Gargoyles first debuted as an animated series on Disney in 1994, serving as one of the company’s first forays into darker, more mature storytelling. The series followed a clan of gargoyles that awake in modern day New York after being turned to stone in medieval Scotland. It quickly built up a cult following for its complex characters and serialized storytelling. In 1995, an accompanying video game was released on the Sega Genesis. The side-scrolling action platformer allowed players to control Goliath on a quest to retrieve the mystical Eye of Odin artifact.
Upon release, the Genesis Gargoyles game received middling reviews and failed to garner much attention. Critics at the time cited frustrating gameplay, high difficulty, and imprecise controls as major shortcomings. Over the years since, the title faded into obscurity for most gamers outside of niche Disney or retro gaming circles. It developed a reputation as an exceedingly challenging platformer that relied too heavily on stale gameplay.
Cut to 2022 and Disney has announced a surprise remaster titled Gargoyles Remastered. The refreshed release seems timed to coincide with an upcoming live-action Gargoyles series slated for Disney+. However, it also appears to bank heavily on nostalgia and the IP’s cult following. This revamp keeps the core 16-bit experience intact while modernizing the visuals and audio. The question remains whether this paint job covers up the original game’s blemishes or if its flaws persist decades later. As one of Disney’s lesser-known movie and television properties receiving the remaster treatment, Gargoyles Remastered has a lot to prove. Can a new coat of paint fix the gameplay fissures of this stone-cold classic?
Stone Beast’s Stone Age Gameplay
Players take control of Goliath, the burly gargoyle protagonist. He possesses a typical suite of basic platforming moves for the era including jumping, attacking, climbing and throwing enemies. Goliath can slash away at foes using his claw attack for minor damage. For tougher enemies, he can grab them and chuck them across the screen for an instant kill. Double jumping allows Goliath to reach higher platforms and his ability to climb walls and ceilings opens up more traversal options.
These moves seem serviceable on paper but the game falters heavily in smoothly implementing them. The grounded combat suffers immensely from lacking any feedback indicating your attacks are connecting. Button mashing away, it’s unclear if any real damage is being done to enemies. Melee foes soak up endless claw swipes before randomly perishing without any tangible cause and effect. Ranged adversaries ping you with arrows and hammers while you flail unsuccessfully. The throw move is unwieldy, requiring perfect positioning to grab enemies. Even on lower difficulties, fighting denizens feels like luck rather than skill.
Slippery controls plague platforming segments too. Goliath’s movements are imprecise, making jumping between platforms and climbing specific surfaces frustrating. Identifying climbable objects is unclear, leading to haphazard trial and error. The game offers no tutorials, forcing players to slowly decipher the finicky mechanics through repeated failure. Open level layouts with multiple paths seem promising but interacting with these environments proves inconsistent. What seems traversable at one point later becomes mysteriously intangible, breeding frustration.
Cheap hits and poorly conveyed rules pervade the entire experience. Sudden enemy attacks outside the player’s control chisel away health. Adversarial placement on moving platforms practically guarantees some damage. The rewind feature helps alleviate sting but can’t undo shoddy design. Only through slowly memorizing level layouts, enemy patterns and environment quirks can progress be forged. Even then, random elements and spotty collision detection thwart success.
Presentation does little to supplement lackluster mechanics. The Genesis version boasted moody visuals but they conveyed little usable gameplay information. The remaster’s slick animated look fares no better at telegraphing traversal options or informing strategy. Music is atmospheric but grows repetitive over long slogs through each level. The five brutally difficult levels follow a front loaded difficulty curve, barely training players before ratcheting up the pain. checkpoints provide temporary respite from the onslaught but rarely give time to breathe before the next nightmare.
Gargoyles Remastered stumbles at nearly every turn when it comes to gameplay. Opaque mechanics, sloppy environment interactions and punitive design choices hinder an already aging experience. Some potentially interesting ideas peak out amidst the rubble but slipshod execution buries them again each time. Both nostalgic fans and new players will need saintly patience to weather this stone beast’s astoundingly archaic design.
Polishing a Rough Stone
Gargoyles Remastered makes noticeable strides towards modernizing the package, if not the core game underneath. Visually, the facelift proves impressive, recreating the look straight from the television series. The original Genesis pixel art conjured some moody set pieces but now locations and characters appear lively and animated. Backdrops like the steel foundry’s molten vats or the subway’s graffiti tagged walls better reflect the license. Goliath and enemies benefit most, exhibiting fluid movement and attacks mirroring their hand drawn counterparts. A button press swaps between retro and refreshed graphics for purists.
