Friday, March 30, 2018

Unearthed Treasures: Goonies (MSX)

If you've been reading this blog since its inception, then you come into this piece knowing that 1985's The Goonies was an essential piece of my childhood (as I'm sure it was for most 80s kids). Whenever I state as much, I feel compelled to exuberantly describe my level of adoration for the film by listing the many ways in which it positively impacted my life, but I'm going to refrain from doing so, here, because it doesn't seem like the appropriate time or place. Rather, I feel as though it would make more sense for me to go into depth about the subject in entries that focus on the Goonies-related works that are more relevant to my personal history.

I've chosen this course because I want to reserve this space for a game that has inspired and will likely continue to inspire new memories--new strains of nostalgic resonance. I'm talking about The Goonies for the MSX, which I discovered about six months ago.

Now, you might also recall my mentioning that I've never been fond of movie-licensed games, the majority of which I've found to be a combination of substandard, unimaginative and just plain boring; for that and a variety of other reasons, it's long been my opinion that the two mediums simply aren't compatible. "Movies just don't translate well to the video-game format," I've always said.

And then I remember The Goonies, which has proven itself to be one of those rare exceptions, Spielberg and Donner's magical child-adventure story having succeeded in constructing a viable intersection between game and film. There's something about the The Goonies' world--something about the spirit in conveys--that translates very well to video games. I can't explain what, exactly, it is, but its pervasive presence helps the digital adaptations to so splendidly capture the movie's essence, which is a big part of the reason why I'm so drawn to them.

So I've pretty much enjoyed all of the Goonies games I've played, their group including the Commodore 64 and Famicom originals and Goonies II, which only in recent years I've rediscovered and played to completion.

And the MSX version of Goonies would have placed in that group much, much earlier had I not spent years foolishly overlooking it because I assumed that it was merely a port of the Famicom game (I mean, all of the other computer versions of Goonies were ports of existing games, so it seemed logical to think that the MSX game, too, was a port). I was delighted to find that it wasn't--that Konami had made the effort to craft a genuinely unique Goonies game when it probably would have been so much easier and more economically feasible for the company to simply convert the Famicom game to the MSX format and call it a day. And once it became clear to me that this version of Goonies had its own ambition, I wasted no time in tracking it down and sampling it. It connected with me from the start, and I've been savoring its distinct flavor ever since then.

I'm not saying that Goonies is a wholly original creation, no. In terms of concept and structure, it shares commonality with the Famicom game, wherein you advance through stages by finding keys and rescuing your fellow Goonies. It also shares many of the same items, mechanics and sound-design elements. Really, you've seen much of this before--even in the future Goonies II, which carries its influence. And still Goonies manages to avoid feeling like a simple remix or prototype; it succeeds in carving out a unique identity because it correctly places faith in the idea that interesting level structure, a charmingly simple aesthetic, and an unmistakable sense of atmosphere are some of the most distinguishing of attributes.

And I'd like to show you why that's true. So grab your Goonies gear and come join me as I delve into history and take a look at what Mikey and the gang were up to in the wonderfully mysterious world of the MSX.

Actually, the game's protagonist is Sloth, our favorite cone-headed mutant. The game justifies this switch by presenting an alternate version of the story wherein the underground caverns are part of the Fratelli's hideout and thus the Goonies walk directly into a trap. So now it's up to Sloth, the Goonies' "amiable" ally," to rescue his new pals, help them find the secret treasure, and contribute to saving the Goon Docks from the threat of demolition. It's strange, though: The game's character design seems to betray the notion that we're playing as Sloth; the hero's sprite, with his red hair and normal facial proportions, more closely resembles Mikey as we remember him from the other Goonies games.

Maybe this was a localization error and we're actually playing as Mikey? I don't know. Until someone presents evidence to the contrary, I'll trust that the manual is correct when it identifies the hero as Sloth.

Whatever our identity, the goal is the same: traverse five action stages and rescue all seven of the Goonies (Mikey, Chunk, Mouth, Data, Brand, Andy and Stef, all of whom are indistinguishable in-game) in each one. The game contrives their repeated abduction via a recycled cut-scene in which a celebratory Sloth is coldcocked from behind by a freakish-looking Fratelli, who takes advantage of the big guy's immobilization and recaptures the apparently helpless Goonies.

So the Fratellis have imprisoned the Goonies within individual cells, each of which is sealed shut with a locking mechanism. If we hope to release them, we have to obtain keys, which are seen scattered about stage-wide, and use them to undo the locks. Cells can be secured by either one or two of these locks; those secured by the latter require a return trip, since you can only carry one key at a time. And after all seven Goonies have been rescued, you can exit the stage via its now-unsealed blue shutter.

Of course, the process is not so simple: More so than simply opening doors, saving the Goonies entails the careful traversal of multiple-screened, often-labyrinthine "scenes," as the game refers to them. Each stage is broken up into five separate scenes, between which you can move using the specially placed skull-shaped entry ports. Successful navigation requires figuring out how these scenes connect and finding the most convenient route through them. If you're willing to thoroughly explore a stage, you'll likely discover its most optimal path.

Naturally you'll also encounter a number of enemies and deadly hazards along the way. I'll make note of them as they appear (though, if you've played either NES title, you probably already know what to expect).

Goonies' control scheme is very basic: We have a lone offensive move--a punch, which we can execute by pressing the fire button/key (the former for me, since I'll forever be in the "controller" camp). And since this is a one-button game, we're stuck having to press up to jump, which honestly works fine but isn't preferable to more-dependable button input. Sloth's jump covers a fair amount of ground, but its height and distance are fixed, leaving him no margin for error. At the least, he can use it to reliably jump over enemies of all shapes and sizes; though, it's more advisable to punch them, since they fall in one hit and consequently dematerialize, their absence leaving more in the way of easily traversable space.

While Goonies is altogether in consonance with the Famicom game in how it handles the HUD and inventory elements, it does make a unique contribution to the formula: a green experience meter that fills up as you dispatch enemies, the amounts varying depending upon their strength-level. When the meter completely fills, a large portion of your vitality meter will be replenished. You'll want to remain conscious of this fact and prioritize keeping your experience-total high because a single death ends the game.

Procuring any of those from the game's assortment of items will also help to improve your odds of survival. First you have the game's two most frequently appearing items, the appearances of which adhere to some form of logic: There are Vitality Drinks, which replenish a small portion of your health; these are hidden within the aforementioned cells, not all of which contain Goonies. And then there are Doubloons, which award 500 points; in certain rooms, these suddenly appear after a set amount of time has passed; thereafter, they continue to trail along the ground, sometimes across multiple screens, until they're collected or until they hit a second wall after rebounding off of a first. (Rescued Goonies, for the record, are worth 2000 points apiece.)

Otherwise, you can trigger the appearances of treasure sacks via any number of arcane movements or actions (moving or jumping about inconspicuous-looking empty spaces, for example, or punching enemies in a very specific order). These sacks hold all sorts of unique items: There are colored football helmets and raincoats that protect you from certain hazards. Shields that guard against projectiles. Spell books that raise your strength- or defense-level. Hyper shoes that increase your speed. Flashlights that reveal the locations of treasure sacks. Clocks that freeze time for a few seconds. And hammers that prompt Doubloons to appear at a higher rate. Note, though, that these inventory items are temporary; it's either that their effects last a limited amount of time or they degrade as they take abuse.

Yet you're not always guaranteed to find reward. That is, some harmful weapons have been thrown into the mix, the idea of their presence working to add an element of chance and generate a sense of apprehension. You might wind up with an item that serves to hinder your progress--one like, say, a Book of Error, which will imbue certain enemies with a status-boosting effect, perhaps permanently increasing their speed or aggressiveness. I do believe, however, that the respective treasure sacks always holds the same items, so a little memorization might help you to avoid picking up the bad ones.

And that's about it for the basics. I'll cover everything else as we go.

As you can see, this version of Goonies is graphically simplistic in comparison to its Famicom counterpart. It has that primitive "ColecoVision" look, as do most first-generation MSX games. Really, its visuals are best described as a rough approximation of the Famicom game's, which is fine. That's what makes it stand out--what provides it a distinct air. Now, you might think that I'm expressing as much only because I have an inexplicable fondness for the simple, rudimentary visuals of early-era 8-bit games, and, well, you might be right; yet I'll continue to maintain that their crudely rendered visuals are a huge part of what makes these old games so appealing--of what provides them their enchanting aura. What others would call "old," I'd call "tactically minimalistic"--an endearing "style" for a modern age in which none share this particular aesthetic.

The stage's musical theme is a pretty good 8-bit rendition of the Goonies main theme, the likes of which we've heard in all other series games. In comparison, this one is a bit faster-paced and has a more-ringy quality to it; its bassline is comprised not of percussion but instead a series of booming lower notes. All the same, it does well to establish a rhythm and a tempo while functioning as an invaluable source of atmosphere-defining resonance. That it performs this role so well is not a surprise: Konami always did an excellent job of translating The Goonies 'R' Good Enough to chiptune format and capturing what it was that made it such a wonderfully characterizing piece.

A secondary theme plays in some other scenes. This one is spooky and mysterious-sounding. It makes you feel uneasy, as if you're surrounded by unseen dangers; its ghostly strains, alone, are a considerably haunting force in places where all is quiet and the atmosphere appears to be calm. It's a simple, modestly written piece, yes, but it's nonetheless effective.

And that's the extent of Goonies' musical accompaniment. Save for the between-stage jingle, these two themes are just about all you'll hear during gameplay.

Goonies' mode of navigation is most similar to the Famicom game's: You platform about from screen to screen through areas that are comprised of either four or five rooms. You move between areas using the aforementioned skull-shaped entry ports. And you ascend to rooms' higher levels via vines, which you climb only from their top or bottom connecting points; likewise, you're allowed to disengage only when you've arrived at either of these same points. So once you make the choice to climb, you better be ready to commit to it; there's no jumping off.

Gauging the first couple of screenshots will tell you all you need to know about the game's variety of setting, which is to say that there is none. Every action stage takes place within a cave whose differentiating environmental detail is merely a change in color shade, normally from red to blue to green. This is the only aspect I found disappointing; I was hoping that the action would eventually transition over to the Fratelli's wooden hideaway, with its outdoorsy background, or One-Eyed Willy's pirate ship, but instead it continued on the path of homogeneity. I wouldn't say that the lack of unique settings hurts the game's quality, no, but it does work to rob it of the sense of progression and ultimate culmination. Konami had no reputation for being lazy, so I can only assume that the game's graphical uniformity is the result of the developers' inability to cram additional graphical data onto the cartridge, whose storage space was a mere 64KB.

You'll learn a lot about the game's mechanics on the first few screens. They allow you the opportunity to engage in the process of procuring a key and unlocking a cell, and they provide great insight into how the enemies and hazards function. Immediately you're acquainted with the designer's favorite hazard: the annoyingly-omnipresent stalactites, which drop from the ceiling when you move to within proximity of them; and you'll most assuredly walk into it. The lesson you'll take from this is that you should always be paying attention--always be making sure to observe room's ceiling structures, which are likely to be rife with these stalactites. Take no comfort in knowing that some of them don't fall; just assume that all of them will. Also, you'll learn that you don't want to make contact with the inexplicably deadly water drops, which leak from certain surfaces at a fixed rate.

