Previous remix compliations:
Mega Man - Castlevania - Final Fantasy - F-Zero - Chrono Trigger

I was looking at the previous collections of viddogame remixes I'd pulled together, and I noticed there was something of a Nintendo bias towards the games covered. Is that because the music that appears on Nintendo consoles is simply better? No, it's just that there are hundreds of Mega Man and Final Fantasy games, so there's a lot more material to go at. Sega is hardly short of great gaming tracks, though, so without futher ado here are ten great remixes and covers of classic Sega tunes.

Olivier Sirois - Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone

Where better to start than with the first game in Sega's most famous franchise? How about the music from the first stage in the first Sonic game? Yeah, that seems like a good place. In this orchestrated take on the Green Hill Zone, the soundtrack to Sonic's first adventure gains a cinematic quality that seems to promise adventure, freedom and a future where Shadow the Hedgehog doesn't exist.

S.S.T. Band - After Burner - Theme

Sega's very own SST Band perform a live version of the After Burner theme. It is quite possibly the single most "eighties" thing I've ever seen, despite it being filmed in 1990. Eight minutes of wailing synths and crunching guitars - what could be better than that? There's even a guitar duel. In a happier, more caring universe this would have been the soundtrack to Top Gun.

Takenobu Mitsuyoshi - Alex Kidd - Theme

The Alex Kidd theme is one of the catchiest pieces of music ever written. I'm convinced it could be weaponised, you know. Just play it over a battlefield and render the combatants completely unable to fight because they're running around, humming the Alex Kidd theme and generally being cheerful. This cover makes it even harder to escape this theme's charms by rocking up the music and giving you lyrics to sing along to. And you will sing along. You'll accidentaly do it on the bus, and people will look at you funny. Or so I'm told...

Ataraktika - Altered Beast - Rise From Your Grave

Or as it's better known, "Wise fwom yow gwave!" Altered Beast is a strange game with a melancholic, almost depressing feeling that lingers over you as you play, which seems strange for a game about turning into a wolf-man and punching things. Ataraktika also noticed the strange mood of the game and conjured up a heavy, sludgey and very appropriate take on the famous theme that works as a great compliment to the unusual atmosphere.

Diggi Dis - Golden Axe 2 - Battle of Ravaged Village

I included this in the GA2 article, but it's a great remix of one of my favourite ever videogame tracks, it deserves another mention here. A fantastic arrangement, it's filled with many different styles but never becomes muddled or over-indulgent, marrying the rock and hip-hop elements of the original soundtrack with an excellent (and strangely appropriate) piano solo. Definitely one of my personal favourite remixes.

? - Super Hang-On - Sprinter

Sometimes subtlety isn't required. Sometime I just want a cheesy-as-hell, 80s-anime style synth-and-guitar cover. I say sometimes, I mean pretty much all the time. This arranged version of Super Hang-On's "Sprinter" certainly has that feeling, and as music about racing motorcycles goes it's hard to beat.

Avien - Streets of Rage 2 - Slow Moon

Another excellent OCRemix, this time a chilled-out cover of the second-best track in SoR2 (the first being "Dreamer", of course). Well, I couldn't compile a list like this without including something by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro, could I? This is a simple, clean take on the Megadrive original that only has one drawback - it's just too short.

Bayonetta Sound Team - Space Harrier - Theme

Bayonetta has a lot going for it: gloriously over-the-top set piece, fast-paced and thrilling action, and best of all poppy covers of classic Sega themes. I decided to include the Space Harrier theme here because, well, it's the already-excellent Space Harrier but coated in a thick layer of jazzy Japanese pop cheerfulness. What's not to like?

Kiminori Atsuta - OutRun - Passing Breeze

OutRun has one of the greatest soundtracks ever, and as such each track has been remixed eight ways from Sunday, but here's something a bit special - a piano arrangement that takes the sun-drenched charm of the original track and turns in into some really beautiful. A perfect evolution of "Passing Breeze" that has all the laid-back charm of the original but in a brand-new context. Like I said, it's something special.

