Gobliiins 4




Genre:   Puzzle

Developer:   Société Pollene

Publisher:    Kalypso Media

Released:  April 2009

PC Requirements:   Windows XP / Vista, 1.0GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, 128 MB 3D-accelerated Video card, DirectX 9, 300 MB disc space.





by Becky


Goblin: a grotesque sprite or elf that is mischievous or malicious

Quirky: strikingly unconventional or given to idiosyncrasies

Gobliiins 4: a strikingly unconventional puzzle game featuring mischievous goblins


This game begins with three goblins posed in front of a giant “Gobliiins 4” stone edifice, partly covered by scaffolding and splashes of blue paint. The goblins’ faces are etched into the three dots over the triple letters “I.” Click on a hotspot, and the goblin nearest you starts talking nonsense (Gobliiin-ese?) while subtitles with instructions in English appear. A pirate with a pegleg scurries amongst the goblins and the paint buckets. My first reaction is: errr, what? 

It wasn’t long into the game, though, before the wacky fantasy world and the exuberance of the characters began to win me over. The three goblins are named Stucco, Perluis and Tchoup. They have different abilities that allow them to cooperate in getting through each part of the gameworld.

Hoom-Bah! (Take that!)

Stucco wears a Viking helmet and is strong and foolishly brave. He is good at lifting, punching, and climbing. He can also hold his breath even longer than Guybrush Threepwood.

Perluis is a bald geek with a magical gift -- he uses his magic to levitate objects. He is also able to levitate himself, though not always when you’d really like him to. (That would make life EASY, which is not what Gobliiins 4 is about.)

Tchoup wears a red pointy cap and is the leader of the group. He communicates with other characters in the locations they visit, and he can pick up items and operate machines.

Gobliins 4 contains a brief quest-based story. (Level One: The King Needs Help -- Level Two: Where’s Stucco? -- Level Three: Where’s Perluis?) What distinguishes the game is the cleverness of the multi-stepped puzzles. As you play, you use the environment, Rube Goldberg-like combinations, and the skills of the three protagonists to reach the next level.

This game will be loved by gamers who are puzzle achievers. If you aren’t a fan of difficult puzzle games, you might enjoy it with a partner, with whom you can share ideas. Gobliiins 4 is not a relaxing casual game. It’s quite challenging and often frustrating. It isn’t an adventure game either. The extremely simple story, combined with the lack of immersive environments to explore, keep it solidly in the “puzzle game” category.

A been dodo (I don’t get out much)

Environments in each level of the game consist of one screen. The graphics are brightly colored and cartoon-like, with whimsical characters and creatures. A sample location consists of a large metallic chameleon, a red worm with yellow spots, yellow daisies growing out of a mud puddle, and a tree stump with a droopy-lidded human eye.

Creatures (struggling for a better word here) walk, dance or swim through each screen – giant carrots in the environment described above, for instance. In a later location, a mime performer cavorts while wearing a Tarzan jumpsuit. Animations are smooth. The goblins themselves move fluidly, and have routines to pass the time when you are pondering your next move. They pirouette, play the violin, fight imaginary foes, etc.

Despite their amusing wackiness, the locations eventually start to feel a bit same-ish. This problem disappears near the end, though, when the goblins appear in even odder places.

Walhata nu numo (That won’t work)

Each level involves clever combinations of inventory items and character movements, and the occasional dastardly pixel hunt. For true puzzle experts, a gold tooth is hidden in each location which will unlock a bonus level late in the game.

What solves a puzzle or gets a machine to work is often really odd, so a great deal of trial and error is necessary. This is especially challenging if the action is timed and it isn’t clear if you are doing the wrong thing or if you are doing the right thing too slowly.

Timed puzzles constitute about ten percent of the whole. In other games, the cursor usually causes the identifying hotspot description to pop up near the person or object; in this game the description pops up at the bottom left of the screen. Timed levels are therefore even trickier because rapid hotspot identification requires superb peripheral vision.

My performance in each level improved gradually; I spent about an hour per level. Okay, three hours on a couple of the levels. How can I work for three hours, with only one screen to search and only a few goblins and devices to manipulate, and still not solve the final bits? Either I’m incompetent, or the puzzle designer, Pierre Gilhodes, is fabulously, fiendishly good at this.

