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.