DrumUltimA, Harmony - Sonic the Hedgehog - Star Light Zone

Let's finish where we started, with another track from the original Sonic the Hedgehog. This time it's the Star Light Zone theme, a track which I'm a little embarrased to admit provokes an odd emotional reaction from me. But hey, if I'm going to get emotional about a piece of videogame music it might as well be something as sweetly haunting as this. This remix starts off with some appropriately haunting percussion and acoustic guitars, before morphing into a joyful, almost scat-style freakout that makes for a fitting tribute to one of Sega's finest ever tracks.

There you go, then - ten great remixes and covers of tracks from Sega's classic back catalogue. The balance is restored! Hope you enjoyed them, and I also hope that watching the After Burner cover didn't somehow teleport you back to 1990.



People always complaining that you spend too much time watching TV? How about that old chestnut that videogames will rot your brain? Dammit mum, leave me alone! Well, why not combine the two into one synapse-frying cavalcade of fun (cavalcade not guaranteed) with Imagineering's 1993 SNES our-survey-said-em-up Family Feud!

If you're British you'll probably know this better as Family Fortunes, the quiz to find the most obvious answer, formerly presented by human punchline Les Dennis and currently hosted by Boltonian charisma vacuum Vernon Kay. It now goes by the name All-Star Family Fortunes, although this is something of a misnomer as the fame level of the participating celebrities is so low it makes Come Dine With Me look like the Oscars afterparty.

I could make the point that the name-change from Family Feud to Family Fortunes highlights a cultural division between the US and the UK: the original name is angry, combative, while the British version focuses more on the rewards of the game (because, as a nation, we are greedy). It probably got changed for a really boring reason like copyright issues, although I personally would have changed it anyway because the phrase Family Feud conjures up images of warring tribes of inbred mountain folk.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though - maybe you've never seen Family Feud. Perhaps you live in a country that doesn't broadcast some version of the game, although having seen the list of international versions this seems unlikely unless you're living in the undersea kingdom of Aquatica or North Korea. Maybe you're part of a government experiment to monitor the effects of light entertainment deprivation. Whatever the reason, a game of Family Feud goes like this: you're asked a question. In the example above, the question is "Besides a clock or watch, what in your home displays the time?" This question has also been asked to one hundred people, and it's your job to give the answer that the most other people said.

Obviously, you're going to say VCR despite the fact that this is 2012 and VCRs are now a relic of a distant, forgotten age. Still, fifty-four other people said "VCR" when asked the same question, so you get fifty-four points. I hope you're proud of yourself. Hang on, only fifty-four? This game was released in 1993! The VCR was the nineties' equivalent of a grandfather clock! Maybe half of the people quizzed were Amish or something.
There are a few other complications, namely that you have to find all the answers on the board to get the points. If you make three incorrect guesses, the opposing team can steal all your points by finding one of the remaining answers. Sadly an incorrect guess isn't accompanied by most famous part of the British version: the robotic "UH-UHH" noise that sounds like Robot Satan trying to be sassy.
There's also a final quick-fire round, but that'll be along in a while. For now, let's meet the families!

Second from left: Chuck Norris. Second from right: Lucille from Arrested Development. We can only assume that this isn't a family but is actually a government hit-squad comprised of people who can utterly destroy you (be it physically or mentally). That guy on the far right is their handler, which is why he looks so goddamn nervous.

A normal enough family, but I'm a little worried about the guy on the right. I don't want to make snap judgements or anything but he looks like the kind of guy that... does things in the lingerie sections of large department stores. Keep those hands where I can see them, buddy.

Ah yes, the Poshington-Smythes. So glad you could join us! I'm joking, of course - there's no way this family can be all that conservative given that the father's wearing a suit which I can only describe as really fucking blue. They'd never stand for that at the country club. At least, I assume he's the father: he could be a hostage for all I know, kidnapped for his vast knowledge of what one hundred people will say when asked a simple question.

Here's the final family, and I guess they're pretty normal even if the guy on the right does look like J. Jonah Jameson. Hopefully there'll be a question about Spider-Man. Notice how they're all wearing the same perturbed expression, like someone just off-screen is singing nursery rhymes while dressed as a clown and stroking a stuffed cat.

