Overview – developed by Masaya and ported by Ratalaika Games, Gynoug (originally called Wings of Wor in North America) is another classic Mega Drive/Genesis shooter that has been brought to modern consoles. You play as Wor, a winged warrior who has to combat the evils of Iccus, who are attacking the heavens, back to their home and destroy them. This title is available on all console platforms, with links to each version at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank PR Hound for providing the copy of Gynoug that was used for this piece. The provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be omitting the story segment and move directly into the gameplay.
Gameplay – Gynoug is a horizontal scrolling shooter set in a dark fantasy world, consisting of demons and steam powered technology. The player must battle hordes of enemies across five stages, a final boss rush and two gameplay loops, with grotesque bosses to overcome during the course of the game. As the players shoot down foes, items can be dropped from enemies that include magic and power-ups to help the player in their fight.
The power-ups boost the weapon strength and movement speed of the player, with two attack types that have their own power depending on their color. Magic is a little more complex in this title, with six defensive spells and two defensive abilities that have limited uses. In order to use the magic skills, players must collect scrolls with the letter on them corresponding to that spell. Each of the spells has its own duration, disappearing when they either run out or are switched for another.
The enemies will attack from all directions, with a lot of shots on screen at times which does cause slowdown at times (this happens in the original version too). The action is quite intense and frantic due to the amount of enemies on screen, with not only horizontal scrolling but some vertical movement too. One thing that is unfortunate about this title is the inconsistency with collision, as the environment may or may not hurt the player seemingly at random, which does detract from the experience at times.
During the main stages, there are two bosses for the player to combat. There is a mid-boss encounter half way through the stage, with a larger more challenging battle at the end of the stage. The battles themselves vary in complexity and difficulty, with some bosses having easy to hit weak spots and predictable attack patterns. However, the challenge does feel a little unbalanced at times, as some bosses will have well protected vulnerabilities and complex patterns that are tough to avoid.
Now since this is an emulated port, there are quality of life additions to the this title that make it more forgiving than originally intended. The improvements include cheats that grant unlimited continues, prevent power loss upon death and a rewind feature to correct mistakes. There is also the inclusion of save states so players can continue a previous game, as there is no battery back-up. These changes do mean that original cheat codes are omitted, but that really isn’t a big deal.
The overall quality of the emulation/porting of Gynoug is very solid, providing a good experience for players both old and new. Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control scheme is very simple, with the three button control layout from the original Mega Drive translating well. The movement is precise with no issues when it comes to input lag, but when the player is at full speed it does get sloppy. Otherwise, this is a very well-polished title that is comfortable to play with any control set up. I do recommend using an official Sega controller, with either the Retro-Bit Mega Drive/Genesis or Saturn controller being the best choice.
Difficulty – Gynoug is a challenging game, with a lot of enemies bombarding the player with attacks, but it is well balanced. The game may appear tough when playing in its original form, with limited continues to use for the entire game, but with enough practice it can be beaten. That being said there are a variety of difficulty settings to fit the skill level of all players, alongside the new features like cheats and rewind making the title more accessible for all players.
Presentation – for a 16-bit release that is almost 30 years old, this game looks very good on the Nintendo switch. The visuals look good on either the Switch screen itself or through the Dock on a TV, with crisp sprite work and a graphical style that is a joy to behold. There are occasional issues with slowdown due to the amount of items on screen, but this doesn’t impact the game too much. The sound is nice and clean, with the chiptune soundtrack returning at the highest quality possible.
There is also the inclusion of visual filters, allowing players the ability to emulate the look of a CRT display on a modern screen. The filters include scan lines, aspect ratio changes and even altering the curvature of the screen. While these additions are a nice touch for this release, they don’t really add much to the overall experience and are just there as an optional extra.
Final Thoughts – I very much enjoyed playing this port of Gynoug, having played the original Mega Dive/Genesis version years ago. The emulation is fantastic, with quality of life improvements that make the game more accessible for all players. The core gameplay is solid, with the only issues being the slight inconsistency with collision and the difficulty of boss fights. I can happily recommend this title to everyone, whether you are a longtime fan of scrolling shooters or a new player.
In the end, I give Gynoug a final score of 4/5. This port of Gynoug is fantastic, giving a once forgotten title a chance to be appreciated by a brand new audience. The emulation is on point and the gameplay translates perfectly to the Nintendo Switch, being an excellent addition to the system library at a very modest price. If you want to check out this title for yourself, you can find links to each version below with a 20% launch discount.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4/5 version (HERE)
Link to Xbox version (HERE)