|Developer:||Disney Interactive|||||Release Date:||1995|||||Systems:||Genesis|
Today on Super Adventures, I'm taking a look at Genesis/Mega Drive platformer Gargoyles, because everyone keeps asking me to. Apparently it's got some fans. Actually thinking about it, this is really just a Genesis game, as it was only released in the US and never made it to the Mega Drive regions.
It's based on the Disney cartoon of the same name that started in 1994, which ran for three seasons but somehow passed me by every time. I only caught the one episode and I don't remember it, so my knowledge of it is kind of limited. I do remember that it stars Keith David and half the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation... but that's entirely irrelevant as it's a 16-bit cartridge platformer so I'm likely to get 4 words of dialogue out of this at best.
Well I'm only assuming it's a platformer to be honest, I haven't actually checked, but it's an early-mid 90s cartoon tie-in so what else is it going to be? Look on my Game Series page, click 'Disney' and see how many of them aren't platformers. And that ain't because I've been deliberately avoiding all the 'Animaniacs' first person shooters.
I'll leave the difficulty on normal like I always do. Sound? Sure, I like a bit of sound. Music? Apparently they hired Medal of Honor/Lost/Incredibles composer Michael Giacchino, so I'm thinking 'on' for that as well. There's no FOV slider here, but I imagine I'll cope without it this time. Okay I think I'm good to go here.
994 A.D.Well I hope they meant to do that, otherwise that'd just be embarrassing. I mean it's commendable and immensely forward thinking of them to try to find clean sources of energy while still in the Dark Ages, but it's hard to justify unleashing incredible evil as a side effect when they haven't even invented the light bulb yet.
HAVE CREATED AN
MAD WITH POWER,And... that's all the narration I get. They could've thrown a line in there explaining who these gargoyles are and what Castle Wyvern has to do them, but these kinds of tie-in games often seem to be made with the assumption that the only fans would ever want to buy them.
OVERRAN CASTLE WYVERN.
The game was nice enough to restart me in exactly the same place, but the Viking problem remains unresolved. I'll need to figure out a better way to handle this I planned on seeing the second stage at least before turning this off.
Okay, new strategy: run away.
There's a platform over to my left, so guess I have to jump across just before I reach the top, because he's suddenly lost the ability to pull himself up and climb over for some reason.
OH SHIT, there are spikes there at the top! They're not exactly subtle either, so how is it possible that I missed seeing them?
Hey, I just realised that my lives count is in Roman numerals. That's a nice touch.
TWO STEPS LATER.
I don't know, maybe I haven't killed enough enemies or collected enough spinning golden chalices yet; I have been running past a lot of things along the way. I doubt that's the answer, but going back and sorting that out will be more fun that beating my head against this wall some more. Plus it's not like I have a time limit to worry about. I hope.
And now I'm managed to lose another life here as well, great.
It seems that graphics may have been given priority over gameplay with this, though this has had the side effect of leaving the game looking really nice. Sure the weird tiling makes it seem a little blocky and JPEG compressed on a sharp modern monitor screen, but on a fuzzy old school CRT TV a lot of that dithering is blended together. Plus moody red and blue lighting just works when it's done right.
I can't say I'm finding this combat all that satisfying to be honest, even when I win. At least I know now that the archer up there will go down in a single hit, which is more expedient than satisfying but whatever. I could leave him alone, but the kill will be worth it to collect the golden chalice from his corpse which will restore... about the smallest amount of health you can see without a microscope.
If I end up losing my last life here because he head-butted a metal gate once too many times, I'm going to... well, I'll probably turn it off and do some else actually. Getting a bit sick of this game now to be honest.
I'm sorry I couldn't get clean shot of it, but this is what the game's like!
I had to lose sooner or later to see how continues work in this, so I suppose it may as well be now.
STAGE 3, AGAIN.