Once you've selected a family to represent you, the game begins. The first round is the Bullseye round, where you can add cash to the prize pot by finding the top answer and being quick on the buzzer.

After that, you're on to the meat of the game as the two families attempt to complete the board. It's not exactly a complex gameplay system, but it works pretty well. All you're doing is typing the answers in by moving a cursor about, but it's pretty fast and while the game is strict about spelling it will quite often help you out if you don't put the exact answer it wants by accepting things like "video player" when the answer is "VCR". Of course, whatever system they used to implement this can go awry. For example, one of the questions I got was "After a child moves away, what do his parents use his room for?"

Being as immature as I am I entered "vigorous intercourse", because by this point I'd sort of lost interest. The game seemed to appreciate my "wit", though...

...because it accepted it as a correct answer - "storage", to be specific. I really hope this was included by the developers as a little joke, because the alternatives are too bizarre to contemplate. Maybe "intercourse" is a slang word for storage in America. "I'm just going to intercourse these boxes in the intercourse locker". No... no, that can't be right.

Then there are things like this. The question was "Things other than presents you give people on their birthday." I'd like to draw your attention to the sixth answer. Maybe where you're from, pal. I'd be disappointed if I was expecting a surprise party and instead I received a butt-paddling. At least it'd still be a surprise, I suppose.
So, it's a pretty decent game and it works well, but there a couple of other things that I particularly enjoyed about Family Feud that I'm not certain were intentional. First, and something that made me literally laugh out loud and was presumably unintentional, is the way the teams celebrate winning the round. The winners clap merrily, proud about their knowledge of the habits of one hundred randomly-selected peons. The losing side... they're not quite as impressed.

Look at those stony-faced bastards. Nobody likes a sore loser, Romeos.
The other thing is that, as I mentioned before, I'm pretty juvenile. If you're like me, that means you can derive a good amount of humour from the way the game makes it far, far too easy to enter unfortunate and borderline offensive answers. Like so:

Or this:

Or even this (I'm sorry).

Sometimes the fruit hangs too low, even for me.

That's how to squeeze some more fun out of the game, at least. There's a metagaming suggestion for you: get some friends over, play Family Feud and award points based on who comes up with the funniest / most disturbing answers.

Oh, and there's the final round where two family members get the same five questions and must provide an answer each, hopefully reaching two hundred points overall and securing the big cash prize. It's a bit easier than on the actual show, because you're not supposed to be able to see what the other person's answers were and you can't submit the same answer twice, but the game handles it well enough. I was a little confused about the top answer for "place with big lawns" being "golf course", because they aren't lawns. They're, like, fairways and shit. If you try and have a picnic in the middle of golf course you'll quickly be ejected from the premises.
That's pretty much it, really. If you win, you can keep going as champions but once you reach $80,000 in winnings you're forced to retire in case you bankrupt the company.

No fanfare or ceremony, not even a small glitter explosion. I suppose the cheque for eighty grand will salve the pain of not getting a parade.
Family Feud really isn't all that bad. It know what it wants to do and it does it pretty well. The presentation is decent if hardly mind-blowing and if you really want to play a TV quiz show on your SNES then you could do worse than this (for example Wheel of Fortune, which is dull as sin). The main thing I've taken away from this is that Family Feud is a game that wouldn't exist nowadays. Technology has advanced and there's nothing here that you couldn't do in a web browser. It'd certainly never be a full-price release on a current-gen console, and as such it's something of a relic of the 16-bit era.
It does have a lot of questions, though. I don't think I saw any repeated while I was playing, and I played it for quite a while. If you're wondering just how many there are, some madman on GameFAQs has transcribed every question and all the possible answers. It's a feat that makes me feel a little better about writing articles for retro games nobody cares about.



A while ago I wrote about ten of my favourite bizarre Final Fantasy enemies, because to my addled mind a vicious rabbit riding a floating lettuce and psychedelic toads are things worth writing about. A selection of just ten enemies simply wasn't enough, however - the Final Fantasy universe is home to so many freakish creatures that it makes the deep ocean look like a particularly disappointing petting zoo, one that only contains an arthritic donkey and a couple of uninterested guinea pigs. So, here are ten more weird FF enemies, a list inspired by my recent time spent with Final Fantasy V and my first encounter with these guys...

