By Melbourne House
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #10


Gyroscope puts you in a similar surrealistic situation to the arcade classic Marble Madness. The basic gameplay is very simple - you take control of a gyroscope with the task of getting from the starting post at the top of the course to the finishing post at the bottom within the allotted time. Each time the gyroscope topples, a life is lost. The course is very strange, presented in a surrealistic 3D effect featuring tall geometric buildings, ramps and steep slopes, along and around which you have to guide the gyroscope. The course also provides a home for some rather strange (and vaguely familiar) aliens, whose touch topples your spinner.

There are six courses, each taking up five screens. As you make your way down a course, the screen scrolls vertically with the gyroscope. The whole game is played against a clock, which ticks off the time relentlessly as you try to complete each quintet of screens. Completing a course earns you a bonus related to the amount of time remaining on the clock.

You begin the game with five lives in store, and pick up a bonus life for each 1,000 points scored. If you fail to complete a screen course within the time limit, the gyroscope topples when the count hits zero, a life is lost, and you resume play from the spot you reached at timeout with the clock reset to start a new run.


There are some very thin catwalks between the buildings, and here lies the main danger. If you stray too near the edge of a construction or catwalk, your gyro becomes unbalanced and totters over - another life gone. When this happens, the gyro is replaced at the place where it died and thus time is lost as well as a life.

Control of a gyroscope takes some getting used to - once you start moving in one direction it takes a while to slow down. The beast accelerates down slopes, and constant checks have to be made to ensure you're not going too fast - if there's a sharp turn at the bottom you could find yourself in deep trouble and run out of road.

Inanimate hazards on the course complicate matters further, and include black holes (which make control of your gyro rather difficult) and magnetic floors (which pull you in certain directions, usually to the edge of a precipice).


The landscapes are very deviously created; starting from relatively easy, they get more tricky very rapidly. Some of the difficult courses contain thin catwalks, horrendous slopes with tight corners, holes in the floor, and combinations of all these with the aforementioned hazards - being a gyroscope isn't all just spinning around.


Gyroscope is yet another game that has lost an awful lot in its translation from its source machine. On the Spectrum Gyroscope is a great game, well deserving of its CRASH Smash status, but on the Commodore it's so lack lustre. Graphically Gyroscope is quite pretty, successfully emulating Marble Madness from where Gyroscope's inspiration no doubt came. The control of the main sprite is quite nice, though because it's single colour you may have a bit trouble picking it out. The attacking monsters are just rubbish; they move unconvincingly and look extremely blurry. Worst of all is the extremely bad error detection; the program just doesn't have any idea when the gyroscope gets near to the edge of a ledge. I'm afraid despite the potential of an excellent game, Melbourne House have really mucked up. It may well be worth a quick look at, but I doubt it.


Although Gyroscope has some graphic similarities to the arcade game Marble Madness, it certainty doesn't have any of the addictive gameplay. Unlike its arcade 'counterpart', there is little to do other than steer down slopes - at least Marble Madness has a multitude of different nasties to contend with. If Melbourne House had put a lot more into the game then Gyroscope could have been something special, but as it stands it's just dull.



I love arcade Marble Madness and therefore really looked forward to getting this program. Unfortunately I found myself very disappointed. Gyroscope seems rather empty, no rotten meanies or really devious bits of landscape to have to negotiate - just getting to the bottom of the course, screen after screen. It's a shame that Melbourne have produced Gyroscope like this; the graphics and sound are very nice, but with a little more programming the game could have been really brilliant. As it stands, it's just a poor cure for lack of Marble-Maddnessitis.


Presentation 56%
Lacking in options and not much thought seems to have gone into the game.

Graphics 87%
Very pretty Marble Madness-style backdrops but little else.


Sound 42%
Very irritating and repetitive soundtrack.

Hookability 55%
There's so little to do that the fun is very initial.

Lastability 41%
Lack of surprises makes the game pall.

Value For Money 45%
Only worth it if you're really suffering from lackofMarbleMadnessitis.

Overall 46%
A disappointment from Melbourne House.