One screen over, you'll encounter water streams, which at regular intervals cascade out from the background's rectangular crevices; rather than inflicting a set amount of damage, these streams slowly drain your health whenever you're standing within them. The successive screen introduces one of those bobbing chained boulders that seem to appear in every Goonies game; get caught standing beneath it as it lowers or standing atop it while it resets to its starting position and you'll be crushed, the result an instant death. While they represent a grave threat, their presence can sometimes actually work to your benefit: It turns out that enemies, too, are susceptible to the boulders' crushing effect; hell--they'll even perish if they walk into the side of a boulder as it's lowering. So you'd be wise to tactically bait them toward these boulders whenever such an opportunity arises. Note, though, that both player and enemy alike can safely pass through the linking chains.

On the subject of enemies: You'll encounter the basic types in this first scene. Lurking about are skull heads, which patrol back and forth over a given area, and bats, which continually emerge from certain cave openings and fly toward you in a wavy pattern after seeking your level (and they'll continue to hound you in this manner until they're dispatched).

Of course, you'll also be constantly pursued by the Fratelli gang members, who function differently from the normal enemies. You could even say that there's something highly reminiscent about the way they operate. That's because it's true that they're patterned after the mummies in King's Valley, whose engine, I soon realized, is powering this game (it didn't hit me until I'd spent some time gauging their behavior and AI routines)! As do the mummies in King's Valley, the Fratellis behave somewhat like the ghosts in Pac-Man; that is, each specially colored Fratelli possesses unique attributes and engages in a specific routine. What they all have in common is the ability to move about a scene as they please--to follow you around from room to room and cagily lie in wait near screen edges. You can't kill them directly; punching a Fratelli will merely immobilize him for about four seconds, a period during which it's in your best interest to flee--put some space between Sloth and his aggressive pursuer. (A Fratelli will completely disappear from the scene only if it's crushed by a boulder.

Here, in the opening moments of Stage 1, we meet the yellow Fratelli, whose physical abilities are equal to Sloth's. He can jump long gaps, climb on vines, and inflict damage through direct contact. He'll pause intermittently to fire a single bullet from his gun; the frequency of this attack becomes greater when both he and Sloth are currently on level ground (or close to level ground, as some platforms are placed only a few pixels higher than others). Later on we'll meet the blue Fratelli--a lower-level goon who moves much slower and fires his gun with far less frequency. The only time he poses a threat is when he's paired with his ever-more-dangerous yellow comrade, whence his presence serves to clog up your escape routes.

And these are the dangers with which you'll contend as you trek across the stage's five scenes. These spaces include the opening red-colored caves, which are purely introductory. The mysteriously tinged all-vertical blue area, whose navigation requires some calculated vine travel. A green area into which is concentrated a large helping of the aforementioned perils. A pipework area wherein damaging water spouts regularly emerge from either one side or both sides of certain pipes; in the latter instance, the spouts can emerge either simultaneously or at varying intervals, which will put your sense of timing to the test. Like the cascading streams, water spouts will slowly drain your health whenever you're standing within them. And then a final red area whose bottom portion houses the stage's exit point--the blue shutter, which will remain sealed until all seven Goonies have been rescued.

You can exit the stage immediately after saving them, yes, but you might want to stick around for a few extra minutes and do some exploring--search for treasure sacks and procure items that might help to offset some of these dangers, whose frequency is set to increase in the coming stages.

Though, you'll earn perhaps the best reward for clearing a stage: a password that'll allow you easy access to the next stage. If you care about such (and I certainly don't!), the only downside to using a password is that your previous point-total doesn't carry over. The passwords are of course all referential, each matching a name or term we remember from the movie (Goonies, Mr. Sloth, Goon Docks, Doubloon and One-Eyed Willy). What the game fails to explain, though, is that the actual password screen is hidden; you have to press Ctrl plus K at the title screen to access it. Even the manual is bereft of this information.

Ah--the days when option menus were among the games' biggest secrets.

Since all stagess hereafter follow this established formula, and the game continues to recycle the previously discussed/depicted environments, the rest of this piece will focus more on the mechanical aspects.