Ghila Cat, FFV

Furry death charges screaming from the skies! The Pusswaffe strikes in a whirlwind of scratching claws, knocking over ornaments and getting under your feet while you're trying to feed it! Yeah, it's a cat with hang-glider wings. That's just cruel. Why would you put wings on a cat and throw it into battle? All the cats I've ever encountered have not reacted well when I've thrown them through the air, and I've thrown a lot of cats. My data samples are big enough that I feel confident to say that very few cats like being thrown through the air, and fewer still possess the highly developed chest muscles and aerodynamic nature required to stay airbourne on home-made wings.
Of course, I'm assuming the cat didn't make the wings itself in some kind of misguided attempt to become a more efficient hunter of birds. This is Final Fantasy, after all. Maybe it did make the wings itself, but I wouldn't want to delve too deeply into the possibility as it would make a mockery of the concept of evolution.

Abomination, FFIX

Where does Square get off calling this thing an Abomination, huh? Sure, it might look like something you'd find clogging the drains of someone who really, really loves blackcurrant jelly but that's hardly his fault, is it? Frankly, I think you should be impressed by the Abomination's front teeth, which serve it well in wintry weather by both acting as a snowplow and providing extra grip in icy conditions. It could help you clear your driveway after a heavy snowfall, and it wants to help. Just look into its eyes! Eye, I mean. Anyway, that's a facial expression that simply speaks of a certain nervousness when meeting new people, not an insatiable desire for carnage and death. Plus, it wriggles around on its little hair-tentacles and it's kind of adorable.

Kagura, FFIII

Just look at that face. Go on, soak it in. That neon-green seahorse couldn't possibly be any happier about being a neon-green seahorse, which is what makes him so weird. He shouldn't be happy - the only use for neon-green seahorses in this world is as a punchbag for any group of adventurers that happen to wander past. He'll be dead in seconds, but you can bet that he'll keep on smilin' even as he's filleted by each warrior's unflinching blade.

Face, FFVI

Well, it's definitely a face. You can't deny that. The Playstation version of FFVI may have re-translated its name to "Phaze" but there is no doubt that what we have here is a gigantic hovering face. It'd fit nicely into Gynoug. As such it raises a lot of questions, questions like "does it have a body somewhere?" and "how does it float?" and "why does it look so bloody smug? If I didn't have a body, I doubt that my overriding emotion would be smugness." Well, I can answer that last one - it looks so smug because it knows what's going on. Indeed I believe it may know that answers to all things, but Face's desire to do nothing but fight adventurers means that this vast repository of knowledge is now lost to us. What a smug prick.

Slapper, FFVIII

First off, I should point out that "slapper" means something else entirely here in Britain. That's fine for providing some juvenile snickering, but the real weirdness here is in how ordinary the Slappers are. They're just guys who were playing ice hockey when a rival school / mercenary training facility happened to crash into them. After the hordes of fearsome monsters, evil witches and elite military officers that Squall and company had previously fought, a quick dust-up with some guys carrying sticks must have been something of a relief. Personally, I'm choosing to believe that this entire encounter was orchestrated by the Slappers' coach as an impromptu training session designed to promote team unity. Sadly, all the team members were killed and the coach is now trying to drink himself into an early grave.

Skull Eater, FFV

A squirrel with the name of death metal band, the Skull Eater is definitely adorable. That is, when he's not eating skulls. Look, he's got one is his paws right now! I think. It could be a grey nut or something. It doesn't actually look much like a skull, which might be because the Skull Eater is a palette swap of an earlier, less demonic squirrel enemy. I'm starting to doubt that these guys even eat skulls at all. They're probably just the squirrel equivalent of the unpopular kid who becomes a goth and changes his name to "Raventear Darknight" or something.

