Playing GORILLA.BAS With My Family

GORILLA.BASOne of my favorite old video games was GORILLA.BAS. It was actually a demo that came with MS-DOS. I spent a lot of time knocking around in QBasic, and while I never became an astute programmer, I did develop a fondness for one of the included BASIC programs: GORILLA.BAS.

BASIC Programs

Later versions of MS-DOS came with the QBasic programming environment. This in turn came with several sample programs, which were roughly the DOS equivalents of Minesweeper and Solitaire.

  • REMLINE.BAS removed line numbers from old GW-BASIC programs.
  • MONEY.BAS was a text-based money management program. I ran it once, saw that it was boring, and never touched it again.
  • NIBBLES.BAS was a basic Snake game. Though it was one of two included games, I never got into it. In fact, I never really liked any of the Snake games.
  • GORILLA.BAS was awesome and I loved playing it. Note that the actual name of the game is “Gorillas”, but MS-DOS file names could only contain up to eight characters. So the “S” got lopped off.


Gorillas was a simple two-person artillery game. It involved two King Kong-like gorillas on top of skyscrapers throwing bananas at each other. The controls were simple. When it was your turn, you entered numbers for angle and velocity. Then you watched as your gorilla threw a banana. When he did, one of three things would happen:

  • The banana would fly off the screen, never to return.
  • The banana would hit a building. Every time this happened, it would leave a hole.
  • The banana would hit your opponent, blowing him up. After this, your gorilla would beat his chest and do a victory dance. This was the best part of the game.

Fond Memories

I remember GORILLA.BAS better than many of the commercial games I played back then. I think that’s because Gorillas was a social experience. As a simple BASIC program, it contained zero AI. You could play the part of both gorillas, of course, but that wasn’t much fun. The fun part was watching the victory dance when you beat your little sister. Or laughing at the funny names your dad would make up for the gorillas. Because of these memories, I’ll always have a soft spot in my gear for GORILLA.BAS.

Did you ever play Gorillas or any similar artillery games? Let me know your experience in the comment section

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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7 Responses

  1. Alex Boyles says:

    It’s always great to find another person with fond memories of Gorilla.bas (and actually knows what it is). It holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in the 90s, one of the first computers we had ran MS-DOS. I quickly found Gorilla.bas and it short order it became one of my favorites to play. I also enjoyed looking under the hood to see how it all worked (even if I didn’t understand it at the time).

    Fast-forward to 2015 and I decided to dip my toes into the world of software development. My friend came up with the idea to create a simple clone of Gorillas using JavaScript as our language of choice. What began as a learning exercise, became what we now call “Gorilla Town”. It’s an artillery game set in an imaginary 1920s art deco world with a single player story mode and turn based multi-player.

    With Gorilla.bas being our inspiration, I humbly ask you to check out “Gorilla Town” and let us know what you think. We’re currently in Open Beta and are always looking for feedback to improve the game prior to its April 2, 2020 release on Steam.

    Open Beta –
    Steam Page –

  2. M says:

    My mother and I played this game a lot when we got our first computer from my grandfather. I also have very fond memories of the victory dance.

  3. JG says:

    Not my first computer game, but one of my favorites and one I remember playing with my dad. I was always amazed at how he (an engineer) could figure out the magical right numbers so quickly. QBASIC was my first PC programming language, and as a young boy it opened my eyes to a world of possibilities – I’m now a software engineer by trade.

    Here we are many years later, and I’ve introduced my daughter to this game, and found to my delight that she loves it as much as I did as a child. Happy to see the tradition continue…

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