The remaster also reinvigorates the audio design. New orchestral arrangements breathe energy into the adventuring. Sparing use of voice clips better evokes the cast. Conversely, the original score and effects drip with atmospheric 16-bit charm. Players can toggle between retro and modern layouts, finding their ideal auditory experience. No matter your preference, improvements in fidelity and production value are plain.
Most impactful are the additional difficulty options and rewind feature. The original’s crushing challenge receives minor relief with Easy, Medium and Hard settings. Enemy damage dealt and taken are adjusted to cut some frustration. Hardcore players can select Original difficulty to embrace the true masochistic struggle. Mid-level, a handy rewind lets you briefly turn back time and reconsider approach. It grants just enough leeway to learn from mistakes without neutering all consequence.
Such upgrades provide quality of life improvements and accessibility options where sorely needed. Presentation receives an admirable overhaul to meet modern standards. The brutal, opaque design remains fully intact for established fans while new players gain accommodations to slightly smooth the experience. For non-hardcore gamers especially, these additions make parsing the stone cold classic more palatable. They ultimately can’t compensate for mediocre core gameplay but do help ease the suffering.
Cracks in the Gargoyle’s Stonework
Unfortunately, Gargoyles Remastered stumbles in improving where it matters most – the gameplay. For all the audiovisual polish, problems plaguing the original remain unresolved. Core design issues around opaque mechanics, unreliable controls and punishing difficulty persist. The Nostalgic patina also reveals some flaws in execution.
Frustrations in combat still run rampant even on lower difficulties. Unclear attack feedback allows enemies to become damage sponges. Their unpredictable reactions make fights feel like slot machine gambles rather than tests of skill. Cheap hits continue whittling away health through barely telegraphed blows. The rewind feature helps but can’t fundamentally fix the lack of fairness or depth.
Likewise, inconsistent environment interactions lead to frequent accidental deaths. Identifying climbable surfaces and hazardous terrain remains a guessing game. Stringent inputs for certain moves continue hampering flow. Goliath handles rigidly, making platforming more painful that exciting. Finding the correct pixel-perfect paths takes tremendous trial and error.
Graphical upgrades also come with some caveats. The bright cartoon aesthetics undercut the original’s moody vibe on certain levels. Overly busy backgrounds now distract from traversing foreground platforms. The new visuals sometimes obscure gameplay-critical elements like grabbable hooks until switching back to pixel art. Form overtakes function in places.
Beyond dated design, Gargoyles Remastered lacks wide appeal. It offers little merit beyond stoking nostalgia for fans of the rare license. Even devotees may find this painfully brief relic wears out its welcome quickly. With under an hour of gameplay spread over five levels, only the most diehard will wring extra value out of repeated replays.
Make no mistake, the effort in remastering Gargoyles is admirable. This stone beast shows its age worse than a worn down gothic cathedral though. Bandage solutions help smooth a few rough edges but core design warts remain visible. Sixty dollars for AAA remasters like Resident Evil 2 or Demon’s Souls seems reasonable given their scope and quality. At a budget fifteen dollar price point, Gargoyles Remastered might provide brief, niche entertainment for the devoted. Less patient players should let this stone warrior keep sleeping.
Gargoyle Audio: Remixing the Stone Beast’s Roars
Gargoyles Remastered refreshes the soundtrack with re-recorded takes on the Genesis originals. The familiar metallic compositions gain added energy from higher fidelity. Iconic themes like the heroically bombastic opening see welcome modern treatment. Elsewhere in the score, atmospheric dungeon crawling and stealthy castle infiltration receive similar boosts. Purists can still opt for the 16-bit mixes, which retain nostalgic lo-fi grit.
Modernized sound effects better align with the animated series too. Goliath’s attacks and exertions carry more visceral impact resembling hand drawn animation. Enemies’ taunts and reactions also fit the broader cartoony style. Sparing voice clips add another touch of authenticity through actors like Keith David as Goliath. These snippets enhance immersion without distracting from gameplay. Players essentially have two distinct audio experiences to alternate between on the fly based on personal taste.
Overall, the soundtrack and effects modernizations provide clear upgrades. Higher production values lend the action more cinematic and dramatic flair. The 16-bit versions remain effective through nostalgic charm rather than technical prowess. Gargoyles Remastered smartly preserves both approaches, allowing customization of the ideal auditory backdrop for this stone beast’s adventure.
