Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
Games don’t have to be big, complex, and deep to be engaging. Take Tetris—with just a few simple geometric shapes, some simulated gravity, and a goal of simplistic pattern-making, it became one of the greatest games of all time. Goblin Catcher is not one of the greatest games of all time, but it is an object lesson in how simple a good game can be.
Start in the middle of the screen, use the arrow keys to move around, catch the goblins, avoid the bad guys, grab an occasional power up. It all takes place on one essentially featureless screen. No level progression, no environmental obstacles, and no surprises. What you see is what you get. It’s pure and straightforward—a video game boiled down to its essence.
Goblin Catcher looks a lot like an Atari 2600 port of The Legend Of Zelda, thanks to some obviously “borrowed” art. In fact, if Zelda had been back-ported to the old Atari machine, I’d be willing to bet it would have played a lot like this, too. Back in those days, it might have been a modest hit. Today, it’s a modestly entertaining way to kill a half hour.