I think it’s safe to say that as gamers we more often than not find ourselves drawn to a plethora of fancy gaming bait that is constantly being dangled in our faces. Sometimes we open those wallets up with reckless abandon and other times we somehow restrain ourselves from buying yet another exorbitantly priced collectors edition of a game we already own. It’s really a constant battle! *sigh*
So, here at the Backlog Odyssey we thought we’d revive and revamp an old series of ours, The Backlog Buck Club, to shine the spotlight on some games that you won’t ever have to feel guilty about dropping your hard earned dough on. These games will only ever cost $5 or less, whether that is their MSRP or a super sweet sale price.
For our first foray back into the pocket change platform we decided on a little gem by Gelato Games called Goblin Sword. A 2D platforming adventure made originally for iOS and then ported to the Switch later on. But is this swashbuckling side-scroller worth its weight in gold or is it just a load of pyrite pain?
Let me just say that I’m a sucker for pixel art when it’s done right. I think seeing the incredible range of diversity and motion, artists can get out of just rearranging a few pixels here and there, is even more fascinating to me than some of the more modern realistic looking graphics. That being said, Goblin Sword’s art lands somewhere in the middle of the road for me. It wasn’t mind blowing in any way, but it certainly wasn’t anything to turn your nose up at either. I liked the detail put into the various armors, weapons, and relics. That was something that definitely kept the art fresh as you played through the myriad of stages.
The game sounds and music falls at about the same spectrum as the graphics. There weren’t any tunes that stood out nor any that had me humming them after the game was turned off, but it was fine ambient music just the same. None of the soundtrack was noticeably repetitive which I appreciate since you will be playing and replaying certain areas A LOT!
Simplicity is the key word when it comes to talking about the gameplay in Goblin Sword. There are 80+ stages to traverse and while the difficulty definitely increases the further you get into the game, the formula does get a bit tired. Jump from platform to platform, kill enemies, check every wall and corner for hidden treasures or crystals, and if you die you have to start all over again. I will say it was a nice added touch that key doors and hidden switches were introduced in later stages. Also, every sword had a different power up which was impressive considering the wide array of weapons there are to buy and unlock. It was disappointing however, that the armors were all pretty much for show. They didn’t offer any buffs or bonuses, they merely changed how your character looked.
On top of that, most of the stages are relatively short. You can easily go end to end for the most part in just a few minutes but there are plenty of secret walls and pathways to discover that will net you some loot you won’t want to miss. Plus, any game that actively shows you what you’ve already collected and what you’re missing in each stage gets a standing ovation in my opinion! I think Goblin Sword is one of those rare occurrences where the leftover mobile-ness and accessibility really helped the game once ported, instead of hindering it.
As I mentioned earlier Goblin Sword’s gameplay itself is very simple at its core. It’s a platformer where you use your sword to kill enemies and gather various collectibles. However, as you progress through the levels the enemies and even the platforming becomes increasingly more challenging. With the addition of spikes, traps, and statues that shoot lasers, the platforming definitely takes a steep incline in challenge. This combined with only having an eventual maximum of 6 hearts, I think it’s safe to say that Goblin Sword can be quite the formidable venture, even a little frustrating. The bosses were hit or miss for me. Some of them I could beat on my first try and others had me plugging in my Switch and walking away in a huff for a few hours. I found that the hit boxes on a few of them seemed too wide or unpredictable. Bosses that required a lot of precise movement to avoid taking damage were especially frustrating since there was seemingly little or no room for error when dodging. You are almost guaranteed to take damage at times and with bosses there is no way to really heal during battle. There are relics that can offset damage or give you a helpful partner and I suppose therein lies the strategy. Finding the right combination of swords and relics if a boss or stage is giving you trouble.
Replayability is fairly low I would say. Once you collect the two treasures and three crystals there’s really no reason to return to a stage. Though I do think that this is a game that’s meant to be played in short bursts, like a mobile game, otherwise it just starts to feel repetitive and monotonous.
The MSRP for Goblin Sword on the Nintendo Switch eShop is $4.99, though we only paid $1.99 as it was on sale when we bought it. Either price is definitely reasonable for a game like this no matter how you slice it. The gameplay is solid and entertaining. There are lots of fun visuals and an impressive variety of weapons and relics to collect. As with any game of this type there is the potential for frustration and a lot of repetition. However, I think it’s a great “time waster” game, where you can just play a few levels here or there on the bus ride home or whilst “dropping the kids off at the pool” if you know what I mean.