Tuesday 28 November 2017

Gynoug for the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis

Sometimes you come across games that are hard to write about. Such is the lot of video game writing. Take 1991's Gynoug for instance (or Wings of Wor as it was rebadged stateside). There really isn't a lot to go on. The games starts, the screen scrolls right to left, you shoot things using an array of power ups and special weapons, and then you're done. Which usually happens fairly quickly for newcomers because it is one of the more challenging MegaDrive titles to have been released. Apart from being a good game, surely it's like every other horizontally scrolling shooter. i.e. Put the brain away and get blasting. Nevertheless, Gynoug was well received upon its release as a solid shooter, and while something of a canon title it's pretty much forgotten now.

And that's a shame, because Gynoug is something special. Not because of the blasting action, which on the whole stands up with the best 16-bit shooters, but because of the art style. As the MegaDrive was the go-to console for edgy youth, Gynoug underlined its 'not for kiddies' aura. The graphics are some of the most detailed, yet disgusting, grotesque and questionable to have appeared on the system. Yup, Gynoug is all about ugly ass. Enemies begging to be blasted are brains hopping around on what's left of spinal column, ghoulies who jump out of coffins, and biomechanical bosses with pulsating bits, like the charmer above. The fifth level take us on a journey through the guts of some otherwise unseen monster. It undulates, it wobbles and shimmers, and worst of all it's pink. All enough to have you clutching your own stomach, if it wasn't for the hordes of baddies trying to make short work of you. But that's nothing. The gentleman you see displayed down below is the chappy awaiting you at the end. And yes, that is what you think it is.

Apart from the art style, Gynoug doesn't bring much to the table. The power ups are straight forward and no frills, and I suppose it does have a unique special weapon feature, albeit one too boring to expend words on here. Game play is hardly innovative, though it is polished and the overall presentation, including the excellent soundtrack, help elevate it a cut above.

Yet there is something else of interest here, and those are the changes made during the localisation. As the box art and in-game presentation makes plain, you are some sort of angelic fella charged with dispatching a load of demons. Expelling hell from heaven is a common enough theme nowadays, but for some reason Sega, following the Disneyfying approach to gaming that still marks off Nintendo's key titles, thought North Americans and West Europeans would not be cool with these sub-religious themes. Well, the US perhaps, but Europe? And so the plot is changed. Never mind you're a winged man who possesses a couple of special power ups that call angels to battle by your side, that you can find crucifixes and Stars of David among the enemy host, and that three of the levels are obviously redolent of afterlife themes (the underworld, marble halls, cloud tops). No, apparently we are to believe some evil virus is loose and transformed your peaceful planet into a playground for some of the ugliest critters in the history of video gaming. Sega mandated a similar move with the Tengen port of Devil's Crash when it came to the West, but for whatever reason couldn't be bothered to censor out the bits and bobs that connoted religion. Bizarre. Especially when it left a giant demon dick in the game.

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