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Puzzle adventures like Goblins should carry a written saying "Not suitable for those who suffer from impatience, or who are used to fast-moving platformers or shoot-em-ups". Not surprisingly, Goblins 3 follows on from versions one and two and continues in a similar vein - you know, big kingdom, evil characters casting spells on the king or kidnapping the princess, you saving everyone from everything.

This time there are two kingdoms to contend with and their rulers are racing each other to be the first to conquer a labyrinth which, as legend has it, will given them eternal well-being for their people. However, things are not as simple as all that - the guardian of the labyrinth has just died, the key to the labyrinth's entrance has disappeared, as has the guardian's daughter and successor, Wynnona.

You start off as Blount, a journalist of the local newspaper, who has set his sights on scooping the story for whoever makes it through the labyrinth at first. And so the adventure begins.

To travel through the different worlds, you have to complete the challenge each one presents. Sometimes you have got to kill, sometimes blow up buildings, or other times simply chase different-coloured wispy things around. But whatever you have got to do you can be sure that it is not going to be simple.

For example, to make a stick of dynamite you have to first find a tube, then the ingredients to make it explosive, then put them into the tube in the right order, then ignite it and finally make sure you click on your target quickly enough or you will end up with singed eyebrows. But that is all the fun of the game - fun that is, providing you have got the temperament to cope with it!

Finger-clickin' good
There are some very cute touches with extra characters such as a parrot and a boa constrictor in some scenes, which you can select and move. Using them in combination with the main character's moves is tricky, but with good timing you move on quickly through the challenge.

What is also enjoyable is that you do not stay as the same old boring Blount. When he is rescuing Wynonna, he fiercely fights a wolf who not only leaves him for dead, but also leaves him with a tendency to grow huge amounts of bodily hair, pointy ears and teeth and do a fair bit of howling when he comes into contact with the full moon's rays.

And while Blount is lying around recovering, you - this time as Wynnona - continue working your way through scenes to find your way to the two rulers' castles.

Goblins 3 is a big challenge and will keep you playing for weeks at a time. The scenes are full of variety and interesting puzzles. The gameplay is only let down when it is sometimes difficult to complete a combination of actions quickly enough - put some dust down someone's collar and while he is sneezing, try to get a club from your inventory to hit him over the head with. It is not that it is impossible; it is just frustrating when you are frantically clicking away and nothing seems to happen. If you are a particular fan of puzzlers, then Goblins 3 will not disappoint.



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Zwei von drei Helden wurden in Coktel Visions abenteuerlicher Knobelserie schon verschlissen, weshalb wir es jetzt nach Eva Zwerg nur mehr mit einem Solotüftler zu tun haben - der seine Sache gut macht!

Er heißt Blount, ist Reporter und zumindest vordergründig um ein Interview mit dem Königshaus seines Fantasy-Reichs bemüht - in Wahrheit stolpert er in den 19 witzig gezeichneten Comic-Landschaften einfach immer nur von einer Katastrophe in die nächste.

Weil das in Gesellschaft letztlich doch mehr Spaß macht, wird er dabei in aller Regel entweder von einem Papagei, einer Schlange oder einem Zauberer unterstützt, wobei diese Helfer ebenfalls Befehle des Spielers entgegennehmen. Blount, der sich aus vorgeschichtlichen Gründen ab und an auch in einen Werwolf verwandelt, wird nach der gewohnten Point & Click-Methode durch die seitwärts scrollenden und im Vergleich mit den Vorgängern umfangreicheren Szenerien gesteuert.

Beim Knacken der meist ganz schön harten Rätselnüsse kommt es vorwiegend auf exaktes Timing und das richtige Kombinieren der aufgefundenen Gegenstände an; in verzweifelten Fällen darf man insgesamt fünfmal auf eine Jokerfunction mit der kompletten Levellösung zurückgreifen. Die süß animierte Grafik sieht hinreißend aus und wird zusätzlich von allerlei Zwischenbildern und -sequenzen aufgepeppt.

Auch die originellen Begleitmelodien erweisen sich schnell als wahre Ohrwürmer, und die Maus verrichtet brav ihren Dienst. Unangenehm fällt dagegen das Fehlen einer HD-Installationsmöglichkeit auf, außerdem hätten es ruhig ein paar Levels mehr und etwas logischere Rätsel sein dürfen.

Doch mit diesen Einschränkungen läßt sich der dritte Goblin empfehlen, es gab schon unwürdigere Nachfolger... (md)



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More cute French nonsense from those crazy garçons and m'amselles at Coktel Vision.

The scene: a psychiatrist's office. Freud and Jung glower down from the walls. A leather couch occupies the centre. Enter the reviewer.
Reviewer: Doctor, you've got to help me. Since playing Goblins 3, I've been plagued by terrible nightmares in which I'm hounded by crowds of game characters happy that I like one of their number. "Lies, lies," I snarf. "I detest you all, with your unbearable sef-satisfied coolness and stickly cute loveability. There's nothing I like better than to drown you in your water worlds or walk you to the very edge of a high cliff so you do that musing overbalancing animation, and then you push off."

"But that's all behind you. We've won, for you're truly fond of the characters in Goblins 3," argue my persecutors, pressing me into a corner.
"Lies, it's all a pack of lies," I repeat, but my eyes dart guitily, and they start singing and dancing coolly around me and it's only by drowning them and pushing them off high cliffs that I manage to escape. Goblins 3, you see, features some of the most appealingly useless characters ever, including a crap reporter, a deranged parrot called Chump and a gifted warrior with a magic knob, but more of that later.

