App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Adventure games have had a small resurgence on the App Store lately. I imagine it might be partially due to the touch-centric interface for iOS devices being a perfect fit for point-and-click controls. That and people love re-releasing classics. And hidden among the swashbuckling, haunted house wandering, dystopian future-having lot is a lesser known but no less classic series. At this point, the series I'm referring to should be obvious.
Fingus and Winkle are two goblins with a mission: to rescue the Prince Buffoon and bring him home. In order to do this they'll have to solve puzzles aplenty, with some requiring teamwork and others relying on proper timing. Each goblin can be controlled individually, and since certain objects can only be used (or interacted with properly) by one or the other experimentation is encouraged. Of course, that doesn't mean it's not fun to just mess around with the environment and see all of the random and humorous animations.
Gobliins 2 sports colorful visuals that, while slightly tweaked for Apple devices, maintain all of the charm and whimsy of the original. Of course, the graphics aren't the only slightly tweaked element here; the interface has also been adapted. Hotspot overlays have been included that help to identify the interactive elements in each room and a quick-switch button makes swapping from Fingus to Winkle and back again easier than the old "click to select" method. Especially while they're in motion.
Sadly, that's where the praise for the interface ends. While it's apparent that a lot has been done to make the older title functional for the iPhone/Touch/Pad, it still feels clunky and unresponsive. Oftentimes the game gets confused when goblin-swapping, showing Winkle as the selected character but then moving Fingus for example. It also doesn't like to switch goblins when they stand too close, which makes sense for the standard point-and-click controls, but it shouldn't affect the quick-switch button. I've also noticed a constant problem where saving the game will result in making one of the pair, usually Fingus for some reason, wander around aimlessly. I'm not sure why this happens, but every time I've saved I'll back out of the menu to find him walking somewhere. It's more weird than problematic, but it can be irritating when attempting to save right after getting each of them to their mark in preparation for a two-goblin puzzle.
Another problem is the byproduct of an all but forgotten era: The puzzles are borderline impossible without help. As someone who's played many an adventure title "back in the day," even I found the solutions to virtually all of them to be convoluted, nonsensical or just plain random. Sometimes all three at once. The problem is compounded by the fact that some of these head-scratchers require the use of a specific goblin. So while an object may not do anything for Winkle, it will work for Fingus. The same applies to using certain inventory items on occasion. I imagine it's possible to figure these things out alone, but personally I've been using the handy-dandy tiered hint system the whole way through.
Gobliins 2 is a good game at heart, but due to problematic controls (coupled with lots of timed puzzles) and a vast array of incredibly obtuse puzzles, it's easily eclipsed by other more accessible titles. Fans of the series will no doubt love being able to play through their fond memories on-the-go, but anyone who missed them the first time around will undoubtedly want to compare them to other games in the genre. And that probably won't go over too well.