Wings of Wor (Genesis) review
"Shooters on the Genesis have let us pilot just about every form of craft ever conceived. Count the numerous times we have solely saved the galaxy at the controls of some futuristic ship, armed to the teeth with the most advanced lasers. Remember how we destroyed entire forces, in our planes and helicopters, leaving tanks smoking in our wake. Gynoug - or Wings of Wor - strays from this well trodden path, giving us the chance to don wings and take to the sky, to rid the planet Iccus of an evil mut..."
Shooters on the Genesis have let us pilot just about every form of craft ever conceived. Count the numerous times we have solely saved the galaxy at the controls of some futuristic ship, armed to the teeth with the most advanced lasers. Remember how we destroyed entire forces, in our planes and helicopters, leaving tanks smoking in our wake. Gynoug - or Wings of Wor - strays from this well trodden path, giving us the chance to don wings and take to the sky, to rid the planet Iccus of an evil mutation.
This virus, known as the mutants of Iccus, is led by the terrible destroyer. True to its name, this beast has spread destruction over the planet, causing many of your fellow men to try and bring its reign to an end. Each and every one of these brave souls has paid with their lives and now it is your turn.
Casting aside the usual star encrusted skies seen in most shooters, Gynoug favours a darker, more twisted world to set its action. From the outset, deep inside a huge cave, the tone is constantly dark. Even as you take to the skies of the second level, the ominously grey clouds snuff out any possibility of any bright colour we’d expect. The lands of Iccus never raise the atmosphere, constantly drowning your spirits in a wave of dark, depressing visuals. The game does eventually let up for just one of the levels, taking you through the obligatory ‘tech’ area. Set against an orangey metal backdrop, the small tunnels and tiny nicks provide several hidden dangers to overcome.
The minions of the terrible destroyer are no different either. Cast in a game this sinister, you’d quite expect something fairly gruesome and it fails to disappoint, although a lot of this is left to the bosses. Tormented heads mouthing silent screams come in their groups, while knights, severed at the waist, bear their lances at you. Gargoyles lay in wait on your decent into the catacombs, spitting lines of projectile death into your path. Coffins open to reveal zombie-like monsters, ready to jump into your line of fire, while all the time you are being rained down on by lethal swords.
These enemies are predictable enough though, even later in the game, having nothing to surprise you in any way whatsoever. Though the action rarely lets up for more than a second or two, it is only this consistency that is there to challenge. The levels themselves never become part of the game, save for the tunnel section of the fourth level. Masses of shooters like to have you weaving along thin tunnels, often inhabited with gun emplacements, yet Gynoug fails to embrace this trend.
The twice each level when this constant melee lets up, makes way for the mid-boss and boss respectively. The same manic tactics the game seems to employ doesn’t cease here though. Each boss - whichever guise it may be - simply floods the air with a sea of projectiles, calling for some extremely deft manoeuvring.
Tactics aside however, it is these bosses that set the scene for the highlights of the game. In respect to the tone of the game, each of these behemoths heave themselves on the screen in all of there gruesome bulk, before unleashing their awesome firepower upon you. The first of the gargantuan beasts, coming on the form of a train complete with a face (anyone thinking of Thomas the Tank Engine is way off!), takes its place in the bottom half of the screen before filling the remaining air with its offensive. A good idea of what lies ahead can be seen here, though possibly on a lesser scale.
In similar vein, the seabed of the second level pits you against a huge galleon, larger than the screen itself. It is later on when the trend changes to accommodate a more evil of enemy. The closing stages of the fourth level bring you against a huge decaying torso infused with mechanical parts. While attacking you in a similar manner to the other bosses, it keeps its weak spot behind its huge mass making attacking seem impossible. Then every so often, it throws this weak spot - its huge beating heart – into your path, possibly in the hope of taking you out. Now the chance to inflict damage of your own occurs, even though just for a few seconds, before its snatches it back from harms way.
This twisted change continues in the penultimate level, as your journey takes you inside a vein of some huge monster. Within the tissue wall of this vessel, mutants reside among the spent cells, possibly rushing back to some foul heart. It is upon reaching the end of this tube that brings you against the nastiest of foes you have come across so far. The snakelike beast bears an ugly face seemingly post-feast, as blood drips from its jaws onto its body. Disposing of this foul entity is really all it deserves.
Your flight from the battle takes you back into the skies among the anger tipped clouds, retuning home to a victorious reception. Yet as the suns rays pierce these clouds, like some evil spell has finally been lifted, a final surprise awaits. The mid-bosses you left for dead rear their ugly heads for one last gasp onslaught, one after another. Once you have finally laid them to rest, you can turn your weapons to the ultimate of monsters, concluding in the most epic of battles yet. Sending a score of projectiles into the air which follow your every move, you use every ounce of concentration staying alive, hoping your fire lands on its sole weak-spot; an eye that opens periodically hoping to spy on its tormenter. As if the situation seems grim enough, these floating orbs also act as a shield to the eye, making the chances of a hit even direr. What ensues is a battle of stamina, requiring the utmost skill and concentration if you are to have any hope of victory.
To aid your cause is a weapon that you can strengthen and manipulate to your tastes by collecting various coloured spheres as you go. The blue variety of these spheres widen your weapon, whilst the red ones power it up. To add to this, similar orbs can be collected to concentrate your weapon forwards, spread it out over a wider area or even let you fire both forward and backwards.
On top of all this you can collect scrolls, each bearing a different letter. When collected, these scrolls can be wielded as spells adding to your existing weapon. From temporary shields, to huge energy balls, they are an invaluable addition to your armoury. Some of the more frequent of these scrolls include homing arrows and angels which circle you, firing small bursts of lightning and absorbing enemy shots. There are a couple of rarer weapons though, the kind you’d like to have a little more often. One such of these weapons is ‘wild fire’; taking place of your regular shot it boasts a greater coverage and strength, slicing through the advances of mutant scum with ease.
All of this firepower is good and well, yet notch the difficulty level up a little and you’ll need more than a deadly trigger finger. From the moderately hostile mutants you face on the easier level, the change makes those same monsters trigger happy fiends, unleashing their rage at you without rest. Veterans of the genre may not find the easier modes too much of a problem, but I challenge anyone to win over the harder modes – my money is on the mutants.
No matter how much the game throws at you though, you find the sheer size and challenge of the bosses – mid and guardian varieties – provide the greatest thrills it throws at you. Maybe if the regular loons provided a larger assortment of surprises this might not have been so, maybe not. What is certain, is that the larger the boss, the more impressive it seems to be. Out of every shooter I have played, the boss that sticks out the most for me is the gargantuan edifice from R-Type. This craft was so big, it was the whole of the third level. In some ways it was tougher that. Gynoug seems to remind me of that encounter, having guardians that barely fit onto the screen.
You shouldn’t be put off by this minor setback however. Gynoug provides an enjoyable experience just about equal with many of its shooter brethren. The fresh approach visually, certainly helps to set it apart somewhat, even if its gaming is bettered elsewhere. I feel the likes of Thunderforce and Aero Blasters are always going to overshadow title such as this, which to some extent are a shame. Although I’m certainly not going to recommend it over these titles, I’ll just politely ask you to take a break from saving the galaxy and get spend some time in the harsh world of Iccus, battling some of the most heinous bosses ever seen. That’s as much as I can do.
Community review by djy8c (April 13, 2004)
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