No doubt countless kids in the 80s dreamed of seeing a sequel to The Goonies movie. Unfortunately, that never quite happened – the closest we got was Konami’s vision of a new Goonies, released for the NES in 1987. On the surface, it plays similarly to the previous game, but vastly expands upon the exploration elements. The Japanese subtitle, Fratelli Saigo no Chousen, translates to “The Fratelli’s Last Challenge”. Similar to Metroid and Konami’s own Castlevania II, there are no linear stages, just a vast world to explore. Once again taking on the role of Mikey, your eventual goal is to save all of the Goonies, as well as “Annie the Mermaid,” whoever that is. Konami decided that Mikey’s kicks were just a bit too wussy, so the default weapon is now a yo-yo. You can still attack with slingshots and bombs, as well as Molotov cocktails and boomerangs.
There are actually two interconnected maps in The Goonies II, dubbed the “Front” and the “Back”. You travel between these by entering through doors called Warp Zones. Whenever you enter a door, the viewpoint switches to a Shadowgate-style first-person adventure. However, there’s very little in the way of actual puzzle solving, as you mostly just need to walk around and punch walls to find hidden stuff. Most amusingly, you’ll occasionally come across a befuddled old man who will scold you by muttering “Ouch! What do you do?” when you hit him – oddly enough, whacking one of them is the only way to obtain one of the many items you need to find. There are other strange bits, including the Game Over screen, which features an animated Ma Fratelli talking smack and dishing out passwords.
Like many older action-adventure titles, The Goonies II is a bit obtuse when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Thankfully, you’re given a map on the status screen, but it’s awfully vague. Additionally, the Warp Zones tend to bounce you all over both maps, so it’s hard to keep track of where you are. However, you can find a transceiver which will help pinpoint the location of certain hostages. Much like the other Goonies games, you begin in the restaurant from the movie and move your way into the basement, but you later explore caves, put on some diving equipment for an underwater area, and fight Eskimos in an arctic cavern. While the variety of terrain is nice, if nonsensical, it feels even further removed from the original movie.
One particularly annoying issue – keys are randomly dropped by enemies, and the only way to find them (and thus unlock the many safes and jail cells throughout the game) is by entering and exiting a screen, killing them over and over until they finally give you what you want. Thankfully, the game isn’t very difficult, as you usually spawn right where you died, even if you run out of lives (although you’re deprived of any keys or additional weapons). Bad guys tend to take too many hits to kill, but it’s rarely a huge problem. Still, let’s not talk about the stupid skeleton heads in the bridge area, which will steal your boomerang if you come anywhere near them. Despite some of these annoyances, The Goonies II is still well worth playing through for any fans of the Metroidvania template.
The Japanese version had some secret messages left by development staff for using the transceiver in certain areas. The English version removes most of these, though there are still helpful messages from other Konami characters like Stinger (TwinBee). At one point you run into Konami Man, as well as a figure named Ambassador Konami, a parody of Osamu Tezuka’s manga character Ambassador Magma. It’s interesting that Konami kept these references intact, even though American gamers wouldn’t understand most of the characters.