Balor, FFIII

A muscular body covered in writhing tentacles and possessing a gaping, tooth-lined maw is pretty weird, I guess. Not all that weird for an FF game, though - you're unlikely to come across one in your local Tesco, but in the world of Final Fantasy they're probably the equivalent of chickens or cranky old ladies on the bus. No, I'm much more interested in his unusual pose: all I can see when I look at Balor is a monster caught in the middle performing a blistering air guitar solo, stopped in his tracks by sheer embarrassment as his father bursts into the room to find out what all the noise is about. God, Dad! Why don't you ever knock!? I hate you!!

Marionetteer, FFIV

The Marionetteer is an enemy that summons dolls to fight for her in battle. I find dolls pretty creepy, and the Marionetteer is not helping any. Don't be fooled by the fact she looks like a dragged-up version of Mr. Dink from Nickelodeon's Doug - there are no whimsical lessons about adolescence to be learned here.
I'm pretty sure that bird on her back is grooming her, too. Not only does she command an endless legion of sinister dolls, but she also has poor personal hygiene and is infested with lice.

Alluring Rider, FFVI

It's a whip-wielding, semi-naked woman riding a flying tapir. There was little chance of the Alluring Rider not featuring on this list. The reason she didn't appear on the last list is because, erm, I forgot about her (which seems an unlikely thing to happen given that she's a whip-wielding, semi-naked woman riding a flying tapir, but there you go.) At least she makes slightly more sense than some of these enemies, because she does appear when you're trapped in the "Dreamscape" of one of your party members. This makes me wonder whether she was drawn from something the enemy designer actually dreamt about. I hope so - it'd have made the dreamscape planning meeting quite interesting.
"We need monster ideas for the Dreamscape area. What have you got?"
"Well, I did have a dream the other night that we could use..."
"Go on."
"Well, right, there was this woman, and she was naked from the waist down..."
"I see."
"And she had a whip."
"Okaaay. Well, we'll put it on the "maybe" pile."
"Oh yeah, and she was riding one of those animals that look like elephants crossed with pigs, you know, with the little trunks?"
"You mean a tapir?"
"She was riding a tapir. I see. Tell you what, we'll put that one to one side for now, shall we? And I tell you what, maybe you should take a little time off work."

Ghirofelgo, FFVII

Both disturbing and comical, the Ghirofelgo is not someone you'd want to take anywhere in a dinghy. He fights by swinging around on a chain, determined to get some use out of his otherwise pointless lower half, but if you hit him hard enough he falls to the ground. There he lies, floundering around on the floor like a turtle that's been flipped on its back and has also had its flippers replaced with razor-sharp pendulums. You fight these guys in the Shinra Mansion so it's likely that they're the result of Professor Hojo's twisted experiments, in this instance an experiment into designing the world's most disturbing long-case clock.
Maybe they aren't Hojo's handiwork, though. Maybe they evolved, their unusual mutations spurred on by the high levels of Mako radiation in the area. If so, nature has dealt them a cruel hand. I can't see what their primary prey would be, unless there's a species of rodent in the Shinra Mansion that are so terrified by Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum that they suffer instantaneous and fatal coronary failure at the mere sound of a swinging blade.
You're right, that's just too fanciful. We'll stick to the original idea that Ghirofelgo are sentient beings who have had their legs replaced with pendulums in a grotesque perversion of science, forever doomed to swing from chain to conveniently-dangling chain in an abandoned mansion. Final Fantasy VII is a surprisingly dark game sometimes.

And there you have it, ten enemies to baffle the senses and make you wonder just why that seahorse is so happy. He must be up to something. Something fishy, even. Goodnight!



You know what the Megadrive had plenty of? Horizontally-scrolling shoot-em-ups. Here's another one! It's Masaya's 1991 winged-avenger-em-up Gynoug, also known as Wings of Wor.

First things first - how do you pronounce that title? Guy-noog? Jinnog? The Japanese characters transliterate as something like "Jinougu", so should it sound like "Jinoog"? Who knows, and indeed who cares? It's not important, because as far as I can see the word "Gynoug" has no connection to the game whatsoever and might well be six tiles plucked from a Scrabble bag. It's how they named Q*Bert, after all.

