THE GOONIES 2 / Konami / NES

Welcome to The Goonies 2, aka The Goonies: Mikey Drops Acid. I've always pictured this game as the result of Mikey later in life going through some sort of LSD or high-THC medical cannabis treatment for lingering PTSD from his adventures, and him mis-remembering all sorts of additional weird stuff like eskimos, mermaids and beating up senior citizens.

The game builds on the engine of the prequel (which was only available for the Famicom Disk System in Japan and on the Vs. arcade machines in other parts of the world), turning it into a recursive-unlocking non-linear action-adventure a la Castlevania 2, Rygar or Metroid. It's more confusing than most, though, due to the way the game world is divided up.

There are two "sides" to the world that you move through doors in the background to go between, akin to how things worked in the prequel. A couple of things make it more complicated, however. The first is that you enter pseudo-3D rooms when moving through doors, and while these are never very large or complicated, you often have to do really non-intuitive things in them to progress. The other issue is that the world is divided into a bunch of small self-contained chunks connected by "warp zones" in said rooms, and there's no real logical overall structure to it to wrap your head around, you just have to either memorize what doors lead where or make a map.

There is a very rudimentary grid map on your inventory screen, but it really doesn't help much as it doesn't show any connections between screens. I actually owned the cartridge as a kid and completed the game back then, but I freely admit that never would have happened had I not also owned the Official Nintendo Player's Guide, which had a really nice screenshot-based map of the whole game world with the locations of all the items.

The overall maze-like layout is basically just a case of either being willing to make a map, or to have a map on hand to refer to. That's a personal preference thing that I don't feel like I should dock the game points for, as I know some people really enjoy complex recursive unlocking challenges while others just can't be stuffed.

What I will dock points for is the obtuse puzzles in the 3D transitional rooms, however. The most famous example of how bad this gets comes fairly early in the game, when you need to punch an old woman in the face no less than five times to get a key item that is necessary to progress. The only clue to this act of insanity being the puzzle solution is that she's mildly rude to you when you walk into the room. Without some kind of guide on hand, the only real way to make progress in the game is to tediously use every available inventory item on each surface of each room you enter.

The platforming is the same very solid stuff seen in the prequel, but with some refinements and additions like a bigger roster of weapons and protective items. Instead of a kung fu kick, Mikey's base weapon is a much more useful yo-yo, and you'll add a few other implements of destruction as you go including a boomerang and Molotov cocktails.

The only real gameplay complaint that I have is that you'll end up taking a lot of not-really-avoidable chip damage as you run about, and aside from a very rare Konamiman appearance in a couple of specific rooms, the only way to refill health is through small drops from defeated enemies. You'll end up having to stop periodically to grind health from some of the weaker respawning enemies, which can take a few minutes. Good thing there's no timer in this one!

The one clear advantage over the prequel is the music. Some of the song concepts from that game have been further developed and fleshed out, along with a good variety of new chiptunes courtesy of Satoe Terashima, who scored many of Konami's 1980s NES classics including the first two Castlevanias.

The Goonies 2 actually has some of the better platforming action on the NES, combined with a pretty good soundtrack to boot. The only caveat is that you'll have to be OK with mapping / using a map and maybe looking at a FAQ here and there to get through it. So it doesn't have as broad of an appeal as the prequel does, but it still has a lot to like and Metroidvania fans may well find it worth the effort.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video