Also On: PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, PC
Publisher: Disney Games
Developer: Empty Clip Studios
Cartoons in the West rarely featured a serialized story…perhaps adults felt kids just weren’t sophisticated enough to follow along or maybe standalone shows are more evergreen. It’s really hard to pinpoint, but those shows that bucked this trend tend to accrue a strong niche following. One such show was Disney’s Gargoyles, a series which also defied Disney’s reputation for upbeat and cheery children’s programming with something a bit more grounded and nuanced.
Towards the end of the SEGA Genesis’ lifespan, Buena Vista Interactive released an action platformer based on the title. Being in high school at the time, having limited resources and only a SNES owner, Goliath and the Manhattan Clan’s digital adventures was out of reach. I believe when my disposable income was a bit more plentiful I did secure a copy of the title, but this was well after my days of busting out my Genesis (or I just didn’t want to get enough batteries to power my Nomad). Well it seems like the castle has risen above the clouds because this title which was lost to time for me lives once again as Disney Games and Empty Clip Studios revived these once stone gargoyles and set them loose on modern platforms.
The first thing I would like to state is the original Genesis title is extremely dark on the color palette front and playing it in its original form on my modern tv would require me to crank up the brightness. The remastered graphics certainly increase the visibility and that is absolutely a welcomed change. The game also features the ability to swap between original and remastered graphics which means you can compare and contrast with a mere button press.
The game itself is extremely short (5 multi-sectioned levels), but you will need to spend an ample amount of time on it. It’s somewhat funny…growing up in the era in which these games came out there was definitely a demarcation line for games based on Disney Properties. The Japanese developed games were tough but fair (Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers and Duck Tales from Capcom), the Western developed games were just brutal (I’m looking at your Lion King)…Gargoyles lands in the latter. A lot of enemies have access to ranged attacks, their hit boxes are somewhat weird especially when you are attempting to throw them. Your viewable area is often obscured by something in the foreground making it harder to gauge your effective attack range.
The game also has several vertical platforming sequences that will test your skills and patience. It certainly doesn’t help that grapple points share the same weird hitbox wonkiness enemies do and these sequences are littered with endlessly respawning enemies. The game tries to mitigate these issues with a save state-like system and gameplay rewind, but maybe I’m just getting old and I really hoped there was accessibility toggles such as for invincibility or level skip (What’s worst…the original title had cheat codes…but this remaster has a menu during the pause screen that renders entering codes an impossibility).
For a remaster, there’s not much additional content. This game leans on the remastered graphics and music, but the extras are nowhere to be found and it’s tragic because Goliath and his world is portrayed beautifully in pixel form. It also doesn’t help that the original game actually doesn’t feature key characters of the series. The rest of the Manhattan Clan is nowhere to be seen, nor is the debonair, but morally dubious David Xanatos, there’s also a weird mischaracterization of the Eye of Odin…who serves as the game’s main maleficent force. Hell I would’ve settled for a digital manual, especially one that actually explained what each pick up does.
Don’t get me wrong…there was definitely work done with this title (The remastered graphics are a world of difference!), but it just doesn’t seem to justify its $15 usd price point (I would argue $10 is the sweet spot). Honestly if this title came packed in with 2017’s The Disney Afternoon Collection (I know it’s an impossibility given this game and those titles’ completely different developers/publisher) I would’ve been a bit more forgiving. Perhaps this title might inspire someone to work on a title which aligns more to the property… Otherwise buy it if you want to support the franchise, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable platformer there’s other options available out there. I guess it goes without saying, perhaps we shouldn’t have disturbed these relics of the past…
Note: Disney Games provided us with a Gargoyles Remastered PlayStation code for review purposes.