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Title: Gryzor

Media/Formats: Cassette Tape

Developer: Ocean Software

Publisher: NTSC-J: Unreleased

NTSC-U: Unreleased

PAL: Ocean Software

Release: NTSC-J: Unreleased

NTSC-U: Unreleased

PAL: December 1987

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Despite the limited hardware, Gryzor for the ZX Spectrum is a competent conversion and reiterates the key qualities of Contra. Even with its limited palette of 4 colors, the visuals are better executed than in the Commodore 64 version. There are only a very few setbacks to the game. For example, enemy bullets occasionally blend into the environment.

Enemy variety is greatly reduced, consisting almost entirely of foot soldiers; additionally, nearly all non-boss enemies need only 1 shot to defeat. This conversion features all of the stages and bosses from the original; the levels are also slightly longer. The game’s stages are divided into 3 chapters. The first chapter comprises the first stage; the second one spans stages 2 to 6; the third and final chapter comprises the final, lengthy seventh stage.

In contrast to its 2 counterparts, the ZX Spectrum conversion of Gryzor includes the fireball gun, but lacks the laser gun. The spread gun shoots a straight column of 3 bullets, but only the center bullet damages enemies. In fact, all weapons inflict an equal amount of damage per burst, making the machine the most useful as it is automatic.

The powerup system is much different from other versions of Contra. In the first level, the player encounters 3 weapon capsules. Shooting one of them gives the spread gun, shooting two gives the fireball gun and shooting all three gives the machine gun. The player has their gun for the rest of the game, until they either lose all of their lives or beat the game; there are no powerups in any other level.

The controls are better programmed and are smoother than the Commodore 64 conversion. The main menu provides a variety of options for them. However, the player can only face to the left in the side-scrolling stages; they cannot run to the left. In addition, jumping is performed by pressing Spacebar on the keyboard. Although it’s the same issue as the Commodore 64 counterpart, the slower pace of gameplay and otherwise better controls minimize the inconvenience. Unlike its 2 counterparts, this game is strictly “single player”.

This conversion of Gryzor, particularly the 128K variant, is notable for its brutal difficulty. The player is provided 6 lives at the beginning; a single extra life is granted upon reaching the final stage; lives cannot otherwise be gained and there are no continues.

The 48K variant is more forgiving, as the player has an unlimited number of Continues; however, the player is provided with 5 lives on each Continue. Also, contrary to the 128K variant, absolutely no extra lives can be gained. Unlike other versions of Contra, choosing to continue in this variant places the player at the start of the current chapter, as opposed to the current stage.

The lack of a barrier powerup and the difficulty in distinguishing dangers/enemy fire make this conversion a challenging game. This is especially true for the final level which, true to the arcade original, is a long stage that spans from the Snow Field to the Alien’s Lair.

The ZX Spectrum version is the second to be released among Ocean’s 3 main releases of Gryzor.


Cassette Tape Variant 1 Release:


Cassette Tape Variant 2 Release:


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Stage 1: The Jungle
Stage 2: The Outer Maze
Stage 3: The Inner Gorge
Stage 4: The Inner Maze
Stage 5: The Final Conquest (Snow Field, Energy Zone, Hangar, Alien’s Lair)

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The powerup system in the ZX Spectrum conversion is unique. Gun upgrades are found only in the first level. The player keeps the gun they choose for the remainder of the game session. Thus, the first level serves as a hub to decide on a powerup.

The acquisition of powerups is also unique. There are 3 gun upgrades in the first level and the one acquired depends on how many ground pods are shot:


Shooting a pod immediately changes the gun, rather than throwing out an icon that must be taken. The arsenal is described here in order of how many pods are shot.

Normal Gun: The player starts with this gun. Its rate of fire depends on how fast the fire button is pressed.

Spread Gun: Shoots a straight column of 3 regular bullets. However, only the central bullet is harmful, rendering the upgrade useless. Acquired by shooting any 1 of the 3 ground pods in the first level.

Fireball Gun: Shoots regular bullets in a corkscrew trajectory. Covers a slightly wider range than the Normal Gun. Acquired by shooting any 2 of the 3 ground pods in the first level.

Machine Gun: Shoots the regular bullets at a fast rate, fired automatically. This is the most useful gun in the game as it does not require repeated pressing of the fire button. Acquired by shooting all 3 ground pods in the first level.

Credit to cx4 for the image presented.

