Although it was before my time, The Goonies
was one of my favorite movies as a kid. We borrowed that one from the library's VHS collection so many times that the my parents ended up buying a copy for our household. As an adult, I still like the movie, but nostalgia can only go so far, and it's not quite the masterpiece that I thought it was as a child. This experience is much the same for The Goonies II
I never saw The Goonies game
in any arcades as a kid, so when I saw it used for sale in a video store, I assumed that The Goonies II
was intended to be an official sequel to the movie, and begged my parents to buy it. Since it was dirt cheap, they obliged, and the game's lack of resell value should have been a good indicator of what we would be getting into, but we weren't so wise to such things in those days. I desperately wanted to complete the game to see how the story progressed. However, I never got very far at all. I would wander around for a bit, get frustrated at not being able to figure out what to do, write down a password, and not come back to the game until that password was lost to the annals of history. The premise of the game is that you play as Mikey and rescue the other Goonies, and I never found any of them, despite numerous attempts to play through the game. Still, I loved the Metroidesque platforming and world exploration, and the chiptune version of The Goonies 'R Good Enough
was even better than the original. I concluded at the time that I just wasn't patient and mature enough to figure The Goonies
out, and that I would have more success with it when I was older. It never crossed my mind that it might not be a good game. Metroid
and Blaster Master
were some other games from those days that I had felt were just a bit beyond my understanding, and in those cases, I was more or less correct with both proving to be great titles when I returned to them many years later. Unfortunately, for The Goonies II
, it doesn't quite make their company.
While having a guide is certainly helpful in a game like Metroid
, it's entirely possible to get through the game by brute force alone, and there's enough logic that you start to get a better intuition for progression as the game continues. Maybe there are some savants who can say that they've struggled through The Goonies II
on their own, but I've never encountered one. While I hate to start my critique of the game on such a negative note and to be so blunt about it, it simply can't be ignored that the graphic adventure aspects of this game flatly suck. It may be unfair to expect a game of this vintage to conform to today's standards, but the adventure aspects seem deliberately obscure and not remotely clever, and based on my experience with other graphic adventures of the era, like Deja Vu
, I would guess that this wasn't passable even at the time of its release. Game design that I thought I was too young to understand as a kid, I now see was either not meant to be easily understood or was just plain incompetent.
Maybe if you punch and hammer every inch of the background, you would find all the secrets, but I doubt it even then. Even when I cheated and knew exactly where to hit to reveal the secrets, the hitbox is not very forgiving, and the game wouldn't always register that I clicked the correct spot. It's no wonder that I couldn't get anywhere as a kid. These sections are flat out broken, and if you happen to miss the secret by a few pixels, what incentive would there be to try again. To make matter worse, there are no visual clues as to where secrets would be and the rooms look rather monotonous, so brute forcing is not especially effective either, as you might just keep trying the same rooms over and over again. Furthermore, the controls for these sections are not intuitive and cycling through actions is just tedious. Even if you understand exactly what you are supposed to do in these sections, they just aren't enjoyable at all. I'll give Konami some credit for trying something different here, but the emphasis really is on the word 'try.' The game is undoubtedly worse for having these sections.
If you can look past that aspect of the game, the platforming and world design hold up quite well, however. At first things feel relatively straight forward, but once you've got a few powerups and explore a bit deeper into the Fratellis' hideout, things really start to pick-up and become enjoyable. The overworld has a great sense of place being one of the earliest games that I can think of with multiple routes leading to the same destination, and there. While games like Metroid
were non-linear, there was quite a bit of backtracking, so it's refreshing to see the more open ended approach here. The map in The Goonies II
is labyrinthine enough that you probably will end up doing some wandering around, and may visit areas multiple times, but I appreciate that there are shortcuts to streamline the process, and it goes a long way towards making the world feel large. There are a few odd secrets that you're unlikely to find, but they generally aren't required for progression. While I do wish that there were a boss or two to break up the platforming, the overall design of the platforming sections and world map is excellent.
Revisiting The Goonies II
as an adult was disappointing. I always knew that it was a game of two halves, but I always thought that the graphic adventure aspects would make more sense at a later date, and experience has only revealed that Konami didn't know what they were doing with these sections anymore than I did as a young player. Despite those sections being so mediocre, the rest of the game still holds up for its innovative level design and strong audiovisual components. While it falls well short of being among the best titles for the NES, it's good enough (provided you have the patience of a saint or the sense to follow a walkthrough).
If you enjoy this, I'd strongly recommend playing the previous Goonies
NES title. While it never left the arcades in the US, the Famicom version is relatively easy to come by, and its more streamlined approach makes for a better game, which I will hopefully review in more detail at some point.