Gynoug is a pretty intense nostalgia trip for those who crave some hardcore 90s side-scrolling shoot-em-ups. Players take the role of Wor, an angel on a mission to defeat the Destroyer and its demons that aim to spread their evil as far as possible. Packed with grotesque monsters and bosses, Gynoug is a short but fun port originally released on the Sega Genesis in 1991.
Spread Your Wings and Fly
Gynoug shows its age with the way the gameplay is presented. Players can move Wor in any direction, as much as a 2D game can allow, but the camera itself would be more akin to an on-rails experience, meaning players have no control as the camera scrolls by itself. The control scheme offers a very basic layout, with the A button allowing players to shoot, LT to select special powers, and LB is used as a rewind button if the player makes a fatal mistake. Video games of the ’90s were also known to be exceptionally difficult, and Gynoug is no exception. The game throws everything at you, using a wide variety of demons for each of its six levels to ensure the player has a hard time reaching the end. Players will need to evade constant projectiles that target them in a bullet-hell fashion, hoping to stay alive long enough to secure some sweet upgrades for their own arsenal. Save states are a lifesaver in Gynoug, especially during boss fights where I would save every few seconds and reload every time I took damage. Like I said before, Gynoug is an excruciating experience that won’t hold the player’s hand.
I’m Doing You a Favour…
The bosses of Gynoug are designed in such a way that portrays torture, body horror and in some cases, a source of nightmare fuel. Some bosses seem to have expressions of extreme pain and misery that would make you feel like you’re doing them a favour by eradicating them from existence. Don’t think it is so easy though, these bosses can be very tough and frustrating to defeat. After constantly using save states to make sure I had the best possible upgrades for my projectiles, I was left struggling for health but felt powerful enough to do some serious damage. Gynoug doesn’t have an ammo system for the basic shooting attacks, so boss battles consisted of repetitive save stating, quick dodging, lots of deaths and a barrage of projectiles pummelling my foes in rapid succession. Boss fights are indeed difficult but feel like they offer a fair enough challenge, so I never found myself feeling like I wanted to throw my controller.
I Got a New High Score!
Gynoug features a scoring system that also ties in with Xbox achievements, and the highest to obtain is one million. The game’s score will increase in connection to how many enemies the player defeats, and if retained until the end of the game, the player can start a new game with the score they had when reaching the ending of the final stage. I decided that no demon should be left alive and achieved the one million score by slaughtering every foe I came across, even if that meant rewinding a little to pick off that one stray enemy. Keeping on top of save states will really help to maintain the high score you accumulate throughout your runs.
Gynoug is a superb port of a 30-year-old game that modern gamers should try out to see how gaming has evolved over the years. The final round is fairly disappointing, however, reusing bosses from previous rounds in a sort of boss rush style before finally battling the final nemesis, the Destroyer. Alas, It’s a wonderful addition to the Xbox marketplace and is even optimised for the Xbox Series X/S, so new-gen gamers can enjoy a much smoother experience.
Publishers: Sega, Dreamworks Pictures, NCS Corporation
Platforms: Sega Mega Drive, Wii Virtual Console, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
Release Date: 12th November 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Gynoug was provided by the publisher.