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Video Game / Growl

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Gen, Burn, and their animal friends.
Growl, known as Runark in Japan, is a side-scrolling Beat 'em Up by Taito released in 1990.

In the early 20th century, a ring of evil poachers is going around Africa slaughtering innocent animals, and it's up to our four heroes — the rangers Gen, Burn, Khan, and Jack — to beat them into submission. The game's most distinctive feature, besides the variety of weapons, is that when you free an animal from the poachers' grasp, it fights alongside you for a short while.

A Sega Genesis port was released in 1991. It was relatively accurate to the arcade version, with the major changes being the lack of a multiplayer mode, scaled-down graphics, and the replacement of the lava stage with another brawling level. The arcade version is included in Taito Legends 2 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Androcles' Lion: Almost every animal you release during gameplay will attack poachers for a while.
  • Anachronism Stew: This game supposedly takes place in the early 20th century, but characters get to use M-16 assault rifles and the M202 FLASH incendiary rockets, both of which appeared in the later half of the century.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Enemies aren't the smartest bunch, but it's especially prevalent with the women that toss grenades; somehow they never seem to realize that if they toss a grenade at an idle player, the grenade bounces off of them and back at the sender. Ludicrous Gibs ensue.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Near the end of the game, the party is suddenly attacked by poachers driving a tank. Just when they proclaim "I'm done for!" an elephant that they rescued just minutes ago rushes in and smashes into the tank, breaking it and forcing the poachers to exit and fight hand-to-hand.
  • Boss Rush: All the bosses reappear in the enemy's hideout before the final boss battle.
  • Bowdlerize: The version in Taito Legends 2 removed all the dismembered body parts that appear whenever an enemy is killed in an explosion or mauled by an animal.
  • Car Fu: The first boss can pick up and toss a nearby truck to the player as a weapon. The Final Boss lifts a tank instead.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The lava level.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer:
    • Gen: White
    • Burn: Red
    • Khan: Blue
    • Jack: Gold
  • Competitive Balance: Burn and Jack can swing any weapon they wield faster, but Gen and Khan are better jumpers. Gen in particular is the highest jumper, but the slowest weapon wielder.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: The arcade version can be played by up to four players by hooking up two cabinets with each other. The Genesis version is strictly a solo affair.
  • Clown Car Tank: Round 5 ends with an encounter against a tank that holds nine mooks in it.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: The entire game until Round 6 (the cavern stage).
  • Dub Name Change: The names of the two main organizations, as well as the enemy characters, are different between the Japanese and English manuals.
    • WAPS (World Animal Protection Society) to PAWS (Protectors of Animals' World Society)
    • Belser Animal Protection Organization to Rendow Animal Protection Organization
    • Daisuke to Jetgun
    • Araboo to Hassan
    • Boostedman to Booster
    • Dib to Gazoss
    • Beth to Doll
    • Only Nitroman remained unchanged.
  • Evil Poacher: RAPO, of course.
  • Expy: While Burn's outfit could pass as a regular adventurer, it's pretty clear by the ripped sleeves that he's a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Indiana Jones.
  • Fake Difficulty: The devs apparently assumed you'd always be playing with four people, and thus didn't bother to scale down the number of mooks if there are less players. Thus, the game actively punishes any attempt at a single player game by leaving you massively outnumbered at nearly all times and prone to lots of cheap deaths.
  • Fat Bastard: The six fat guys at the end of Round 3.
  • Flash of Pain: Booster and Nitroman will both begin flashing red whenever they're near death.
  • Fun with Acronyms: According to the manual for the Genesis port, the good guys are members of the Protectors of Animals' World Society. The bad guys, on the other hand, are working for the Rendow Animal Protection Organization.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: After beating the leader of RAPO, his corpse starts to slither around, and a giant alien millipede bursts out of his back, who is the true leader of the poachers.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The boss of Round 4 begs for mercy by offering a free weapon after being defeated. If you pick it up or turn around, he will use the opportunity for a free hit. Thankfully, he only takes one more hit to kill.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The palette-swapped enemies aren't there for show, their different colors indicate how much health they have compared to other enemies of the same type depending on the character.
    • Jetgun: purple < green < red
    • Doll: black dress with blond hair < pink dress with red hair < green dress with black hair and dark skin
    • Hassan: red < yellow < blue
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The most infamous aspects of the game is that an enemy (or crowds of enemies) killed with a bladed weapon (sword) or an explosive firearm (grenade or rocket) explodes into charred smithereens.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Depending on how you and the enemy stand, the A.I. is the one to choose what special move to use when you use the special attack button(s). One of these special attacks is your ranger will grab a stunned enemy by the collar and throw them back and forth.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Dolls are insanely hot.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Everyone in the arcade version was originally nameless. In the Genesis version, the names of the four heroes are given on the character select screen (presumably to help players distinguish them, since they're no longer color-coded like in the arcade version), while the enemies' are All There in the Manual, which are as followed.
    • Jetgun - Hunting cap-wearing male mook.
    • Doll - Female mook in powersuit.
    • Hassan - Turban-wearing male mook.
    • Nitroman - Boss strapped with dynamite.
    • Gazoss - Fat Bastard boss.
    • Booster - Masked wrestler boss.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The enemy organization is called Rendow Animal Protection Organization (Belser Animal Protection Organization in the Japanese version), but instead of protecting animals, they engage in poaching.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The arcade version can be set up so that no continues are allowed during the final boss fight. If the player dies during this instance, it will display an alternate ending which states that the aliens took away all the animals from the jungle and used them as food supply.
  • One-Word Title
  • Outside-Genre Foe: At the end of the game, despite everything up until now being a realistic crime-fighting beat 'em up, the final boss seems to be some sort of sci-fi alien-parasite thing.
  • Palette Swap: Half of the player characters are palette swaps of the other two (Gen and Khan; Burn and Jack) and all the enemies have three palette swapped variants each (except for the third boss Booster, who only has two, and the final boss).
    • In the Genesis version, Khan and Burn (the blue and red players in the arcade version) used the same palette as Gen and Jack (who wear white and yellow respectively), making them visually indistinguishable from their counterparts. This is presumably the reason why the Genesis version displayed the main characters' names on the character select screen.
  • Portmantitle: The Japanese title (Runark) comes from a combination of "Rune" and "Ark."
  • The Reveal: The leader of the poachers is a giant alien millipede.
  • Shared Universe: With Darius of all things. The enemy organization is called the Belser Animal Protection Organization in the Japanese version and the Belser Army were the bad guys in the Darius series. What makes this more than a simple reference is the fact that the final boss is an alien in disguise.
  • Throw-Away Guns:
    • The six shooter revolvers can be thrown at enemies once all of their ammo are used up.
    • Averted with the M-16 and rocket launcher. The player can still use either of them as melee weapons after all the ammo is gone.
  • Traintop Battle: Round 2.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Round 6 in the arcade version inexplicably switches from a Beat 'em Up to a Platformer, forcing you to jump between narrow platforms in a lava-filled cave.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Sort-of. While stage numbers are never given during regular gameplay, they can be seen on the high score table, as the game takes account of the last stage you were at when you stopped playing and entered your initials. The stages go from Round 1 through 6 and then Round 8. There's no Round 7. It seems there was a deleted stage somewhere in between, but Taito forgot to update the numbering.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: The Dolls have an unlimited supply of grenades that they hide in their bosoms.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Not only that, the heroes have no problem transforming the female mooks into red paint.
  • Written Sound Effect: SHBROOM!