First I should mention that keys carry over between stages, which kind of feels like an oversight. I mean, the game isn't exactly stingy when it comes to its provision of keys; you can expect that a given stage will already be home to an ample number of them, their total normally exceeding that of locks. So being in possession of that extra key works to diminish the game's procedural aspect and the challenges entailed.

Still, an advantage is an advantage, and it might be wise to seize it. This is an old-school-tough video-game, after all. It makes sense to be thankful when a game of its type decides to be generous.

Stage 2 introduces the green Fratelli. He's the fastest-moving of the bunch, but he lacks a weapon. Though, the former attribute more than covers for the latter, because here, in the generally leisurely paced Goonies, speed kills. Greeny moves one-and-a-half-times faster than Sloth and tends to constantly gravitate toward him, so his presence should always be met with concern--more so when he suddenly comes into the picture when you're climbing a mile-long vine; if he, too, is climbing that same the vine, then chances are high that he's going to catch you. As you're defenseless during this period, all you can do is hope that you're nearing a connecting point. Also, his threat is magnified when the surrounding activity is hectic; since you're now forced to think and act with haste, that is, it becomes likely that your actions will carry an air of recklessness--that in the panic you'll begin miscalculating jumps and unintentionally running into enemies and hazards.

Be aware that Fratellis like to unexpectedly drop in from the screens above, and they can do so at any time. You should exercise caution when (a) you're aware that one or two of them (and memory limitations dictate that there will never be more than two of them onscreen at a time) is in the vicinity and (b) you're on the top level of a screen that's adjacent to one overhead.

There are also two new minor enemies: The first you'll encounter is the patrolling skeleton. As you'd expect, the skeleton generally travels back and forth over a given area, yet you'll soon notice that those of its type have been assigned a strange quirk; basically there's an element of erraticism to its movement, which leads to instances where it'll suddenly cease moving forward and act indecisively--essentially spin in place--before either continuing along the logical course or turning back in the other direction. So if you're planning to slip by a skeleton after it passes, you have to account for the possibility that it'll suddenly turn and begin chasing you down. Also, skeletons can throw horizontally-moving bones, but there's no rhyme or reason to when they decide to execute this attack. You could be standing right in front of a skeleton--rendering Sloth a prime target, you'd think--and yet there's a high probability that it'll refrain from throwing even a single bone. It's completely random, I tell you.

The other new enemy is a variant of the aforementioned skull head; this type jumps over you whenever you approach it. This poses a problem because the unexpected motion is certain to surprise you--cause you to freeze rather than continue your forward momentum, the halting of which will result in the skull head landing on top of you. Without possessing advanced knowledge, it's impossible to tell the difference between a regular and jumping skull head, so you'll have to apply a newly cautious approach whenever you're in proximity to one.

Keep in mind that minor enemies respawn after a certain amount of time has passed. It seems that this period of expulsion shortens as you progress further into the game. Also, much like the mummies in King's Valley, enemies can willingly despawn themselves and reappear elsewhere.

Another element borrowed from King's Valley: trap walls, which suddenly lower from the ceiling when you pass through unmarked trigger points; their permanent locking in place cuts off your direct access to certain screen portions and forces you to travel more-circuitous paths to access them. Though, it's not a total mystery as to the places from which these trap walls are likely to appear; you can anticipate that one is likely to emerge from a stumpy-looking ceiling structure.

Stage 3 introduces the gray Fratelli, who attacks using song (an obvious reference to Jake Fratelli, whose Italian opera singing had to it an abusively harsh tone). That is, he pauses before emitting a trio of notes that act as a spread shot, the attack's range extending the length of the entire room. The two diagonal notes are particularly troublesome because they travel at 25-degree angles and they're large in size, their particular trajectory allowing for little in the way of safe space--especially during the attack's earliest moments, wherein the notes are still tightly grouped. The best solution is to try to remain directly above or below him, doing which takes you completely out of the firing line.

