Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I daren’t revisit for fear they’ve aged appallingly, but I shall always love these French-made point’n’click adventures for their naming structure. The first game was Gobliiins, the second was Gobliins 2, the third Goblins 3. The number of Is also referred to diminishing number of playable characters. In this age of Thie4s and 2 Fast 2 Furiouses, I feel we can learn something from that back-to-front art.
As for the games themselves, they come from that very particular point in time when imperial phase Lucasarts could only put out so many adventures each year, and thus there was lingering thirst for others. It was the Gobliins games that came my way instead of the Sierra ones (although they did end up publishing the third), and I was yet young enough that their largely slapstick-related comedy seemed hilarious rather than stupid. This is why I daren’t look now.
Yet I remember, with warmth, that the three games had very different tones, making efforts to not be simply more of the same. The first, with its three protagonists, had a relatively traditional quest structure. The second, with two, was much more of an odd-couple comedy.
The third, with one, aimed to be existential and maudlin (though still slapstick). I remember thinking Goblins seemed so much more grown-up, and its lonely, shape-shifting hero something of a tormented figure. Looking at screenshots and videos now, perhaps I was seeing things that weren’t there. It seems like as much an explosion of free-association ideas as the others were. Perhaps it’s just the point in my life that I played it, on the cusp of adolescence, self-doubt and a sense of outsiderness creeping in for the first time.
And that’s why I’ll never go back, even though the pull of nostalgia grows stronger the older I get. I prefer to keep on believing that Goblins III was a game that spoke to me, rather than risk the reality that it was just one more 90% lateral thinking puzzle game full of wacky characters.