Gargoyles Remastered is a faithful recreation of a surprisingly fun Sega Genesis game based on one of Disney’s darker cult classic animated series. Developer Empty Clip Studios, which also worked on A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, did an excellent job at porting over the original game while providing an updated version with gorgeous art that fully realizes what the Genesis’ limited pixels and color palette could display in 1995.
Although this is a quaint release in one of the year’s busiest months for games, it’s still worth checking out for those interested in Disney’s long and tumultuous history with video games. Gargoyles Remastered makes me want to see Disney put out many more ports, remasters, and remakes of its older games as it has with its other media. There’s a vast library of classic games just begging to be played again by a new generation, freed from their trappings like gargoyles from stone.
Though it may not be the power play it once was, Disney has a storied history with video games. Its franchises have been floating around the gaming medium since the industry’s early days; games based on Duck Tales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Aladdin, The Lion King, and more all became classics in this era through collaborations with companies like Capcom and Virgin Interactive. By the mid-1990s, Disney had started taking the reigns regarding self-publishing games and released Gargoyles on Sega Genesis in 1995 under the Buena Vista Interactive label.
Based on the dark and captivating 1990s animated series of the same name, Gargoyles follows Goliath on his quest to reclaim the dangerous Eye of Odin across 1000 years. It is a weighty action platformer, as Goliath is bigger and stronger than your typical Italian or hedgehog platforming mascot. Even in 2023, it’s still very satisfying to storm a castle, crashing through its walls and slamming down upon enemies with Goliath. Still, it has some old-school difficulty spikes with tricky jumps and bosses that are tough to take down on the first try. Gargoyles only lasts under an hour but makes every second of that fun and worthwhile.
As a result, the Genesis game became a bit of a cult classic, but because it wasn’t as famous as some of Disney’s other games of that era, it quickly fell to the wayside as Disney continued its venture into the games industry. Things became more unified under the Disney Interactive Studios moniker, and the company started to acquire studios and release games like Spilt/Second in addition to ones starring its classic characters, like Epic Mickey.
In the early 2010s, Disney’s relationship with the gaming industry became rougher. It reportedly lost faith in the traditional big-budget console gaming market, so focus shifted from great console titles to mobile games and the toys-to-life Disney Infinity. It shut down game developer LucasArts after acquiring Lucasfilm, and as it saw diminishing returns on its gaming efforts, it shut down Disney Interactive Studios altogether by 2016.
Disney’s gaming output became scattered and sparse in the following years. While some re-releases like The Disney Afternoon Collection did come out, much of its older library faded away in relevancy and availability. Disney appears to have recommitted itself to licensing out games in recent years as Disney Interactive again, though, and that effort started to come to a head this year with games like Tron: Identity, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Disney Illusion Island, and now Gargoyles Remastered.
While I hope Disney keeps making or licensing new games based on its vast amount of IP, more old Disney games deserve the careful treatment Gargoyles gets here. Gargoyles Remastered hits all the right notes, making this Sega Genesis classic easily available in 2023. It’s not too concerned with the game’s development history — so don’t expect something like The Making of Karateka — but it gives the game a pleasant visual overhaul to make it look like the show and adds difficulty options to make the experience more approachable or challenging for modern players. And if someone just wants to play through the original, that’s still included in its full glory.
This remaster is hitting at a great time for the show it’s based on. A live-action Gargoyles TV show was just announced via The Hollywood Reporter, and this re-release can introduce or renew interest in the franchise through the video game medium after seeing that news. Outside of its cultural and business-minded relevance, Gargoyles Remastered’s existence is also crucial for video game preservation. From the initial licensing days on the NES and PC to the 2016 closure, Disney put out many games that meant so much to many people. Unfortunately, many of those games are stuck on the platforms they were released for and risk being forgotten and lost to time, regardless of whether they are good, bad, simple, or complex.
While Disney seems hesitant to fully commit to gaming as much as it does with theme parks or television, we are in the middle of an upswing for new Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars video games. I’m excited by what that means for the future, but I also hope Disney takes the momentum to look to the past like they have with Gargoyles Remastered. These classic games deserve to be preserved, remastered, and made readily available, just like Disney’s oldest films and TV shows are on Disney+.
Gargoyles Remastered is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.