The Goonies is a classic tale of adventure as a group of young misfits set out to discover if an old map they found really does show the location of pirate treasure. They all know the legend of One-Eyed Willy, and now they have a chance to see after all this time, if it’s true.
Things quickly take a turn when they have to go through Mama Fratelli’s restaurant. She kidnaps one of the kids and sends her own sons after the others, stopping at nothing to get her hands on the treasure first. The stakes are high, and the adventure is fast-paced in ways that would make a perfect video game, and I want to play it immediately.
The Goonies released back in 1985 and its young cast includes Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, and the freshly Oscar nominated Ke Huy Quan. Written by Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg, the movie isn’t short on talent or heart. Despite being more than 35 years old, the story is the reason this movie is still enjoyable today, and it’s this timeless narrative that makes it perfect for a modern video game adaptation. I’m thinking along the lines of a big action adventure like Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider but with teenagers, mafia bosses, and pirates.
Back in 1986, there was a short-lived platformer based on the film, but remarkably it’s been untouched by the video game industry ever since. That’s a travesty. Games with a strong narrative and endearing characters are always lauded, so why hasn’t one of the most engaging action adventure stories ever created been given a chance to shine afresh in a new medium?
The Goonies are a bunch of teens who adventure together, making it ideal for a system that allows you to choose a combination of characters for each objective. Select the teens you most identify with, combine their skills, and hit up that creepy basement before Mama Franelli sends her sons after you, adding a time constriction to your adventure.
Pure escapism is on offer in this tale, alongside the exploration of friendship, the fast pace of a race against the clock, a host of dangers and so much more. If you made a list of action-adventure movie tropes, you’ll probably be able to tick them all off while watching this movie, which is what makes it so perfect as a story. Tropes are reused for a reason, they work.
Of course, some things that make The Goonies great probably wouldn’t make the cut in a game. Fitting in the beautiful relationship between Sloth and Chunk would be a challenge, and Mouth’s Spanish ‘translations’ are immediately hitting that cutting room floor, but there’s more than enough adaptable material here.
The characters are varied, the linear storyline is strong, and you could easily adjust the various dangers faced to fit the medium. An open-world extravaganza with a go big or go home take would be my preference, but you could also rework it as a multiple-ending narrative-based tale like Life is Strange. What would have happened if Chunk hadn’t befriended Sloth? Could The Goonies have snuck past Mama Franelli and gained a head start? And how about that ending? There are several other ways it could have played out.Taking a fresh look at the story and taking it a step further would give new life to the tale, and offer some answers to any ‘what if? questions we’ve all had in our heads since we first saw this movie.
If you want to go smaller, putting aside the whole cost of getting the rights thing for a second, we don’t need to go triple-A scale. There are plenty of indies that have succeeded due to a strong narrative. Games like The Forgotten City prove that interesting characters and a solid tale to build on go a long way. The Goonies has engaging storytelling down, and these days people are less skeptical of short games if the journey is enjoyable like, well, Journey.
I have faith that you could take the story of The Goonies, with its colorful characters, sense of adventure, real dangers, and strong bonds of friendship, and throw it into almost any medium and watch it thrive. Wouldn’t you want to play a Truffle Shuffle card in a TCG? It’s incredibly adaptable, one of my all-time favourite movies, and a tale that needs to be retold in a new way. So Spielberg, help me out here. I really need a Goonies game.
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