Growl – Review

SEGA Genesis

1991 – Taito

Hey there! Peter Graphic here and you wouldn’t believe what happened to me since I wrote my last article.  So I was in my game room, alphabetizing my Sega Genesis games..When suddenly I heard a creaking…and the shelves of classic games fell down on me!

There I was. Buried alive in red stripped and black grid boxes.  For days I was pinned by my own collection. In the darkness, I noticed one lone sliver of daylight shining on a game case and swore I would write about the hidden gem that led me to my safety. 

Ladies and Gentlemen that game is… Taitos GROWL.

The Story:

Set in the 20th century, you play as one four special agents of P.A.W.S (Protectors of Animals World Society) on a quest to bring an end to animal poaching.  

You start out minding your own business in a dive bar, when suddenly the wall blows apart! Make your way through a city, a moving train, a cave and the jungle all the while beating the snot out of the evil animal poachers.  Make it to the hideout, defeat the boss (reveal a crazy twist) and save the animals. It’s almost like PETA made a version of Final Fight! 

 

The Characters:

 

 

Gen

A rugged Indiana Jones (Temple of doom specifically) type who looks just like Khan. 

Burn

A Rugged Macho looking guy with shades and a headscarf. Looks like Jack.

Khan

A rugged Indiana Jones (Temple of doom specifically) type who looks just like Gen.

Jack

A Rugged Macho looking guy with shades and a headscarf. Looks like Burn.

All kidding aside, they are literally pallet swaps of one another and have different power moves. The manual says they move at different speeds and have different strengths, but I can’t tell the difference.  They have no backstory I know of, and the crazy part is the Genesis version is single player. I know the arcade game had 4 players, but why keep them in the home version if they are all pretty much the same and you have to play alone?  Oh Taito…

The Gameplay:

Growl is a beat em up very similar in gameplay to Captain America and the Avengers. Standard enemies look like the background goons from Indiana Jones. Essentially you walk to the right and take down any enemies in your path. Standard attacks feel a little weak and solely relying on your fists is a bad idea especially if you get ganged up on (and you will).  You will want to use the pipes, rifles, whips (for even more Indiana Jones copying) rocket launchers and stick grenades. I have to say using those are the best way to clear a crowd. Your character ducks and everyone else is blown to bits. It’s kinda shocking and hysterical.

Speaking of the grenades, one of the enemy types is a woman in an 80’s pantsuit that tosses them from her cleavage! Out of all the tough guy macho types, you can’t miss her in bright shoulder padded business suits.

Once you get near the end of the area, get ready for some pretty cheap boss fights. If they toss boulders don’t hesitate to pick them up and throw them right back. They look like giant meatballs, you can’t miss them.  While not a quarter muncher like its arcade big brother, the bosses really aren’t too difficult. However, Growl does a great job of really making you want to save the animals. Some bosses are abusing animals, or the levels start with a poor animal in a cage.  Once they are freed, or saved Growl really lives up to its name! Eagles attack bosses, elephants will trample tanks and other surprises that I won’t ruin. It actually made me feel really happy to save them and watch the bad-guys get comeuppance!

 

Sport Jacket? Check.

High heels? Check.

Grenades? Check

The Controls:

Controlling your character in Growl is pretty simple.  A attacks/picks up a weapon, B jumps and C does your special attack.   It’s an early Sega Genesis title so don’t look for special combos or grabbing move sets. It’s simple but it gets the job done.  I also noticed that once an enemy is down you can continue kicking them or slamming your fists into them. There are already dead guys, relax!  

 

 

The Graphics:

Like Captain America and The Avengers, the sprites are on the smaller side. To me, this isn’t a negative. I like the smaller characters since it allows more enemies on screen.  I also think the streets (especially in the 1st level) have a nice depth to them and they did a nice job of having a pseudo isometric view. Enemies are just pallet swaps, but I give that a pass since it’s an early game.  The animal sprites look pretty cool as well. 

The most charming part is when people explode, or get smashed by elephants. They just seem to be body parts tossed everywhere!  

The Sound:

Ok. The main theme song gets played to death and with a regular play through, I got real sick of hearing it.  The worst part about the sound is nothing came over from the arcade. No “Drop Dead, Scum!” here. What Growl lacks is well…Growls.  (see what I did there?)

 

The Difficulty:

Growl isn’t going to be the hardest game you come across, but it can get really frustrating. Bosses are super cheap and tend to hide out on the side of the screen. While it’s refreshing to see so many of them on screen at once, the lack of co-op makes this a struggle.  Once you beat it, there isn’t much else.  

 

The Verdict:

Growl is a strange beast.  I get a good laugh at the ridiculous aspects of it. Saving the animals is a bold choice for a video game story.  The goofy animations, the over the top violence and odd choices make this a game I love to show off to people who never heard of it.  There’s also a crazy weird surprise with the final boss I won’t spoil here, you’ll have to play it yourself. 

I have to note, copies of Growl for the Genesis can get pricey. You can play this on the Taito Legends 2 compilation.  It’s fun and weird but not worth $50-$100 dollars. 

…Next time I have to be more careful re-organizing my games!

I give Growl 3 and a half TROGS.

GameTrog Review By

Peter Graphic

Peter Graphic is a retro game player and collector. He enjoys writing about and photographing his collection as much as he likes to play! Follow him on Instagram!

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