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Most, if not all of the names provided here are unofficial. Due to the ambiguity of enemy names between regions, the lack of names for several of them and the absence of various documents, it is impractical to list the correct designations. Help is strongly encouraged and always appreciated to fill in these blanks. The Opposition section serves primarily to describe and depict the enemies for bookkeeping; thus, the content presented below hopefully satisfies this criterion.

Fodder Enemies, Objects

Unarmed Foot Soldier:


The weakest and most basic enemy of Contra. They predominantly run leftwards (though sometimes also rightwards) along grounds and water.
Found in stages: 1,5

Rifle Foot Soldier:


Visually indistinguishable from the Unarmed Foot Soldiers. Nearly functionally identical, except that after running a short distance, they stop and fire bullets, actively aiming at the player. They stop shooting either when they’re killed or when the player runs towards them. In addition, these soldiers don’t spawn from the left side of the screen.
Found in stages: 1,5

Guerrilla Sniper:


Hides in the grass, occasionally getting out to fire a shot. However, they are always vulnerable.
Found in stages: 1

Smart Turret:


Embedded in the ground, these turrets are able to fire in several directions. They actively seek out the player’s position.
Found in stages: 1

Base Rifle Foot Soldier:


Runs across some corridor walls, stopping at the center to fire a shot at the player before continuing to run.
Found in stages: 2,4

Rifle Clique Soldier:


Appear in groups of 5; they run to the center of the corridor, fire a line of 5 bullets and randomly separate left and right.
Found in stages: 2,4

Base Turret:


Placed in various positions on various corridor walls. These turrets fire a bullet less than once per second. They actively aim at the player’s position.
Found in stages: 2,4

Base Sub-Core:


Disarmed and placed in various positions on corridor walls, these small cores are exposed when reached by the player. The Base Sub-Cores (and Base Cores) are the goal of the corridors. These ones are found on all corridor walls that precede the one with the Base Core. All other opposition are optional; destroying these will clear the enemies present and disarm the electrical barrier to allow the player to proceed.
Found in stages: 2,4

Base Core:


Primary goal of the Base stages, they are found on the center of the corridor wall immediately before a boss battle. Initially disarmed, these large cores are exposed when reached by the player. They take more damage than Base Sub-Cores. All other opposition are optional; destroying these will clear the enemies present and disarm the electrical barrier to allow the player to proceed to the boss battle that follows.
Found in stages: 2,4

Waterfall Sprinter:


These enemies simply run left/right across some of the platforms.
Found in stages: 3

Defense Gunner:


Stops at various positions along platforms in the Waterfall stage and the 2 computer platforms in stage 6, actively shooting at the player’s position indefinitely, until killed or evaded.
Found in stages: 3,4

Winged Soldier:


Runs along the 2 computer platforms and jumps straight down from various spots.
Found in stages: 4

Jet Pack Soldier:


They drop from the High Speed Anti-Gravity Hovercraft and hover to the left; they wield a blade. If dodged, these soldiers simply hover off-screen.
Found in stages: 5

Manned Turret:


Consists of a kneeling soldier who is protected by a gun turret. He fires 2 bullets approximately once every 1.5 seconds.
Found in stages: 5

Alien Fetus:


Spat from the mouth of Emperor-Demon Dragon God Java. These alien creatures fly across the screen, homing in on the player.
Found in stages: 5

Cotton Ball:


Produced by the organic ceiling of the Alien’s Lair. These cell-like alien creatures actively follow and home in on the player, even as he progresses through the stage.
Found in stages: 5

Face Hugger:


Produced by Emperor-Demon Evil Heart Gomera Mosking. These alien arachnids crawl along the ground across the screen, sometimes landing on the ground from the air.
Found in stages: 5


Heavy Armored Vehicle Sweeping Dogura:


The player must battle 2 of these armored cars consecutively. When first confronted, the cars slow down to a stop. Their prominence is the large amount of shots required to destroy them. In contrast, their only attack is firing a slow stream of bullets, dodged simply by ducking.

If they’re not destroyed in a certain amount of time, they will stop firing, resume driving and (if not destroyed in time) kill the player as they leave the screen. In this sense, these armored cars are optional mini-bosses.
Found in stages: 5

Helmet Demonic Titan Soldier Gorudea:


A large, armored super-soldier that is confronted twice: at the start and end of the Energy Zone. This mini-boss walks back and forth, tossing disc mines (while ducking) that can hover at 2 possible heights. The player must jump or duck, depending on the height. This mini-boss is optional, but will cost a life to skip.
Found in stages: 5

Emperor-Demon Dragon God Java:


Fought at the start of the Alien’s Lair. Large xenomorph head that spits out Alien Fetuses at 2 height levels. This mini-boss is optional, but will cost a life to skip.
Found in stages: 5




Building entrance to the first Base stage. It is a completely harmless boss battle where the player must simply get close to the Wall Core and fire a single shot.
Found in stages: 1

Defense System 1:


The boss battle that follows Base 1. When first reached, the player is confronted by the first phase, consisting of Shell Turrets (ST) and Defense Cores (DC) in the following arrangement:


The Shell Turret cycles between opening up to fire 3 shells in a spread formation and closing for a few seconds. It’s vulnerable only in the latter phase. The Defense Cores are harmless and serve only as part of the first phase. The second phase begins once all phase 1 components are destroyed.