These towers stretch upwards for a while, with the gap between the spikes getting smaller the higher I go, and any time I screw up I'm getting knocked right back down again. I can't fault the game on its variety, but it'd be nice if it was giving me a variety of things I enjoy doing.
Okay, let's try this again.
SEVERAL TRIES LATER.
I got a full set of lives back by using that continue earlier and now I've pissed them all away again between these towers. This is it, I've got like 5 or 6 hits left in me, because I am out of lives. Also patience. I'm not one of those megastar twitch streamers with their superhuman capacity to put up with boredom, I have limits!
A FEW HITS LATER.
I mean of course you saw it, I've got it playing on a loop, but... holy shit! I've got half a health bar left now after soaking up those hits, but I am at the top of the towers now and hopefully right next to the stage exit too.
I honestly didn't think I was going to be able to pull that off, and I still doubt I'll ever be able to do it again, but I made it to the top! Man, it's been a while since I've struggled this much just to get past the first level in a game. I don't like it.
He does this thing where he summons lightning down onto where I'm standing and takes half my health off, and this other thing where he smacks me with a hammer when I jump up to hit him, and that's really all I can say about this fight as that's where it ended.
Still, it's right at the start of the stage, so I can replay it as many times as I want! Assuming that I have infinite continues.
So if I want to have another shot at getting past that boss I'm going to have to replay the entire castle from the start, and manage that incredibly fluky flaming log dodging tower jump again. Let me think about that for a moment, hmm.
Nope! Not going to happen. I found it hard enough to pay attention the first time, there's no way I'm going to make it through all that again. Sorry, but I'm turning the game off now.
A FEW MINUTES LATER.
I decided I couldn't just quit there and leave it like that. I might not be enjoying the game, but I still have to give it a fair shot. Maybe the next stage is more my kind of thing, who knows? I definitely won't unless I get up to it.
This time I've brought a continue with me as well, so bring it on God of Thunder, I would have words with thee.
I threw my next six lives away in pretty much the same way, and found myself back on the title screen again. Not the worst place to be though I guess. If you leave it on long enough it starts showing a demo of some of the levels I utterly failed to reach.
Those spiky things up on the roof are actually there to be swung on, but you have to get the timing right as they like to open up occasionally and become considerably more harmful to touch.
Adventures of Batman and Robin looking modern day cityscape.
Anyway I'm turning this off now.
To be honest I was having a miserable time with Gargoyles even before I realised how difficult it was going to be, but I'm struggling to say it's a bad game because... well, bad Genesis games don't look this pretty, right? Surely there must be some kind of player error involved here.
There's basically two core aspects to the game: platforming and fighting. It's fun to run, jump and swoop around, so they got that bit right. But the things you're expected to pull off can be a pain in the ass, and I actually did see some of level 2 in the end so I can tell you that doesn't get any less awkward. Lots of tricky swinging across gaps, having to get the timing right and grab hold of hooks. Combat on the other hand... well it became more bearable when I discovered that throw was an instant takedown, and even more fun when I avoided it altogether. That throw is a pain in the ass really, as you have to be standing in the right place, you'll probably want to get a regular hit in first to knock them off balance, and then once you press the throw button you're stuck watching the animation play out whether it connects or not, unable to move.
The game's no RoboCop 2, that much I'm sure of. That's the toughest pain in the ass platformer I've played in recent memory, and it makes this look like a work of art by comparison. Then again, Gargoyles looks pretty great for its age anyway, and sounds good too. Some Genesis games have really nasty music, but this is fine.
I like that I had double jumps, I like that it doesn't have a time limit, I liked that ridiculous swoopy escape I managed that one time, and I like that it tried to give me back some health after every kill. A little tiny insignificant amount of health mind you, but it's the thought that counts. Would've been nice if the continues had been a little more infinite though, perhaps a password every few stages would've been cool too. But you know, after giving this some thought I feel like I probably misjudged this earlier. I think it likely is a bad game.
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