Author: John Legendoffzelda
A regular game design company may not think there could be anything much to a video game about Goof Troop. But when Capcom was making Disney games for the Super Nintendo, they weren’t just any regular game design company. They figured that adapting a 1990s TV update of Goofy’s famed antics into an action-puzzle title along the lines of The Adventures of Lolo would be crazy enough to work – and they were right. Where Aladdin is the crown jewel of Capcom’s old Disney output, this adaptation is more like its overlooked gem. But that anonymity makes this game a pleasant surprise, because it’s a challenging and rewarding experience, and one of the best co-op games the Super Nintendo could ever get.
During a fishing trip that Goofy and his son Max are having with their neighbors Pete and PJ, a band of pirates take Pete hostage while under the impression that he’s their missing captain (they kidnap PJ too, because why not?). In pursuit, Goofy and Max paddle a rowboat to Spoonerville Island, a tropical Disney’s Jamaica populated by villagers who share the pirates’ impression about Pete. The real captain is a dangerous scalawag, who’ll eliminate his unwarranted doppelganger without remorse. Our heroes can only save Pete if they get to him first. They have to travel across the entire island, a network of beaches and caves that’s crawling with pirates that impede safety and marked with puzzles that impede progress.
The game divvies up the action into a series of static screens that handsomely display the task at hand, and let the player contemplate a solution in that inimitable Capcom way. Combat (if not the entire game) is structured around the use of arms and legs; to kick, pick up and catch. Goofy and Max can kick around blocks into coordinating spots on the ground or launch enemies off-screen with them. They can raise their arms to pick up and catch projectiles that fulfill the same purpose. They also pick up items important to progress, like keys for locked gates or planks of wood to fix a gap in a pathway. Both Goofy and Max control smoothly, though they each have a different set of advantages and disadvantages: Goofy moves slower while taking out enemies with one hit, and Max moves faster while needing two hits to defeat an opponent. The difference in their character designs adds an element of strategy to clearing pirates out of the player’s path. The boss battles are just bigger situations where the player needs to throw items to eliminate an enemy, and they’re simple enough for the most part.
The puzzles are the real meat of this game. The main ones are entire screens reserved for kicking blocks around into designated spots to make a door open or some other similar outcome. Immovable objects like rocks or crates are planted in the ground to guide these blocks on their path, and figuring out the path requires sharp observational skills. The puzzles can be reset by leaving the screen, and the game can be paused to organize a plan in the middle of the action (though not in the way players may expect), but other than that, they aren’t easy. Some puzzles have pirates who can kick the blocks around themselves, either breaking them or getting them stuck; others involve invincible statues that shoot fireballs and only stop when all the blocks have been correctly positioned. Other puzzles involve special blocks that explode a few moments after they’re kicked, and it’s essential to place them where a block needs to be placed before they flash red and blow up. The involvement of items like planks, or using grappling hooks to create rope bridges, constitute secondary challenges that further enhance the gameplay, but the block puzzles are still the real highlight: as complex and tight as a good game of chess, and often as stimulating.
So Goof Troop is a very good puzzle game. Something is still holding it back from greatness, though, and it is the lack of a connection to the source material. The graphics are tropical and vibrant, and such sound effects as Goofy or Max picking up a new item are lovely. But amid all the action, it’s curious that a video game that takes the source material and has the technological capability doesn’t even feature the famous Goofy holler in any form. Along with the busy, whimsical music for each level, and the generic plot, that particular oversight could convince the player that while this game is based on Goofy’s TV show, it could have featured just about anybody. Capcom was really good at meshing Disney properties and gameplay mechanics, yet here the original property seems left out of the meshing.
A less reputable problem is the initial impression that the game is too generous. Cherries and bananas that restore hit points, and rubies that award extra lives, are doled out at a surprising pace. There are even large patches of dirt where players can dig these items up. Finishing a level unlocks a password, and when the player loses all of their lives and gets a “Game Over,” the password is already inputted so they can start the level over. This isn’t a problem, though, and for two reasons: one, the puzzles are just that difficult to finish while fighting the pirates. Two, the multiplayer here changes the experience entirely. With both Goofy and Max in the game, the enemies can be more quickly defeated and the puzzles can be more quickly solved. The generosity is also leavened – the fruit and rubies must now be rationed, as it is essential to keep both players alive so they can finish the game faster.
With two players and only five levels in total, Goof Troop can be finished in a day or so. Even with that in mind, and the dissimilarities it has with its namesake, this is still a rewarding game. It looks good, the combat is simple, the multiplayer is really fun, and those puzzles are just solid. Come to think of it, perhaps Capcom made up for the lack of the show’s flavor by doing something in secret; they made a video game about Goofy where the player is required to invest a serious amount of thought.
Four out of five stars.
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