If you're a fan of Ultimate Play The Game, the company founded by the Stamper Brothers in 1982, there's a small possibility you may have heard about an American arcade manufacturer called Zilec Electronics.
Zilec was the company the Stamper Brothers worked for prior to starting up Ultimate, as revealed in a 1985 copy of Commodore User magazine, and was responsible for creating arcade games like Dingo and Blue Print. But it's also at the heart of one of the strangest myths about the Stampers. Namely that they were the ones responsible for creating the arcade shoot 'em up Gyruss, not the Japanese developer Konami.
It's a rumor that started with the same Commodore User article titled "Fortress Ultimate", which lists Gyruss among the 12 titles that the Stampers apparently worked at during their tenure at Zilec. And it's even referenced as fact on the Stampers' Wikipedia page. But according to two former Konami employees that worked on Gyruss, including lead designer Yoshiki Okamoto and sound designer Masahiro Inoue, this simply isn't true.
We contacted Inoue while working on another article and he was able to help us debunk this mystery by giving us a complete set of credits for Gyruss; the Stampers' names were nowhere to be found. Instead, the names he sent over included Toshio Arima, Takahide Harima, Hidenori Oyama, Yoshiki Okamoto, and himself. When asked whether another company named Zilec might have been involved, he told us simply, "No, I have never heard of Zilec Electronics."
Rather than relying on the testimony of just one person, we decided to reach out to designer Yoshiki Okamoto to get further confirmation and ask him where the idea for Gyruss came from. He was able to tell us definitively that the arcade team at Konami was the sole creator of Gyruss and gave us his own reasons for designing the omnidirectional tube shooter.
He told us: "Gyruss was actually inspired by a Namco game that was a big hit at the time called Galaga. I wasn't happy with being driven to the edge of the screen in Galaga and getting hit by enemy bullets, so I wanted to eliminate the edge of the screen, and that was the origin of the idea."
So, there you have it, after almost forty years of speculation and mystery, it's finally confirmed that the Stampers didn't work on Gyruss. Although they did confusingly work on their own omnidirectional shooter named Zog, as can be seen in a 1983 edition of Home Computing Weekly. This is just one of the many mysteries surrounding the Stampers' early work, but it's great to finally have an answer after all these years.
Do you remember hearing this rumor? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments.