Goof Troop! We’ll always be together! We’re the Goof Troop! Best of friends forever! Okay, that’s enough of that, fact is, I never watched this show as a kid, and I had to YouTube the intro just to know that much about it. But that’s the beautiful thing about video games, you don’t actually have to know sod-all about the subject matter to have a good time, and indeed, I don’t in this case. However, I am familiar with Capcom, and their track record for quality titles speaks for itself, so that’s all the motivation I needed to dive into today’s game, 1993’s Goof Troop for Super Nintendo.
Goof Troop takes us to the idyllic Spoonerville Island, a tropical paradise haunted by a band of pirates led by their king, Keelhaul Pete, who was swallowed by a mighty whale. Unfortunately, Keelhaul Pete bears a very striking resemblance to Goofy’s neighbor…um…Pete, and Pete is mistaken for the lost pirate king. Not exactly being a bastion of integrity, Pete, and his son P.J. takes the opportunity to take advantage of the pirates’ hospitality, until the REAL Keelhaul Pete shows up again and takes the duo prisoner, and it’s up to Goofy and his son Max to get them out of this stickiest of wickets.
In an interesting decision, Capcom elected not to make a cheapie side-scrolling cash-in like you would probably have expected, and this turned out to be a good call, as they instead elected to make this into more of a puzzler with light action elements. There are enemies to fight, but you have no organic ability to defeat them, instead, you pick up items like pots or barrels or cannonballs and huck them at enemies, or run them over by kicking heavy blocks at them. There are a few items you can carry with you, like a hookshot that stuns enemies, grabs faraway objects, or can be used to bridge wide gaps at certain points. There’s a bell you can ring to attract enemies and lure them into an ambush, a candle that brightens dark areas and gives you a better idea if you’re about to stumble into an enemy or a hole in the floor, wooden planks to fix smaller gaps between floors, and two types of keys that open locked doors you’ll encounter every now and then. The catch is, your inventory is extremely limited; if you’re playing alone, you only have two inventory slots, and if you’re playing two-player mode, each of you can only carry one item, so you’ll have to make some decisions as to what you’ll think you’ll need going forward and have to make mental notes of where you swapped certain items out should you need to come back for them later.
Aside from the inventory management, the other major point of challenge here comes in the form of sliding block puzzles, where you have to cover panels on the ground with heavy granite blocks. However, when you kick a block, it loses all of its friction unless it hits one of the side walls or another solid object, so you’d better be sure of what you’re doing before you slide one along. Thankfully, you can reset the puzzles if you mess up by simply leaving the screen and coming back. The puzzles start out fairly easily, but as you progress through the game, new wrinkles get tossed in, like enemies being on-screen that can and will kick the blocks themselves, or exploding blocks that put you at a bit of a time crunch. There are quite a few of these puzzles spread throughout the game, and luckily, they’re just the right level of balance between difficulty and solvability that it doesn’t feel lame or frustrating that they’re such a major part of the game. Later on in the game, you’ll also happen upon other little brain teasers, like a spot where an enemy is stuck in a room with a gate, where the switch to lower the gate is inside the room, which requires you to lure the enemy towards you to get him to step on the switch and lower the gate for you.
The controls here are simplicity personified. Y uses an item, B allows you to do things like pick up items, kick blocks, or put your hands up to catch thrown items like barrels and cannonballs, which allows you to quickly turn the tables on some enemies. You can move in all eight directions, though you can only throw items in four directions, a limitation that enemies do not share, though it never feels unfair. If you’re playing alone, L and R swap between the two items in your inventory. There are other pickups to be found, as well, like cherries and bananas that provide hearts that allow you to take an extra hit without losing a life, similar to the rings from Sonic the Hedgehog, and if you collect seven of them, you get an extra life, which you can also score by finding red gems scattered about the levels.
Now, while Goof Troop is a perfectly enjoyable game to play solo, I really got the impression that it’s one that’s meant to be played with a buddy, talking between each other to figure out who should carry what items, who could use that banana pickup for the hearts, and working in tandem to defeat enemies and solve the sliding block puzzles. Of course, there is some room for some frustrating moments, as it’s entirely possible to accidentally kill your partner by running him down with a runaway block or leaving them behind in a dark area when only one of you is carrying a candle, although, to be fair, part of what makes co-op games so enjoyable is the ability to completely screw your friends over for no practical reward outside of schadenfreude, so maybe this was intentional.
This also leads me to possibly my biggest knock on the game: it is short. VERY short, and while I suspect for obvious reasons that this was meant to be a game for younger players who may not have the attention span for an epic, there are only five levels, and playing by myself, I managed to whip through the entire game in a bit over an hour and a half of game time. I suppose this might be stretched out a bit if you’re playing co-op and are spending time talking and trying to figure things out together, but even then, that’s not very deep, and there’s very little, if any replay value to be had.
As you would expect for a game based on a Disney cartoon, the presentation here is quite good. The music is upbeat, the sound effects are bright and bubbly, and the graphics are very colorful and pleasing to the eye. The story is told between stages with static pictures with text captions, but despite the rather small size of the pictures, they’re still rather well-detailed and capture the spirit of the Disney style pretty well. In fact, there’s a lot of little details that add a lot of character to the proceedings. For example, if you accidentally kick into a block that’s already against a wall, you’ll humorously grab your foot as your eyes bug out from pain. If you pick up an item, Goofy celebrates by holding it high above his head with a…well…goofy smile on his face that’s hard not to chuckle at. Enemies respond with a look of shock when you conk them with barrels and pots, and I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed the sploosh of tossing items or knocking enemies into the water way more than I probably should have.
I rather enjoyed my experience with Goof Troop. I was intrigued to see that Capcom went in a very different direction than I expected, going with a more puzzle-heavy concept instead of the expected hop ‘n’ bop action platformer, and I think it paid off nicely. I still think it would’ve been a little more enjoyable to play through it with a friend, but even if you’re alone, it’s still a fun playthrough, even if it’s a bit on the short side. It’s every bit as bright and sunny as the source material would suggest, but still features just enough challenge to make it more than just a straight run-through. I would recommend giving it a go, especially if you have a buddy to play it with, or if you just want to experience a fun little romp that makes you smile as well as think a little bit.
Different kind of action game from what you’d expect, good mix of challenge and fun, visually very appealing, would be a lot of fun as a co-op experience.
Very short, no particular replay value to speak of, definitely allows for the possibility of frustration if two players aren’t on the same page.