Shmups are a go-to genre when you want a quick fix. The brutally fast-paced action and guarantee of death are offset by the rewarding and addictive gameplay. The 90s was a great decade for console shooters and Sega and Nintendo battled it out for the best game of the era. In 1991, Gynoug was released on the Sega Mega Drive to mixed reviews. More recently, Japan exclusively had access via the Wii virtual store, and today it has been re-released on modern consoles.
Developed by Masaya and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a classic shoot-’em-up title. Set in an undefined era between modern-day and the Middle ages, this is a battle of good versus evil. It comprises six stages that demand you must collect power-ups, defeat minions, and slay bosses. Its challenging gameplay and deceptively simple approach make it an irresistible game that you can’t put down.
Gynoug hasn’t changed a bit.
Like the recent re-release of Gleylancer, Gynoug hasn’t changed a bit! In an era of remastered or reimagined games, I expected there to be a modern polish. However, both developer and publisher resisted the urge and fans can enjoy every grainy image on their modern machines.
You control the angel Wor who must stand up for the survival of his entire tribe. He uses his powers of good to confront Iccus and prevent the spread of the evil spirit. How’s that for a grand story? Amazing, I know, but don’t get carried away by its grandiose appearance. Sadly, the plot has little relevance to the action and merely helps to set a theme and the scenery.
Though the lack of a story was disappointing, it does set up a brilliant fantasy world full of revolting creatures. Demonic beings unleash bullets and projectiles at an alarming rate! You must down your foes while dodging everything that is thrown your way. It’s hectic, challenging, and can be downright unfair. You’ll die repeatedly, lose your progress, and complain about the difficulty. Yet, you’ll pick up the controller, again and again, to try to better your score and to get one stage further.
Power-ups, bosses, and cheats.
A shoot-’em-up would be nothing without its power-ups and gargantuan bosses. Fortunately, Gynoug has it all! With an array of weaponry to pick up and spells to cast, your foes won’t know what’s hit them. However, unlike traditional shumps, Gynoug makes you work for your all-powerful upgrades. You must pick up red and blue orbs to add strength to your weapons and spells. When you die, you lose an orb from each colour and, subsequently, you become weaker. It’s a bit unfair, but what are you going to do?
Having the most powerful weapons and spells is essential when facing each enormous boss. These hulking demonic beings fire an array of projectiles at you. Therefore, you must dodge, weave, and shoot to defeat them and stay alive.
If you are old enough to remember the original Sega Mega Drive, you’ll know the enjoyment of unlocking cheats to level the playing field. This version has gone one step further by allowing you to cheat freely. Purists will hate this option, but I loved how reckless I could be and how much easier it was to play.
Gynoug is gothic, dark, and disgustingly great.
I adored the gothic charm that oozes from every one of Gynoug’s pores. The demonic imagery blended with Greek mythology was amazing to look at. The dark and grainy style worked perfectly with the theme and I enjoyed the minor tweaks on every stage. The side-scrolling perspective is brilliantly old-school and I couldn’t help but fall for its charms.
If you’re a fan of shrill synth music and crass sound effects, then look no further. The loud and obnoxious audio is brilliantly retro and screams “look at me”. Moreover, this in your face soundtrack fills the action with energy that prevents it from becoming tiresome or boring.
A poorly explained UI and controller layout.
There is much to love about this classic title, but how the controller layout has been executed is not one! There is zero explanation regarding power-ups or the button layout. No tutorial is provided, and this leaves you guessing what to do. However, once you understand what’s required of you, you’ll find it easy to play.
Shoot-’em-ups are a moreish genre that demands to be played. You’ll sink hours into this without knowing it, as practice is required to best your foes. Moreover, completionists will need to play every level and score over one million points if they wish to finish this hellish title.
Gynoug is a brilliantly old-school title.
There may be some gamers who wanted this to receive a modern polish, but I think it’s unnecessary. Its brilliantly old-school approach works wonders on new consoles and I loved its simplicity and dated look. I died a lot, needed to cheat, but thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend you to buy it here! Grab your power-ups, use your spells, and stop the evil from spreading.