My thumbs are feelin pretty raw after playing Goblin Sword[$1.99]. As a guy that grew up playing platformers in the late 80's/early 90's I don't think I can give higher praise for a game workin' it's tail off to give that old feeling back. Unforgiving yet short levels give this game a mobile focus while still retaining that frustrating level of difficulty we all had a love hate relationship back then. Gelato Games has hit all the selling points square on the head with this retro title. With controls better than Swordigo[Free], and more sophistication than Dodo Master[$0.99 / $0.99 (HD)], Goblin Sword is setting the bar nice and high for it's competition.

If you scroll down to the comments section, you probably won't find complaints about racing games, puzzlers, rpgs, or sports sims. What you might find, as I have been finding recently, is a vocal minority complaining about pixel graphics games. Now I don't mind critical evaluation of a video game[thats kind of what I'm doing here in the first place], but what I don't understand is blind dismissal of an entire sub-genre of games. A lot of people like pixel art retro games. They pay money for them. Complaining about it's existence amounts to yelling at clouds, sure its fun but you aren't going to see much change because of it. You could just throw out the labels and just let this game stand on its own. In fact, lets get a Billy Joel quote in here to see if we can set the tone to do just that:

What's the matter with the clothes I'm wearing?
"Can't you tell that your tie's too wide?"
Maybe I should buy some old tab collars?
"Welcome back to the age of jive.
Where have you been hidin' out lately, honey?
You can't dress trashy till you spend a lot of money."
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me


For the scoffers and haters that don't want to see more retro games, Goblin Sword is one of your worst enemies cause this game rocks. Controls, level design and audio quality are all on point and set up a fantastic feeling world for you to explore. I have to admit even the splash page with the Goblin Sword graphic is fantastic, evoking nostalgia from the moment you load up the app. What follows is a treasure trove of a platformer waiting for you to pull out a great experience. The game has no IAP and the normal $1.99 price is theft for what you get. Gelato Games is doing you a solid on top of this, however, by putting the game up at half price for a limited time.

Like most platformers, levels consist of enemies to defeat, pitfalls to avoid, and treasures to collect. Unlike most platformers, you can discover and purchase weapon and item upgrades that are both functional and cosmetic. Suits of armor are on the cosmetic side, while trinkets are functional. Weapons dip into both pools with a variety of animations, stat lines, and even unique spell effects. As previously mentioned, some of these can be purchased from the store. Others must be found, and provide a big chunky carrot to chase while trying to clear 100% of each map's loot. Another big reason to do full clears of maps is that each area you can adventure to has additional content that unlocks after everything is cleared. On top of that, there is an unlockable alternate game ending. Did I mention that this game is $.99 right now?


Overall difficulty is well balanced, at least to my ability. Getting through most levels means multiple play throughs, but really finding everything a level has might mean a dozen or more trips in total. If you are feeling really stuck, I would highly recommend a trip to our active thread in the forums for some tips. Tougher levels are pretty grueling, requiring some pattern memorization as well as concise inputs. While you may end up dying an embarrassing amount of times, the quick reloads and great continuous music always seem to help me get back on the horse. The game is pretty good at putting you in situations that demand patience and practice. Most enemies have attacks that will trigger as soon as you step within sight of them. Traps and moving platforms will only give you small windows of safety. This is pretty typical platformer stuff, but most games don't have it all bundled together so well.

The only annoyance I have experienced so far is that the virtual controls for the A and B buttons are a little to spread out and don't seem to play well if you manually adjust them. Not to fear, however, because we have gotten reports that the developer is working on this very issue in the next update. I guess you can just add "well supported app" to the long list of things I love about this game.

I feel like if you were going to buy Goblin Sword, you've already done it. It's such a crazy value and has such good production quality it kind of speaks for itself. I've managed to beat each of the boss fights, but I still have a ton of replay value left to get out of the game. What is exciting is that the story line isn't over just by beating each level, and neither are the upgrades and unlocks. If you haven't taken the plunge and you like platformers even a little bit, this is the game to get. Now I've managed to stop playing long enough to type this review, but its really time I get back to it.

TouchArcade Rating

  • jesse_dylan

    I love old games and love pixel art. What's kept me at bay is that I am skeptical of touch screen controls. I can barely tolerate the touch screen controls in Dragon Quest, and that's not a difficult platformer. I also have no interest in getting a controller for my phone.

