promoted to [new rank]!
4) Next time will be harder, but for now you have been promoted to [new rank]!
NOTES : These phrases may not be easy to hear over the loud explosion of the Flag Ship. The Rank lamp on the bezel moves over to the next rank as soon as Gorf begins speaking. If the player destroys the Flag Ship while already at the highest rank (which is Space Avenger), the words "you have been promoted to" will be omitted from each of these phrases.


Have you ever noticed that GORF is FROG spelled backwards? Seriously, GORF is an acronym for 'Galactic Orbital Robot Force'.

The game's creator, Jay Fenton, designed a sequel to Gorf called 'Ms. Gorf', but it was never released. Jay Fenton underwent a sex change and is now known as Jamie Fenton.

A Star Trek tie in was originally planned by Midway, but when the first movie fell flat, the Enterprise sprite was reused as the Gorf Flag Ship.

Todd Rogers holds the official record for this game with 653,990 points.

A Gorf unit appears in the 1982 movie 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' and in the 1983 movie 'Joysticks'.

An upright Gorf unit appears in the 38 Special music video 'Caught Up In You' and the 1987 sitcom "Married... with Children"; Season 4, Episode 19 (Peggy Turns 300).

Astro Battle
Space Invaders (all) 50 points
Destroying Gorfian robot distributing Space Invaders 300 points
Mystery Saucer 100 points
Back and Forth Saucer 300 points
NOTE If you hit a Space Invader when it is being launched from the Gorfian robot, you get 100 points.
Laser Attack
Laser Ships 300 points
Escorts for Laser Ships 100 points
All Galaxians not attacking 50 points
Yellow Galaxian attacking 60 points
Blue Galaxian attacking 80 points
Red Galaxian attacking 100 points
Galaxian Flagship 300 points
Space Warp
Enemy fighters 100 points
Flag Ship
Each hit 20 points
Escorts 100 points
Destroying a piece of debris 150 points
Destroying Flag Ship (and advancing in rank) 1,000 points
Gorfian robots (appear randomly) 300 points

* The action starts immediately as soon as you start your game. The first sight that will greet you are the Space Invaders. From that point on, the action will be non-stop with the only things changing are your rank and the difficulty of the enemies. Also, there is an interesting quirk in the game. If your ship hits a displayed score (after destroying some enemy), your ship will be destroyed. So avoid flying into scores. Also, you can only have one shot up at a time. This, though, can be countered by the fact that you can prematurely end a shot and fire another thus saving yourself a lot of time and perhaps your ship.

* Due to Gorf's limited hardware not being powerful enough to move the game's colorful sprites around easily, it's possible, on the Astro Battles screen, to slow the last two invaders down to a crawl; simply by repeatedly firing. On the Laser Attack screen, if you shoot all the enemy ships EXCEPT for the laser shooters, you can sit forever on the far left hand side of the screen. Useless, but interesting all the same.

* Astro Battles :
1) Fire immediately when the mission starts. You may get lucky and hit the Gorfian robot distributing the Space Invaders. Also fire at the invaders as they are being distributed for more points.
2) Instead of the normal 11x5 grid of invaders, you only have to deal with an 8x3 grid.
3) Instead of buildings to protect your ship, you now have a shield dome over you. It briefly disappears when you fire, but the invaders have to cut through it with their lasers.
4) Remember, you have a lot of maneuverability in your ship (i.e. you can go up and down) so it should be easy to avoid the invaders bombs.

* Laser Attack :
1) Your first priority should be the laser ships. Wait until they have fired and send a shot right up their laser cannon.
2) The escorts tend to make random movements so be wary of them coming at you from all directions.
3) As you advance higher in rank, everything speeds up accordingly.

* Galaxians :
1) Try to shoot the Galaxians when they are setting up to get the score for attacking Galaxians.
2) At first, only a couple will come down. After a while, though, the Galaxians attempt to swarm all over your ship. Since they each fire three shots apiece, this can present a particularly deadly situation.
3) Keep moving. There is no safe place (not even the corners).
4) At later ranks, it isn't uncommon for a whole bunch of Galaxians to attack your ship at once.
5) If you can, try to hit the Gorfian robot that sometimes bounds over the top of the Galaxians.

* Space Warp :
1) This is the mission that tends to kill off most players. You will see a black hole with dots in it. These dots represent the number of fighters you have to deal with coming out of the black hole. As a Space Cadet, you only deal with 12 fighters. From Space Captain onward, it will be 16 fighters.
2) Fighters leave fast or slow and rotate around the hole. In addition, they will also fire at you. It will take some fancy maneuvering to avoid both the fighter and the shot it fired.
3) Some fighters go around so fast, you just have to try to keep out of its way.
4) Sometimes fighters will launch a slow shot from the side of the screen. Watch out for these shots.
5) In the later ranks, it will take all of your skill to survive since everything moves very quickly on this mission.

* Flag Ship :
1) The Flag Ship will fly back and forth slowly. It will descend then ascend as it completes a back and forth movement.
2) There is a shield around the Flag Ship you must cut through to hit it. The Flag Ship can fire through the shield at you.
3) On the later ranks (starting with Space Captain), the Flag Ship is escorted by two Gorfian robots.
4) Plan your shots so you can expose the reactor. This will mean cutting through a little bit of the ship to accomplish this. Watch out for the debris you create since it is as deadly as the Flag Ship's laser shots. If you feel really daring, hit the debris for extra points.
5) After you have stripped the ship away from the reactor, a well-placed shot should obliterate the Flag Ship.
6) Again, in the later ranks everything moves much faster.


1. Gorf [Model 873] (1981)
2. Ms. Gorf (1982)


Developer by David Nutting Associates.

Executive producer: Dave Nutting
Game concept / Designers: Dave Nutting, Jay Fenton
Video programmer: Jay Fenton
Audio programmer: Scot Norris
Added program support: Rick Frankel, Bob Ogden
Electronics designers: Jeff Frederickson, Dave Otto


NOTE : Due to licensing difficulties, the 'Galaxians' mission is omitted on these home ports unless otherwise noted.

usa Atari 2600 (1982) "Gorf [Model 80010]"
usa Atari 5200 (1983) "Gorf [Model 4L 2711]"
Atari XEGS
usa Colecovision (1983) "Gorf [Model 2449]"
australia Colecovision (1983)

usa Atari 800 (1982) "Gorf [Model 09-01102]"
usa Commodore VIC-20 (1982) "Gorf [Model VIC-1923]"
usa Commodore C64 (1983) "Gorf [Model C-64 618]"
europe Commodore C64 (1983)
europe BBC Micro (1983) "Gorf" by Doctorsoft
europe Acorn Electron (1983) "Gorph" by Doctorsoft
europe Commodore Amiga (1993) "Gorf" by Towerbyte Software : Includes Galaxians mission, unlike the other ports
europe Sinclair ZX-Spectrum (2004) "B.A.R.F." by Dinu Cristian Mircea


Game's ROM.
Machine's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc
Jamie Fenton's website; http://www.fentonia.com/bio