keskiviikko 18. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Goof Troop (1993)

GENRE(S): Action / Puzzle
RELEASED: July 1993

Disney's fifth syndicated cartoon Goof Troop premiered in late 1992. It didn't quite enjoy the same level of success as its predecessors, but it was another quality show that took viewers back to Goofy's roots in the early Disney classics, in which he portrayed an American, middle-class family man. As per usual, a few months prior to its cancellation, Goof Troop spawned a video game, designed by Shinji Mikami who was to rise to prominence with the Resident Evil series a few years later. Since the show didn't really provide any good material for a typical platformer, Goof Troop turned out an island adventure with the main emphasis on puzzle solving... and not a very fair one.

A goofy train of thought

Goofy, Max, Pete and PJ go on a fishing trip. A huge pirate ship appears out of the blue and its crew captures the Pete family. Goofy and Max follow the ship and end up on an island infested with pirates. It turns out that the pirates believe Pete to be their long-lost captain. Goofy.

Since I've dedicated a few words to every show and movie I've watched thus far when writing a review of a game based on them, I'll do so once again, however I must admit I don't remember a whole lot of Goof Troop. Sure, I watched every episode of it, but the show just didn't stick. I might remember it all wrong, but I believe it was on earlier than Darkwing Duck on each Sunday morning, so in that case it was more or less just a warm-up for "the real thing". Besides, as much as I love Goofy, he's always been a side character in my books, except for those chosen few classic "educational" cartoon shorts. He didn't speak much in those, the narrator did most of the talking and Goofy just blasted out his trademark "YA-HU-HU" scream at key points. Those shorts were hilarious. Goofy didn't really have much going for him as a talking main character, let alone one that was essentially the protagonist of an animated, suburban sitcom.

The Legend of Zelda, anyone?
My personal, kind of lukewarm opinion on Goof Troop was also indicated by my reaction to the game. You've got to understand that whenever there was a new Disney game available, especially one by Capcom, I was ecstatic. My reaction when I heard there was a Goof Troop game coming out? "Uh huh." This game is a cult favourite among some Disney fanatics, but I can't feel the "cult energy" flowing since I was never a huge fan of the show, and secondly, it's not a very good game. It starts off quite decent and balanced, and most importantly, different from all other Disney games, but it loses direction and control over itself in record time.

Well, the graphics are very good, no doubt about that. From a more cynical standpoint: should you expect any less? The music isn't exactly awful, but we're talking about songs that have about five to ten seconds of consistent melody looping, well, just as many times as it's possible within the 20 minutes it takes you to beat one average level in this game - so one could say music really isn't this game's forte.

The game was heavily influenced by the Bomberman series, but since I'm admittedly not too familiar with the franchise (yet), the Eggerland series is the one to pop to my mind on the first glance. You can play as either Goofy or Max, or Goofy and Max, or Goofy vs. Max, just like in Donkey Kong Country, and the idea is to gather items scattered across the island and use them to proceed to areas that are locked by some fashion. A broken bridge needs to be fixed with a plank. You can use a grappling gun to make a rope bridge across a river, if there are grappling points on both sides. And hey, those locked doors... don't tell anyone, but you need keys to open them. There's also a truckload of traditional puzzles, that require you to weigh down buttons with stone blocks you can kick around, to open some gates. By gathering fruit and treasure, you gain extra lives. There's the idea.

Four buttons, three blocks. Four buttons, three
blocks. Four bu... oh, for fuck's sake. Let's try
again, if I can get past those dudes.
Oh, but it doesn't end there, though, and this is where it gets tricky. You also have to deal with groups of pirates and other enemies by using the environment. You can't do anything to enemies by yourself, you need an item you can throw or kick at them. You can also dispose of weaker enemies by using the grappling gun. It's a fine way to go, up until the point you bump into enemies that use the environment to their advantage just as much as you, and downright destroy your potential weapons before you can even properly see one possible solution to the puzzle screen. Finally, you have no choice but to leave the screen and come back, and hope that you can outrun the enemy and kick that block at him before he does the same to you. You can't break the blocks you need for the puzzles. The enemy can, and will, if you're not fast enough. It's frustrating, yes. Tally it up with more than a few completely unnecessary losses of lives, and you've got yourself a deflated ball. Before I forget, you only have one continue. And a password, yes, but that will fail to comfort you when you've already beaten the level with the exception of that one deeply frustrating final screen before the boss. The first level's easy, and fun, but the second level already introduces the game's biggest problems.

There are boss fights, yes, and a few less often recurring enemies that can be categorized as some sort of sub-bosses since they take more than one hit to go down. The first boss fight already shows that they aren't gonna be fun. Every enemy that uses bombs is your worst one, and the reason why is that the bombs explode at random. Okay... but you also need to use the bombs against the enemies to win, by picking them up and throwing them right back at 'em. I'm kind of reminded of Riggs and Murtaugh's bomb disposal in the intro of Lethal Weapon 3. If you still don't get it, those bombs might explode upon touch, and it's a one-hit kill. It's like lottery, you win or lose and there's nothing you can do about it. All you can do is pray for the best. Fair, ain't it?

I'm not sure what to think about this game in the long run, 'cause it's somewhat fun, but its theme is not really close to my heart and the game itself is so God damn unforgiving that it's far from appealing. I would've probably hated it as a kid, especially since I had no touch when it came to even traditional puzzle games. Even Tetris gave me hell. Goof Troop is different, somewhat original and unique, that's its most important good quality, but it could be a way more entertaining game and it's also missing a specific target audience.

SOUND : 6.3


a.k.a. Disney's Goof Troop

GameRankings: 70.50%

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