Some levels involve extreme back-and-forthing. You wouldn’t think this is a big deal with all the action taking place on just one screen -- but it is. Sometimes you have to travel back and forth past an obstacle, alternating different characters, in order to gather (for instance) fruit in a bucket. Then, while you experiment with the fruit, trying to figure out what it’s supposed to do, you run out of the fruit and must repeat the process.

Seemingly simple goals demand elaborate moves. The locations are seldom easy to traverse. They feature a series of doors or bits of stone to hop onto or mechanisms to work before you get from one path to another.

This game compels repetition. For example, I once sent Tchoup through the last door, taking a stepladder with him before Perlius had climbed down from a wall. Even though “Victory!” (the end-of-level signal) had been declared, Perlius refused to get down off the wall. Since Tchoup had already left for the next level, he couldn’t bring the stepladder back. I was forced to replay the level.

If you leave the game before completing a level, you lose all your progress in that level. This becomes intensely frustrating, especially with levels that contain tricky timed challenges. The game does allow you to alt-tab out, in case you want to keep it running in the background when real life intervenes, rather than losing your progress.

By the end of the game, I lost patience. I was tired of trial and error failures. I was tired of the repetition. The basic story didn’t give me sufficient incentive to continue to experiment despite being stuck. After a while, if what I needed to do wasn’t obvious, I consulted a walkthrough. I wouldn’t have even come close to finishing the game without one.

Pif (Pop)

Levels tend to start with quiet ambient sound and no background music. Unusual musical themes begin as you settle in with the puzzle solving. One theme recalls perky gameshow music, another has a rhythmic synthetic sound, and another is a brilliant waltz played on the piano. A choir performs late in the game and is a “must hear.” I listened again and again and still don’t know what to make of it.

Oddball sound effects and augmented voices abound. Magical flowers twitter as they grow, and a foolweed emits metallic walking noises. The worm speaks in a voice like a pipe organ, the carrots howl gleefully and the blue rabbit talks like an unwinding steel spring.

Herbus kertum de burp (I still keep their picture)

Gobliiins 4 uses a third person perspective and has a point-and-click interface. You play as each of the three goblins, depending on the circumstances and what you need to accomplish. You select each goblin by clicking on him and, when selected, that particular goblin’s face shows up at the bottom right of the screen. Double-clicking causes a goblin to run.

The inventory can be accessed by clicking on Tchoup to select him, then right-clicking to bring up the inventory, left-clicking to pick up the item and then placing the item over the target while watching the bottom left of the screen to see when words appear to notify you that the cursor has reached the right spot.

There is no saved game feature. The “resume game” function got stuck on level three, and wasn’t useable after that.

At the end of each level, you are given an alphabetical code. If you choose not to progress immediately to the next level, then you must input the code when you return to play. Write the codes down VERY carefully. If you get a code wrong (and if the “resume” feature isn’t working correctly), you’ll have to redo the level. The codes for my game were different from those that were written at the end of the walkthrough I consulted, so I assume that the codes are unique to each game.

One benefit to this code system, as opposed to an autosave system, is that you can revisit levels whenever you like. A standard save system, allowing saves whenever desired, would have been much appreciated.

No problems with installation. I hit a glitch once while trying to lure carrots – apparently my spectacular failures earlier in the level had driven them all away. I finally quit and had to start the level from scratch again to find less wary carrots.

Passum me inna vite (Quick List for Gobliiins 4)

A puzzle game (not an adventure game) in a world that is fantastical, tongue-in-cheek and mischievous. A simple search quest story. The environments in each level consist of one screen with obstacles to overcome or machines to repair or creatures to influence. Some pixel hunting. Brief character interaction.

Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. You enter codes to begin a new level. No sliders, no mazes, no sound or color-based challenges. You can’t die. The three cartoonish goblin characters have different abilities that help you to solve mechanical and inventory based puzzles. Trial and error experimentation is essential. Tricky timed sequences. Lots of repetition. Deviously difficult.

Voiceovers in an odd goblinesque language. Subtitles in English.

No problems with installation. One glitch that deactivates the “resume game” feature. Two dead ends that require repeating the level.

Gobliiins 4 is aimed at the fans of the previous Goblin games and at gamers who enjoy tough, multi-stepped puzzles with wacky challenges and wackier results.

Final grade: B-

Definitions are from Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.reference.com.

My apologies to the goblins for any inaccuracies in my translation of the original Gobliiin-ese phrases.

My Computer Specs:

Windows XP Professional

Pentium 2.80 GHz

2.00 GB RAM

Direct X 9.0c

512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX

SB X-Fi Audio


May, 2009

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