The ultimate goal of this boss battle is destroying Lone Inflammatory Eye Garumakiruma, the second phase. This eye-shaped robot slides back and forth within the security screen, actively aiming and shooting shells at the player.
Found in stages: 2

Shadow Beast Devil Statue Guromeides:


Resting atop the waterfall, this building is the entrance to the second Base stage. Medially and centrally, the Quintuple Cannon is placed. This weapon, as its name implies, consists of 5 shielded cannons that occasionally fire 5 shells that fan out. The exposed weapon takes damage, thus it is vulnerable only when it opens up.

The Quintuple Cannon ultimately serves as a barrier to the gem-shaped Tower Core, found at the head (roof). Destroying it activates the harmless core, rendering it vulnerable to damage. It is the primary goal of this boss battle; however, it can only be damaged when the Quintuple Cannon is destroyed.
Found in stages: 3

Defense System 2:


The boss battle that follows Base 2. When first reached, the player is confronted by the first phase, consisting of a Shell Turret (ST) and Defense Cores (DC) in the following arrangement:


The Shell Turret cycles between opening up to fire 3 shells in a spread formation and closing for a few seconds. It’s vulnerable only in the latter phase. The Defense Cores are harmless and serve only as part of the first phase.

In addition to the aforementioned defense components, 2 enemy types run across the computer screen and attack the player: Winged Soldier and Defense Gunner. When all phase 1 components are destroyed, the Winged Soldiers stop spawning. Phase 2 does not begin until all phase 1 components and Defense Gunners (if present) are eliminated.



The ultimate goal of this boss battle is destroying Illusionary Ogre Godomuga, the second phase. It consists of a head-shaped robot that slides slides back and forth within the computer screen, shooting indestructible bubble dimers at the player’s position.
Found in stages: 4

Emperor-Demon Evil Heart Gomera Mosking:


Final boss of the game, an alien heart. It produces Face Huggers from its inferior and superior ends.
Found in stages: 5

Other Dangers



Not a danger that’s tangible with the player, but still a restriction that risks the player’s remaining lives. The player must complete each Base stage within their respective time limits. Otherwise, they lose a life every time that the limit is passed.
Found in stages: 2,4

Bowling Pin Mine:


Roll along the ground to the player in groups of 3.
Found in stages: 2,4

Death Pit:


As the name implies, falling into these kills the player. Some are deep pits that make for a very high fall and a usually unknown or inescapable landing area. Others contain a deadly surface or a pool of dangerous substances.
Found in stages: 3

Bridge Blaze Wall:


The early bridge in the Waterfall stage has been set on fire and a large blaze wall moves back and forth along the bridge’s length.
Found in stages: 3

Ground Turret:


Always facing to the left, these turrets simply shoot 1 bullet approximately every 1.5 seconds, and only horizontally.
Found in stages: 3

Falling Boulder:


Out of a hole in mountain rock, an indestructible boulder drops out and falls straight down.
Found in stages: 3

High Speed Anti-Gravity Hovercraft:


A small ship that floats in the air. When approached, it unloads an infinite number of Jet Pack Soldiers from its right side. It cannot be destroyed and must simply be bypassed.
Found in stages: 5

Exposed Flame Pipe:


These pipes periodically burst out a large beam of flames. They’re the prominence of the Energy Zone.
Found in stages: 5

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Unlimited Lives Secret: NOTE: This applies to the 48K variant.
Reach the second level and lose all remaining lives. At the Game Over screen, choose to Restart. On the next play, you will have an unlimited supply of lives.

Enter the following POKE command before running the game.

Infinite Lives:
34919,0 | Alternatively, 33015,n | Alternatively, 37338,125 | Alternatively 35477,255

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Earth is invaded by the Durrs, an alien race from the fictional planet Suna. Occupying an unspecified location, these aliens have set up a planetary weather control system, the Atmosphere Processing Plant (APP). In controlling Earth’s weather, the Durrs intend to set forth another ice age and subsequently take over the planet.

