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SummaryOuch! What do you do?
The GoodDid you ever watch the Goonies? It was a 1985 movie about a group of kids hunting for treasure while being chased by criminals. Sure, it was aimed at a younger audience, and as such, focused on slapstick humour and making adults look stupid, but it managed to pull it off without being overly derivative, which is more than can be said about most live-action kid’s movies these days. Most importantly, The Goonies managed to find an audience beyond the younger generation, and even inspired such games as Mother, whose sequel most people in North America know as Earthbound. Yet, The Goonies never got a sequel. The closest thing fans got was The Goonies II on the NES.
The Goonies II technically isn’t a sequel to the film. Well, it is, but more accurately, it’s a sequel to The Goonies on Famicom. For whatever reason, the original title never got ported over to the NES, so all we got was the sequel. In Goonies II, the Fratelli family has broken out of prison and captured six Goonies, and their friend, a previously unheard of mermaid named Annie. You play as the remaining Goonie, and protagonist of the first game, Mikey, who must free all of his friends to defeat the Fratellis. The plot is paper-thin and largely forgotten throughout most of the game, which is generally fitting of the time period. If you’re hoping for a whole new story for the Goonies, well, you’re not really going to find it here.
Gameplay is completely different when compared to the first game. While the original title was more of an arcade platformer, Goonies II takes a lot of inspiration from Metroid, and provides a large, interconnected map for you to explore. The game is split into two modes, your typical side-scrolling platformer and first-person adventure screens, similar to Déjà vu or Shadowgate. Both perspectives are rather basic, but they get the job done. Despite its adventuresome slant, there are no real puzzles present in Goonies II, besides “use hammer on wall”. It focuses mostly on exploration and memory.
In order to progress deeper into the Fratelli’s hideout, you must collect various items and other implements. Most of them are well hidden behind secret doors or in locked safes. Some items, such as the ladder or spring shoes, are required to advance further, while others, like the bulletproof vest or the zoom shoes, simply increase your chances for survival. Like Metroid, finding new items is incredibly satisfying and rewarding, especially when you come across something that gives you access to areas that were previously inaccessible. Seeking out new treasures leads to a lot of sometimes fruitless backtracking and can result in you getting lost, but it does a great job in motivating.
The music in this game is pretty outstanding. The first song you hear is a well done 8-bit rendition of Goonies R Good Enough by Cindy Lauper, which is as catchy as hell. While the rest of the tracks in the game aren’t quite as memorable, they are just as pleasing. However, many of the tracks sound as if they’re ripped directly from the Goonies on Famicom, and while this may not bother most gamers in North America, it does strike me as somewhat lazy.
The BadAnother thing that The Goonies II inherited from similar interconnected-world games of the era is how obtuse it can be. Like Metroid, Goonies II simply doesn’t tell you anything worthwhile. In the first room that you can enter, you find a hammer, and it’s quite possible that you won’t be able to figure out what it’s used for. In fact, if you don’t have the instruction manual, you may never find out what the hammer does. As it turns out, you use the hammer to find hidden doors and holes in the first-person areas. There’s never any indication that there’s a door hidden in a room, so if you use the hammer in the wrong place, you’re simply prompted with a message that there’s nothing there.
Good note taking is the key to getting through Goonies II, but even that might not help you. I had a page in my password book where I wrote down where warp zones lead, where I found items, and I even kept maps of how to get around the house, and I still wound up getting stuck. In fact, I played through the entire game without ever finding the torch, instead I just felt around in the dark. What was I doing wrong? Well apparently I didn’t realize I was supposed to punch certain walls to get items to appear, something I only discovered by pure chance. Seriously, who the hell would think that punching a wall would yield results? Even the instruction manual is somewhat vague on the subject.
This problem could have been easily eliminated if the dialogue was a bit more straightforward. Ignoring the game’s hilarious Engrish, most of the text is entirely unhelpful or misleading. One lady tells me, “I’m in trouble without glasses. Do you have any?” but any attempt to give her the glasses I found results in a message that tells me that I can’t use them. Apparently, that lady’s quest for glasses is supposed to be a hint that I can use the glasses as yet another way of locating a very special kind of hidden door. Oh, of course! How stupid of me? Instead of telling me that I can’t use the glasses, why couldn’t the game simply say, “you don’t see anything in this room?” Telling me I can’t use them implies that some other character has to use them, not that I’m not using them in the correct spot.
To be fair, the puzzles in Goonies II aren’t that bad. I was able to complete the game without using any sort of guide, so it was straightforward enough, which is rare for a game of this sort, especially one of this vintage. It’s probably because it sticks to a specific set of rules and doesn’t change them just to screw with the player like some other games. However, obtuse puzzles aren’t the game’s only problem. The enemy behavior is so incredibly cheap, it’s astounding. Enemies spawn in plain view, and never let up. It does take some time after you kill one for another to pop up, but it’s strange that it happens at all. They will also park themselves on top of a ladder you need to climb, or on a ledge you need to jump to, and they won’t move until you’ve either killed yourself trying to get past or you simply take the damage they deal you to get by. Speaking of which, the temporary invulnerability gained from taking damage is a joke. I don’t think it even lasts a full second, so when you’re trying to get by an enemy who is planted in your way, you may wind up draining your health. To further complicate things, enemies in later areas of the house do insane amounts of damage and take about a bajillion hits to die. You have to be very thorough when collecting items, or these areas will frustrate.
Finally, who in the hell is Annie the Mermaid? According to the instruction manual, she’s your “best pal” but she never appeared in the movie. It’s absolutely baffling, who came up with her, and why? Did someone really think that she was a necessary addition to the Goonies? Why a mermaid? Why not Sloth, instead? He’s strangely absent. Just to make things extra creepy, at the end of the game (spoiler alert) she’s completely naked and tells Mikey that she loves him. Ew, fish lady.