So people ask me, “Rube, What’s your favorite NES game? Zelda?” Nope. “Ok, how about Mega Man?” Not really. “Then it has to be Mario!” Not even close. Believe it or not, my number one top game for the Nintendo Entertainment System is Goonies II.
The year 1985 was a great year for kids. Everyday Saturday morning children around America would start their days waking up in Masters of the Universe bedsheets followed by a sit down in front of the television to watch such cartoon favorites like Voltron, Transformers, and Thundercats while playing with their Voltron, Transformers, and Thundercats action figures. Mom would tell us not to sit too close to the TV while she poured a nice big bowl of milk and sugar-loaded cereal. She was so excited to surprise us with that free, rainbow color changing Fruit Loops spoon that we’ve wanted for weeks but had to wait until the box was empty… yep, those were the good o’ days. As a kid growing up in 1985, we didn’t think life could get any better, especially with the invention of MTV. Then something magical happened.
Back in the day, MTV wasn’t known for Jersey trash and baby mamma dramas. They used to show these things called “music videos.” These “music videos” were little 3-5 minute movies that were deep in story, usually about love or loss, big boobies, and/or places like Africa or Panama (to this day I still don’t get that song). If you had cable and were under 30 years old, you watched MTV 24/7. As a kid I loved music videos, but at the time the notion of love and sex was just “icky” to a 10 year old. Kids my age were more into Evil Horde Slime, Inhumaniods, and Mattel’s Mad Scientist kits.
Anyway, one day after school my Uncle Rocky (the family’s pop culture guru) couldn’t wait to show me this new video by Cydi Lauper. At the time I thought to myself, “Meh! She’s that Girls Just Want to Have Fun video girl, but it did have Capt. Lou Albano from WWF in it… ok, I’ll give it a shot.” We waited for about an hour and saw this:
After seeing that I almost shit my Hulk underoos. Not only was it was a video for kids with kids in it, being chased by WWF wrestlers in pirate costumes, but it was the first 2-part music video ever made AND it was literally a sneaky commercial for a new movie called THE GOONIES (which was made by that ET and Poltergeist guy, so you know it was going to be good)*. From that moment on, that’s all kids were talking about in school. We hung out near the jungle gym talking about the music video, how the second part of the video was going to play out (MTV held on to it until the movie came out) and how badly we all wanted to see this movie. I was lucky that I got to see it on opening week (friends B-Day party) and I was not disappointed. The Goonies delivered and made every kid wanting more. That summer, every kid wanted to see The Goonies over and over again, which we did, at the theater and then later on VHS.
Other than toys, cartoons, and The Goonies there was another red hot item came out in 1985… yep, you guess it: the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m sure I don’t have to go into great detail about how much that little grey and black box has change human history. The NES was the best thing since… since… well I can’t think of anything better except for Christmas two years later when I opened up a present that contained Goonies II! I was so excited when I saw the box art, that silver background with art very reminisant of Drew Struzan’s movie poster art. You have the Goonies swinging on a rope with Mikey clutching a boomerang, Mouth with a slingshot, and what’s this…? Ma Fratelli holding a captive mermaid in the palm of her hand… OH SHIT, I HAVE TO PLAY THIS GAME!!!
To be honest the game’s intro is kinda weird. It starts with Ma Fratelli on a television… um, ok. She’s telling Mikey/the player that in revenge for putting her and her sons in jail, she kidnapped Annie and dares you to come to their hideout to rescue her. Um, question… who the fuck is Annie? I don’t remember her from the movie. Oh wait, she’s the mermaid on the box, got it! Anyways, your main goal is to find the kidnapped Goonies and free Annie (the Mermaid) from her forced captivity.
You begin your side-scrolling adventure as Mikey exploring the Fatelli lodge hideout, battling creepy creatures like snakes and spiders with only a yo-yo. You begin by continuing to the right, down a flight of stairs to a basement area (just like the film). Then, you venture into a jungle, snow caverns with penguins, and across an Indiana Jones-like bridge with floating android skulls coming at you… WAIT JUST A SEC! I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS SHIT IN THE MOVIE?!?!?!?! Yeah, the levels might be odd but there’s a lot to do and a lot to explore. Along your way, you get to enter doors where the game turns into this weird type of RPG, which I’ve only seen in the Friday the 13th NES game (we’ll save that review for another time).
While exploring these rooms, you have a game options/sidescreen, where you can look through your inventory and use found items to free your fellow Goonies behind bars. With each Goonie saved, Mikey’s life meter goes up. Other than looking for your fiends, hidden doors, and items, you’ll also run into Eskimos, a friendly Fishman with advice(?), and a little old lady that you have to repeatedly hit so you can get a candle which is essential in winning the game. Now, you’re thinking to yourself, “ WTF? Really? I have to sock a defenseless old woman in the face just to get a candle?” Yes you do… repeatedly… in the face. In later levels you fight more of the Fatelli gang including old sourpuss herself, Ma Fatelli. Personally, my favorite levels are the ones underwater where you get to swim around and shoot sharks with a harpoon gun.
Most of my friends growing up HATED this game. Yeah, it’s hard! Yeah, it plays the 8-bit version of Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough over and over again. Yeah, it’s one of those Nintendo games with the annoying bible-long codes that makes you crazy when trying to figure out if that’s a “0” or an “O” that you need to type in. And yeah, there’s a chance that you might get to the last level outside Annie’s cage without a key, without a way to get out, and forced to reset and restart from your last save point… where the hell is that code? Is that an “O”? Fuck!
Other than a few flaws (NO Sloth?) and the fact that it has nothing to do with the actual movie, Goonies II is a lot of challenging fun and gives you’re a real sense of accomplishment when you rescue all your friends, get a smooch from your new aquatic girlfriend, and put that no good Fartelli family behind bars once and for all. Now you may be saying, “Great review asshat, but where I’m I supposed to find a copy of this game now that’s 25 years old?” Well, you’re in luck. Goonies II can be easily found at most weekend garage sales, flea markets, and thrift store usually between $3-$8 or $3-$16 if you buy via Ebay. Happy hunting!
*Turns out it was directed by Richard Donner but kids don’t pay attention to that sorta stuff.