• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatAtari 8-bit
PublisherGR8 Software

Main review

In a rather alarming turn of events, the Golden Orb of Altoris has been stolen and the task of recovering it falls to Prince Zanock, the first son of King Garath. This quest boils down to a push-scrolling trek through a spooky forest and then on to an equally eerie castle, both of which are heavily populated by animated skeletons, slimy toad men, demonic faces embedded within walls, and animated skeletons, all of which have thwarting the hapless prince at the top of their current list of things to do.

So with the odds stacked so harshly against him, it’s a good thing that Zanock hasn’t gone into battle unarmed really; he starts out carrying an infinite supply of throwing knives which take a few hits to kill each enemy but can collect some more heavy duty armaments and other trinkets that are dropped as creatures of the night are vanquished. If poor Zanock should fail in his perilous and rather foolhardy mission, the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins… oops sorry, the Hobgoblins will overrun his father’s lands, eternal night will reign and so forth.


Whilst some of the presentation such as the title logo or the newly-designed surrounds for the play area have been beefed up for the Atari 8-bit, the in-game graphics themselves come directly from the BBC in all their original four colour glory, so its fair to say that Hobgoblin doesn’t really take advantage of the target machine’s larger palette. Similarly, the titles tune is solid stuff and fits well to the overall theme of Hobgoblin, but the in-game effects are restricted to a couple of white noise spot effects for firing and enemy death and warbles for jumping and when Zanock is off to meet his maker.

Really the main problem here is Hobgoblin‘s pedigree – the original was released over multiple platforms by less than stellar budget house Atlantis and was therefore only average at best, so strapping some cosmetic enhancements to the BBC Micro version of that base hasn’t really improved the situation as such; whilst it can be quite fun to play, the original’s remarkably high difficulty curve and some overzealous collision detection here and there means that even the very beginning of Zanock’s crusade can be dishearteningly difficult and that, combined with the random issuing of the better weaponry can becomes a substantial barrier that quite a few players may well fail to see past.

Hobgoblin was an unusual choice to launch GR8’s range of cartridge based games, but their next release, the visually and aurally superior Bomb Jake, stands as a far better example of what the Atari 8-bit can do with the platforming genre and a more playable game overall.