If asked to name a Super Nintendo game starring an anthropomorphic bobcat, chances are that most retro gamers would cite Bubsy. Well, Bubsy ain’t the only bobcat in town! Bonkers D. Bobcat is his name and preventing crime (in his own bumbling way) is his game. Developed by the almighty Capcom, who had an impressive track record with Disney licenses, surely we were in good hands. Surely, right? Right…
THE DISNEY AFTERNOON
Growing up in the early to mid ’90s was awesome. The Disney Afternoon ruled the airwaves on weekdays from 3 to 5 PM. With classic shows such as Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Aladdin and Goof Troop just to name a small handful, the Disney Afternoon was a huge part of many childhoods. Bonkers was one of the lesser known entries; the Disney Afternoon was clearly on the decline by the time Bonkers made its debut. 61 episodes ran from February 28, 1993 to February 23, 1994.
THE STORY GOES…
Behold: Magic Lamp, Sorcerer’s Hat and Mermaid’s Voice!
Never trust a ghost with a mallet my dad always used to say.
Lightning strikes and thunder rumbles… and of course, the prized treasures go missing! Meanwhile, somewhere in the city…
Pretty standard platforming 101 stuff here. You start out in the mansion and then have a choice between the studio, downtown and ocean liner stages. I recommend that order because the ocean liner level is the hardest. My favorite is the downtown one because there’s a lot to do there, such as dashing through glass barriers. After beating all 4 levels, it’s off to fight the Collector.
After beating the Collector, you face off with the final boss. Pops Clock, like the rest of the game, is easy and it’s over in less than half an hour. Yeah, one can beat Bonkers in less than 30 minutes. This game is crazy short.
GAME OVER MAN?!
Capcom has created some of the most memorable continue screens in gaming history. Who could ever forget Final Fight with the dynamite? Bonkers has a good one, too. Laugh at his jokes and continue. But don’t laugh and suffer the dire consequences. It’s a small touch but a nice one nonetheless.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Bonkers received fairly solid reviews in the press back in the fall of 1994. EGM gave it ratings of 7, 7, 7, 7 and 6. Super Play rated it 74%. However, many who have played it tend to agree that it’s easily Capcom’s weakest effort on the Super Nintendo. Not that it’s a bad game mind you. Just that nothing about it stands out in particular. A perfectly decent and serviceable platformer, then, but nothing more.
I never rented Bonkers back in the day but do recall seeing previews in EGM and GameFan. It wasn’t one of those SNES games I was clamoring to play, but a small part of me was naturally curious about it. Although I wasn’t a fan of the cartoon show, I am a big fan of platformers (even the simple ones). So when I finally played Bonkers more than 15 years after it was released, I was hoping to perhaps find an underrated, overlooked hidden gem. You don’t hear much about Bonkers in the SNES community. It rarely gets brought up in the discussion of good games, bad games or even games you might have missed. It’s just sort of… forgotten, a little bit. So I was somewhat excited to fire this game up for the first time back in 2011. Besides, coming from the almighty Capcom during their heyday, I expected at the very least a very solid platformer. Unfortunately, maybe Capcom’s C-staff was left in charge; Bonkers just feels a bit half-arsed. Graphics are decent enough, though not up to Capcom standards. The same can be said for the sound and gameplay. I expect more coming from Capcom, and I expect more from a Super Nintendo game that came out in late 1994.
But to the game’s credit, it’s not like it disgraces Capcom or the SNES in the least. Details like slipping deeper into a Jell-O dessert the longer you stand on it show a flash of charm and that classic Capcom know how. But then the negatives come into play and overpower the few moments of quasi-brilliance. Such minuses include a dash feature which is a bit cumbersome to use, the game’s difficulty being laughably easy and the game being far too short. Not to mention there are dozens of SNES action games that does what Bonkers tried to do a whole lot better. After going through this game, I see why it rarely gets mentioned. It’s not good enough to be lumped into the overlooked, underrated or hidden gem category, yet it’s nowhere bad enough to be in the same group as say, an Ultraman or Pit Fighter. So its fate, then, is somewhere roughly right in the middle of the pack. Along with arguably about 100 other SNES games that are largely playable and even decent, but are ultimately forgettable.
