When I bought my Twin Famicom my first problem with picking games was the language barrier. I can’t read a word of the language and the only word I know is konichiwa which I think is good morning, yep it seems I’m a language Luddite. With this in mind I set out to buy as many text light action games I could get my hands on and the Goonies was in the first pile of games I received. Released by Konami in 1986 I was surprised to learn that the game never made it past the shores of Japan except in the NES Play Choice 10 arcade cabinets. What makes me scratch my head is that the sequel (Goonies 2) was released worldwide and must have confused a lot of kids who couldn’t buy the first game.
The cart itself cost me a couple of pounds and seemed to be in pretty good condition. Although when it came to cleaning the cartridge connecters I had to use 4 cotton buds coated in large amounts of Ethanol. It seemed to be covered in filth but it wasn’t just this game as every Famicom cart I cleaned suffered the same way and seeing as I bought a large amount of games from different eBay sellers I have to wonder just where all this grime came from. So 30 minutes of cleaning later and I finally had chance to play the game!
There is no Japanese text to be seen throughout the game and besides the words Timer, Life and Score on the top bar it’s plain to see that this is a pure arcade platformer.
You play as Mikey, the main character from the film and it’s your job to save all the other Goonies, dodging the Fratelli family, running, jumping, and kicking the various other enemies along the way. Each enemy carries a small blue bomb, by running up to them and planting a kick to the head forces them to drop it. This can then be used to blow open Skull doors that hold a key. The enemies respawn quite often so you only have a few seconds after stealing their bomb and if you don’t pick it up in time another enemy will take it. Once you have 3 keys you can move to the next level but you can also save a fellow Goonie (5 in all) which if you manage to make it to the end of the game with all of them reveals a special ending.
You start in the wooden shack of the film and progress down through to the basement. Each level represents a different part of the story and although it’s limited graphically Konami seem to have the most important sections (such as the waterfalls and caverns) in place with the final level being set on the pirate ship. The game can be quite easy to work through but the aim is to save all the Goonies and make as many points possible so it’s purely a quick pick up and play arcade title. In no time at all I was running through the levels, using bombs, saving the team and all without any form of instructions. It controls really well and reminds me of an old Atari 2600 game (Popeye). I have completed the game several times but it’s more because it’s an enjoyable journey than a need to see the end.
Being my first real entry into the world of Famicom gaming I have my fingers crossed that the rest of the games will be on par with this. I would be interested to know just why this never received a release because there is no translation required as there just isn’t any text that needs it so the only thing I can think that held it back was some sort of license issue. If anyone knows more about this then please feel free to leave a comment.