Friday, May 7, 2010

Goof Troop

Platform:  Super NES
Developer:  Capcom
Released:  1993
Genre:  Puzzle-based Action Adventure

The Game
While out on a relaxing fishing trip, Pete and PJ get kidnapped by dastardly pirates and carted off to the nearby island of Spoonerville.  Goofy and Max give chase, determined to save their neighbors.  To do so, they have to work their way across the island, solving puzzles and whacking pirates across the noggins with barrels, potted plants, or anything else they can get their grubby mitts on.

Goof Troop the game, for the uninitiated, is based on Goof Troop the cartoon series, which was part of the 90's Disney heyday, back when both their TV shows and animated movies didn't suck major balls.  It was part of the same great lineup of Disney TV toons as Darkwing Duck, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, the last two of which (in my own personal opinion) managed to equal or even outshine the movies they spun off from.  How the big D's TV branch went from creating top notch entertainment like this to making crap like Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (originally the pilot for a TV series which got nixed, bumping it to direct-to-DVD) is beyond me.

The Characters
Goofy is . . . well, Goofy.  I think we all know Goofy.

Max, Goofy's son, is thankfully here the younger, fun-loving TV version and not the whiny emo teenager brat from A Goofy Movie.

Pete is Goofy's greedy, sour neighbor and (often backstabbing) sometimes friend.  When it turns out that the pirates kidnapped him because they mistook him for their long lost captain, he milks it for all its worth, ordering the pirates about and generally living it up.

PJ is Pete's kid and Max's best friend . . . and about the only thing he does in this game besides get kidnapped and then later saved is worry briefly what's going to happen to him and his dad if the pirates figure things out.

And finally there's Keelhaul Pete, the real captain and the final boss of the game, who's mighty unhappy with the impostor who's shown up in his absence.

Oh, there's also a bunch of pirates, who are trying to stop Goofy and Max, as well as the peaceful villagers of Spoonerville island, who . . . man, I dunno.  I figured they were there to give hints and clues and advice or whatever, but mostly they just spout needless exposition.

The Writing
Very simple, very basic, but surprisingly true and authentic to the show.  The only dialogue and narration is in short cutscenes at the beginning and end of the game as well as between each stage, but I can see what little there is being used if they'd actually had an episode of Goof Troop about pirates kidnapping Pete and PJ.  The characters are in character the whole way, and that's pretty cool.

The Gameplay
Pretty damn good, I must say!  And not just for a licensed product, but just as a general game!  I'm as shocked as anyone might be!  That's why I keep using these exclamation points!  Wow!

The game is primarily puzzle based, trying to figure out what combination of tools (wooden planks to close up small gaps, bells to make the pirates follow you, grappling hooks to grab things, stun pirates, close up large gaps, etc.) you need to get past an area, or what order you need to kick blocks around into the holes so that doors will open.  There's some minor inventory management puzzles, as you can only carry two items at a time, which are surprisingly not annoying and are relegated mostly toward the end of the game, where they add a little more challenge.

There is action involved, what with the pirates that are coming after you, but oftentimes said action is part of the puzzle as well.  Some doors won't open until you've defeated all the enemies in the room, and the game will force you into coming up with inventive ways of dealing with the pirates instead of just straightforward bashing their skulls in.

All in all, big thumbs up!

The Challenge
There were a few puzzles that had me scratching my head for a few moments, but for the most part everything - both action and puzzles - was easy and quite simple.  This is unsurprising and perfectly understandable, however, as the game was almost certainly created primarily for younger children, for whom it would provide a good deal more challenge.  And even though I zipped through the game with little to no problems, I was having more than enough fun that the low difficulty was entirely forgivable.

The only point where I actually did find myself sitting up and taking notice was the final battle against Keelhaul Pete.  It still wasn't all that hard, but he's a mean old bastard, that's for sure.

The Graphics
The design of the characters and rooms was great, marred only by spotty textures.  Being a game based on a cartoon, I think that it would have benefited much more from having mostly flat colors, similar to the visuals in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.  The pseudo-realistic feel that they seemed to be trying for didn't really work out so well.

Still, it wasn't an eyesore or anything.  I probably only noticed because, y'know, I was trying to pay attention to that kind of stuff for the review.

The Music
Catchy, pleasant, and inoffensive.

Y'know . . . Disney music.

The Bottom Line

I really didn't expect to like this game, but I do.  I really really do.  Looking it up on Wikipedia after beating Keelhaul Pete revealed that it has a cult following, and I can see why.  It's simple, fun, and potentially addictive.  It doesn't fall into the same trap as most other licensed games, as well, that being to just make a crappy little half-made game and slap an already existing property onto it.  Capcom could definitely have made this game with original characters and no one would have known the difference, but the fact is that both the Goof Troop setting and the mechanics of this game work rather well with each other, making it where two things that are perfectly good separately have been combined to make something great together.

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