Review: Goblin Sword

Introduction and Story

Goblin Sword has been my latest impulse buy from the Nintendo Switch eShop. Goblin Sword is actually an iOS game that was released way back in 2014 by Gelato Games which has now been optimized and re-released for the Nintendo Switch on February 20th, 2020. 

The general story of Goblin Sword is, well, general. The evil wizard Thordus has invaded your hometown. As the hero, you seek out the legendary sword to defeat the invading monsters and send Thordus back to, wherever he came from.

The style of the game really hearkens back to the old school NES games where you have a basic story beat, then you’re tasked to carry out the mission you’re given. Save the princess, defeat Dracula, get revenge, rescue father and…save the princess. I won’t get too caught up in that aspect, it’s not a 50+ hour JRPG. Within a minute of booting up, you’re ready to jump in.

Gameplay

You have two basic controls for the entire game, jump and attack. In a way, this was refreshing because things are not overly complicated, but also not boring which I will get into a bit later on. In terms of drops, you will collect your basic currency which can be used to purchase weapons, armor and relics, health and magic. 

Magic is really where I felt the game shone. When you receive a magic drop, your basic attack will not have an ability attached to it every time you attack until the magic runs out. This can be anything from a straight ahead blast, a shot that shoots projectiles in a cross shape, a poison shot that decreases in distance over time and much more. It’s a minor annoyance that you do not get to choose when to use your magic ability, but that in itself turns into a bit of a game because there are definitely more opportune moments to use magic so you may want to just avoid an enemy to use the power later on.

Goblin Sword is also very generous with the magic drops. As I progressed through the game’s near 90 levels, I was starting to notice that almost every level had some sort of magic drop extremely close to the entrance.

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The shop where you can purchase new weapons, armor or relics to equip.

Each level has collectibles for you to seek out; three crystals and two chests. Obtaining all of the crystals in a world will unlock a secret extra stage at the end of that world while chests will contain anything from souvenirs, currency, armor, health upgrades, weapons or relics. Oddly, if you play through a level and only get one crystal, the total resets if you re-enter the level meaning that you need to grab all three in one go. Chests on the other hand work differently. You can find one chest, complete the level, then just get the other chest later on and you’re fine. I felt that was an odd choice considering there are only two collectibles to seek out each level.

That brings me to the next aspect of gameplay worth talking about at length; hidden rooms. I have a love/hate relationship with this being integrated into a game. It’s a staple in any exploration-based game with collectibles. I understand why it’s there, and I understand the appeal of putting things like this in your game. I just dislike what it does to me as a player. 

I mentioned this as well in my review of Axiom Verge. The game is fantastic and I loved the gameplay, but if you wanted to find upgrades, you were firing specific weapons at most of the walls in the game because it became evident some things were hidden that way. From that point forward, I was mentally attached to the idea that I didn’t want to miss something. My gameplay turned into me shooting walls all the time.

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Goblin Sword can become deceptively difficult during some sections of the game.

Goblin Sword became something similar. There are hidden coves, rooms, hallways, everything and they can be anywhere that your character can fit. There are no indications of where these hidden areas are, you just need to propel yourself into walls, jump into ceilings and walk on every walk-able tile to see if there is a hidden area. It became tiring with my personality and how I play video games. 

This is entirely a problem with me though. I know players that love that aspect, some that hold games like Super Metroid as their favorites which is a series well known for hidden upgrades and collectibles. It’s just not something I enjoy as much as others, and it started to wear me down as I reached the 30-40th level ranges.

Other Points

Boss Fights: I was a bit let down by the boss fights in the game. There are thirteen total and I would wager that at least half of them are just yourself and the boss in a square room. It’s very Megaman in its approach. The downside here is that you never obtain magic during these fights. So we have Megaman, however you never get to use those cool new abilities that you’ve unlocked. 

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One example of a boss fight room in Goblin Sword.

I can’t help but imagine the missed opportunity here. Goblin Sword‘s levels are essentially giant cubes with an entrance and exit. They introduce tons of things like disappearing platforms, platforms that flip when struck by your sword and more. I think that they could have benefited by using arena’s and obstacle’s during these fights.

Spikes Aren’t Inst-Kills: I don’t have anything else to say about this other than I fully appreciate it.

Game’s Ending: Like I said earlier, I don’t put much weight on story with this type of game, however, the way that I completed the game felt off. Generally, you go into the first world and beat the levels up to the first boss. This unlocks world two. Repeat the same thing to unlock the rest of the worlds. The ‘boss of the game’ isn’t in the last world. I got to the final world and defeated all three bosses….then nothing. I had to search online to figure out the correct way to complete the game because I was just confused. It felt like there should have been one more stage after that thirteenth boss.

Relics: Like your weapon and armor, you get to choose one relic at each time. For awhile, I had found a ring of magnetism that brings coins to your character from a radius around you. I can’t even say how many hidden areas I found just from random coins appearing from walls around me. I eventually settled for relics that did more useful things like having a triple jump, but each player will have their own taste and lean towards a set of relics.

Final Thoughts

Goblin Sword is a perfectly fine investment for the few dollars on the Nintendo eShop. There are a ton of levels, many of which have a surprising amount of variety I felt. Even if I dislike the mechanic of hundreds of hidden areas, being able to find new weapons, armors and relics is fun and rewarding when you do find them. There is a lot of content for a player if they like this form of exploration.

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