    So what's the verdict. Can I adjust to onscreen controls?

    • Echoen


      • jesse_dylan

        Thanks. Well for 99 cents and a great game, it sounds like I couldn't do much better for a trial.

    • NOEN

      I'm not being a smartass by any means, but if you don't like touchscreen controls and you don't want to use a controller, why are you on a site like Touch Arcade? 98% of all games on the AppStore use either some sort of touchscreen or physical controller controls. (I gave 2% to tilt only games. I'm not sure if that's too much or too little.) Just curious. Anyway, this game is WELL worth the asking price! It's definitely my GOTW. I love everything about this game. One nice addition would be maybe some kind of endless mode? Just for replayability? I'm taking my time, but this is one of those games that you don't want to end, so some kind of endless mode, wether it be a runner or something like Slayin would make me definitely want to keep it on my device after I've beaten it. I know it's asking way too much for a game that only cost a buck. Just an idea.

      • jesse_dylan

        Some games are designed with touch control in mind. Others seem to exist in spite. I'm also fine with many slower games converted (again, Dragon Quest), but I've been playing games for almost 30 years and am used to a nice controller. I have played little if any action games on a phone, much less ones designed with virtual controls rather than being more touch-based, thus my question.

        I'm on touch arcade because there are many types of iOS games. Even if I don't play many games on my outdated phone, I still like the idea of it.

        Hope that quells your curiosity.

      • bilboad

        Makes total sense. I understood your initial comment. I also am not so fond of virtual versions of physical controls, i.e. virtual buttons, d-pads and joysticks, in action games where timing and accuracy of movement are critical. For those kind of games I'd prefer swipe or tap-anywhere or tilt controls. There are plenty of iOS games that are either not action games, or don't use virtual physical controls, so it makes total sense for you to be reading this site.

        I just recently got a physical controller, and have been revisiting some games I'd put aside due to not enjoying them with virtual controls. It makes a huge difference. Several driving games and platformers I have just got much more fun with a controller. I'll probably hold off on this game as well until the update with controller support, since I also don't really like playing most platformers with virtual controls.

      • jesse_dylan

        That said, I grabbed it, and while my thumbs sometimes block my view, it is about as good as could be expected. I like it. However this might be joy induced by how much I love the game itself. It's so cool!!!

        Anyway I'm finding the touch controls to be pretty decent. I mean as far as virtual buttons go I don't think they could get much better, and I like it a lot more than I thought. This game will really blow you away with a controller tho I bet!

    • Mike Kohary

      I'm also wary of platformers with touch screen controls. I picked this up because, hey, it's just a buck so why not? The controls are great. They keep it simple, just left, right and two buttons. They're responsive and the game itself doesn't require super-elaborate button calisthenics. It's obvious the game was designed with these controls in mind, so don't let this turn you off. Great game.

      • jesse_dylan

        Yeah, I'm really enjoying it!

      • Barchiel


    • Barchiel


      • Jesse_Dylan


    • Polysculpture

      The only thing I can comment on is the on screen controls on this game is some of the smoothest I have used.

    • Yannis

      I hate touch screen controls, but rarely had an issue with Goblin Sword.

      • Jesse_Dylan

        It was great on my iPhone 4, but on my 6, the buttons are too far apart. 🙁 I wish they'd update and fix that or at least offer a toggle.

      • Yannis

        Wait a minute, on my iPad I can change where the controls are. Did you try messing about with the options?

      • Jesse_Dylan

        Yeah, I can move where the two sets are, but I can't move the buttons closer. The A and B are pretty far apart and so are the two arrows. Maybe I just need to get used to it!

  • Wedge598

    Excellent Review Andrew! I love the fact that you address the pixel art head on. I'm one of those guys that isn't generally attracted to the pixel art but I'm old enough (45) to understand the nostalgia that it brings. I can appreciate a good game regardless of the art but do tend to favor a more modern and high resolution style. After all, we have retina displays now so we can appreciate the same sharpness on our electronic devices that we've been enjoying on printed pages for decades. That said, if I was a platform lover I would probably grab this game based on your review alone. Well done!

    • tex32

      Especially like the Billy Joel reference! Billy Joel FTW!