You're not told the plot, either, at least not by the game itself. One minute you're looking at a muscular winged warrior in skintight blue leggings and then bang, you're playing the game and facing off against... whatever these things are.

Experiments have proven that you can cross-breed garden gnomes and bicycle handlebars, but the resulting offspring are disturbing at best. Perhaps someone at Masaya misinterpreted the phrase "Star of David" - that does rather look like the face of British naturalist David Bellamy.
That pointy weirdo might have tipped you off as to why I'm talking about Gynoug in the first place. Like I said, the Megadrive / Genesis has plenty of scrolling shooters, and Gynoug isn't exactly packed with innovation. What it does have is weirdness, with plenty of enemies and bosses that are very different from the usual spaceships and mecha, and really that's all I'm interested in for today.

I mean, look at this guy. He's the first stage's mid-boss and already the biology of your opponents has become completely unfathomable. I think there's a bit of turtle DNA in there somewhere. Also some rocks. Rock-turtles are hardly an uncommon enemy type in videogames, but this one has the added touch of a face that'd give the Cenobites nightmares. Look at all those holes! Who knows what could be lurking in there? I doubt it's puppies. Or, like, they're puppies but with insect legs where their eyes should be and their fluffy little tails constantly secrete a corrosive slime.

I know I'm focusing on the art design, but don't get me wrong - Gynoug's gameplay is more than up to scratch, it's just not very original. You fly through the stages, shooting everything that moves and collecting power-ups to help you shoot said moving things. The weapon system is probably the most unique aspect of Gynoug's gameplay. Our hero fires blue energy pellets, and this main weapon rather unusually has two separate power bars. Collecting red gems increases the power of your shots, while each blue gem you gather increases the spread and therefore screen-coverage of your attacks. One hit is, as per bloody usual, all it takes for you to lose a life but unlike games such as Gradius you don't revert back to your painfully-weak starting state when you die- instead you lose a red and a blue orb. The power level of your weapon is indicated by the blue and red bars at the top of the screen.

You can also pick up magic scrolls to equip you with a limited-use sub-weapon. In the picture above, our hero is using the Energy Ball. It's not really a ball, but it can be extremely useful because it negates the enemy's bullets / plasma orbs / caustic bodily fluids / whatever it is they're supposed to be firing at you.
Weapon system aside, Gynoug is very straightforward. Luckily, it's still a lot of fun to play thanks to sharp controls and a difficulty curve that starts at "challenging" and ends up in the region of "may God have mercy on your soul" but does so in a smooth, balanced manner. Enough about that, though, and back to the madness. Here's the boss of the first stage!

Clive Barker's re-imagining of Thomas the Tank Engine really is something. You've got to fight a train with the face of a man, or possibly a man with the body of a train, and the whole thing raises some disturbing questions. Questions like "is it sentient?" and "why would you build that, it seems terribly impractical and I fail to see how it improves on existing locomotive designs." It rather reminds me of the work of British artist John Blanche, who you might be familiar with through the art he produced for Games Workshop.

Stage two throws you something of a curveball, because those are just seagulls, right? I mean, obviously they're seagulls with the ability to fire some kind of deadly projectile from an unidentified orifice, but they're still just seagulls. Disappointing. The second part of the stage takes place beneath the ocean waves which means we must be in for some real oddities - after all, the sea is where all the truly weird-looking creatures live.

Coelacanth? Pretty cool, but hardly a soul-rending, utterly alien horror from the stygian depths. Even the mid-boss is only a giant whelk. Has Gynoug lost its way already, its creative juices spent after the first stage? Well, why don't we ask the end-of-stage boss?

It's a pirate ship with a human face that vomits deadly orbs at you. That's better! See, I know Gynoug was just holding out on us... Wait, there's more?

Turns out it wasn't a pirate ship with human face, it was just a hat belonging to an even bigger head. My mistake! You might have noticed by now that a lot of the enemies in this game are faces. Floating faces, faces attached to vehicles, faces that live under the sea and wear galleons as hats: it all rather makes you wonder about the art designer's personal issues. A former mask salesman, possibly? Maybe they just really hate faces, which seems like it'd be a condition that'd really impede your day-to-day life, as well as setting up the gimmick for some Batman-style villainy.

