Retro Renegade: The Goonies II (1987, NES)

Goonies2What have I gotten myself into?  The Goonies II is one of those games I am constantly fascinated by. It’s not a particularly good NES game, but it’s a bizarre one that stands out just enough to catch my attention. It’s one of those games I can’t quite wrap my head around, yet can’t help but love. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, or even like it, but look past its strange side and you’ve got yourself a surprisingly solid game.

Fans of The Goonies bewareGoonies II is nothing like the much-loved movie.  At first glance, the cover art looks absolutely badass and reminiscent of the movie poster art, but a few minutes into this side-scrolling platformer and you’ll be in an entirely new world full of snakes, eskimos, penguins, spiders, old people, floating dinosaur heads and bandits.  It’s outrageous, to say the least.

You play as Mikey, exploring the maze-like Fatelli lodge hideout, in search of your fellow Goonies. This later leads you to snow caverns, jungles and many other strange new places that will leaving you feeling very, very confused.  As you explore you’ll find several doors that will lead you into claustrophic rooms straight out of a first-person adventure dungeon crawler — think a more simplistic, albeit vague, version of Shadowgate.  These rooms feature lots of secrets and typically hide various items you’ll need to progress through the game — you’ll even need to sock a poor old lady in the face if you plan on getting one of them!

goon-1In order to fully explore the giant world, you’ll need to explore both the front and rear of the map which you can access by exploring these rooms.  At first, it was really hard to fathom the complex, maze-like map system, but after spending enough time exploring each half, you’ll get used to navigating back and forth in order to collect each item and explore every nook and cranny.

If you played The Goonies II as a kid, you probably didn’t like it, but the sheer amount of exploration is something to appreciate. This platforming/first-person adventure hybrid took risks very few games did at the time so while it had nothing to do with the movie, it offered a unique experience you couldn’t get elsewhere. While there are far better games on the NES, there’s something to say about a game so willing to stand out, no matter how vague the experience may sometimes be.