In the late '80s and early '90s Capcom created a range of games, based on Disney franchises, for the NES and SNES. The likes of Darkwing Duck, Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and DuckTales all made appearances, the latter of which has even been given the HD treatment for modern systems, including Wii U.
One of the more interesting titles was Goof Troop, which was released on the Super Nintendo in 1993. Based on the animated TV show of the same name, it saw you take control of the calamitously clumsy Goofy and his son Max as they embark on an adventure to save their neighbours Pete and PJ.
The four loveable suburban pals head out on a fishing trip that conveniently doesn't end too well for the Troop’s pals, as they end up being kidnapped by plundering pirates and taken to an island that's inhabited by swashbuckling fiends.
It’s hardly the most compelling tale, but thankfully it’s not the main appeal of the game. The basic plot progresses through five levels where you take control of either Goofy or Max in single player, while both can co-exist on the screen should you plug in a second controller. Goofy is quite slow but is also stronger than Max; he can dismiss enemies with just one hit, while Max must smash them twice to have the same effect - though he is much faster than his pop.
The gameplay is based on puzzles that you must progress through systematically to reach the end. It’s an action adventure game at heart, with enemies wandering around each of the levels, becoming trickier to beat or avoid as you move on. Goof Troop stands out from the crowd of Capcom Disney titles as it does things differently, opting for an approach more like The Legend of Zelda than the typical platforming style most other titles adopted.
All the action takes place in a top-down perspective and the visuals do look quite nice. The cartoon element that is indicative of the TV show does shine through in the character’s designs and mannerisms, while the settings are also vibrant and varied enough to keep you interested. The music is set to ultra-jolly as you’d expect, though this can be pretty repetitive after a while and if you spend too long on a particular level you'll be ruing the day this Saturday morning TV show got the green light. You could always mute the TV.
There are five worlds to play through, including the beach, fortress and even the innards of a volcanic cave; each one is finished off with a boss battle that generally involves you picking something up and chucking it at your foe. They’re pretty varied but offer little challenge; even the final boss can be downed before he even manages to get through his entire range of attacks. You can beat many of them by just holding up your arms, catching whatever it is they throw at you and hauling it back at them. It's a bit of a shame they're not very taxing but the later ones will at least keep inexperienced gamers busy.
During the levels you’ll come across several puzzles that typically involve a set area with a certain criteria that needs fulfilling in order to open a gateway. This can range from killing all the enemies on screen, placing all the kick blocks in the correct positions and putting items in specific locations.
The items feature heavily in the gameplay and are vital for your progression. They include a hookshot, which can be used to grab items from afar and can even create a helpful tightrope over caverns; a candle that can light up dark areas; a bell to distract enemies; a shovel to dig up goodies; and a plank of wood that can be used as a bridge over troubled waters.
In single player you can hold a pair of items at once and switch between the two as and when you need them. In co-op mode, each player holds one item and you work as a team to get through.
They’re all used in the puzzles but in truth the solution is painfully obvious in most cases. For example, you’ll come up against a pitfall with a hook on the opposite side and right next to you will be a hookshot. You simply pick up the item, use it and progress. Your brain barely leaves first gear.
Puzzles that don’t involve items are typically more vexing and usually involve kicking blocks into set locations that are marked with a star. Some of these are also exceptionally easy, with the solution almost being laid out in front of you, but others do require some thought and in the later stages there are even fire-breathing totem poles that shoot at you while you wonder what to do.
Making an incorrect move is easily rectifiable – you simply leave the area and return to find everything as it was at the start. This means you can experiment without having to backtrack, which is pretty handy, especially when one of you makes a silly move before figuring out the solution.
As for the enemies, you can defeat them in many ways, picking up pots and other objects and chucking them at them works well, as does booting a sliding kick block. At the start you’ll face some fairly basic foes who potter about with a cutlass swiping at your friendly faces, but others emerge that can cause a bit more stress. Some start catching the pots you throw, others roll furiously at you and a few even breathe fire at you, which is pretty rude even for a pirate.
However, even with all these items and the various baddies occupying the island the whole experience is incredibly basic when flying solo. It’s difficult to get into and the levels aren’t all that enjoyable. It’s clear, therefore, that Goof Troop was made with co-op in mind — the experience is still basic, it’s still incredibly simple, it’s still hilariously easy but it’s just so much fun with a friend.
You’ll absolutely breeze through the levels but you’ll get so much enjoyment out of it as you go. Working together to kick blocks into place, figure out puzzles and kill baddies.
For example, one player can hold the bell and lure an enemy towards them, while the other can deviously boot a kick block to dispose of them. It’s so satisfying and can’t be done in single player. When playing alone you get bored very quickly, but when pairing up this doesn’t happen and you quickly find you’re flying through the levels at an incredible pace.
Other examples of great teamwork involve one player picking up a barrel and throwing it to the other player for them to use on an enemy. It’s usually completely pointless but it’s fantastic to do, especially when it’s done by complete accident; what Goof Troop loses in being too easy, it gains in being so darned fun. You’ll spend a fair amount of time larking about with your friend, throwing barrels at each other to leave them in a daze or luring enemies towards their ultimate demise — Pete and PJ will start to wonder where that totally competent rescue team has got to.
That’s really what’s great about Goof Troop – it might be easy but you tend not to mind as you want to just carry on progressing in order to team up with each other in the next area. However, this does mean it isn't all that long and you can be at the end of game boss in a single playthrough if you're willing to invest a couple of hours.
As you’d imagine it’s not quite the same in single player, as puzzles take twice as long as you can’t just combine powers. There are even some segments where enemies kick the blocks you need out of the way, meaning you have to leave the area and reset. In co-op mode you can distract them while the other player does the work, but you can’t do this when on your lonesome and it becomes a frustrating endeavour as a result.
Goof Troop is an absolute gem of a game when teaming up with a friend in multiplayer. It might be short, the gameplay may be simple and the puzzles are easy but there’s no denying it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience when both members of the Troop are on screen. However, the single player is the complete opposite, the simplistic nature of the game and its low difficulty level makes it tedious and as time goes on you’ll get fed up completing puzzles that were evidently designed for more than one person. If you’re considering playing Goof Troop, it’s essential you have a friend to play it with, as without them you’re not even getting half of the intended experience.