Capcom has a long track record with their video game adaptations of the Disney Afternoon. With solid hits on the NES such as the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers series, Darkwing Duck and the DuckTales games, as a kid back in the early ’90s it was exciting to ponder the 16-bit possibilities. Capcom’s first Disney Afternoon game on the SNES was Goof Troop. But rather than doing your typical platformer (as was so often the case with these sort of games), Capcom decided to switch things up a bit. Goof Troop features top-down action with puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. Some even say that Goof Troop is slightly reminiscent of a more streamlined Zelda. Obviously it’s nowhere as fantastic as Link to the Past but just being able to draw those pseudo comparisons speaks to the game’s quality. There are only five short levels but it’s a sweet ride while it lasts. Best of all, a 2-player option allows you and a buddy to play as the father-son duo of Goofy and Max. Use brawn and brains alike to rescue Pete and PJ from an awful pirate kidnapping. Not merely an action affair, it’s a bit of a thinking man’s game with just enough brain teasers to satisfy beyond the typical SNES action game.
THE DISNEY AFTERNOON
Being a kid in the early ’90s rocked. Thanks to awesome video games (the NES and later the 16-bit war) and television programming (TGIF and the Disney Afternoon), growing up back then was a magical and special time indeed. The Disney Afternoon made its debut on September 10, 1990. It ran four 30 minute cartoon shows from the 3 to 5 o’clock hour. For two hours, right after school, grade school kids would just plop themselves in front of their TV to watch great Disney cartoons such as DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Aladdin and Gargoyles just to name some. Fridays were the best because it signaled the end of the school week and you celebrated it by watching two hours of the Disney Afternoon followed later that night by two hours of TGIF (with classic shows such as Family Matters and Full House). It was the perfect veg out way to kick off a kid’s glorious weekend. And that happened EVERY Friday back in the early to mid ’90s. Man, TV was the shit back then!
Goop Troop made its Disney Afternoon debut during season 3 (1992-1993). Premiering on September 5, 1992, Goof Troop ran for nearly 80 episodes. It also had two feature length movies produced (A Goofy Movie in 1995 and An Extremely Goofy Movie in 2000). Goof Troop focuses on the father-son relationship between single father Goofy and his son, Max. Along with the always entertaining neighbor, Pete (and his own family), Goof Troop was a great show and one of my favorites. The father-son aspect made it unique and special.
But perhaps the best thing about Goof Troop was its stellar intro. Cartoons used to have the best songs and intros, and Goof Troop was no exception. I mean, just check it out for yourself!
It’s a crime not to like that.
So being a huge fan of the show, I was thrilled to no ends when I started seeing Goof Troop previews in the pages of GameFan back in 1993. The SNES was getting its first Disney Afternoon game at long last. Although I was disappointed we never got a DuckTales or Darkwing Duck game on the Super Nintendo, I was grateful for Goof Troop.
ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER
As the show’s theme song goes, “We’re the Goof Troop, and we always stick together.” The 2-player mode is teamwork personified. Look no further than being able to toss objects back and forth as desired.
Up to two tools can be carried at any time. Should you already have two and want to pick up a new item, you’ll swap the currently selected one with the new one.
THE STORY GOES…
Another gorgeous sunny day in Spoonerville, Goofy and company headed out to the ocean for some fishing. Cruising for the big ones in open water, Pete and PJ were suddenly caught in the ominous shadow of a gigantic ship.
Victims of a pirate kidnapping, the towering ship set sail for Spoonerville Island. Goofy and Max rowed for all they were worth but they couldn’t catch the pirate ship before it landed on the island. Determined to save their friends, Goofy and Max set out to explore the island and find the pirate stronghold.
Presentation is simple yet slick in that classic Capcom way. Goofy is slower and stronger while Max is faster and weaker. When playing with a friend, I recommend Goofy for the more experienced player and Max for the other (Max’s speed makes life easier for novices).
LEVEL ONE: THE BEACH
Spoonerville Island consists of five levels. After landing on shore, an islander is ready to greet you and offer a few tips.
