Tabletop Game Review – The Goonies: Never Say Die

The Goonies: Never Say Die

The Goonies: Never Say Die by Funko Games
Price: ~$35.00
2 to 5
~50 minutes
Perfect for:
Groups and families who enjoy one vs. many games, with a light dungeon crawler/RPG mechanic (and of course, fans of the classic 80s movie).

The Goonies: Never Say Die is a game of adventure and treasure hunting! In an adaptation and expansion of the storyline from the 1985 film, this tabletop version allows players to team up as members of The Goonies while exploring caves and caverns seeking One-Eyed Willy’s fabled riches. But as the young intrepid spelunkers make their way through the underground labyrinth, they must contend with deadly puzzles and monsters while being pursued by the Fratelli crime family.

To begin The Goonies: Never Say Die, designate one player as the game master (controlling the monsters and villains), with everyone else choosing a Goonies character—each one comes with a special ability to be used during gameplay. The GM sets up the map which will evolve as the Goonies proceed: the GM has insider knowledge about what creatures and traps await the team, depending on how the game progresses.

On a turn, Goonies can perform several actions in whatever order they would like, including moving, attacking monsters, and searching for treasure. Players then roll associated dice to determine whether their check is a success, or if they wound/defeat the targeted creature. To assist, Goonies can collect wish tokens which allow them use “better” dice (ones with higher probability of rolling successes), as well item and treasure cards that can give players advantages in certain situations. As the game develops, the Goonies will learn their objectives to win the adventure (there are nine distinct, core adventures that come with the game).

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Hindering the Goonies is the GM, who controls all of the gameplay action. Their job is to slow down the other players, for GM’s win condition is time-based: if the Goonies take too long, the GM will eventually be able to advance a game timer countdown. Similar to the Goonies, the GM also has tokens and cards they can expend to help their chances of winning. For example, the GM might use a card to flood the cavern where the players are, making it harder for them to escape.

What works in The Goonies: Never Say Die is the film’s thematic elements grafted onto a strong co-op/competitive mechanic. The dungeon crawl structure of gameplay works perfectly, and the experience feels incredibly engaging since the Goonies are battling against a human player attempting to thwart them. There’s genuine excitement as the maps gets revealed, and the dice get rolled. Finally, Never Say Die follows the plot of the movie and uses the characters, but it actually builds upon the lore and narrative to provide more action and adventure—they are welcome and thoughtful additions.

Some players may find The Goonies: Never Say Die repetitive in parts and/or too intense, depending on the philosophy and play style of the GM. In early adventures, which admittedly are a more linear introductory to the mechanics, a lot of the same actions happen: enter a room, roll dice, proceed. Later adventures have more options and variance. Regarding the GM: this player could either be trying to facilitate a fun, yet challenging experience (a la Dungeons & Dragons) or be actively trying to win the game. With the latter approach, the game could get incredibly contentious. Some individuals may actually prefer this, but evert player should agree on “how” The Goonies: Never Say Die is going to be run.

The Goonies: Never Say Die is a delight. It has lovely nods to the film, and it pairs incredibly well the gameplay style—it’s a great light introduction to one against many games given fairly basic rules and minimal complexity. While nine distinct adventures may not sound like a lot, don’t be fooled: there is a ton of enjoyment and value in this game.

Recommended if you like: Imperial Assault, Gloomhaven, Back to the Future: Dice Through Time

Final Grade: A

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