Whenever I have kids, the first movie I'm showing them is The Goonies. When viewed from an adult angle, it's a simple adventure movie filled with whiny little runts, but when I saw it in the movie theatres when I was five, it inspired me the way no movie had ever inspired me. I dreamt that the dark, musty attic in my house was filled with maps to untold fortunes. Every forest, every landfill, every swamp, was an unexplored treasure trove. Beneath every sewer grate lied an impossible maze of tubes and caves, filled with the bones of dead explorers who foolishly perished trying to find secret pirate treasure. It's the very essence of the child-like ability to look at something normal and envision it as something extraordinary, the ability to see adventure around every corner. All this before the cynicism of adolescence and adulthood set in.
Naturally, The Goonies was quite popular. And naturally, there were a handful video games made around the time of the movie in the mid 80s. Four different games, to be precise, which is rather astounding consider they're only based a single movie. Three of these were created by a fledgling Japanese company called Konami, who had yet to flesh out their soon-to-be-popular Castlevania and Contra franchises, but still possessed some pretty interesting game ideas. Nearly all of the games featured some rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Goonies R Good Enough," which naturally is awesome to hear in old school PSG synth.
Back in the early days of video gaming, licensed properties didn't have to be mere platformers or shooters with characters shoveled in - the Short Circuit Commodore 64 title was an puzzle solving adventure game, for example. While The Goonies games never quite captured the appeal of the movie, all of them offered some interesting gameplay mechanics, with plenty of secrets to uncover. And while the American computer versions did a better job of tying in with the movies than Konami's interpretation, the Japanese company did well enough to emulate the adventurous experience of the movie, while creating titles far more in depth than your average 8-bit game.
Created by Datasoft, The Goonies for home computers is essentially a prototype to team based puzzler solvers such as The Lost Vikings. In each stage, you take control of two Goonies, and need to switch back and forth between them in order to finish the screen. (Technically you play as different members in each level, although they all look like stick figures.) In the first level, which takes place in the restaurant, you need to turn on the counterfeiting machine in the attic, which in turn pumps fake money out the window and distracts Mother Fratelli, so you can knock over the water cooler and enter the caves. Later levels are vaguely based on elements of the film, including a section where you need to navigate through steam pipes (which includes a showering man at the top of the screen to indicate when you need to move) and a run-in with the ever-famous Octopus that was referenced end at the movie but was deleted in the final cut (see the Outtakes section on the DVD). There are eight screens in total.
Like most older computer games, The Goonies is brutally unforgiving. Some of the puzzles can get infuriating, especially the ones when you're dodging bats, and the slippery controls don't help. Getting one of the Goonies killed requires that you start each screen over - once you run out of lives, you need to start the whole game from scratch. The Commodore 64 and Atari 800 versions are basically the same, with only minor differences in sound and color. The Apple II version is also very similar, aside from a slight horizontal crop due to the lower resolution. The Spectrum version has completely different (and inferior) graphics, along with much worse sound.
The Famicom version of The Goonies, developed by Konami, is a more typical console style game, although it's a bit more in-depth than your average platformer. You play as Mikey as you go through six stages to rescue all of your kidnapped friends. Each level requires that you find three keys and rescue one Goonie before you can go to the next stage. The first level is the restaurant, the last is the pirate ship, and every level in between takes place underground. Although the first stage is only a few screens long, later levels get a bit more complicated, with skeleton doorways that warp Mikey from place to place.
Although Mikey can only kick his foes at the beginning of the game, you'll eventually find bombs to open doors (which can easily kill you if you're not careful) or slingshots with limited ammo. In addition to fighting evil rats, bats and foxes (??!), you also need to go against the Fratelli family, who inflict a significant amount of damage and can only be temporarily disabled rather than permanently killed - one of them even attacks by singing. You'll also need to avoid pirate ghosts in later stages.
There are a handful of secret items you can find that will help you through your journey, including headphones (to guard yourself from the aforementioned musical attacks), a raincoat (to guard yourself from steam vents), a helmet (to protect from falling objects) and a backpack (to hold two bombs instead of one). However, once you beat a level, it's impossible to go back and get them. Each level is also scattered with hidden gems, which will refill your life when you collect enough of them.
Oddly enough, this version was only released for the home consoles in Japan, but saw an American release in the Nintendo Playchoice 10 Arcade system, as well as the Vs. systems. (I remember calling up the Nintendo helpline when I was a kid to ask why it was never officially released. The poor counselor had no idea why.) It was also ported to the PC-88 and Sharp X-1, two other Japanese home computers, but both have substantially worse graphics and gameplay.
The MSX entry of The Goonies borrows the basic concept from Famicom version, although it features completely different levels and a number of differences. Although you still need to explore levels, the stages themselves are significantly longer and more complicated, as you need to rescue seven Goonies per stage instead of just one. There are still plenty of hidden items to find, but you never get any additional weapons, so you're stuck with the crappy kung fu kick for the entire game. You need to use keys instead of bombs to open doors, and you can only carry one key at a time. There's also an experience meter that increases every time you kill an enemy. Filling this will grant a minor health restoration. This may not seem like much at first, but the game is tough, and you need all of the health you can get - nigh invincible Fratelli brothers are just as much of a pain as they are in the Famicom version (they'll even follow you from screen to screen), and the bouncing skulls are just as annoying. You only get one life, although thankfully there's a password system so you can skip ahead to later levels. The graphics aren't quite as good as the NES game, and the locales aren't as varied either, with most levels simply being palette swapped variations of the same cave tileset. Although the player sprite is exactly the same as the other games, leading you to believe that you play as Mikey, the English language manual seems to think that you play as Sloth.
In 2006, the independent development team Brain Games remade the MSX version of The Goonies for Windows XP and released it as freeware. It perfectly replicates all of the levels but uses new high res graphics, some neat visual effects and vastly improved sound. The sprites now look like super deformed versions of Sloth and Ma Fratelli, and there's a new song which arranges some of the orchestral music from the Goonies original score, which is quite excellent.
No doubt countless kids in the '80s dreamt to see 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 surface, it plays similarly to the previous game, but vastly expands on the exploration elements. Similar to Metroid and Konami's own Castlevania 2, 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. Mostly amusing, 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 of the many items you'll need to find. There are other strange bits of oddness, including the Game Over screen, which features an extraordinarily well 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 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 to explore 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.
The Goonies II also introduced an annoying issue that's still found in modern Castlevania games - 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 from where you die, 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. But 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 2 is still noteworthy for being such a groundbreaking game, and well worth playing through for any fans of the Metroidvania template.
Despite not technically being a Konami property, the Goonies make an appearance in Wai Wai World, a 1987 Famicom game featuring characters and levels based off various Konami titles. The Goonies stage starts off on a pirate ship and eventually weaves its way through an underground maze, filled with evil squids and what appear to be Metroids. You can rescue Mikey, who later becomes a playable character, although unfortunately he is lacking his usual Cyndi Lauper theme song and instead is accompanied by one of the songs from the Famicom games. Other games represented include Castlevania, Life Force, Twinbee, Getsufuu Maden, Goemon and King Kong (from Konami's King Kong 2 Famicom game, another strange case where another licensed property made it into a Konami game.) Outside of the fanservicey aspects, the game's not very good (the sequel is much better, though missing any Goonies stuff), but it's an interesting curiosity.