Psychiatrist: Stop trying to put bits of the review in this genuine psychiatric session.
Reviewer: I can't help it. I've seen the secret rules. I know that if you talk straightforwardly about a game rather than babble on in the style of something or other, they send their assassins after you.
Psychiatrist: I see. Right then, why not go back to the beginning and describe the basics of the game, eh readers? (Winks)

GET IT ON
Reviewer: It's a point-and-click puzzler, with each standalone puzzle played out over two or three interlocking screens. The idea is that you're a sort of godlike overseer, rather than any of the characters themselves, and your main task is to help Blount, the crap reporter, research a story on the rulers of two rival kingdoms.

Along the way things are complicated by such sub-tasks as curing Blount of lycanthropy and helping someone to retrieve the key to a labyrinth with the aid of the magic knob, but more that later. The presentation is nothing short of brilliant, with beautifully-animated sprites and a spot effect-laden soundtrack, featuring everyone's favourite Frenchman making Clanger-like sounds speech samples.

Psychiatrist: You mentioned the 'appealingly useless' characters. Would you care to elaborate?
- Reviewer: They're just so wonderfully inept, constantly getting into all sorts of trouble with an irrepressible eager cheerfulness. And when something does go colossaly wrong they just take what outrageous cartoon violence is coming to them, castigate you lightly for directing them in such a ridiculous endeavour and try again. I love them so.

Psychiatrist:: Yes. So it's a non-stop comic bonanza.
Reviewer: Ah, how true those words spoken in cynical jest. Goblins 3 is endlessly funny - and not just mildly amusing, but really funny. At one point, the combination of an ill-timed sip of orange juice and a particularly outlandish gag involving a giant mousetrap had me retching with laughter.

Psychiatrist: That's as maybe, but how does it shape up as a game?
Reviewer: Isn't this turning out to be a rather poorly contrived set of questions and answers?

Psychiatrist: I could do it in a cold Germanic accent if you like.


The presentation is nothing short of brilliant

BANG A GONG
Reviewer: Perhaps not. Anyway, yes, you raise a valid point. How does it shape up as a game?
Psychiatrist: I don't know.
Reviewer: It was a rhetorical question.
Psychiatrist: I'm hardly a distinct personality, am I?

Reviewer: Shut up. The gameplay hasn't evolved significantly since the original Gobliiins. It's still a case of waving the pointer randomly around the screen in the hope of hitting a hot spot, which in the more complex levels leads to an initial sweep of tediously military precision.

Why not have an option, ay, to put a green dot on everything important to the game? And some of the object-background combinations are less logically skewed than entirely randomly allotted. The manual suggests using objects "even in the most far-fetched combinations," which leads more to desperation than anything else. But weighed against this are the rib-tickling consequences of getting something wrong, the upliftingly joyous way in which the characters somersault with pleasure if you happen to be right, and the fact you can't die or run out of time or use up the objects. So it all sort of balances up, albeit in a slightly uncomfortable way.

Psychiatrist: But I understand there are clues available?
Reviewer: Unfortunately, when you cash in one of your clue jokers, you just get a screenful of text giving the solution to the screen, so that's the end of that then. Theoretically you should never get stuck, but you do, and unless you want to ruin the whole screen you're back to waving your pointer around.

Psychiatrist: Which brings us to the magic knob.
Reviewer: No it doesn't.

Psychiatrist: Oh, go on.
Reviewer: Well, it's a French game, you see. And the translation isn't quite 'there' at points, the most memorable involving a powerful warrior who offers to help if you find a replacement jewel for the crystal ball-like pommel of her sword, except it's not called a pommel and you can guess the rest.

Psychiatrist: We seem to have filtered down to trivial innuendo, so it's probably time for the Bottom Line.
Reviewer: Missus.
Reviewer: Shut up.


TRUST ME, I'M A PROFESSIONAL

Goblins 3
Hmmm. How can Blount the giant possibly get up to the tower to speak to the king?

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Of course! He stands on the lever of the trap and convinces his parrot to take the bait.

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A violently broken neck is a small price to pay for success. Those French, eh?



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COKTEL VISION OUT NOW £25.99

Those cheeky French chappies have created yet another comical graphic adventure with plenty of amusing animations and one less 'i' in the title than the last one.

If you've followed the series, you'll know that the number of 'i's actually relates to the number of Goblins in the game, so we've moved from the rather simplistic three of Goblins to the more standard single character of this one. Not that it makes it any better game, you understand. This still has the same problems of the original and the sequel, which I'll explain just as soon as I've told you what the game is actually about.

You play Blount, the Goblin journalist out for a scoop, and a big story just happens to have fallen onto your lap. The keeper of the Key To Eternity or some such nonsense has died, and the key has gone missing, along with its successor. So, you do what any journo would do, and that's set off on one of the weirdest missions ever to recover both artefacts. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

The big problem, of course, is that it is quite easy. The problem with a game that has no text and the only icons concern a game map and loading and saving is that you are extremely limited in the actions you can actually do. Clicking with the left button on some thing picks it up or looks at it, and clicking with the right button brings up the inventory. All you need to do is scan the mouse pointer around the screen to pick out all the objects and important points, and then use everything you can think of on anything you can find, and you'll soon complete each screen.

Logical or not, all puzzles can be solved in no time at all, and if you're stuck for a hint, there's an online solution in the form of jokers that tell you how to complete each screen.

It's funny, sure, and mildly entertaining for a while, but without the mind-taxing challenge of something like Beneath A Steel Sky, it just pales and ends up as a second rate adventure. A shame really, especially when you consider that Coktel Vision are now owned by Sierra.


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