The next stage sees us firmly back into the realms of the bizarre as our winged avatar heads through a castle filled with coffins that dispense slime-mummies, bunches of floating skulls and the creatures pictured above. I think they're brains that hop around on a single leg, which not only makes an interesting enemy for a shoot-em-up but would also be my top pick to be introduced into the next generation of Pokemon.

Here's one of the slime-mummies now. Aren't they adorable? Like humanoid blobs of semi-solidified barbeque sauce. Our hero cares not for adorability though, and he blasts them back to whatever hellish condiment-dimension they came from. Why he does so is something of a mystery - the game itself certainly doesn't contain any plot. According to the manual for the US version, you're playing as Wor, a "winged battle master" whose home planet of Iccus has been corrupted by a virus that creates hideous mutants... although these mutants also have a leader, known as The Destroyer. So was this virus all part of Destroyer's plan? Or did he just notice that a ready-made army of face-shaped mutant warriors had appeared and thought "hang on a minute, I could use this rag-tag bunch of grisly abominations to take over the planet"? None of this is ever explained, although I have my doubts that this is the way the story originally went.

Enough about the nonsensical story! It's time to fight another man-faced train! This one's got a flame-thrower for a tongue, and it actually one of the hardest parts of the entire game. I forgot to get a screenshot, but the man-train here likes nothing more than filling the screen with bullets and then producing his volcanic tongue, giving you very little room to manoeuvre. Your job is made harder still by the fact you can only hurt him when his mouth is open. Luckily Wor is quite nippy and easy to control so dodging his attacks never feels impossible, but it's a long, difficult fight that feels claustrophobically frustrating.
Another boss that's a vehicle with a human face. I'm predicting it now: the next boss will be Budgie the Little Helicopter and The Destroyer is actually Brum.

Stage four starts with a change of pace, as you have to steer Wor through the narrow corridors of an industrial area, all while blasting away at the obstacles in your path and the occasional hovering wizard.

Of course, touching the floor or the ceiling or pretty much anything will cause you to explode and die. Don't forget that Wor is the "battle master" of this planet. Iccus is not a planet of great champions.
I like that the stages are getting more and more visually interesting as the game progresses. I'd have hated to have been stuck in those dreary caves that made up the first stage for the whole adventure, and it also gives you something to look forward to. What strange landscape will we happen upon next? Well, you'll have to beat the stage four boss to find out.

When steampunk costuming goes horribly wrong! Hang on, this guy isn't vehicle with a face. In fact, his face only makes up a completely reasonable percentage of his total area! I can't feel too hard done-by, though: this monster is still so tough he uses a steam boiler as a Walkman. He also attacks by firing red blood cells at you, which doesn't make any sense - they should be white blood cells. Also he's a floating torso with his heart on the outside fighting against a hawk-man. His external heart points to his possible origin as a collaboration between Umbrella and British Gas - an attempt to produce a self-maintaining boiler, maybe (and bio-weaponry, of course). It's also his weak spot, unsurprisingly.
In all seriousness, this boss is great. It looks fantastic, a combination of an interesting design with excellent graphics, and the fight itself is fun. He's got the same tendency to fill the screen with projectiles as the previous boss, but there's more space to move around in and as a result the battle feels more tense and exciting than tedious and frustrating.

For stage five, Wor takes a detour and ends up in Salamander. We're supposed to be saving the planet Iccus, right? I can see why Iccus would have caves and oceans and industrial districts, but organic meat-tunnels? It must be that virus' doing, and the virus also filled the place with floating skulls, monocular space-limpets and vicious amoeba towers.

Also faces. "One face is not enough," said Masaya, "so here's a monster made of loads of faces stuck together." I particularly like the upside-down face at the top, who must be hoping that the seagulls from stage two don't reappear and drop their "payload" into his upturned nostrils.

