The third instalment of Gobliiins may have been released in 1993, but this belated fourth game from the original designer retains the quirky, characteristically French charm of its predecessors.
You start the game controlling a single goblin, the renowned detective Tchoup, who has received a summons from the King.
Tchoup can pick up items, use them and speak to other characters. Before attending the castle, he must gather his friends to join him. Stucco is a strongman who can push heavy objects and throw a well-aimed punch, while Perluis has a magic staff that can enchant certain objects. You’ll have to combine their skills to overcome the obstacles in your path.
Each level consists of a single screen with puzzles that mesh brilliantly with their location. Getting all the goblins into position can be frustrating, as in an early puzzle that requires you to catch a lift on the back of a giant frog. Some puzzles require careful timing but none requires lightning reflexes, and most simply require some careful thought.
The graphics are rather basic and garish, but we liked their cartoon feel. The goblins’ antics are amusing as they react to the actions and misfortunes of their friends. They speak in burbling gibberish with occasional text boxes to cover any plot exposition. None of this detracts from the game’s comic effect, which is aided by excellent music and sound effects.
There are a few minor annoyances, such as translation inconsistencies that describe the goblins as gnomes. More significantly, you can’t simply save your game; instead you’re given a 10-letter code at the end of each level.
Puzzles are more important than plot here, but there’s a great sense of atmosphere. Gobliiins 4 is a delightful, family-friendly game that rewards observation, experimentation and lateral thinking. There are only 15 levels, but the densely packed puzzles kept us scratching our heads for quite some time. It’s a winner.