The original Gargoyles cartoon was a staple of my time with TV during childhood. It was a more “mature” type of show that I really connected with in my early teenage years, and since then it’s always held a special place in my heart as something I could look back fondly upon.
In 1995, Disney Games and Buena Vista Interactive released a companion title for the Sega Genesis. Gargoyles, as the game was simply named, was a side-scrolling platformer that used the series as the basis while following its main character, Goliath.
Whilst the original title was well-received at the time, it never really had a chance to leave its singular console. For years it sat dormant until Disney decided to push for a revival of sorts with a full-fledged release for the modern age.
This is where Gargoyles Remastered comes in. Nearly 30 years later, Disney has taken up the mantle once again to polish up a new release for the modern age of platforms. That means several things – including updated visuals, a fancy soundtrack, and a few amenities to help players along their way.
As someone who never did have a chance to play the original despite owning a Sega Genesis myself, I was curious to finally give it a go.
Upon booting up Gargoyles Remastered, I was greeted with a simple menu screen along with the familiar music from the TV series. Getting right into the game is straightforward enough – there’s a short intro and you, playing as the main gargoyle character Goliath are thrown right into the action.
As this is a side scroller, the controls are simple enough. You’ve got a button to jump, a couple to attack, and then the movement sticks of course. Where the remastered element comes into play here is introduced with a functionality that allows the player to rewind their actions.
So say, for example, you’re making your way through and miss a jump and are about to fall to your doom. By quickly hitting the rewind button you can double back and fix that mistake as it were. It’s a neat little addition that soothes some of the unforgivable game design that people had to deal with in the past. It’s also completely optional so it’s unobtrusive for those who want to stick to the old-style experience.
The other little gameplay quirk the team has added has more to do with the presentation side of Gargoyles Remastered. As the title says, the visuals have been completely redone in a high-definition cartoon style that evokes the original series. These visuals are nice, and again as someone who watched the show, they felt comfortable and familiar. This really comes through with the sharp character renders, as well as the painted backgrounds.
Now there is a bit of a caveat to all this and I think it’s worth talking about because it is a normal option in Gargoyles Remastered right out of the gate. That is, there is the option to switch to the original visuals from the 16-bit era in real-time with the tap of a button.
Upon first glance, I noticed that there’s a stark contrast between those old visuals and the updated remaster’s. The original game had a much darker, sort of gothic art direction that fit some of the vibes of the story they were trying to tell. The remaster completely sheds those in favor of trying to emulate the TV source material.
The result is a bit jarring and often times I found myself preferring the darker, moodier colors of the 16-bit era. Being able to swap between the two styles in real time is a great novelty and it’s good to see that the development team didn’t erase the past in their pursuit of a newer release. If you just want the original game from the start you can select that off the menu too, so there is that option there.
That said, visual style doesn’t quite matter when it comes to Gargoyles Remaster’s controls. They’re simple, but there’s still a bit of a learning curve involved when it comes to traversing the various maps. There are also some frustrating elements when it comes to figuring out just what to do next, and there’s no real help to get you through in that regard.
Regardless, the core of Gargoyles Remastered remains fun. It’s clear there’s a lot of love for the source material here and it’s reflected in the story. If you’re not familiar with the show, the titular gargoyles were once warriors in the past brought to the present following a many years-long curse that turned them permanently to stone.
In Remastered, Goliath is tasked to destroy an object known as the Eye of Odin and ends up clashing with his previous companion, Demona. It’s not super complex, but for the type of game this is, it gets the job done.
I was well-satisfied with the various levels and encounters through about five hours of play. The boss encounters are challenging too, but not to the point that they don’t feel out of place or frustrating.
Overall if you’ve played any of the other Disney side scrollers such as Aladdin or The Lion King, you’ll probably end up loving Gargoyles Remastered. It’s a safe, but satisfying formula to be sure, but it’s a welcome addition to their ever-growing catalogue of one-time 16-bit adventures.
Gargoyles Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publishers over the course of 5 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- Ability to swap between two visual styles
- Remastered art style is colorful and matches the source material
- Modern add-ons make for some clever gameplay choices
- The original art style may be more appealing for some
- Controls can be cumbersome