The Goonies (Famicom)

(Review archived from January 11, 2018)

The Goonies is a game that I have been meaning to play for a long time, primarily due to a question I always had regarding its sequel The Goonies II. As a kid I was never entirely certain whether The Goonies II on NES was intended to be a cross-platform direct sequel to the movie itself, or whether there was in fact a Goonies (I) game that I had somehow missed. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the latter was true, and years after that that I finally got around to playing the darned thing; 2018 in fact. This month’s Winter weather provided the perfect opportunity to finally check out The Goonies.

So the Goonies was only ever released in Japan, though it was released on a few different platforms, and had its origins on Nintendo’s Vs. / PlayChoice 10 arcade systems. In this capacity it shares its ‘origin story’ with several early NES releases (i.e. the NES black box games), and in many ways this is a game that would have fit in very well with other early NES releases. The small amount of in game text is entirely in English, so I can only assume that perhaps regional licensing issues prevented this game from being released outside of Japan. The graphics style, the music, and the tight responsive gameplay are all elements that this game shares with other early NES games. In this capacity it’s a bit of a shame that The Goonies never saw a wider release as I really feel like it could have been an NES hidden gem.

That’s not to say that everything is just peachy with The Goonies though. It implements a particularly draconian time limit that I suspect is an artifact of its origins as a Nintendo Vs. game (these were arcade cabinets in which each token bought you ‘playtime’ rather than a ‘full game’ per se). The trouble is that this aggressive time limit is at odds with the exploratory nature of the game. It’s a game that both encourages exploration and punishes you for it at the same time. Rote memorization of level layouts is key to success here, but this definitely robs the game of some of its fun. Furthering this point is that all power up items in the game are invisible, requiring you to plant bombs in specific locations in order to discover. Even this wouldn’t be terrible save for the fact that you can only carry one bomb at a time and you must also use bombs in order to attain the required pickups for progressing to the next level. On one hand I understand that this was a means of extending playtime (it’s not a particularly lengthy game once you have locations and the like figured out), but on the other hand I feel like the game could have been so much better if only for some slightly relaxed time limits.

Still I very much enjoyed my time with The Goonies and I would highly recommend it to any fans of early NES black box releases, particularly so if you also enjoyed The Goonies II on NES.






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