It was inevitable. Last time, I broke from my timeline to play Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (AKA Legacy of the Wizard), a game I’d originally skipped over because I’d deemed the Dragon Slayer series to be too early, and too focused on home computer systems instead of consoles. When this blog series expanded in scope, I decided I should probably go back and play a few of the Dragon Slayer games. But with Dragon Slayer IV I didn’t just find a great melding of role-playing and platforming action, I found one of the games that helped define the Metroidvania genre, and a very impressive one at that. From there, I started reading about some other early games that built the foundations for Metroidvanias, and since I’d already covered Metroid and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, I figured I might as well go back and play these other early games too. I promise I’ll get back to my timeline eventually.
First up is The Goonies II, by Konami, which was actually quite early. Released in March 1987 (coming to the US that November), it slots after Esper Dream (also by Konami) in my timeline, and the only platformers I’ve covered that predate it are Metroid and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. That means it got in on defining nonlinear, exploratory platforming before Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest would add the “vania” to the Metroidvania genre. But that was also by Konami, so I guess they were just building on their own work. Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Goonies II, however, is that it combines platforming with first-person adventure sequences, much like Sega’s Spellcaster would do a year and a half later.