Few things were as awesome in the ’90s as the animated Gargoyles. Disney’s attempt at a dark action series to rival Batman: The Animated Series was a dark fantasy epic with a mix of sorcery and science. It’s one of the coolest cartoons ever. And like everything cool in the ’90s, it spawned a video game. The 1995 Gargoyles game was late in the life of the Sega Genesis and as such was one of the best looking, most robust games on the platform.
Hot on the heels of news of a new live-action version, Disney Games has released Gargoyles Remastered, a gussied-up version of the beloved game. We received a review code for the game from Disney Games on the PlayStation 4. It’s never looked better, but it’s still just as hard and fast-paced as it was nearly three decades ago.
Disney Games and Empty Clip Studios have given the original game a very impressive facelift. As great as the Sega game was back in the day, the sprites were very dark and weren’t quite the look or the aesthetic of the cartoon. This version has remedied that. Goliath is a vibrant purple, the backgrounds truly pop, levels show tons of detail. They’ve also cleaned up the music and made a few quality of life changes—like a rewind function—but other than that, it’s still the same game, for better and worse.
Gargoyles spans five levels and puts players in control of Goliath, the leader of the titular creatures. The game roughly covers the story of the show’s five-part opening. The first two levels put Goliath against Viking invaders attacking the Scottish Castle Wyvern. After that the action heads to modern day NYC where Goliath fights robots on buildings, a speeding train, and in a laboratory. Eventually you get to square off against Xanatos and his Steel Clan robots, and finally evil gargoyle Demona. All of this serves a greater quest to destroy the Eye of Odin, which threatens all life.
The levels all require Goliath to climb walls, or smash through them, to fight enemies and avoid environmental hazards. Goliath can jump and double-jump (flap, because of wings), slash with claws, and flip enemies. The controls are straight forward. Easy to pick up but tough to master, the game’s primary challenge comes from platforming and puzzle solving. You have to figure out which walls to break to get health power-ups or to find the critical path. Sometimes you have to break a floor or grab a thing to open a secret passage. Like a lot of games of the era, the difficulty comes from timing and reflexes more than fighting.
And that’s what I mean when I say it’s the same game, for better or worse. When you’re firing on all cylinders, landing jumps, finding the right path, you can beat the game in less than 30 minutes. Unlike the original, this remaster offers several difficulty levels, giving Goliath more lives and taking less damage per hit. The rewind function is also clutch when you totally biff a jump or fall off a wall. These elements make for a more forgiving playthrough, but if you don’t vibe with the timing, it can be very frustrating. Sense memory for games like this needs to take over. Luckily it’s a short playthrough, but even on easy don’t expect to go in with your Elden Ring or Resident Evil 4 skills and fly through it.
Gargoyles Remastered is a beautiful update to a classic side-scroller. The art and music are superb, and for those who want the old-school experience, you can flip to the 16-bit visuals without even pausing. It’s a fun game that evokes the cartoon better than just about any game of the era. But definitely make sure you’re in a ’90s platforming state of mind or you’re likely to roar louder than Goliath.
Gargoyles Remastered is available for download on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam beginning October 19, 2023.