The Goonies Remake
For those of you not born in the 80s (although I’m guessing most people that would eventually look at this blog would be), The Goonies was THE fantasy adventure movie where a ragtag bunch of kids banded together to overcome the odds to discover a hidden pirate treasure/
dead body/ evil clown. It was the stuff of dreams for most of us, converted to movie form, saying that anything’s achievable in a world full of possibility. Of course that was before people like Nick Hornby and Simon Pegg reminded us that we do, at some point, need to grow up, for better or worse.
Some people however chose not to choose life, instead they chose something else: to remake Goonies and relive their childhood endlessly via a cooperative character switching platform adventure puzzle game. And just like its origins, it’s also balls hard.
Goonies was a licensed game of the movie, and was released on a number of major platforms of the time including the C64, which is the version I grew up with, among others. It also had a NES and MSX release (the latter also receiving a remake treatment) – however in those days licensed games would have different developers for different platforms, making the NES and MSX releases each significantly different to the others. The NES edition unfortunately took the puzzle aspects away and switched it up for a straight forward platformer that… wasn’t very good. The MSX version fared better, but was still a more straight-up platform experience. What is perhaps more interesting is the followup to the NES version, despite the movie never received one (perhaps not for long); “Goonies II” on the NES evolved from its predecessor to incorporate more adventure aspects again. I never was lucky enough to own it but I hear it was considered by some to be an excellent follow up and improvement over the first games. I mean, just check out that awesome cover art. I’m hoping that gets the remake treatment.
Anyways, on to the Goonies Remake. First up, it is beautiful, in a ‘early-90s-pixel-and-no-that’s-not-8-bit’ kind of way. The remake team took the care to recreate tiny pixelated versions of the original characters, which is obviously a vast improvement from the amorphous blobs of the original C64 version my eyes were subjected to. The levels too, have been handcrafted-ly restored with glorious detailed pixel art. The music has also received a facelift (earlift?) in the form of a high quality rendering of the classic Goonies theme song as well as all background tracks being faithfully revised.
The gameplay of course, hasn’t been messed with so much. So, like the original you control two Goonies which can be switched at any time, and each level is usually comprising a single screen and involves a series of platforming challenges to overcome to reach the end. However, what made the original special (for its time), were the puzzle elements. Levels were not a simple run n’ avoid affair but had various obstacles to work your way around, which naturally required the cooperation of both characters. Although, the different characters have no significant difference apart from their appearance, so it’s not as involved as later, similar games, such the Three Vikings).
While it makes sense that the gameplay has not been messed with, being a retro remake and all, this is both a strength and weakness. It’s a controversial matter, whether to tweak and change things, and how much. Here the characters movement speed and especially jumping skill leaves much to be desired, and much of the challenge comes from them trying to move their asses fast enough to not get killed. Not an easy task when each Goonie seems to be carrying 50kg of weights in their shoes. The puzzles themselves are mostly serviceable but sometimes arbitrary or obtuse. In the second level, once you reach a certain point, a bad guy will mysteriously appear on a ladder and fire bullets across the screen. Of course, if you only moved on Goonie you have now failed the level as the other one can not pass the gunman. All these flaws are aspects of the original game and cant weigh on the shoulders of the remakers, however tuning up and greasing up the Goonies’ shoes would have been a nice booster.
Nonetheless, its a short, free, download and a great trip down nostalgia lane with perfectly revised graphics and sound. If you didn’t grow up with the game, you may not find much to get excited about by today’s standards, but if you did, this is an excellent way to relive the treasure hunt/
body search/ clown slaying.
The Goonies Remake
Download: at Classic Retro Games