As a retro gamer to the core I believe there is no such thing as too much retro gaming. I jumped at the opportunity to review Gynoug
Retro gamers have been blessed this year. 2021 has seen a resurgence of retro releases including Ty The Tasmanian Tiger HD and Sam and Max Save the World Remastered. As a retro gamer to the core I believe there is no such thing as too much retro gaming. I jumped at the opportunity to review Gynoug.
Gynoug or ジノーグ was released initially in Japan, Europe and North America under the title of Wings of Wor in 1991, on Sega Genesis. The game was exclusively released in Japan for the Wii in 2008. Fans of the game, based outside of Japan, were delighted to hear their favourite 16-bit side-scrolling shooter was returning for an international current generation release.
Gynoug is a horror themed horizontal high-speed shooter and unlike other traditional shooters of this kind where you take control of a plane or spacecraft of some description. Here you take control of Wor, a member of the “flying men” whose home planet Iccus has been overrun by demons and they have grown in power by feeding on the evil ambitions of the people. The game is made up of 6 levels with no checkpoints but broken up into 2 sections. Set in an era between the Middle Ages and Early Modern with end level bosses taking on some iconic forms like a pirate ship.
I found playing this port on Playstation 5 that everything was relatively straight forward with the usual sound and video accessibility options you would find on the game start up screen from a retro mini console like the SNES or Genesis Mini including highly customisable CRT shaders which I wish were included as standard with all retro re-releases. Another wonderful touch is the addition of an old school cheat menu with the nostalgic and never ever overused Infinite lives and invincibility for those times you just want to blow things up. Once your preferences are sorted and cheats added, you’re good to go.
It doesn’t take long for the game to stop holding your hand and throws you into the deep end. Enemies coming at you thick and fast and from all angles, even from behind and below, from underwater attacks to swarms of enemies rushing in at lightning speed. I found myself using the rewind function a couple of times to narrowly avoid dying mid level.
Gynoug is famous for being hard in a way that the classics are, with death stripping you of a portion of your power and giving you limited lives. The colour palette for the game is very dark and with the addition of the CRT shaders would play to the Genesis’ strengths. In some respects you could say the darker colours chosen better represent the planet being corrupted. Each level has its own unique visual scheme to differentiate it from the last. The 16-bit pixel art and creature design is great with its techno-organic tone. Enemies come in all forms from giant brains leaping around on spindly legs or a rivet covered steam engine with a human face.
I found Gynoug a very well-balanced game. There are no surprises or moments being caught out where death is inevitable because you happened to be at the bottom of the screen instead of the top when a hazard appeared. Boss battles are fantastic and can be reliably taken down with a bit of skill and reflexes, however if you’re not used to this kind of game, it can take a while to get used to as there are no instructions included. While we’re on the topic of instructions the game has a variety of power ups, spells and collectables as well as the two gauges sitting next to the current score, all of it is unexplained. This is definitely not a deal breaker by any means but this could have been avoided with the addition of a tutorial page.
Each level has a unique soundtrack, with this extending to the second halves of the stages too. The sound effects could have used a bit more punch in my opinion but I understand the limitations of its time. The loudest sound effect comes from enemies being destroyed, it drowns out everything else and tends to be a bit obnoxious. Most of the rest however are too muted.
While Gynoug isn’t as memorable as the likes of Thunder Force on Genesis, it’s still a unique and thoroughly enjoyable 30 year old game. This sensational side-scrolling 16-bit shooter does indeed scratch that retro itch.
This review utilised a Playstation key provided by PR Hound. Gynoug is published by Ratalaika Games and is now available for Playstation 4/5 , Xbox One and Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.
Written by: @Blustreak81