Tasked with battling these aliens is Lance Gryzor, FED (Federation of Earth’s Defenses) soldier, who must destroy the (literal) heart of the weather control system. As Lance progresses through the battlegrounds, he encounters some of the effects of the APP in his surrounding environment. However, he ultimately prevails and puts a stop to the aliens’ plan.


Lance Gryzor – protagonist; playable

Durrs – alien antagonists

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•Sandinista (128K variant only)
•Fortress Maze 1

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The 128K releases feature the base and end credits BGMs (the former is heard in all of the levels), as well as quicker load times. The sound effects are also of higher quality. Getting a Game Over or completing the game brings the player to a high-score screen before returning to the main menu. The Manned Turrets take less damage to defeat compared to in the 48K game.

Initial 128K Variant:
The initial 128K release features the title screen that is presented at the top of this page; its first stage features the powerup pods rearranged to be more spread out, in addition to rearranged enemy placements. Furthermore, the stage palette transition occurs earlier in the final stage. There is also a graphical glitch with the explosion animation of the Wall boss and the player’s death sequence; a single missing frame results in a very brief graphical corruption during the animation.

128K Re-Release Variant:
The Erbe Software and The Hit Squad re-releases, at least, feature a title screen that lacks the credit to Mark R. Jones. Its first stage is identical in layout to the 48K variant. Its title screen is shown below:

This re-release contains a graphical glitch that is encountered when defeating the Wall boss in the first stage. The building’s side wall textures become corrupt.

48K Variant:
The 48K game only has the base theme, which is of lower quality than in the 128K game, and it is played only at the main menu. Getting a Game Over or completing the game brings the player to a menu to choose between continuing (at the start of the current chapter) or restarting (which brings the player back to the main menu). Its title screen is shown below:


Either a subset of, or exclusive from the above variants, some are distinguished to be compatible/incompatible with the Spectrum +3 Micro.

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Gryzor for the ZX Spectrum was released only in Europe.

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In a lot of the following screenshots, the lives counter is replaced by either ~GRYZOR~ or 0428 text strings. As well, some of them have the score counter and the strings in opposite positions of each other.

-A falcon powerup for the Spread Gun. This screenshot suggests that the game was originally supposed to use the powerup system of the arcade original (as well as most early Contra games):


-Slightly different boss area of the Jungle stage. The line of trees stops before the edge of the ledge:


-The final boss is red colored in this shot. In addition, the pile of skulls is not only removed from that area in the final, these ones are different from the pile seen in front of the alien head boss in the final:


-Conceptual shot with 2 heart bosses:


-Similar to above, but with slightly different stage decorations:


-Section of the Snowfield that isn’t seen in the final:


-Different Snowfield stage design without blue coloring:


-Different map designs for the Base stages:


-Different design for the alien head boss:


-Another different design for the alien head boss, in a more complete stage section. The pile of skulls is also slightly different:


-2 different alien head designs:


-Different floor textures for the Energy Zone area:


-Different platform design (upper structure):


-Various interesting elements cut from the final release. Notice the intricate pipe structuring. The lower-left corner shows the impaling machines from the Hangar area; suggests that section of this conversion was intended to be similar to the arcade original:


-Additional pipe structures:


-Base corridor with a (possibly unintentionally) misaligned core target; also notice that the player’s bullet sprites are different:


-An early conceptual design of a cannon/turret. This is intended to be the sprite for the dual cannons on the wall boss, which shows that the boss was originally patterned more closely to the original arcade version:


-Sprite sheet outlining the plans for the game’s arsenal; there are also some turret sprites. Very interesting material. This shot strongly suggests the conversion’s original plan of following the arcade version’s weapon system. Not only that, but all powerup weapons from the arcade original were planned, including the gun sprites for the Machine Gun and the Laser Gun. Furthermore, the weapon pods/capsules were planned as well. An unused turret type is also shown:


-Similar to the shot above, but with another turret variant:


-Sprite sheet, featuring animation frames for the player dropping down from a platform and also a death sequence based on the arcade original; notice also the ocular ring from the base 1 stage boss, which has been replaced a by simpler projectile:


-Additional frames for the Wall Mouths, suggesting that they were originally supposed to remain as enemies, instead of trivial floor/ceiling components. Additionally, the rolling cart, which is absent in the final:



-Progressive design of the Waterfall boss:







-The Winged Soldiers were originally distinguishable from the Defense Gunners:


-Steel barricade in the base stages:


-Jet Pack Soldiers with running animation, which were changed to hover instead (interestingly, being more accurate):


-A frame of the armored soldier mini-boss, possibly in a jump sequence, which is absent in the final version:


-Scan of ACE magazine, Issue 6, page 37. The design of the map on the right is noticeably different (nodes are colored differently). There is no lives counter. The text is also arranged differently:


-Scan of Your Sinclair magazine:

The lower screenshots lack a lives counter in the gameplay depicted.

