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Developer: Stolen Couch Games
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Kids vs. Goblins continues a proud tradition of games that put two seemingly unlikely opponents in its title. It’s not quite Pizza vs. Skeletons, but it’ll do. The story is that four kids are out sailing on the open seas by themselves, they get shipwrecked, goblins steal their baby brother, then they pick up magical weapons that turn them into warriors with the strength to rescue their baby brother. Ignore the fact that a little parental supervision would cause this whole scenario to not happen.

The game is very similar to Raid Leader, where the player controls all three characters at once. Each character can be customized to perform different functions with different stances: direct attack stances, which each kid has different variants on. For example, one’s the tank that gets in enemies’ faces, one is an archer, and the girl is the magic user, meaning some stereotypes just never die. However, each kid can also go into support stances that can cause status effects to them or the enemies, and there’s a healer stance as well. Players load out their stances, with the ability to choose between two sets for the party, and then head out to battle.

The mission structure is non-linear and offers some variety: some levels are of the “beat all enemies” variety, but others involve lasting until a certain wave, or restrict certain spell types, forcing different play styles, and to experiment with the stance system.

The biggest problem with Kids vs. Goblins is that there just feels like there’s little control over what the player does. Beyond the occasional double-tapping to move all the kids to the next encounter in the same area, the player has no significant degree of control over the characters’ actions beyond deploying their special abilities. So really, it becomes a game of “sit back, occasionally tap and drag some icons when they charge up.” The enemies really lack the creativity of the encounters in Raid Leader (from the same publisher!) and that game was much better with its controls too. Remember that game had its own issues with controls, so this just feels worse. Also, the game runs on only the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S at this point (presumably including the iPad 3) and I really can’t figure out why it wouldn’t run on older devices, unless the graphics just couldn’t be toned down for older devices at all.

While the game’s structure and stance system make Kids vs. Goblins somewhat interesting, the overall lack of control is frustrating. Too much, it gives the sensation that I’m just here to watch the proceedings, not to actually interact, and in a strategy game, that lack of command makes this hard to recommend.

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