And we've got two new minor enemies: First is the bouncing skull head--yet another variant of a now-familiar pest. There's no mystery about how it operates; it has no surprise maneuvers. No--this variety of skull head is always observed to be hopping along a surface. When attempting to deal with one of them, you can employ either of two tactics: run beneath it when it's airborne or time it so that you can connect with a punch right as it lands.

And later on you'll begin to encounter ghosts. These spectral menaces emerge from certain cave openings when you move to within their central trigger points. A ghost will continue to haunt you until you leave the screen; it'll stalk you by moving in short bursts, its movement such that evading it will require a combination of tactical baiting and some deft maneuvering. Otherwise, you can kill it with five punches, each serving to slow it down and alter its color, the change in hue designed to inform you of its current damage-level. Ghosts slowly drain your health for every moment the two of you overlap, so it's probably not even worth it to approach or engage them; it's better to promptly exit and reenter the screen, which will reset its activity. The second time around, you'll know to jump over the cave opening in question.

There's also the first new hazard we're seen in a while: rising flame pillars. You're given no indication of where they are. No warning. You won't know that a flame pillar is positioned right in front you until it unexpectedly flares up and swallows your face (well, unless you're the type who prefers to move about slowly and meticulously, in which case you may very well avoid running into these flames after triggering them). Flame pillars are another of those health-draining hazards and probably the most damaging of their type.

As was true in King's Valley, the enemies lurking on the adjacent screens remain active even when confirmation of such isn't being visually communicated. This is something you'll always have to consider as you transition between screens. If you know that a skull head's patrol route entails a platform that extends over to the next screen, you'll want to avoid entering it from that point. If you suspect that an unseen Fratelli has maneuvered his way up to or down to your current level and is waiting to ambush you, you might want to transition via an entry point on the extreme-opposite level. You know--prevent a scenario wherein you collide with him the moment you enter the room.

In general, Stage 3's passages and corridors are more crowded than those traversed in the previous stages. Its screens are bursting with activity. Here you'll find troublesome combinations of the aforementioned, like crushing boulders placed close in proximity to water drops--the respective hazards continuing to function at their separate paces, their negotiation, therein, becoming a matter of careful calculation. I can't say for sure, but it also seems as though the minor enemies' movements are growing faster in each successive stage.

What is for certain is that skeletons have since gained the ability to leap over gaps, theirs a newly displayed stalking attribute.

The point is that we've arrived at the juncture wherein Goonies starts to get a bit rough. I suspect that this is where the average player will routinely meet his or her demise. To those who identify as such: You'd better keep those passwords handy!

Stage 4 is the point at which the game pretty much exhausts its bag of tricks. The developers attempt to disguise this fact by turning to their only remaining resource: palette-swapping. Water pools have now been changed to lava--their red hue indicating as much--as have cascades, which, oddly, drain health at the exact same rate as plain ol' water. I mean, you'd think that a super-heated substance would be far deadlier. It's too bad that it isn't, I say; their programming lava streams to possess such an attribute would have made for some effective differentiation.

Also, Stage 4 is the site of the game's one and only yellow-hued area. Bask in its distinct glow while you have the chance.

I do appreciate how the game makes references where it can. It's a nice touch, for instance, that any platform that connects two ledges is observably a log bridge, the likes of which we saw in the movie (in the "slick shoes" scene). "The smallest touch can sometimes make all the difference," as I always say.

I'm just discovering this now: The process of transitioning to a lower screen isn't limited to vine-travel. No--unlike in the Famicom game, you can safely jump or drop down to a lower screen, any open space a viable entry point. There are no death pits in MSX Goonies. Yours is a license to throw yourself about as you please--to navigate any open space without fear. Mostly, though, employing this tactic helps to speed up the game's pace.

