Gobliins. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
Imagine the Three Stooges cast in a graphic adventure, and you've got Gobliiins, a puzzle quest with a delightfully twisted sense of humor.
Developed by European publisher Coktel Vision, the game is typical of those by the new wave of innovative French designers, including Delphine (Out of This World) and Sensible Software (Mega Lo Mania). Graphic artist Pierre Gilhodes created the game's distinctive look, from the lush 256-color backdrops to the title characters' often hilarious animation.
The game consists of 22 full-screen, interactive puzzles strung together in storybook fashion. The tale involves a king who's suddenly gone stark, raving mad--the victim of an evil wizard's voodoo doll. To the rescue come Hooter, Dwayne, and BoBo, three well-meaning goblins with only half a brain among them. You provide the missing link, directing the goblins on their perilous journey to find a cure for the ailing king.
Because each goblin performs only one special task, they must work together to solve puzzles. Hooter, the magician, casts spells on objects, often with unpredictable results. Dwayne is the technician, able to pick up and use one object at a time. BoBo is the warrior, whose only talents are the abilities to climb and punch things. Use the keyboard or mouse to select the goblin you wish to control.
Game mechanics are kept simple, forcusing attention on your powers of observation and deductive reasoning. To advance through a screen, you must find and manipulate a series of items, often in a specific sequence, utilizing each of the goblins. The ultimate goal of one puzzle might be to secure an object to be used in the next, more difficult screen. Experimenting is an essential and entertaining aspect of the game, yet you should be careful not to dally with the wrong items. Negative actions such as falls, frights, or losing important items result in the loss of energy. Although no time limits are imposed, when all energy has been depleted, the game ends. Energy powerups are available midway through your quest; passwords are also awarded upon completion of each screen.
The game's few faults are only minor quibbles. Although many puzzle solutions require multiple-character input, only one goblin can be active at once. A multitasking feature for assignments would speed up many tedious chores and lend the game a welcome sense of urgency. Another possibility might be puzzles solved only through simultaneous character actions. Harsh, sporadic sound effects belie the game's warm and fuzzy demeanor. More expressive voice samples and background effects are needed to fully convey goblin gibberish. Finally, unlike the clever introductory screen, the game's victory screen is quite anticlimactic.
Most puzzles are surprisingly intricate and might prove too difficult for younger players. Unlike the ones in Sierra's similar Castle of Dr. Brain, the puzzles here rely less on logic than on arbitrary cause and effect. A multitude of red herrings ensures plenty of wrong guesses, often with hilarious, game-ending outcomes. The trick is to think with slightly bent logic, placing yourself in the goofy shoes of these three little knuckleheads.
Brainteasing fun with a sly comic flare, Gobliiins could be one of the year's sleeper hits.