For some reason, I bought Goof Troop when it first arrived on the SNES way back in November 1993. Maybe it was a birthday present for me, this being my month of birth? Ask me for a reason why it was this game though, and I could not tell you. I never watched the TV show that was for sure. Seemed silly to me, Goofy having a kid? Did he even have a missus in that? I could hazard a guess at it being because of the graphics as this was a game which had the ‘look’ that I was in to as a child. Similar to A Link to the Past and Secret of Evermore, I definitely would have went for this just on seeing it in Gamesmaster magazine or CVG.
I still own that very same copy to this day, nestled in amongst my other boxed SNES and N64 games, next to Kid Klown in Crazy Chase and Super Tennis ( I don’t own many boxed SNES games!!). I will still even pull it out every now and then, I probably play through it at least once a year because it really doesn’t take that long to complete. But it is such a blast to play every time I do, not even necessarily because of nostalgia but because it’s a friggin’ fun experience to play even today. A lot of modern day games could learn a lot about doing co-op gaming right through playing this.
No point trying to talk storylines here, it’s a typical 90s cartoon video game featuring a bad guy kidnapping friends of a good guy who has to go save their asses. Keelhaul Pete is the bad guy that Goofy and Max need to get to and… well you know how it goes. If it was the plot we were playing these games for, we’d have given up on a lot of SNES games back in the day. It was all about the gameplay!
At the heart of this little fella is a puzzler mixed with very light combat. I’m not going to lie and big this game up as being one that looks cute but packs a mean punch; it IS cute, but leaves very little for your grey matter to worry about. Other than the block slide puzzles you see in the gif image above, everything else mostly follows a ‘find the key’ method, or trying to tackle a few enemies in what can be an awkward level layout. You get to use items to help you in your quest, with such things as grappling hooks, candles, and bells, but not much more than that. They are always useful though, and the hooks are especially satisfying to use when either creating paths across hazards or knocking enemies over into the water to their grisly deaths. The bell also entertains when rang, as the faces that Max and Goofy pull when they do it are downright idiotic looking but humorous all the same.
Instead of always relying on items to get you along, you can simply pick certain pots and barrels up and hold them above your head, ready to be launched. Basic, but a very important part of Goof Troop. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be found in catching a barrel thrown at you by a bad guy, only for you to then hoy’ it back at his cranium. When the bombs start flying, that’s when things get really fun. Moreso when this is happening during one of the wonderful boss fights found within the game. When you boil them down to their bare bones, they amount to you throwing stuff at the boss to win, but they’re all designed so well that you don’t feel that you’re actually doing the same thing, despite the fact that you are. First level sees you taking on 7 pirates in a battle very reminiscent of Whack-a-Mole. Second has you up against a fire-breathing lackey, and you’ll later face off against skeletons throwing their bones at you and a centi/millipede that tries to drop rocks on your head which, you guessed it, you catch and throw em’ back. It works though, for some bizarre reason it works well.
Sadly, not all is great with the game. The music is quite repetitive, across all levels. You’ll hear the same synth sounds, the same little whistles and bass, the only thing that really changes is the mood with each level. Some of it stays with you afterward, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. These are bad earworms that sadly won’t let go. Often times the music just doesn’t fit in with the level at all, take the pirate level for instance which almost sounds like a mild F-Zero tune. With little in the way of sound effects within the game, it’ll almost sound at times like you ramped up the ‘MUSIC’ setting and disabled the ‘SFX’ one. Some cannons go off with a boom, others launch mini missiles without a sound. Enemies throw swords with not even so much as a ‘swish’ to be heard. It’s a little strange at times but you get used to it.
While the game isn’t difficult (it can be be speedrun in under 25 minutes) it’s a joy to play through that first time. When you play it though, you get a lot of ‘doubles’ popping up. Pairs of the same item, pairs of enemies in certain screens, pairs of bosses, etc. It soon becomes clear that this game was really geared toward co-op play, and if you can get that second person involved it can be really fun to work through together. Where you could previously hold two items in single player, suddenly you’re restricted to just one each, so teamwork becomes a necessity. Max also moves a little faster than his lankier father Goofy, so he can come in more useful when it comes to outrunning enemies. The game is made a little easier with the addition of the second player but it’s worth it for the extra entertainment it brings along with it. Just be careful where you throw that plant pot!
I decided to save the best for last here, and it’s time to wax lyrical about the wonderful graphics. If there’s one thing you could rely on from Disney in the 90s, it was their dedication to maintaining the look of their movies and shows within the games based on them. Goof Troop is no exception, all characters look like they’re straight out of a Disney production and it helps keep your mindset embedded in the Goof world. Even at times when there’s a lot going on on-screen, the game never slows down and the action feels relentless as a result.
The levels themselves look lifted from A Link to the Past and I would argue that that’s quite the compliment here as this viewpoint wasn’t as over-utilised back during the SNES / Mega Drive era as you probably thought. It never feels like a blatant copy for the sake of mimicking a classic however, because the Disney tileset stands out individually and gives Goof Troop it’s own aesthetic from above. Cutscenes interspersed between levels look like scenes taken out of the TV show, albeit in a pixellated form of course. It’s Disney through and through and it shows from start to finish.
This shouldn’t have worked. On paper, it’s just another licenced release featuring characters from a mildly popular early 90s Disney cartoon. There were plenty of other cartoons at the time that were more entertaining and probably more worthy of a video game adaptation than Goof Troop. No-one would have been asking for this at the time and even the magazines at the time gave it quite a lukewarm response. Yet it all came together so well and is why it’s become a bit of a cult classic where retro Disney games are concerned. Everyone will talk about the likes of Aladdin on the Mega Drive, or Hercules on PS1, while very few will likely bring up the daring tale of Goofy and his son trying to save their friends from the clutches of the dastardly pirate Keelhaul Pete. You need to shout it out more; Goof Troop was a bloody good game and still is today.
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