A Surprising Sequel: Gobliiins 4

By Alec Meer on March 21st, 2008 at 8:13 pm.

Lately, I’ve been doing something I usually avoid at all costs – remembering my past. I don’t think I could endure the mocking if I revealed the dreadful bands I’ve been listening to in an attempt to understand whatever it was that dumb, teenage me once saw in them, but what I will be talking about over the coming weeks is a few of the games I grew up with. I’ve just spent today with Sid Meier’s Colonization, for instance, a retrospective of which I’ll post soon (short answer: best Good Friday ever). One I’m genuinely very worried about revisiting, however, is the Gobliiins series. Which, some fourteen years on from the last game, it turns out there’s an upcoming fourth instalment of.

I honestly can’t remember how these French point’n’click adventure oddities made their way onto my mum’s 486 SX, but they were some of the few games my father shared my interest in – I have fondish memories of the pair of us clustered around the keyboard, bringing our not considerable combined wits to bear on solving its challenges. While superficially part of the early 90s army of adventures games spearheaded by Monkey Island, Coktel Vison’s three-game series was a lot heavier on the conundrums – almost to the point of being room escape games, a series of one or two-screen levels essentially comprising a single run-on puzzle. Story and dialogue were backgrounded about as far as they’d go, and logic made way for wilful surreality and slapstick humour. Their major shtick was controlling two or three characters at once, each of whom tended to interact with objects and the environment in a specific way suited to their character – dumb thumpy guy or unpredictable magicks wizardy guy, for instance. Oh, and it was often bonkers-hard.

I didn’t play much of the first Gobliiins – the cast were a little bland, and the unnecessary use of health bars was sadistic in the extreme – but Gobliins 2 and Goblins 3 (the reducing ‘i’s, denoting the size of the playable cast, are a gimmick I still approve of) were regular fixtures on my PC for a couple of years. It was my self-indulgent use of that triple i in a recent post title that caused reader Pod to refresh his own Gobliiins memory, clocking a mention on its Wikipedia page for an upcoming fourth game. So I embarked on a brief info-hunt for more details. Somewhat disappointingly, it isn’t called Goblns 4, but rather we’re all the way back to Gobliiins 4, and the return of the first game’s key characters, who’d been absent during the first two sequels. One of the original Coktel team, artist Pierre Gilhodes, returns as the main driving force, apparently now also on writing duties.

It’s out later this year, and frankly I’m a little nervous about whether the cutesy-weird art approach will work in these more cynical climes. There isn’t an English website, but running the French one through Google’s language droid reveals “the puzzles are not difficult, but many. A child of 8 will take between an hour and two hours to arrive at the end of each level.” So, the famous difficulty is apparently gone, and now it’s a kids’ game. But then, I was a kid when I played it. Perhaps I can be childlike again.

Here’s a French trailer, which very much suggests the same breed of humour as the originals:

I rather fear I may be too old/jaded to laugh at this manner of screaming and pratfalls, but the screen involving the gobbos capering around a giant, multi-panelled comic page has a gentle promise of mad genius to it. I’ll be keeping an idle eye on this one, anyway, and endeavouring to dig up some info on the English version and its distributors – as well as continuing to deliberate over whether replaying Gobliins 2 is a really, really bad idea. I don’t particularly want to destroy my pleasant memories of it.

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17 Comments »

  1. Lorc says:

    I remember playing these on the Amiga. As far as I’m concerned the gobliiins games were brilliant.

    And by never revisiting them I can remain sure of that fact. I’ve learned my lesson before: revisiting childhood joys is a recipe for disappointment.

  2. Lucky says:

    I must admit I’m pretty concerned with that difficulty quote now. Shame about the cast too, as Gobliiins definitely had the most plain protagonists of the entire series. Bring back Were-Blount and Fulbert from Goblins 3 and I’ll be buying the game even if it sucks horribly.

    As for the famous difficulty, I recently replayed Goblins 3 (Which I don’t think I had much trouble getting running under XP. I doubt I even had to use Dosbox.) and didn’t find it quite that tough. Ignoring the last few scenes, there never was a moment when I thought “Now how the hell was I supposed to figure that out on my own!?”, which is the usual complaint concerning these fine adventures. I can safely recommend any adventure game fan to (re)play them.

    …but not the first one. It has and always will be one of the most annoying games ever made because of the stupid health meter.

  3. K says:

    The Amiga introduced me to these games; I really enjoyed them at the time. I also think if the difficulty is reduced, it’s going to lose its “Ahh, I seeee” moments, which kept me playing.

    More recently, Samorost reminded me of Gobli(i(i))ns.

    They should make an RTS and call it Gobliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii…ns. Or, they shouldn’t.

  4. Matt Dovey says:

    I know it’s often the complaint du jour amongst certain people, but this definitely does lose something of its charm in the move to 3D. The gloriously pixellated screens felt hand crafted, pored over, colourful and chaotic, not an accidental vomiting of polygons onto the screen.

    Monkey Island 4 and Discworld Noir both paled in comparison to their predecessors for this reason as well (amongst others). The only adventure game that easily springs to mind as really pulling it off is Grim Fandango, because it had a style to it, and no nostalgic attachments at the time. A case could be made for the recent Sam & Max resurrection as well, because there’s so much character there.

    Still. I want my 16 bit adventure games back. They have no need for these 3D shenanigans.

  5. ryan in exile says:

    you guys try out the Zack and Wiki flash demo?

  6. Poddagoblin says:

    Firstly: Colonization is fantastic. The lack of appearence of it’s trade/stock/resource model in later civs (or any other game for that matter) is a super-disappointment.

    Secondly: I am a great task master! If I dispatch you to make my dinner, will you do so?

    Thirdly: Remember people, this is the age of the internet. If you get stuck I imagine you, like myself, just flick up GameFaqs and promise your naughty self that you definately won’t do it again… until 2 minutes later, that is :( So is an easier difficulty all that important? Back in the day of mega-hard games that’s usually all you had and you’d be damned if you were going to be defeated by it, so you kept on it until you either bought a new one or you completed it. Ahh, I hate the internet some days :(

  7. K says:

    We’re not all so weak-willed, I’m sure. I’m playing through every Deadly Room of Death alone if it kills me! Again and again and again.

  8. Ozzie says:

    Discworld Noir is the best Disworld, there’s no doubt for me!

    I think the same about Monkey Island 4, though. ;)

    On-topic: I’m not sure why they’re reviving the series. Is there any need for it? Why not make something totally new? I don’t think people would be afraid…

  9. Nikica says:

    Brilliant series, but meh 3d, it’s bad like MI4 !!!

  10. Winterborn says:

    I just want to say that Colonization is in my top five games ever. I love it more than Civilization and really wish it would get a sequel(though gave up hope of that some time ago, though if Goblins can get one now I guess anything is possible) even a spiritual successor would do. No other game that uses the same subject matter has come close.

    Anyone else like Colonization more than Civ?

  11. Jochen Scheisse says:

    I will sue the 3D indroducer guy in the Hague for crimes against humanity. To the Scheissemobil!

    Anyway, I liked Goblins, Woodruff and their general style.

  12. toro says:

    Togheter with a friend, we finished the first 2 games from the series. Anyway, damn you for making me feel old. :)

  13. Strelok says:

    Gobliiins is one of the reasons justifying the existence of France ;-)

  14. Larington says:

    I got as far as colonization and then my ability to concentrate on the text wavered… Ahh a goodly number of hours spent playing that classic.

  15. James Lyon says:

    Let us also not forget the spin-off Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azmiuth, surely a contender for most nonsensical PC title before Maximus IV Abraham Strong – Space Mercenary came along.

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