Originally a 1991 Sega Mega Drive game, Ratalaika Games have worked their magic, successfully releasing another classic game in Gynoug. With more modernised controls and a slight cleanup in the visuals and sound, Ratalaika Games have made this classic side-scrolling shoot ‘em up more accessible to the modern gamer, whilst keeping that undeniable old-school charm.
Set in a fantasy world, you control Wor, an angel tasked to shoot down every enemy in sight, advancing from boss to boss in this side-scrolling shooter. There isn’t much in terms of narrative; this is just a good old kill everything in your way, and don’t get touched! Again, a classic.
The original release of Gynoug (and many similar games) was a good few years before my time. This means I don’t have any first-hand experience when this game was initially on the shelves to compare. However, if you have experience with games of this era and art style, you can’t help but feel nostalgic towards Gynoug, and I feel that this massively helps it.
To add to the nostalgia factor, you can apply customizable CRT filters, further enhancing that retro feel. This can add effects to make it feel like you’re playing on old, curved TV sets, and you can also add more saturation, grain, and many other options to set the screen as you may have known it to be way back when! Another neat little addon is that you can turn cheats on before starting the game should you wish to. These include having unlimited arcade-style credits, infinite lives, and the ultimate cheat: invincibility. I opted against using these at first but eventually used the unlimited credits, as it turns out I am woeful at Gynoug! All these options, alongside being able to add different frames or stretch the game to fullscreen, are great additions to help optimise the game in the way you want to play it.
Like many shoot ‘em ups, the gameplay is simple. You control Wor, who shoots magic from his hands to kill any oncoming enemies. You never feel unfairly treated with the difficulty, which can be amended in the settings, as most enemies you encounter can be taken out easily with good aim and great reflexes – something I have discovered I lack! With this being essentially a re-release of a game from 1991, there isn’t any new or unique mechanics. It’s as old school as it gets, and this can feel a little stale to the modern gamer.
The real excitement comes in the boss battles littered throughout. These feel chaotic and add increased excitement over the usual sections of the game. It is highly rewarding thwarting these grotesque-looking monsters that fill over half the screen.
The enemy and boss designs are a high point of this game. They are still, to this day, grotesque and unique looking, and the style of art design from the Sega Mega Drive is timeless. The bold visuals paired with the vintage soundtrack, taking melodies from other old-school games, add that nostalgic flavour that helps elevate this over another basic shoot ‘em up. I do want to stress that, gameplay-wise, Gynoug is just another side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. Aside from being a classic that some have a soft spot for, it fails to shine for a new player who has never heard of it.
The gameplay is faultless in what it does, but Gynoug doesn’t do anything to stand out. If you are nostalgic towards the game or those alike, you’ll get much more out of this than someone brand new to Gynoug. Unfortunately, I was the latter.