A distinctive art style can elevate a retro game into becoming engraved in our memories, for example many shoot-'em-up fans vividly remember the visual design of the Bydo Empire, with its biomechanical theme, and bosses like Dobkeratops as a defining part of R-Type. In 1991 magazines, like Issue 113 of CVG's 91/100 scoring review, Gynoug was similarly complimented for its unique graphics.
Opening with Round 1's clever tilting effects, through to Round 5's warping, pink blood vessel backgrounds, Gynoug has unforgettable visual flair. In this single player 1991 Mega Drive horizontal shmup, named Wings of Wor in North America, you control the angel Wor who soars through settings that are icky in depicting the landscapes of Iccus. Creative pixel art leads to more interesting bosses than Gleylancer — as a Round 6 mini-boss rush showcases the gloriously grotesque boss design – and fantastical music by Noriyuki Iwadare shifts mid-stage to match the monstrous atmosphere.
Gynoug's the second successful combination of Ratalaika Games and Shinyuden in porting cherished Mega Drive shooters together. Just like with Gleylancer, Masaya's Gynoug has tight side-scrolling shmup gameplay, but with more overwhelming bullet attacks, swarms of sprites, and challenging enemy waves from behind. Therefore, power ups are essential, like collecting a red orb to spread your shots, or the rare gold orb that shoots both behind and in front of Wor.
Ratalaika's port has the helpful inclusion of cheats to retain weapons, and the advantageous option of infinite magic — so you can hold two buttons for double firepower of regular shots, alongside experimental magic attacks like the Energy Ball or Thunderbolt. This allows greater customisability of the original's steep difficulty curve.
Noticeably, Ratalaika still only provide limited extra features, but the diverse display options we first encountered in Turrican Flashback are appreciated — with the Crispy scaling being clearer than the 4:3 CRT display in Panorama Cotton. It's testament to Gynoug's relentless difficulty that Trophy hunters may still feel frustrated even after spamming the rewind feature to complete it twice for separate, easy PS5 and PS4 one hour Platinums. At the same competitive £4.99/$6.99 launch price, Gynoug's a great 2D shooter companion to Gleylancer. Therefore, if Ratalaika's setting its sights on Mega Drive horizontal shmups, then hopefully Hellfire could eventually blast onto modern consoles, as it was also partially published by Masaya.
There are repeated points between my Gynoug and Gleylancer Mini Reviews, as Ratalaika is establishing a template for Mega Drive releases (two Masaya shmups, working with Shinyuden, cheap at £4.99, similar video display options, and six save slots). Also, it makes sense to entice new gamers with easy Platinum Trophies, who'll hopefully continue playing for the classic skill based progression gameplay.
I've noticed people praised Gynoug more than Gleylancer in the past, because as well as Gynoug's unusual graphics, its gameplay is interesting to learn, especially with the variety of magic attacks. Each floating letter scroll represents a magic selection (T is Thunderbolt, E is Energy Ball, W is Wild Fire etc), and it's intrinsic to the learning curve to experiment with each one.
The main positive is how extras like cheats help customise the gameplay, so I set my game up to retain weapons with infinite magic, on normal difficulty with three lives, but I confined myself to one credit and no rewind. I just wish Ratalaika offered more, like a gameplay instruction manual, an art and story gallery, soundtrack menu, or development history for example.
Ultimately, I think they're both great horizontal 2D shooters, but I like Gleylancer a little more than Gynoug — especially with the port's fun addition of right stick Gunner System controls, and translated anime-style story.
I look forward to reading the comments posted here. Thanks!
Nice shout to Hellfire, but I'd love to see these guys do a Thunderforce III / IV double pack.
@JamieO Great to see this little gem added to the growing list of retro shooters on the PS store. I’ll admit - I couldn’t make it through this one without rewinding, so I’m glad it was available so I could see all of the stages. Great point about adding instructions - even a scan of the original pack-in booklet would be very welcome. Looking forward to Deathsmiles releasing next week to round out an excellent year for classic shooters.
You're truly doing the Lord's work, @jamieo
@Amnesiac Cheers for your comment, I always like to hear what you think about these retro shooters.
You properly made me laugh in 'WAYP? - Issue 402', by the way, when you compared Gynoug's end of Round 2 boss with the giant in Time Bandits, who has a huge ship hat on his head!
Your Time Bandits reference made me remember John Cleese's role as Robin Hood, which in turn made me think of Monty Python, and then I came up with the tagline for my Gynoug review.
Good on you, mate!