Preserving the Gargoyle’s Legacy
During its 1995 launch, Gargoyles garnered middling reviews and moderate sales before fading into relative obscurity. Its derivative platforming and extreme difficulty failed to leave a lasting impression outside niche audiences. Still, a small but passionate fan base emerged over the years, allowing the title to maintain some minor cult status.
By resurrecting this long dormant relic, Disney reveals interest in preserving even its most obscure interactive experiments. It reflects an awareness of IP value, however niche. This curio will likely never regain mainstream popularity, but the remaster provides an opportunity to reassess its merits. At the very least, a new audience may discover this peculiar artifact through the lens of modern expectations.
For invested fans, Gargoyles Remastered finally gives their beloved title due digital preservation. Their undying connection to this challenging curiosity justified the resources allocated. At best, the renewed visibility sparks some limited critical re-evaluation of its strengths. At worst, the stone beast slides back into slumber after this brief window in the sun.
Gargoyles Remastered probably won’t birth many new devotees, but does validate remembering the IP. For Disney and retro aficionados, keeping this antiquity from being forgotten has merit alone. Its enjoyable modern coat of paint exposes a new generation to an unconventional experiment. A few intrepid players may even bond with its daunting design. This remaster thereby succeeds in sustaining the legacy, however niche.
A Stone Age Relic for the Nostalgic
Gargoyles Remastered exists primarily for nostalgia. It succeeds as a highly faithful recreation of the original Genesis experience. The well-intentioned visual overhaul nails the lively animated series aesthetic. Students of this stone beast’s brutal difficulty have their needs met. Yet outside diehard devotees, its impressively archaic design likely proves impenetrable.
Make no mistake, admirable effort was poured into this revamp. The graphical overhaul and rewind feature show real care for the license. Auditory and accessibility options allow customizing the challenge to player tastes. Gargoyles Remastered works hard to smooth the edges for a modern release. But even the best restoration struggles to cover core cracks in outdated games.
At a budget $15 price point, picking up this curious piece of history costs little for the retro obsessed. Five short, cruel levels should delight masochistic platforming connoisseurs. Less tolerant players are better off admiring Gargoyles Remastered’s craft from afar. Gorgeous visual sheen can’t offset opus design that aged into stone.
Approaching nostalgic 16-bit remasters requires tempering expectations. Early 3D experiments like Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time demonstrate playability persistence through careful design focus. Conversely, many dated platformers relied on difficulty masking limited mechanics. Modern quality of life improvements help compensate but can only minimally sand down the rough edges.
Gargoyles Remastered serves its small niche well. Effort clearly aimed at winning over IP devotees through visuals and fidelity. Players lacking a strong connection face a steep uphill climb. Significant restraint is required to weather the opaque design and vicious challenge. With a properly set mindset, this curio might offer brief, demanding enjoyment for a few. Less prepared adventurers risk quick frustration.
In the end, this lavish restoration put tremendous work into revitalizing an exceedingly niche release. For significant improvements, core gameplay needed the same dramatic overhaul as presentation received. Still, respect is due for not taking shortcuts. Gargoyles Remastered succeeds on its own terms, even if those terms limit the potential audience. Nostalgic fans finally receive the definitive version of their beloved curio. A patient, retro-loving few may gain short-lived enjoyment unearthing this stone age beast. Most players are better off leaving this gargoyle to its eternal stone slumber.
Gargoyles Remastered succeeds as a loving tribute to a cult classic but doesn't make a compelling case for unearthing this stone age relic outside the nostalgia niche. Admirable effort went into resurrecting the IP with impressive visual overhaul and supplementary options. However, flawed core design persists untouched, leaving only the most devoted fans to endure its opaque mechanics and punishing difficulty. For extreme devotees of the license craving exhaustive challenge, Gargoyles Remastered satisfies. Less patient players are better off admiring the impressive restoration from afar. It works hard to smooth the edges but can't sand down the oppressive design.
- Excellent visual upgrade that recreates the animated series art style
- Ability to switch between retro and modern graphics/sound
- Rewind feature helps ease frustration over punishing difficulty
- Higher quality soundtrack improves the audio experience
- Addition of difficulty options adds accessibility
- It's a very faithful recreation of the original game
- Core gameplay issues like opaque mechanics persist
- Frustrating, inconsistent combat is largely unchanged
- Cheap hits and unclear platforming still lead to irritation
- Short length provides little value beyond nostalgia
- Steep challenge limits the appeal for many gamers
- Visual changes sometimes reduce legibility
- Lacks appeal for those without nostalgia for the license
- Very niche target audience of devotees
- Still suffers from problems that plagued the original