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Back in the mid-to-late '90s, Disney produced a cartoon called Gargoyles that stood out quite a bit from other shows in the animated landscape. Featuring a serialized storytelling format, rich lore, and a rather dark tone, it quickly gained a cult following across its run, though it never garnered a large enough fanbase that would allow it to blossom into a massive franchise for the House of Mouse.

At the height of the show’s popularity, a video game adaptation was produced for the Sega Genesis in the twilight of the fourth generation of game consoles, though it was met with middling reviews and sales. Now that Gargoyles is looking to make a comeback with the recently announced Disney+ show on the way, Disney has seen fit to give this game a re-release as Gargoyles Remastered from Empty Clip Studios. Featuring some new additions like a rewind feature and updated art and music, this revival of a half-forgotten cult classic is an okay outing, but much like other 16-bit Disney titles, it hasn’t aged all that well.

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The narrative in Gargoyles Remastered is loosely based on the plot of the show, but as one would expect of a tie-in game from the '90s, it doesn’t feature anywhere near the depth of storytelling as the show. The plot here is entirely handled via a series of still-image cutscenes before and after levels, featuring a few sentences that roughly explain the premise. The basic gist is that you play as Goliath, the leader of an ancient magical clan of gargoyles from Scotland that battled evil Vikings, and you find yourself transported to modern-day Manhattan after spending over a thousand years as a stone statue. Once awakened, Goliath finds that he must once again battle his old foes in a new age, as they attempt to use a relic called the Eye of Odin for their own nefarious purposes. It’s a fine enough story considering the scope of the game it appears in, though it feels a bit shallow if one knows the much deeper lore that it’s based on.

Gameplay follows the basic template of a no-frills sidescrolling action platformer. Goliath has a few swipe attacks, a close-range grapple move, and a double jump, while he can blast through weak walls with a charge move if he can build up speed. There are five (technically six) levels to battle your way through, each designed in a relatively linear and somewhat haphazard fashion. The whole thing should take you about an hour to clear at most, assuming you don’t run out of lives and have to start all over again.

Though it can be fun to experience this somewhat obscure part of gaming history, it’s abundantly clear that Gargoyles came out during the peak of the era when developers made games unfairly difficult so kids couldn’t rent and beat it in a weekend. Enemies take off enormous chunks of health while sparse, hidden health pickups restore almost nothing. There are frequent instances where off-screen enemies gank you with ranged attacks during challenging platforming sections. Hit detection on your attacks is bizarre, never making it fully clear whether you actually hit an enemy even if it looked like the attack connected.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

To its credit, there’s something bizarrely charming about a retro game that feels janky in this way, but the novelty wears off pretty fast. Luckily, Gargoyles is a much easier experience this time around due to the introduction of a rewind feature which lets you run things back by a few seconds to reattempt tough sections as many times as you’d like. This certainly makes things more bearable, but it also has the effect of removing the difficulty that originally made this game much ‘longer’. Roll the credits after an hour and you’ll find there’s not much else for you to do than to just play it again from the start.

As for its presentation, Gargoyles Remastered has a neat feature where you can seamlessly toggle between the original Genesis release and a new remastered version with the tap of a button, not unlike the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Gameplay and physics remain exactly the same between the two versions, so which one you roll with is really just a matter of personal taste. We admittedly preferred the much moodier visuals and crunchy sound bites of the 16-bit original; the new art and remastered soundtrack is fine, but it feels a little devoid of character and loses a lot of the original's atmosphere.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

It also is a little disappointing that Gargoyles doesn’t have the kind of gallery content featured in the Disney Classic Games Collection. This isn’t entirely unexpected given the TV show's status as the unloved stepchild of Disney’s '90s cartoons catalog, but it still would’ve been cool to see concept art, marketing materials, and maybe some developer interviews about the making of the original game or show. Plus, given that Disney has already shown a willingness to feature this kind of content for its recent re-releases of other games from this same era, one can’t help but wonder why it was omitted here.

For that matter, it seems weird that Gargoyles Remastered is a standalone release and wasn’t simply added on as DLC to the Disney Classic Games Collection, as happened with The Jungle Book and SNES version of Aladdin a couple of years after that game’s initial release. Perhaps it's just not 'classic' enough? At launch, Gargoyles Remastered will run you 15 bucks, but unless you’re a huge fan of Gargoyles, the value proposition is unmistakably lesser for this release.


Gargoyles Remastered is an okay remaster of an okay game. Its moody 16-bit visuals and challenging difficulty will no doubt appeal to some, especially fans of the show, but its short length and often unfair design certainly hold it back from greatness. We’d say this one might be worth picking up if you can find it on a pretty decent sale down the road—it’s entertaining enough despite its shortcomings—but you’re not really going to be missing out on a ton if you choose to pass on it.