As for the mid-boss, well, he's just a naked man floating around in a sitting position, occasional sneezing out deadly blue pellets that spilt into several smaller yet equally deadly blue pellets. As far as Gynoug goes, this seems almost quaintly pedestrian. Not so much with the end-of-stage boss.

I tried several times, but there's no way I can talk about this boss without mentioning that his entire lower half appears to be an enormous, bleeding, ventricle-covered alien penis. How did that one slip by the censors? "What do you mean 'It looks like a penis'? That's just his mutated leg. If you're seeing dicks everywhere that's your problem, pal." Thankfully, he doesn't fire from the tip of his, erm, lower appendage. Just everywhere else.
This seems like a good time to mention that Masaya also developed the infamous Cho Aniki series, a series best known for its homoerotic depictions of bodybuilders, vehicles with faces and generally bizarre (and sexual) tone. It would seem that the same graphic designer worked on both Gynoug and Cho Aniki: this does not come as a huge surprise.
Once the mutant wang-beast is defeated, Wor arrives at the final stage of the game.

First things first: check out that parallax scrolling. That's a really lovely touch in a game that acquits itself well in the graphics department. It has the occasional mis-step - it can be difficult to see what's going on amidst stage five's veiny bio-nightmare, for example - but on the whole it makes excellent use of a muted color palette, unusual art design and some nice effects like the rotating caverns and these clouds. Sadly, the clouds are the only positive in this stage, and that's because it's a boss rush.

Yawn. Over the time I've been writing these articles, I've come to possess a substantial pool of hatred for boss rush levels and the unimaginative tedium that they bring. I'm fine with having a recurring boss, or a boss rush as a separate game mode, or even including the boss rush as a post-game bonus stage like in Konami's Crime Fighters series. It's just that when it takes up an entire stage - essentially reducing an already short game from six stages to five - it seems like a lazy and ultimately disappointing way of padding out the game.

Speaking of disappointing, here's the final boss. His actual physical form isn't so bad. I can get behind a demonic caterpillar foetus as a final boss, even if he is sorely lacking in the face department. No, he's a letdown simply because he's so tedious to fight. His only attack is to unleash a swarm of what I think are mint imperials into the air. These things float around aimlessly, getting in your way and acting like a slow-moving obstacle course. You can only hurt the boss by shooting him in the eye, and that's fine - the eye is a staple weakpoint of shooter videogames. If you're looking at him and thinking "but he doesn't have any eyes", that's because his eye is that brown sphere in his stomach. You can't hurt it when it's closed, but every five seconds or so it opens for a split-second (and I do mean a split-second) so you can get a hit in. That'd be a difficult enough set of defences to break through, but his hovering golf balls block your shots and they sure do like to congregate around his eye.

His orbs aren't really all that difficult to avoid, so the epic final conflict between good and evil becomes a rather dull war of attrition, with the Destroyer's plan apparently being to bore you so thoroughly that you lose concentration and fly into an orb. It's a real shame, because Gynoug had been a very enjoyable game up until the final stage.
If you have the patience you'll eventually get enough hits in to finish him off and the planet Iccus will be saved, because destroying the Destroyer also removes all trace of the terrible virus. Somehow.

The short ending shows Wor returning to his pedestal and turning into a statue. See, this is where my suspicions that the story presented in the American manual does not correspond to the original Japanese version. I wouldn't be surprised if Wor is actually an angel, summoned out of statue-based storage to fight a demonic evil, hence the final stage taking place in a rather heavenly setting and the hellish tone of the enemies. Of course, this might all be rubbish and the truth is that Wor's reward for saving Iccus is to be turned into a roosting spot for the local pigeons.

Despite the final stage, Gynoug / Wings of Wor has to go down as a good game. I'm by no means an expert on what constitutes a good shoot-em-up amongst the hardcore fans of the genre, but I can say that I enjoyed playing it. It's not just the graphics and the weird artistic stylings, although that certainly helps - it's just a fun and simple game that controls well and is very challenging but never treats you with outright contempt. If you like shooting things in the face, you should get professional help, but in the meantime this might tide you over. Plus, that guy was totally wearing a pirate ship as a hat.

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