    • bilboad

      Same here. I'm also 45, so I'm in the right age group to feel nostalgic for pixel art, and can relate to other people feeling that way. Yet it doesn't do anything special for me, and in fact I prefer high res graphics generally. That said, if the gameplay is good I'll overlook the art style. I really enjoyed Wayward Souls for example, and this sounds like a very fun game as well.

      • AliveThrouDeath

        HEY! I'm only 22 and feel nostalgic about pixel art graphics!

        Of course, my first console, an NES, was ten years old or so when I played it. . .

  • Echoen

    I've 'beaten' the game having found every secret chest and crystal, conquered the 3 disgustingly hard secret levels, defeated each of the 6 bosses, seen the good ending, finished the time trial achievements and more. I still need to farm more gold for the collector achievements but I've gotten so much bang for my buck already, I feel like I owe the dev some money! The game is phenomenal!

    • John

      Wow I wish I had your capability! This game rocks, but is a challenge! Or maybe I'm just bad lol.

  • Jay G

    I don't really mind the pixel art in games, it's the horrid, horrid chiptune music that I hate. It's the equivalent of felony assault in audio form to my poor ears. Music in this is pretty good chiptune assault here.

    • Andrew Fretz

      Hi Jay G,

      Thanks for the comment, I gotta say lots of people dig those chip tunes /shrug. Anyway, enjoy Goblin Sword!

      • jesse_dylan

        I love both pixel art and chip tunes. I'm "old," but even many young folks like the style. I didn't even realize there were naysayers until now such is my naïveté.

      • Jay G

        I liked it when I was young, I just think this newer emulated stuff is way too loud and brassy sounding. The old hardware stuff was much more subtle and muted. So many of these retro inspired games have me scrambling to find the volume control as soon as I boot them up for the first time. Look up "Racing Destruction Set Theme song" on youtube for a great example of a song done perfectly, or the original M.U.L.E. theme.

      • jesse_dylan

        Yeah, you have a point. Fair enough. I guess I'm lucky that I like most everything, but you are right; some of the new stuff is really over the top and inauthentic.

  • cloudpuff

    Pleased to see this make game of the week, it's totally deserved. Dev has hinted at a new area in future updates on the games thread which would make this even. Ire of a total steal.
    I understand people may not like pixel style, but it's just rude to skate a game for that reason alone without even trying it. Thankfully the AppStore is big enough to cater to everyone's tastes.

    • worldcitizen1919

      It should have been game of the week.

  • metalcasket


    Yes, that is all. 🙂

  • Niclas Johansson

    MFI support?

    • Andrew Fretz

      We have gotten reports that its coming in a future update.

  • Boobi

    Great review, bought it.

  • monetarydread

    Wow, so this is what, the five-hundredth, "infie 2d platformer

    • jesse_dylan

      Yeah, but this one is really good! 🙂

  • the_rebel14

    Great review. Great game. The art is fantastic, the controls are sharp and easy, and the level designs and monsters are amazing. Genuinely a deal at $2 and (as the reviewer said) theft at $1. I love it!

  • monetarydread

    Wow, so this is what, the five-hundredth indie 2d platformer to be released this year? I am starting to get sick of all this repitition. Lemme guess, this game is divided into micro-stages and you have to collect gems/keys for bonus points, did they add rogue-like elements (the other overused genre lately)?

    What is it that makes the game stand out from the pack? I read in the review that the controls are better than Swordigo, that isn't saying much, thats like saying, "the controls are kind of functional, you might not die immediately." Swordigo is not some benchmark that people should strive for, that should be considered the bare-minimum for any game with a virtual d-pad because they are not that accurate or responsive. Plus, that game came out three years ago. If this is the closest thing to an advance in mobile platformers, that is sad.

    • Andrew Fretz

      Shame on me for comparing the game to another popular game in the genre. I really should have typed more than a 1 paragraph review....

    • jesse_dylan

      They're not trying to advance anything, just make a fun game, and they've succeeded. The controls are about as best as could be imagined for virtual, touchscreen platforming controls. It's also really cheap. At least it's not an endless runner or tower defense. Now there are some overused "genres".

      You will like this game. Give it a try.

