Gobliiins in Review – Putting the iii in iDevice adventure gaming…

Every once in a while whenever I look at new releases on the App Store, I get a wave of nostalgia threatening to swipe me off my feet. I don’t care that the devs are just taking good old games and bringing them to the i-platform, I just care that they do it right. And what can compare to the joy of reliving those sweet memories on the Jesus phone? Especially if those memories have iii in them, as in the famous Gobliiins.

Gobliiins is one of the first puzzle-centric adventure games to have been released (1991). The king is plagued by a mysterious illness and our trusty team of gobliiins have taken upon themselves to find a cure. To do so they have to travel to the famous wizard Niak, who’s rumoured to be the only one capable of restoring the king’s health. And it turns out he can do it… because he’s the one who caused it in the first place!

Gobliiins is split into 22 levels, a single screen for each one. On each level there is a certain goal that must be reached by timely and proper actions via the gobliiins. One of the problems you’ll encounter is that the goal is almost always obscure and often reached only accidentally. Your protagonists make reaching the goal even more difficult by being specialized in what each can do. You have the warrior, who is good at punching things and can climb various poles and ropes, the magician, who can turn stuff into other often quite unexpected stuff and the technician, the only guy who can pick up and use items, though only one at a time.

The biggest issue almost every player will face, even if they played the original, will be the obscurity of goals that are required to be accomplished on each level. To help with this the developers intergrated the handy Hints feature… which unfortunately backfired in some ways. Instead of detailing the goal at first and then revealing the way of getting to it step by step, they simply split the detailed walkthrough for each level into 2-3 parts and left it at that. This results in one of two scenarios – either you try to hammer your head against the wall in an effort to get a grip on the level’s logic and go step by step through the available actions until you find the combo that solves level. Or, you open up the hints and just follow them, trying to get through the level with the walkthrough presented.

Visually Gobliiins kept the look and sound of the original. Which is not surprising, considering they are powered by ScummVM, the free open-source adventure games engine emulator, which is available in Cydia for everyone to enjoy. Of course, the developers gave it a face lift, adding on a custom interface and the mentioned hints system. Two schemes are offered – the classic touchpad style and full touch mode, with hot-spots highlighted . For some reason, however, not all of them are actually marked and no description for each exists, which makes using them a try-and-try again chore. I’ve ran into a couple of instances where even though an item is highlighted, after dropping it was impossible to pick up again.

It saddens me to say so, but Gobliiins is definitely not for the average player. This port of the classic title has kept all of the cons of the original, including obscure goals and devilishly difficult puzzles and added on top some new issues with the interface. At the same time, with authentic visuals and sounds, it is a goldmine for nostalgia and more experienced players will definitely get lost in there for hours, trying to locate just the right sequence of events to advance the story. But for the casual player, I would advise picking something a bit more friendly from our App Store’s Best Adventure.

With this I declare Gobliiins officially touched!

App Summary
Title: GobliiinsDeveloper: Bulkypix
Reviewed Ver:1.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$0.99App Size:18.89MB
  • Authentic visuals and audio
  • Touchpad and Full-touch controls
  • Complete in-game walkthrough
  • Not all hot-spots are marked
  • Some item pick-up bugs
  • Obscure level goals
  • In-game hints too spoilerish

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