Few games are as dear to me as Gobliins 2 thanks to fond memories of me playing the quirky early nineties adventure game together with my father on his brand new 80486 machine. He had to drive to Brussels to get hold of the latest and greatest piece of technology, of course paying handsomely. The game is labeled as Big Personal Impact in my favorite game meme list—heck, I even designed my retro game blog Jefklak’s Codex with its sprites!
I still own the official manual and
1.44 MB HD floppies. Unfortunately, as with most of these ancient big box DOS games, the box got lost in-between several moves. Or I might have thrown it out at some point. Knowing how much it means to me, dear retro enthusiast Peter Bridger was kind enough to let go of his copy, which arrived yesterday. After paying the hefty import tax fee of
€21—thank you, Brexit. The invoice form kindly informed you of an intricate procedure to dispute the amount in case of a gift, leading up to an even more confusing website, leading up to a dead end called a FAQ. Faq that, I thought, here’s your money, now shut up and send me my game!
Our version of the game came with the usual 3.5" floppies, while Peter’s came with chunky 5.25" ones. These are so awesome, I couldn’t stop smiling while flapping them in the air. What else evokes that fuzzy and warm retro feeling besides really old
360 KB floppies? The blue label on the lower right reads:
GOBLIINS 2—IBM PC 5.25". 256 VGA HARD DISK ONLY. 1.2 Meg disks 640k RAM min. DOS 3.0 min. AdLib Soundblaster Microsoft mouse required.
The yellow sticker on the Goblins 3 box is a bit more generic:
3" 1/2 HD. PC & Compatibles. MS. DOS. VGA 256 Colors - Hard Disk. SOFTWAREPROGRAMM UND ERLAUTERUNG.
The side of the Gob3 box reveals more technical requirements: AT 386-16 MHz or more recommended. MS-DOS 3.0 or more. 640 K RAM - 256 K extended memory recommended. Graphic card: VGA 256 colors. Microsoft compatible mouse. Sound cards: SoundBlaster, Pro-Audio, Adlib. CD-ROM version: driver with audio output. Oooh, there was a CD version? That reminds me, I still need to get hold of Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth!
The problem is, my 486 PC I restored last year doesn’t even have a drive bay for these big plastic things! A swift eBay search finally wipes that grin off my face:
€100 for an old 5" drive bay, excluding
€20+ shipping, not taking any additional taxes into account? Damn, retro hardware can be stupidly expensive. Many old bays don’t even work anymore, some contain brittle rubber bands, some require a lot of tinkering to revive. I had my hopes up for a flea market or retro computer gig this year, but a certain virus put a halt to most events…
To prevent early pirates from copying that floppy (Don’t Copy That Floppy!!), game developers relied on all sorts of inventive copy protection use cases. The Gobliins games came with a code book where you’d have to look up a color combination based on a row and column, instructed by the old wizard in the intro screen who also introduced you to the story. It’s reminiscent of Monkey Island’s Dial A Pirate wheel.
Other games asked you to input a word or sentence one-third throughout the game as part of the story. If you didn’t have the booklet, you were stuck. Photocopying the booklet that time was usually done in black-and-white, hence Coktel Vision’s reliance on a color combination instead of gray scales. The way the code book is folded and stapled together further hampers a quick photocopy. Ah, the days before DRM…
Thanks so much Peter, you made my day—or week, or month. Things have been awfully quiet here, so the mental boost was more than welcome. Now I really need to jump-start the Quest For The Five Inch Floppy Drive. I inherited a few big floppies from my grandparents who passed away in 2020, and I was keen to read its contents, so it’ll have to be done, one way or another.
In case you’re wondering what the heck Gobliins 2 is about, read my short review from 2006 that is in dire need of restoration. My wife and I are replaying the game—I promise I’ll write a more lengthy report sometime soon.
I still haven’t found a decent way to capture VGA output though… Still lots to do in Retro Land!
Addendum, 27 Nov 2022: capturing VGA output? Check!