  • orangecan

    I'm really struggling with the accuracy of the jump/attack controls on the touch 5g to the extent that I'm going to put it down until the update arrives that sorts it.

    I agree with everything in the review but at the moment I'm dying a lot due to inaccuracies and not incompetence and that's enough to put me off.

    • toofinedog

      I'm dying a lot due to incompetence. One complaint I would have is the "invincibility" after getting hit is of short duration which sometimes leads to losing two hearts, but hey, there's a relic for that!

  • Chusky

    It reminds me a lot "Wonderboy in Monsterland" . In one word : Great !

  • rich_952000

    I don't see how anyone can complain about this awesome game. It's a goddamn dollar people! If it's not to your liking when watching the vids, seeing screens or reading reviews..move the hell along to the next crappy port of a console game. It's not hard to see that people will be negative about any and everything on TA nowadays. This developer deserves praise for this badass game not some snide adolescent comments from some jackasses who are too cheap to use a dollar from their mommies iTunes account.

    End rant/

    The game is THAT good. Excellent review. 5 stars easily...kudos

    • NOEN

      That you for that Rich!

  • Nicolas Liatti

    Just bought it, really ag rest surprise. I cannot stop playing!

  • I am Error.

    Agreed! I picked this up the night of its release and it is an absolute steal at 99 cents. Just a really fun, well-done title. I'm hoping to see controller support in future updates, otherwise, this one's pretty darn perfect.

  • demod1

    Game is just amazing!!!

  • worldcitizen1919

    This is the real Game of the Week. Its awesome, incredible, terrific and never boring. I only feel I owe the dev money for such a great game. Couldn't put this down. I started playing Phantom Rift but it got real boring fast then I tried this and loving it to death.

  • DJCubs

    I really don't understand the fuss about this game

  • jeffyg3

    Yeah MFi controller support would definitely do this game justice, hopefully the reports of controller support is coming soon. Anyways, $1 well spent

    • jeffyg3

      Oh and of course no IAP is a MASSIVE plus

  • Speedster117

    I can't stop playing this game! It's so fun!!

  • Chris Brady

    I love this game, but the one handed animation is really jarring to me.

  • TheNoobOfTheCentury

    After you beat the bosses, are there still levels?

  • Cookies

    It just goes to show that Megaman hiding in the guise of a medieval RPG really does work awesomely (and Shovel Knight is there for a little more evidence if you still needed it).

  • dancj

    I have no complaints about pixel graphics (though outside of Superbrothers I do t really see the point).

    What really makes no sense I me though is onscreen buttons marked as A and B. On controllers it makes sense because the buttons will do different things in different games, but for on-screen controls you can mark them as hat they actually do.

    • dancj

      *what they actually do

  • Ben Seeberger

    Goblin Sword is like if the Castlevania series had a baby with Mikey Boots. If that appeals to you, you will love this game. The only reasons you might not like this game is the absolute lack of a story, the fact that it will seriously test your patience if you are a completionist, or if you want more than three types of zones to fight in (at present there seems to be a forest zone, a castle zone, and a cave zone).

  • Zenfar

    Goblins + Swords + Pixel Art = InstaBuy

  • Kaimen

    Is it something similar to Swordigo guys?

  • hTristan

    I don't like that attacking and moving are mutually exclusive. it makes the game have less of a flow.

  • Sam

    This reminds me of the game Claw by Monolith Games many years ago! Can't wait to play

  • Echoen

    Spoiler on how to get the good ending:SPOILERSPOILEREquipTheHolyPendantWhenYouFightTheLastBoss.ENDSPOILER

    To farm gems, just keep doing an easy stage over and over. Level 1-15's pretty quick and easy for around 120 gems per run. Use the winged boots to make things easier.

  • Blair Davis

    Can I play on iPad and then on the go play on iPhone? Can't seem to find a Icloud sync feature.

  • Wizard of Odyssey

    I tried this after the recommendation in the Sword of Xolan review, which I also loved. I hadn't realized that some people don't like pixel art and chip tunes, because I love them. What really turns me off is Billy Joel. I bought this game and am enjoying it despite your quotes from that lame-o in both the title and the review.

    Pro tip: you might think you have a way to make retro games sound cool to kids who don't like them, but citing Billy Joel isn't it.

Goblin Sword Reviewed by Andrew Fretz on . Rating: 5