@Amnesiac really? I loved ds on the 360
@Dan_ozzzy189 It looks like its Japan only, but these releases tend to come West pretty quickly, so hopefully the wait isn’t too long. There’s some great old shooters on the Japan PS store if you don’t mind fiddling with a Japanese PSN account. ESP Ra De in particular is wonderful.
@JamieO Thanks for the review. I still have my original Mega Drive cart. This was a budget release back in the day I think, I bought it in part as was a cheaper release! I almost made it to the end at the time as I had so few games, I played it a lot. A good game with interesting graphics and sound, I played it recently and still found it fun, but some of the stages I found a bit over long.
@Ristar24 Cheers, you're right about how we used to progress further in games out of necessity, because they were expensive in the 16-bit era, so we didn't amass as many games in a collection.
Owning a big backlog would have been a problem I'd love to have back in in 1991, because I also used to play my Mega Drive games over-and-over – I must have completed Golden Axe countless times.
We'd make up for smaller collections by borrowing games from friends, and renting them out too.
I own the PAL version of Mega Drive Gynoug, as well, but it's just a well-worn box and cartridge without any instructions, I'm afraid.
@JamieO Ah, Golden Axe I played a lot, and Streets of Rage. I bought a lot of Mega Drive games years later, when I first got into retro collecting, but they are mostly stored away these days. Good to see games like this reappear digitally.
Below are quotes from Issue 113 of the UK's Computer and Video Games (CVG) magazine from April 1991, where Gynoug received a total score of 91/100.
As I mentioned in my review, this Mega Drive shmup's visuals were well received in 1991, with a huge separate 'Graphics' score of 94/100. CVG's reviewer's comments are below:
CVG also praised Noriyuki Iwadare's soundtrack — which is noted under Gynoug's credits as music by Cube, just like in Gleylancer.
There's a good Gynoug quote from Rich Leadbetter, which shows how Digital Foundry's Technology Editor has been discussing using tech to enhance the gaming experience for years, where he said,
"The sound ranks as some of the best I've heard on the Megadrive. I plugged in my mega-expensive-bass-blasting JVC headphones and I was well and truly amazed by the swingsome tunes and explosive spot effects."
@JamieO Ha, I recall plugging headphones into the Mega Drive just to listen to a few sound tests.
Thanks for the old mag quotes, I always think Zzap!64 was a bit of a trailblazer for the 90s irreverent approach of CVG and Mean Machines.
You misspelled "four easy platinums" in the title. 4 stacks is actually pretty low for the rat dog, so I expect at least 2, probably 4 more will show up.
@Ristar24 Good call, one example of how Zzap!64 could have influenced later UK gaming magazines might be that Julian 'Jaz' Rignall worked at Zzap!64 before moving to CVG, and then he was a big part of the Complete Guide to Consoles bookazines, and like you mention, the legendary Mean Machines console magazine.
I never heard of this game that came out back in the day. But I’m such a sucker for Genesis/MegaDrive games, I definitely need to try this out.
Great to see these retro games making a return, excited to see what we might get next, so many forgotten classics out there.
@Amnesiac gutted as I don't want to be messing around like that, it always goes wrong and stresses me out. I'm still annoyed we never got bombjack on arcade archives
Another amazing shooter from the legendary 16 bit era.
GYNOUG! Oh man, I LOVED this so much back in the day, never thought I'd see it turning up on a PS5! Gonna have to download this, but does anyone know if you can "turn off" the bars at the sides to have the pic fill the Screen, like in Sega Classics?
@PaperAlien Yes, in the PS5 and PS4 ports of Gynoug (Wings of Wor on Genesis) you can either turn off the wallpaper to have black bars at the sides of a 4:3 display, or you can set it to fullscreen to fill up your 16:9 TV screen.
The fullscreen option looks very stretched in 16:9 though, as like you mention about back in the day, the art was designed for the standard 4:3 CRT TV in 1991, so the backgrounds look widened, and the sprites look fat.
In Ratalaika Games' recent work on retro releases like Gleylancer, Panorama Cotton, and Turrican Flashback, Ratalaika has established a comprehensive options menu to configure the video display, and this continues in Gynoug, with a list of 'Video' options below:
@JamieO Thank you so much for the detailed reply! Bought it and ready to dive in over the weekend, cant wait tbh!
@Dan_ozzzy189 I’m happy to say that I was completely wrong. Deathsmiles 1&2 quietly released on the US store today. It’s currently kicking my butt and I’m enjoying every minute of it,
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