Perhaps betraying your expectations, Stage 5 is the most-compact, least-labyrinthine of the group. This becomes apparent in scene 21-03 (found one screen down from the starting point), whose design is such that your eyes will be drawn to its middle-right portion, where you'll see four keys concentrated into a four-tile space. It's a given that you'll have to repeatedly cycle around to this portion of the screen, since the stage's locks- and keys-total are about equal.

But the stage isn't short on challenge. Oh, no--it throws everything at you. Most of its rooms feature piles of enemies and hazards. And if you're somehow able to endure it all and escape after rescuing all seven of your pals, then you will have conquered Goonies for the MSX. And that's it. The game promptly ends the moment you exit through that blue shutter. There's no end boss or ultimate final challenge to be found.

Your reward for completing the game is an altered version of the between-stage cut-scene. This time, Sloth KOs the freaky-looking Fratelli before he has the chance to recapture the Goonies. He and friends then celebrate their victory with a chant of "Good enough! Goonies!" Moments later, the game cuts back to the title screen.

Thus ends another very enjoyable MSX game.

Closing Thoughts

I'm not surprised that Goonies has continued to resonate with me. Signs that such was likely were present even early on, during the first minutes I spent with the game; it wasn't long before I'd been drawn in by its simple aesthetic--Goonies' another wonderfully remindful representation of what computer games looked like at the time--and the way it conveyed atmosphere. It was like I'd been transported back in time to 1985.

And no--a game doesn't come to possess such a quality simply because it's old. It has to do something to work to that end. It has to signal to you that its creators were reaching for that goal--that they were endeavoring to capture the spirit of the era and through their design efforts proudly express how it so inspired them. That's the story Goonies does well to tell.

It's also a fun, challenging platformer. It exhibits the type of pure old-school action that's synonymous with the era's best arcade-style games, which is to say that it keeps you engaged at all times. Goonies has no desire to beat around the bush, no; immediately upon making your acquaintance, it propels you into a world of danger. And then it doesn't let up; never once is there a lull in the action. The game's frantic activity is such that you're compelled to constantly stay in motion, lest the forces of evil will soon track you down.

As I reflect upon my experiences, the word engrossing keeps coming to mind. That's how I would describe Goonies--in terms of how it looks, sounds and plays. It does a great job of pulling you into its world.

And Goonies' is the perfect length. Five stages may not sound like much, but the developers were correct to settle on that number. They stretched the concept as far as it could go and stopped before tired repetition became the order. Had the game gone on any longer, it might have worn out its welcome.

Goonies knows its role and performs it well. It's not one from the group of big-budget, grand-in-scope epics, no, but instead a game that so excellently complements those of their class by providing entertainment in a quick, to-the-point manner. I liken it to games like Trojan and Renegade--games that were designed specifically to keep you engaged for a half hour or so. Games that were designed to provide a the player a short, dependable experience during periods whence all he or she desires is a brief burst of fun.

Also, Goonies provides us a lot of insight into how Konami was able to evolve King's Valley's formula and create what is basically the template from which future Goonies games and many of the company's other action series borrowed. I can see its influence even in Castlevania titles--particularly Vampire Killer, Simon's Quest and Rondo of Blood. Had I not chosen to delve deeper into MSX history, I might've remained forever ignorant as to these connections, which would have been a tremendous shame. Thank goodness I decided to take the journey; there truly is fulfillment in knowing.

Now that I've had the chance to play through all of Konami's Goonies games, I feel encouraged to commend the company for how it respectfully put the license to use. Each game is a classic for its respective system; each is able to evoke nostalgic feelings in its own special way.

That's how I regard the MSX version of Goonies--one of the most solid of supporting pillars. It's a fun arcade-style platformer upon which you can count to deliver both a quick, satisfying action-game experience and a comforting nostalgia trip. It's a game I'll be sure to revisit every few years, even if it's just for a few minutes, whenever I'm on an MSX kick and in the process of reminding myself why it's such an alluring platform.

And it's a certainty that I'll have held to the opinion that Goonies is good enough for me.

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