Cherries add hearts to your life. Grab the hookshot. Then talk to the islander and go on your merry way.
Enemies are defeated when you throw boulders and blocks at them. The same goes for snakes, except the hookshot can conveniently thwart their efforts as well.
Barrels and pots are fair game, too. Goof Troop has its fair share of puzzles. These usually consist of the “kick the blocks in the square” variety. The first one is easy peasy but they gradually tick up in difficulty.
Shovels allow you to dig for goodies. Certain blocks can be kicked, taking out any enemy caught in its path.
Unable to cross the bridge due to the gap, you spy a board lying in the far corner. You’ll have to work your way around in order to grab it, but once you do, you’ll be able to pass to the next section.
There’s something satisfying about clearing a room of its enemies and using your hookshot to grab the items.
Puzzles grow increasingly harder. Love the palm trees. A nice touch, for sure.
Puzzles, though they increase in difficulty, never get too out of hand. Nothing that a little staring contemplatively at the screen won’t solve!
Kicking a block into a bad guy never gets old.
Remember Whac-A-Mole? The first boss, Jester Hole, is a lot like that. Except you catch their barrels (and even bombs) and throw it back at their sorry faces. A password is given once you clear the stage, along with a tally of your time.
LEVEL TWO: THE VILLAGE
Questioning the jester goons on the whereabouts of Pete and PJ, we come to find out that the pirates mistook Pete for Keelhaul Pete, Pete’s evil pirate doppelgänger. This leads our heroes to the local village for answers where they’re immediately greeted by a pair of not-so-friendly locals. No rest for the wicked!
Another puzzle but this time the stakes are raised. You have to solve it while avoiding the fireballs.
Snakes are no match for the hookshot. Enemies get a little tougher as the game progresses — those guys can heave their swords at you!
Lollygag here and you’re screwed!
Hookshot can be used to cross gaps or procure goodies far away. Nice.
Rolling enemies are fast and deadly. Better slip into an alcove for safety. The second boss, Fire Bug, makes Dhalsim green with envy.
Beware of the torches. After exhausting the barrels at the bottom of the screen, you’ll have to catch incoming barrels from the locals.
LEVEL THREE: THE FORTRESS
Damnit, almost under 20 minutes. Always fun to try and best your time. Goofy and Max find themselves standing before a huge fortress. Goofy suggests knocking but Max knows it’s going to take more than that…
Maybe not that much more, though.
Cannonballs come firing in different directions. Spikes come into play as well. Keep an eye on that armored suit… it’ll spring to life!
Darkness reigns in some rooms, so find the candle to widen the scope.
Harvest Moon, Goofy wants to audition!
Casually strolling by with not a care in the world like only Goofy can. Catch the bombs and give it a taste of its own medicine.
Armored suits resurrect unless you damage them when they’re down. By the way, notice the crack in the wall there? Hmmm…
Ringing the bell makes the bad guy come to you. Line him up and take him out.
Doesn’t take a genius to solve this one
Protection? No such thing in Goof Troop. Pots travel through even walls. And although the hookshot doesn’t directly eliminate a bad guy, it can be used to push one over the edge. Sweet!
Turning a corner in a dark room only to run into a bad guy inches away is quite the tense moment. Make your way to the boss room before that moving wall crushes you.
Reanimated skeletons are bad to the bone, literally. Avoid the bones they’ll chuck your way, then grab them and heave it back at them. Heads will roll!
LEVEL FOUR: THE CAVERNS
Always fun to see the clear time under 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Pete and PJ are treated as royalty. The pirates don’t realize that’s not really their leader, Keelhaul Pete. The idjits.
There’s a chill in the air, brrrr. These caverns are damp and cold. Bundle up!
Barrels R Us! Get your arms up and catch those bad boys, then chuck it right back at them. But be careful, they can catch them too!
Exploding blocks add some extra depth to the puzzles.
Frozen rooms are slippery and a little trickier to navigate. Light up those flames before time runs out to open the door.
Quickly set the blocks in place while avoiding certain death.
Nothing like lining them up and mowing them down
Falling boulders are a great hazard. Ride the mine cart and take out any poor sap caught in your way.
