The new fantasy-pixel platformer Goblin Sword proves the original formula still works today.
Goblin Sword, by Gelato Games, caught my eye in the Nintendo eShop. It checked all my favorite boxes. Great pixel art? Check. Melee-based platforming? Check. Tiny little price tag? Check. Though the price turned out to be moot when I contacted Gelato and begged for a review code. Teehee. But still…
Is Goblin Sword any good?
Players who want a simple, straightforward game that’s easy to pick up and put down will appreciate Goblin Sword. There aren’t many games that offer this much satisfaction, even when you only have 5 minutes to play.
Aging gamer rant begins here…
You see, kids… Back in mah day, the 2D platformer was the gold standard of gaming. Sure, there were plenty of top-down dungeon crawls, point n’ click adventures, shoot ‘em ups, and “first person” style RPGs, but for action games, you couldn’t beat the simplicity and challenge of a good 2D platformer. Still can’t, if you ask me.
Contrast that with today’s fancy-schmancy games which are always attempting to complicate what ought to be a very simple process: Get a character sprite from the left side of a map to the right side of a map without taking too much damage or falling off the screen. How could you mess up that formula?
Well, you can. Devs these days do it all the time. They over-complicate the formula. They can’t resist the urge to take a simple, action-oriented 2D platformer and arbitrarily stretch it into a 10-hour game. Force me to backtrack because Metroidvania. Make me die and retry. Procedurally generate the maps for a unique (but uninspired) experience every time.
Goblin Sword keeps it simple…
Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘vania-style games. Side-scrolling platformers are my favorite. But sometimes I just want a simple game I can play for a while and put down.
It’s that formula that made Mega Man so great. I can complete a stage in a few minutes, have a satisfying boss battle, and come back later when I need to kill another 10 minutes or so.
Gelato Games totally gets it. Goblin Sword isn’t a Metroidvania, it’s not procedurally generated, it’s not Souls-like or rogue-like. Nope. Goblin Sword uses the original recipe that I grew up with. And it’s great.
Besides sporting pleasant pixel graphics, Goblin Sword has the crisp and responsive controls gamers demand for this genre. There are tons of weapons, armor and other upgrades to unlock throughout the game.
Gelato provides the perfect structure for fast & dirty gameplay. The levels are quite short, but there are 89 of them in total. They take place in all the favorite retro-platformer environment clichés: An enchanted forest, an ancient castle, dark dungeons, all that stuff. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a classic platformer.
…but there is still some depth.
Each level has a number of goals you can achieve. Along with simply surviving to the exit, you are able to locate hidden treasures in every level.
Some are locked behind secret doors, and some are just difficult to find. You’ll also uncover magical relics that give your character new and varied powers to help you along.
Between levels you can hang out at your home and the merchant’s shop.
These are fun little features that break up the action between stages. It’s also where you get to reap the benefits of the extra loot and artifacts you’ve recovered.
Weapons and other goodies are hidden throughout the game’s stages. Once you find some of these items, they are stored for you with the merchant. He has equipment you can actually buy, too. Equipment you’ve found or purchased are both equipped from the shop.
In addition to equippable items, you also uncover collectible items that you can use to decorate your home. It’s a nice touch for the completionists out there, and it’s fun just to see how your home develops as you play through the game.
In total, Goblin Sword features 5 super-secret “very hard levels,” 8 guardian assistants, 14 costumes, 30 relics, 30 unique weapons, 13 bosses, and 89 levels. There’s definitely plenty here to keep you busy for a while, even if you’re only playing 10 minutes at a stretch.
If you’re looking for a Big Gulp, this probably isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a duffel bag full of single-shot airplane liquor bottles? Yeah, you’ve come to the right place.
Goblin Sword is stylish and fun with great controls and a good price.