This month marks the 40th birthday of one of my favorite arcade games of all time: Gorf. It's a classic that doesn't get the recognition it deserves compared to many of its contemporaries, probably because there has never been a suitable home version of it to this day. It was ported to many different consoles, including Atari 2600 and 5200, ColecoVision and Commodore 64, but each of these failed to capture what made the game so much fun to play in the arcade. Part of the reason for this is that the third mission of the game was removed from all home ports due to its similarity to Galaxian, which is understandable, but that's not the only part of the game to get lost in translation when it was put on cartridge.
Many of the arcade games from this era really only had one level that would get progressively more difficult as you continued playing. There might be additional enemies, and the game play might speed up, but the game play itself usually didn't change too much. Gorf had five distinct stages, and while each one was a spaceship shooter, they were entirely separate games. It also one of the first video games that spoke to the player using synthesized speech, which was a rarity in arcade games in the late 70's and early 80's.
They have an old Gorf machine at the Timeline Arcade in Hanover, PA. Every time I visit, about half of the time I spend playing games is on this one machine. It's hard to believe that it's been around for 40 years and, in my opinion, is still just as fun as it was back in the 80's.