I encountered The Goonies as a kid at a Chuck E. Cheese around 1986-ish. When The Goonies 2 came out and everyone at school was mystified as to where The Goonies 1 was, I tried to explain about the arcade-only Goonies, but everyone thought it was typical Chunk bullshit and didn't believe me. :(

The Goonies was originally released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, a peripheral that never made it out of the country. Nintendo's only port to the NES hardware was Vs. Goonies, exclusively found in the Vs. machines (which were basically just NESs in an arcade cabinet) that were in arcades in the mid-to-late 80s.

Anyway, the only difference between the two versions that I can see is that the Famicom Disk original seems to have larger, cleaner sprites and an overall darker but more varied color palette. They seem to play just the same, and the first Goonies was a great choice for arcades with a much more, er ... arcadey style than the more familiar sequel would end up having.

Mikey takes on six discrete levels in this one. Each level is somewhat maze-like, with multiple screens that you go between using doors in the background. You have to comb these to find three keys and the imprisoned Goonie du jour before you can open the door to the next level. In your way are all sorts of standard platforming challenges like pits to jump, enemies roaming about and booby twaps. Make it through all six levels and you get a harder Second Quest.

The platforming can be a little tricky at times, but is really only a modest challenge at best. If it was just about that, the game would be too easy. The real challenge is in finding everything in the level before the timer runs down. The timer isn't brutal, but it doesn't give you a whole lot of spare time for screwing around. Levels sometimes have useless dead ends and can be a little confusing in general, especially since you're constantly more focused on platforming challenges. Fortunately, if you die you can pick up where you left off in the level with a fresh timer, though depleting your lives sends you back to level one (though there is a hidden continue feature by holding Up+A while pushing Start after being returned to the title screen).

The game strikes a nice balance between smooth platforming and exploration-based challenge and is fun. It's also thematically more on point than the Goonies 2, which was all over the place with portals to other worlds and punching Eskimos in the face and mermaids and etc. You start in the Fratelli's restaurant hideout, then go through four levels of caverns before wrapping things up on One Eyed Willy's ship.

If you liked the general concept and gameplay of Goonies 2 but couldn't stand the sprawling confusing maze and the 3D tunnel bits, give this one a try. It's the foundation of good stuff from that game before they added all the bad stuff to it.


* Gameplay Video