Friday, March 31, 2023

For Trans Day of Visibility, Here's a Review of a Shoot 'Em Up Arcade Game By Arcade Pioneer and transwoman, Jamie Fenton: Gorf

Gorf is a shoot 'em up arcade game by Midway Manufacturing that was designed by Jamie Fenton. It is one of the first, if not the first. games developed by a transgender woman. Gorf uses a lot from previous games in the genre, yet manages to remain a unique game on its own.

It contains five distinct phases. The first, Astro Battles, is based on Space Invaders. The second phase, Laser Attack, has dive-bombing ships, a ship that fires a single laser beam, and the Gorf robot. The third phase is named Galaxians and is obviously based on Galaxian, with ships in a formation similar to Space Invaders and ships that dive bomb at the player ship. The fourth, Space Warp, takes place in a wormhole where enemies fly out from the center of the screen and attempt to destroy the player's ship. The fifth, Flag Ship, is a battle against the enemy ship where a force field has to be broken before the floor of the flagship is shot through.

The game loops the five phases through six space ranks, each with increasing speed and additional enemy patterns. The ranks include Space Cadet, Space Captain, Space Colonel, Space General, Space Warrior, and Space Avenger. Once the five phases in Space Avenger are completed, the game remains on that rank but continues the loop.

Like other games of the time, such as Q-Bert, the sound effects are minimal but are amplified by the use of a synthesized voice. Like Q-Bert's backward speech, it is used here in a humorous manner. The voice will make insults and will make it feel targeted towards the player as it will say the current space rank as part of that insult.

Gorf is a game that is important to video game history for who made it, as Jamie Fenton was one of the first transgender female game designers. It was popular in its time, but it hasn't remained at the forefront of gaming history as the games that inspired it. This is a shame, as it is a fantastic game that has very different gameplay styles in each of the five phases. If you get a chance to play it, make sure to give this fantastic piece of arcade game history a try.

Final Verdict:
4½ out of 5

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