While Kingdom Hearts and plenty of other Disney-games will get their time in the spotlight, I thought it was fitting for the holidays to look at a game that was about working together. I have been craving more Zelda-ish games, and my sister always looked upon me as a humanoid reincarnation of Goofy, so this gotta fit as a decent introduction.
Goofy and his son Max are on vacation and have gone fishing. Meanwhile, Pete and his son have been taken away by pirates and it is up to Goofy and Max to save them. The setting is not much more than a simple episode of the cartoon. There are some characters to talk to, and they give exposition on plot-elements you can see coming or give you tips on how the game works. But honestly: the story is just there and Goof Troop treats it as such.
It is not as fun going alone
Goof Troop can be described as a puzzle-heavy and a more linear version of Zelda. Through 5 areas, you will be traveling from screen to screen, filled with enemies and/or puzzles to overcome. Max and Goofy don’t have much to defend themselves with, except for throwing objects they can pick up or catch, or kick blocks in one of 4 direction. Both are actually heavily used mechanics, even for puzzles and boss fights. The puzzles are always a treat, quite the brainteasers and none of them felt too obscure. The bosses are on par in quality: always clear on how you must tackle them, and requiring you have good reflexes and get their patterns down. While not as big of a highlight, the enemies vary in their approach as well, with levels being designed to test your skills, so there are even some strategies to them too. Including the hidden and off-track parts that can lead to hidden goodies and support, all of this makes the game have a decent challenge, with good variety and while always giving you a sense of progression.
Besides throwing and kicking, you can hold up to 2 items that can be found throughout the levels and taken along. These consist of keys, bells, hookshots, shovels, planks, and candles. The keys open locked doors, the planks are for making bridges, hookshots can stun enemies, grab items or make a rope-line to cross from one hook to another, the bells lure enemies towards you, candles light up dark rooms some more, and the shovel can dig in dirt to find health-replenishing food, extra-life rubies or continue diamonds. All items are important and used well, even if some are clearly context sensitive. One oddity, is that you can only dig left and right with the shovel. It is not bad, but definitely strange.
However, if you have a partner along, you can only carry one item each. Yes: Goof Troop is a co-op game and it is fantastic as such. Max and Goofy control pretty much the same, with Goofy dealing more damage against enemies and Max being a bit faster and this is evenly balanced. Having a second player makes the journey much easier and enjoyable, especially due to how easily you can strategize and throw stuff to each other. You can hit each other if the other does not ready themselves to catch, but it only stuns your pal (a good way to annoy one another without destroying the friendship).
An odd, though intriguing design, is actually your health: you have extra lives, functioning almost as HP. You can collect foodstuffs for hearts, but they are easily depleted when you are attacked, and if you collect 7 hearts, you will get an extra life. You will respawn at the same room if you lose a life and when all of them are lost, you will have to use one of the few continues you have. In co-op however, if one player is alive, he can resurrect the other player by simply going to the next room, making the journey much easier and saving up continues to make boss fights a breeze.
From start til finish, this is a fun game that challenges your way of thinking and reflexes. However, while there is a password-system, the game will take you under 2 hours to finish. This makes not just the passwords feel unnecessary, but since it could have easily gone further with puzzles and it’s brilliant concept, it is a shame it does not have more. However, what is here, is satisfying for one good afternoon.
Gameplay Score: 7.5/10
What a lovely island!
While you are only on one small island with 5 levels, there is a good variation between them which helps each level distinguish itself from the others. From beaches, castles and a giant pirate ship, all areas are well designed. The pirates are known for using color-swaps, but there is a good amount of other enemies, so the enemy-variety is not bad and all the characters fit with the style of the show it is based upon.
There is a small selection of music-tracks, but each is a good treat and memorable. They are often lighthearted, yet with strong instruments, with the orchestral Capcom-tone you would find in their other titles for the SNES, such as Aladdin and Breath of Fire. Sound-effects are also well done, and I never get tired of hearing the whistle of enemies flying of the screen.
Presentation Score: 8/10
This was the perfect afternoon rental, but also something I could revisit more than once and test new friendships with. It is incredibly short and playing alone is not as fun, but it is definitely a gem that should be picked up if you have someone to share your time with. Goof Troop will really make you stick together.