Lost In Translation/Gorf

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This page is a stub for arcade games that are part of the Lost In Translation series using information based on MAME (version 0.113u2).
For an example of preferred content and layout please refer to Out Run or The Ninja Warriors.

Gorf marquee.
No screen shot.
Gorf control panel.
Manufacturer Midway
Released 1981
8-way Joystick
1 Button(s)
Main CPU Z80 (@ 1.790 MHz)
Sound CPU Stereo
(2x) Astrocade (@ 1.790 MHz)
Raster (Vertical)
352 x 240 pixels
60.05 Hz
512 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 8 ROMs
32,768 bytes (32.00 KiB)
MAME ID gorf · gorfpgm1

About The Game

Gorf is an arcade video game where 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 5 distinct levels of shooting action. The levels are as follows :

Level Overview

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 forcefield, which is gradually worn away by enemy projectiles. The forcefield also works in BOTH directions and therefore it 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 2 formations each made up of 5 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 divebomb 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 divebomb 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 2 years' earlier. To advance to the next mission, the player must survive a number of these enemies.

Mission 5, Flagship

The final mission is a 1-on-1 confrontation with the alien Flag-ship itself. The Flagship is one of the earliest examples of the 'boss' enemy in mainstream video games. It is equipped with its own forcefield, 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 Flagship'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 Flagship 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 Flagship 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.


Released in February 1981, 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.

Note : ever notice 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.

The game's programmer, 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 flagship.

During the attract modes and gameplay, Gorf says a number of humorous things. Some examples are: "Try again, I devour coins!", "Ha ha ha ha!", "Prepare for annihilation!", "All hail the supreme Gorfian Empire!" and the infamous "Long Live Gorf!".

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'.


Target Points
Space Invaders (all) 50
Destroying Gorfian robot distributing Space Invaders 300
Mystery Saucer 100
Back and Forth Saucer 300
Space Invader launched from the Gorfian robot 100
Laser Ships 300
Escorts for Laser Ships 100
All Galaxians not attacking 50
Yellow Galaxian attacking 60
Blue Galaxian attacking 80
Red Galaxian attacking 100
Galaxian Flagship 300
Enemy fighters in Space Warp 100
Flagship - per hit 20
Flagship - Escorts 100
Flagship - Destroying a piece of debris 150
Destroying Flagship 1000
Gorfian robots (appear randomly) 300

Tips and tricks

  • 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 colourful 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 the game progresses, everything speeds up accordingly.


  1. Try to shoot the Galaxians when they are setting up to get the score for attacking Galaxian.
  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 3 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. After that, 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, 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.


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

Cabinet and Artwork


Colecovision (1981)
Atari 2600 (1982)
Atari 5200 (1983)
Atari XEGS
Commodore VIC-20 (1982)
Commodore C64 (1983)
BBC B (1983, Doctorsoft)
Acorn Electron (1983, 'Gorph' - Doctorsoft)
Commodore Amiga (1993, "Gorf", Towerbyte Software)
Sinclair ZX-Spectrum (2004, "B.A.R.F." - Dinu Cristian Mircea)

Soundtrack Releases

Album Name Catalogue No. Released Publisher Comments
Arcade Ambiance 1981 N/A[1] 2002-01-01 Andy Hofle Digital download only.


The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.