Monday 6 December 2021

Gynoug Review (Switch)

Days after Retro101 published its GleyLancer review – at the end of which was a request for a re-release of the Mega Drive’s Gynoug – Ratalaika went and announced they were porting it to modern consoles. So, is it a case of “ask and ye shall receive”, or “be careful what you wish for”?

Anyone familiar with Ratalaika’s recent reissues will know what to expect - a straight port with a few quality-of-life features - and Gynoug is no exception. Where their port of GleyLancer featured a full script translation for the game’s surprisingly decent story, Gynoug requires nothing. There is a story, but it exists in the original Mega Drive manual for the game, my copy of which is sadly long gone. It’s scant on details, and I could only find it via a PDF of the US version’s user guide. The short version is that the residents of the planet Iccus have been mutated into horrible monstrosities. As always, the answer is to destroy everything. It’d have been nice to have the manual included in the game’s options for completeness, but let’s be fair; you’re here to shoot stuff, not read.

It’s a fine shooter, too. Your winged avatar (named Wor, at least he is in the Genesis version), utilises various shot types and magics to take on scores of hideous enemies (and, er, seagulls). This is where the game really stands out. The boss designs (which appear midway through and at the end of levels), are truly bizarre and hideous. The end of the first level presents a massive steam train melded with a giant green bloke in some sort of steampunk-meets-body horror motif that continues throughout. As the game progresses, the difficulty builds well and doesn’t really spike. Levels are long and varied, and the bosses offer a stern challenge.

The power ups on offer change shot type, offer additional support (lightning bolts, guardian angels and the like), or increase your movement speed. The latter is initially helpful, but if you manage to avoid dying (or just spam the rewind feature), this can be more of a hindrance, as you will likely send Wor racing towards scenery or into the trajectory of enemy fire.

Gynoug is a snapshot of console gaming as it was at the time; arcade gaming brought home, testing reaction and reflexes, twitch responses and dogged determination to progress. Thankfully it still stands up as a solid example of the genre some 30 years later. While its 6 levels seem short, the length of them and the challenge of the game provide some length, and it will keep you coming back again and again to destroy its grotesque bosses. It’s a good port, and we can’t wait to see what Ratalaika will be bringing back next.


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