Credit to World of Spectrum’s Gryzor entry and repository.

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-Certain variants of the game make use of the Speedlock series of software protection system. During the loading of the game, various hardware features are called upon by the software as part of the verification process. Other protection systems are used for some of the other variants.

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Wonderful Disappointment:
Ocean Software’s Gryzor conversions are notorious for their downer and/or anticlimactic endings.

Some say the ZX Spectrum version’s ending is the best of the 3, only slightly leading the CPC game’s ending. It is neither as much of a downer as the CPC version’s ending, nor as anticlimactic as the ending to the Commodore 64 counterpart.

Work Hard, Play Hard:

In order to develop this version, and possibly the Amtrad CPC one, Ocean Software were not provided the original arcade Gryzor’s source code; instead, they were sent a coin-op machine of the game to work with. All of the game’s programming, music and visual assets were created from scratch, based on their sessions with the game, which they recorded. Naturally, due to the game being challenging, many hours were spent playing the game to complete it in order to capture all of the content.


On the high-score screen, 3rd place is awarded to the name Withboal:


This is an indirect reference to the game Wizball, whose ZX Spectrum version was also designed by Ocean Software. The odd spelling of the name is a subtle jab at one of the employees at Ocean, who pronounced it as if spelt this way.

Harmless Borrowing:
There is no doubt that the penultimate boss, the alien head (Emperor Demon Dragon God Java), rips off the Xenomorph from the film Alien.


Similarly, the alien arthropods that constantly spawn around the heart (Emperor-Demon Evil Heart Gomera Mosking) are based on the Eggs from Aliens that spawn Face Huggers.

RobotsAliens In Disguise:
The fourth stage boss is likely inspired by the Transformers logo:



The Biggest Misconception:
A severe misconception involves the North American artwork for the cartridge, manual and box of NES Contra. The second character (Lance) is mistakenly assumed to be based on Sylvester Stallone. In actuality, both characters on the cover are modeled after different poses of one Arnold Schwarzenegger in his film, Predator.

Additionally, that cover art did not begin with the NES game. It originated as the template Bob Wakelin created for the Gryzor conversions by Ocean:

This cover art would later be re-used on the back of MSX2 Contra’s cover.

When Bookkeeping Gets Complicated:
Due to the sheer number of re-releases that Ocean’s conversions have received, placing all of them on Contra’s re-release page, in full detail, is impractical for a variety of reasons. As such, they are listed here, in the Trivia section of each conversion by Ocean. Note that these re-releases are exclusive to Europe; all feature the same version as the original.

The Hit Squad (UK)


Erbe Software (Spain)


IBSA (Spain)


Ocean-Imagine Hellas (Greece; same box as Ocean’s Cassette Tape Variant 2 release)

-Featured in the compilations:

The In-Crowd (4-tape and 6-tape formats shown)



Special Action (special thanks to Ordipedia for providing these images)

The above includes system memory variations (48K and 128K). Some of these, including the original releases, feature a demo of Combat School.

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Posters And Ads

-Brochure for Ocean Software’s Gryzor conversions:


-Ad for the initial release:


-Ad for The Hit Squad re-release:


-Ads for the Erbe Software re-release:



ACE Magazine‘s 11th issue includes an ad for Ocean’s conversions of Gryzor:


(also in Amstrad Action, issue 034)

Crash, issue 49’s infamous mediocre review:


MICROHOBBY, issue 167’s preview:


Sinclair User, issue 69’s review:



The Games Machine magazine, issue 2 preview of the Spectrum version:


The Games Machine magazine, issue 3 review of the Spectrum and CPC versions (and mention of the C64 version):


Your Sinclair, issue 23 news:


Your Sinclair, issue 25 review:


Your Sinclair, issue 27 review


Your Sinclair, issue 40 review:


Your Sinclair, issue 66 review:


In most of the reviews by Your Sinclair shown above (except for issue 66), a special version of the game is being played which does not display the remaining number of lives.

Computer and Video Games issue 87 ad for The In-Crowd compilation:


Boots ad for The In-Crowd compilation:


-Other ads for The In-Crowd:





-Ad for Special Action Compilation:


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