Solving a puzzle in a dark room is definitely annoying. And so is being in a room with no barrels or pots to throw. But both instances up the difficulty a bit, which is sorely lacking in this game.
Brainteaser, this one.
Waterfall blocks your path. Clear it and then come back to enter the boss lair.
Rumblers crawl about looking to ruin your day. Grab the rocks that fall and let ‘em have it. Damn, almost 23 minutes. I wish more games from that era listed your clear times. It’s a detail I’ve always appreciated.
LEVEL FIVE: THE SHIP
Having spotted his neighbor and pal, Pete, Goofy rushes in only to fumble the situation in classic Goofy fashion. That’s when our heroes realize that’s the pirate king, Keelhaul Pete!
Graphically, the previous level was a bit drab. Thankfully, this last level looks a lot better as it’s filled with lush colors.
Hooray for being able to catch bombs. That conveyor belt could not come faster.
Crashing the party like only Goofy can, he really knows how to let loose. Hell, he’s about to jump on one of those tables and pull a Pee-wee Herman. No, not THAT. Thank God not that. I’m talking about the classic TEQUILA scene from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Later on, a tricky puzzle stands in the way between you and the key.
Shifting holes in the ground make this a bit tricky to navigate, especially for the impatient and hasty player.
Catching barrels from bad guys is the best. But always keep in mind they can do the same!
Keelhaul Pete stands between you and paradise. Watch out for his spin attack and his extendable hook.
Keelhaul Pete is done for, and you rescue your friends in the end. All’s well that ends well. The ending screenshot displays your total play time. Again, I wish more games from that era did this as well. It’s a nice little touch, especially for those who like to chart their play time.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Goof Troop for the most part was well received in North America. GameFan raved about it in its preview, although they never reviewed the final product. Magilla from GameFan had this to say: “The magic of Capcom and Disney is back! The game is kind of like Zelda with just the dungeons. Capcom’s done a great job with the interaction between each player in the 2-player mode. In one situation, you’ll come across a room full of pirates. One player will use a bell, which will distract the pirates, while the other player moves by them undetected to flip a switch… way cool. It’s not Zelda, but it’s a great game.” EGM gave it ratings of 8, 8, 8 and 7. Super Play was a little less impressed though, rating it 69%. James Leach reported, “Goof Troop could have been excellent. It just needs a bit more variety, a bit more difficulty and, in fact, a bit more everything. So be wary, challenge fans.”
Mr. Leach certainly was right when he said the game could use more difficulty. It’s quite the cakewalk. But I strongly disagree that it could, “in fact, use a bit more everything.” But don’t take my word for it. Goof Troop is often held in pretty high regards among SNES fans.
Capcom’s Disney Afternoon debut on the Super Nintendo was a success. There’s a reason why so many retro gamers often cite Goof Troop on recommendation lists along the lines of “Underrated SNES Games” and “SNES Hidden Gems.” It’s easy to pick up and play. The visuals are simple yet colorful and extremely inviting — the game’s overall look and aesthetic just makes you want to explore Spoonerville Island and discover what lurks behind every last nook and cranny. Animations are great and there are some bouncy tunes to bob along to, with each theme fitting that particular part of the island quite well. I especially love the sound effects. The sound of gaining a life is deeply embedded in my mind even all these years later. But the main ingredient that Goof Troop nails is the gameplay. It’s a breath of fresh air; I feel there aren’t nearly enough games like this on the SNES, which makes Goof Troop all the more unique and special.
Teamwork is the name of the game, and Goof Troop easily stands as one of the shining examples of 2-player co-op SNES experiences. Not only are Goofy and Max distinctively different, but the ability to catch and throw blocks in addition to a number of other strategies makes it a very rewarding 2-player team effort. It’s still fun when playing alone but the true magic lies in teaming up with a buddy. Items are perfectly allocated and the game flows extremely well. There’s almost never a dull moment or a stretch where there isn’t some fun gimmick to employ in one way or another. The puzzles are on the easier side (sans the final one) and you could beat the game on your first try. It’s not one of the all-time greats in the SNES pantheon by any stretch but as far as “best of the rest” goes, Goof Troop deserves its place in any well-rounded SNES collection.