The Gobliiins have returned for the first time since the original three adventures were released way back in the early nineties. Predictably, the game has made the leap to 3D, although it stumbled on the way as the visuals aren’t very impressive. Although to be fair, the look is intentionally cartoony and childish in style.
As is the humour, which was always the hallmark of the series. The trio of goblins (we’ll drop the extra i’s) you control will regularly drop vases on each other’s heads, or accidentally catapult one member of the team off the edge of the screen (and then much giggling ensues). Some of these antics are amusing, though at times the efforts at humour fall as flat as the goblins themselves.
Each individual goblin has a different power, and the game’s puzzles are designed to get the player using them co-operatively. One goblin (Perluis) is a wizard who can levitate and grow items. Another (Stucco) has super strength, so can punch and break things, not to mention scale objects with his powerful arms. The final chap, Tchoup, is your standard adventurer, and the only one who can examine, pick up and use objects.
Spoiler example follows: There’s a bottle with something written on the inside of the label that you can’t see well enough to read. Perluis can levitate it into the air, but that doesn’t do anything in itself. Then you notice that Stucco can boot a ball on the other side of the screen, and it flies across the room at high speed. If you time it right, you can cast levitate, then switch character and quickly kick the ball to hit the bottle and break it. Tchoup can then read the label from the shattered remains.
The puzzles, by and large, are wholesomely logical and satisfying to crack. There is a “but” here, unfortunately, and it’s in the game’s at times frustrating insistence on tasks being executed in an exact manner. To sketch out another quick example, Tchoup needs to climb a ladder and grab a book off a high shelf. If you click the ladder to climb, he’ll stand at the top, and when you click the tome – which is clearly within easy reach – he won’t grab it.
What you have to do is come off the ladder completely and click on the book from the ground, then he’ll climb the ladder and pick it up. This is just silly, and there’s a number of similar niggly instances throughout. The fact that you can’t save the game (except between levels) can be galling, too, as it’s possible to make tiny slip-ups that mean you’ve got to repeat an entire level.
Each level is a screen-full of puzzles, and there are fifteen in total. That’s a touch on the short side, but Gobliiins 4 is priced with any brevity taken into account.