Not the Best, A Review of Growl on the Genesis

Have you ever wanted to kill poachers? Have you ever wanted to kill poachers while fighting alongside animals? Well, this is your chance!

Growl is a beat’em up from Taito. There was not a port on the SNES, which made the Genesis/Mega Drive port the only way to play this on the home console. It has a similar gameplay style to other arcade games from the late 80s and 90s.

It is an interesting game because of the plot of the game. Aside from that, it isn’t anything special when you compare it to the other beat’em ups of the time. It is a good game, but this port has a few issues.

TLDR: Growl is an interesting game with one major flaw.


The four characters are park rangers and have to fight off an army of poachers who have abducted many animals. The game plays out like a version of NARC. You take down these poachers with guns, rockets, swords, and your fists.

The story is brief and also plays out during the game. There are a few in-game cutscenes, but the dialogue is at the bottom of the screen, and there is a good chance that you’ll miss it. Most of the time, I wondered why my character was standing there.

The story isn’t all that special, but in 1990 and 1991, it didn’t matter. Players weren’t going to the arcades for the stories in the games, and there wasn’t that big of a focus on them.


You play as one of four park rangers. The game is single-player only, which is a disappointment. Beat’em ups are more fun with multiple people, and having a game that takes that option away is pretty crappy.

The controls are very simple. A is your attack button, B is Jump, and C is your special attack. This three-button setup has been used in several beat’em ups and works quite well.

Four possible characters, each with their stats. Here is a list of the possible characters:

  • Gen
  • Burn
  • Khan
  • Jack

You get three continues, and then you have to start over. This is similar to other arcade game ports, but it is a little annoying. There are two difficulty settings, Normal and Hard. You can also adjust the number of credits from 3 to 7.

Like many beat’em ups, you have a bunch of weapons that you can use. The guns have limited ammo, which is a good thing, and the melee weapons seem only to disappear if you drop them. Here is a list of the weapons you can pick up:

  • Rocket Launcher
  • AK-47
  • Pistol
  • Grenade
  • Sword
  • Knife
  • Pipe
  • Whip – This one is my favorite!

You can also pick up boxes and boulders. The boxes will break open and drop weapons or food. It is kind of awesome that these can be single-use weapons.

Food is used to heal yourself. This is something that is in most beat’em ups. You have a huge health bar which is great because health items are scarce. I was playing on Normal, and it was rare to find food. I didn’t want to see how ridiculous the drop rate would be on Hard mode.

The game throws a ton of enemies at you. It was almost unfair at times! It isn’t uncommon to see eight to ten enemies on the screen simultaneously. This might not sound like a lot, but in a beat’em up, this is an insane number of enemies. Other beat’em ups send four to six at you; in rare circumstances, you’ll see eight.

At times, Growl can seem unfair because of the number of enemies. You’re given ways to deal with this in the form of the weapons you can get. The Rocket Launcher and the Grenade can decimate enemies. The Whip can also hit enemies in front and behind you. This provided some relief from the high number of enemies.

Because this game is about killing poachers, you’ll save some captured animals during each stage. These animals become temporary allies for parts of the stages or for the boss fights. This was awesome, especially when I saved an elephant that went on a rampage during part of the stage.

The boss fights were challenging and almost unfair until you could figure out the patterns of the bosses. You’re not alone in these fights. The animals that you save during the stage will occasionally help you. This was pretty awesome as you have limited health and continues, so any help is welcome!

Like other beat’em ups, Growl has a special attack. This is very useful when enemies surround you and need to get out of trouble. However, it takes part of your health to do the special attack. I don’t like this, but it was standard for beat’em ups of the time.

Overall, the gameplay is solid. Like many beat’em ups, things can get repetitive. You can only punch people in the face so many times before it gets annoying. The weapons and animal allies help to break things up a bit.


The visuals are okay. At times they can be impressive, like when something blows up. The game can also fit a lot of enemies on the screen at the same time.

The graphics did take a hit when Growl was ported to the Genesis/Mega Drive. The sprites aren’t as detailed, and the backgrounds don’t look as good. However, it does look good for a Genesis game.

The explosions are amazing! When a rocket, grenade, or something else explodes, the screen flashes yellow and red, and any enemy caught in the explosion dies. It looks really good, and it is one of the things that stands out in the game.

The character sprites aren’t all that detailed. They look fine for the time, but when you compare them to the animals, the lack of detail stands out. The animals all look very good. Even when they’re fighting alongside you, they look much better than your character and the enemy sprites.

It can be hard to tell if you’re hitting the enemy. This comes up during the boss fights, as the boss seems to want to merge with your character’s sprite. It is a little hard to explain.

Overall, the game looks good. It isn’t anything special, and there are some minor problems. Growl is a decent port of an arcade game, and despite taking a graphical hit when coming to the home console, the game looks good.

7.5/10. This port feels unpolished at times. The graphics are okay for the time. The gameplay is okay, but it can sometimes feel unfair because of the high number of enemies on the screen.  It would have been better if it had a two-player mode, as beat’em ups are much more fun with someone else fighting by your side.


  • Pick-up and Play
  • Decent Graphics
  • Decent Gameplay


  • Repetitive
  • Too Many Enemies
  • Single-player Only


Growl was an okay beat’em up that has some issues that keep it from being a great game. The biggest issue is being a single-player game. This would have been much better if they had made it a two-player game.

The gameplay also has some issues. You’re going to fight too many enemies at once, and you will often not have what you need to win. There is a heavy focus on weapons, and you don’t always get the one you need to fight off the hoards of enemies.

I wanted to like this game. It isn’t all that bad, and I think it is fun. My biggest problems are the number of enemies you’re forced to fight and the lack of a multiplayer mode. Growl is one of those games that could be good, but some flaws are holding it back.

Published by Paul Werkema

Hi! I'm here to share my hobbies with all of you. I love video games and books, so I write about the books that cover video games or are novels about video games.

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