Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Platform: Xbox Series S/X (Also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 and Xbox One)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 12.11.2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Gynoug is a side-scrolling shmup, a.k.a. shoot’em up, which was first released as Wings of Wor way back in 1991 for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive. The game tells the story of the angel Wor who must come to the rescue of the Heavens which have been invaded by the demons of Iccus led by the Destroyer.
The game is your typical shmup where you have to survive wave after wave of enemies and their projectiles. You’ll need to get your dodging skill up because while the first few levels seem tame, the difficulty and subsequent challenge ramps up pretty fast. And yes, like other shumps, you can pick up additional firepower to help you in your battle. The main difference is that you can also increase your firepower by picking up orbs which is a nice change from typical shmups. If you lose a life, you lose a bar of power-up.
Like back in the day, don’t forget to rewind!
Thankfully, there were a few quality of life improvements to give players a chance to see it through. This re-release introduces a Rewind function which is quite useful when suffering an untimely death. Given that this game is one hit kill and game over means back to the screen, the Rewind feature can be a lifesaver. Additionally, the game allows for Save states; just like old school emulation; meaning you can save any time, anywhere, and pick up where you left off when coming back to the game.
The game’s main problem are the outdated and loose controls. When trying to dodge a bazillion (figure of speech) projectiles, you want tight, solid, and responsive controls, but here barely touching the joystick or d-pad causes the protagonist to move twice as far as the movement done with the controls. It’s annoying because it can either sometimes throw you into a projectile, enemy, or wall. Also when attempting tight areas that require precise movement, it can lead to frustrating and uncalled for deaths. Additionally, the game has some of the worst boss designs I remember seeing. For example, the final boss seems to take damage when it wants to when trying to reach its small weakness.
Experience 1991 in 2021
As a whole, the game looks good for what it was. Each level is uniquely designed and the game’s enemy design is quite unique and sometimes borderline gross; flying heads, with what looks like bloody neck stumps, a boss with a heart (or fetus) turning around it; among other things. Some levels have a background colour that resembles closely enemy projectiles so it’s possible you’ll die unwarranted deaths. Also, in some areas, you can touch the top or bottom of the screen but in others, this is not possible leading to inconsistency in design. The soundtrack is a good one, but given the original console’s sound chip, it sounds the same as other non-SEGA games.
Gynoug is another entry in the long-running, sometimes soul-crushing shmup genre. While I can fully appreciate games being given a second lease of life for older, less-known games from the past, this is a prime example that a return is sometimes not a good idea, especially if features are lacking. The review and save state features are a great addition that gives players a chance in hell, but visuals and/or gameplay improvements could’ve been welcomed as well. Considering that they are better and more up-to-date shmups out there, only hardcore fans or old-school gamers need apply.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
Gynoug can be purchased on the Xbox Marketplace.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.