Last weekend, my girlfriend and I were laying on the couch channel surfing. She was falling asleep, and I ended up watching The Goonies by myself. But this article isn’t about the movie, it’s about one of the first video games I loved growing up.
As a kid, I had no idea the game was even based on a movie. I don’t think I found out about that until much later in life.
It wasn’t only my favorite, but a favorite of my mother, my aunt, my sister and my cousins. Each of our families owned a copy, and even when we were visiting each other we would argue about who would get to play first (usually it became a thing of “because I’m the oldest, I will play first!)
The game was pretty simple, as games were back then - it took the form of a sidescrolling platformer, in which your character ( I later learned this is Mikey from the movie) traversed various levels to rescue all his friends and find all the jewels. If memory serves, he also had to find 3 keys to open the gate to the next level, and would encounter all manner of enemies such as rats, ghosts, crabs, among others, as well as the Fratelli Brothers who were pursuing them through each level (we thought it was a policeman back then for some reason)
Mikey could defend himself from his enemies by kicking them, and through the course of the game, he would find a slingshot which was much more powerful due to it’s range. Enemies would drop bombs, which he could use to open the safes containing either keys, one of the children, or health. He would also find gems hidden throughout the level, as well as special items such as the earmuffs (they would protect you from the Fratelli’s singing) or the raincoat (protects you against waterfalls in a later level)
There were 8 or 9 hidden items to find, as well as several other secrets such as the Konami man and Steven Spielberg (no idea who he was back then!)
It was fun and mysterious traversing these levels and finding items. Some of the levels were quite big, and the open nature of them was very compelling to 6 or 7 year old me. Also important was time management, as you will notice there is a timer in the top right corner.
One of my favorite memories of The Goonies back then is not of playing it, but of a time I was not allowed to play the game - My cousins, my sister and I were playing at one of the neighbors houses. For some reason, we all decided to go on an adventure - we decided to climb over the back fence, and traverse the open veld* towards an old broken down farmhouse at the top of the hill. This was something we were expressly forbidden to do, which of course made it all the more alluring to go and see what was up there.
Usually, we were allowed to play in the veld, but were not to cross the stream that ran through the middle of it. So we were off on our merry way, all of us except my sister who waited alone in the neighbor’s garden.
We were halfway up the hill, when we heard a shout from the bottom - my aunt had come to get us for lunch, and we had all left my sister by herself. Not only that, we had strayed further than we were allowed at the time.
That night, we were all sent to bed early. All of us, except my sister, who had the NES all to herself and played The Goonies to her hearts content without a sibling or cousin hoping she would die so they could take their turn at it.
So, there you have it. One of my favorite games from back in the day, feel free to share yours, and any memories you have of times you were not allowed to play games! What did you do? Was the punishment fitting? it certainly was in our case!
*Veld (pronounced like “felt”) is an Afrikaans word that roughly translates to “field”, but field doesn’t exactly describe what we call a veld, being an open wild grassland prone to fires. I tried finding a more, ahem, worldy word for it with little success. So, there you go