The Sequel: The Goonies ReturnBy William - 6 October 2021
As part of G3’s ‘Tentpole Games’ feature earlier this year, we sat down with Matt Cole, Managing Director of Blueprint Gaming, to discuss the significance of The Goonies in forging a reputation as one of the leading suppliers of slot games.
Six months on, Blueprint has unveiled the launch of The Goonies Return, a sequel to the hit game. Jo Purvis, Director of Key Accounts and Marketing UK, explains the developer’s rationale for the release, how it differs from the original and whether it can match the success of its predecessor.
What is the rationale for producing a sequel?
Sequel slots can be incredibly powerful in attracting player interest, particularly when the original game is so successful, such as The Goonies. There is also an element of wanting to take an existing concept and making it even better. Sometimes making small tweaks to the gameplay and adding new layers is just as important as creating a concept from scratch.
Traditionally, Blueprint has steered away from releasing direct sequels. We have focused more on giving a slightly different offering to the player by utilising proven mechanics such as our Jackpot King progressive pot system, Megaways, or our latest creation Prize Lines. However, some games are more suited to having a sequel and The Goonies is a classic example of this.
Within the industry, there has been a resurgence in direct sequels over the last 12 months. We are constantly asked about sequels and the demand was very strong for a follow up title to The Goonies, so the time was right to bring a new instalment to market.
When did you make the decision to create a sequel? What has been the development process?
Once we pinpointed a suitable moment in our product roadmap to release such a title, thoughts then turned to how we would approach the sequel. Producing a new version of an award-winning game comes with huge responsibility. The last thing we wanted to do is disappoint our fans and the licence holder with an inferior product.
We identified the best approach to a sequel would be to keep it in line with all-action bonus slots that Blueprint fans truly appreciate. The amount of iconic moments in the film means we had plenty of storylines available to refresh the slot’s narrative and offer a new experience for players to enjoy.
What were the main technical challenges you faced updating The Goonies for the 2021 player?
Player behavioural trends are constantly changing and so while we wanted to keep the popular characteristics found in the original game, we also knew the importance of changing certain aspects to make it even more appealing to modern day players.
With that in mind, we created a new mechanism called One-Eyed Willy Exchange that makes the game’s bonus rounds more accessible. This lets the player collect a win over a certain amount or choose to exchange it and try and win one of three levels of bonus.
This is very much driven by the existing trend of players wanting to trigger bonuses in alternative ways than the traditional formula of hitting three or four scatters, which can often take longer.
How much licence have you taken iterating upon the original’s formula?
Of course we wanted to create something different for players to experience, but the success of the original meant there was no need to rip up the formula and create something from scratch. Subtle changes can make all the difference.
Upon first glance of the gameplay, you can tell the key elements of the original have remain intact. In particular, the legendary Skeleton Key located on the right hand screen can still be activated off any spin, but this time with even more random modifiers.
The appearance of the red Skeleton Key was a special moment for players and this latest version offers an intriguing development, but it’s up to players to discover what riches can be found within this particular feature.
Excluding the introduction of the Jackpot King progressive system in 2019, the gameplay of The Goonies hasn’t changed since its original launch. How does The Goonies Return’s gameplay differ from the original?
The multitude of bonuses and modifiers found within the game have been given a refresh with the inclusion of new mechanics. Perhaps the most notable difference is the new and improved big money bonus round that we have developed.
The One-Eyed Willy Riches bonus uses hold and win mechanics where players are given an initial three spins. Landing cash symbols or character symbols resets the spins counter to three and brings numerous different benefits, including win multipliers, total respin boosts and additional columns to the game field.
As mentioned, the One-Eyed Willy Exchange is another key introduction to the gameplay and we believe that will appeal to a large segment of players. There are several other fun additions to the gameplay, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise!
How has the maths changed?
We have made some slight changes to the math that provides greater win potential within some of the features. These feature- rich games that incorporate a famous brand are typically targeted at the casual player base, but The Goonies Return is more of a gambler’s game than you may think.
With the One-Eyed Willy Riches bonus, there is scope for players to be rewarded some impressive wins that are sure to catch the eye of all kinds of players.
In what ways has the graphics, art style and sound evolved?
Again, we have made subtle changes that gives the game a new lease of life while staying true to the core values of the original game that is so popular with players. It’s three years since The Goonies was first produced and naturally the development process has moved on, so we were able to incorporate new designs and sounds that are in line with other more recent games produced by Blueprint.
What steps have been taken to ensure The Goonies Return retains a nostalgic appeal whilst also catering to a generation of player more likely to not be familiar with the 80s film?
Every step of the game’s development has been done alongside the licence holder, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. All aspects of the gameplay have to be approved by them, so it’s a balancing act of making sure it sufficiently delivers on the brand’s IP while also making it appealing to players.
With The Goonies, we are at an advantage that the film is still referenced regularly in popular culture and is easily accessible to watch through major streaming platforms. That helps to keep the brand relevant in today’s market.
Captivating graphics, an engaging narrative and strong mechanics are key elements that make a slot game appealing to the modern day player. The Goonies Return has that in abundance, so it makes no difference whether a player has seen the film or not, the quality gameplay is enough to whet their appetite.
Most importantly, will the game retain Chunk’s truffle shuffle and Sloth’s cry of “Hey you guys!”?
Absolutely! It wouldn’t be a Goonies- branded game without these key characteristics of the film. For the original game, they were fundamental factors that made it appealing to both slot players and fans of the film. The entire gang have also returned for the sequel, so fans of the original slot and film will not be disappointed.
Whilst Blueprint has a strong relationship with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, are you feeling the weight of responsibility from the licence holder, brand and fans to deliver a slot that is just as good as the first title?
Simply put, you don’t rise to become a leading slot developer without taking on challenging projects and putting yourself outside of the comfort zone. We have embraced this opportunity and truly believe we have delivered a sequel that is even better than the original.
The reason why we took on this sequel is because of the unprecedented experience and belief that we have in producing branded games. Our track record speaks for itself, which is why a multitude of licence holders entrust us to deliver a premium slot game that utilises their IP.
As with most branded releases, The Goonies Return will have an instant impact upon launch. However, do you expect this sequel to have the same long lasting appeal as its predecessor? Is that a fair expectation to have of the game in a more saturated and competitive igaming landscape?
Given the success of the original and the way in which we have elevated the experience within this latest instalment, we have high hopes that The Goonies Return will endure the same longevity as its predecessor.
You can only make educated assumptions as to whether a game will be a success before it’s released, sometimes the best titles are the ones you have the least expectations for, but we feel very confident that our sequel will resonate with a wide audience.
Demand for this particular title has come from both operators and players, so we are expecting a strong launch period given the backing it has already received. Early reviews from credible affiliate sites have been overwhelmingly positive, which is always a welcome sign.
Should we expect more sequels from Blueprint over the coming months, whether with The Goonies or other licences such as ted?
We will explore all potential avenues, particularly if we feel a sequel will generate strong engagement and be welcomed by players. For The Goonies Return, there is no reason as to why we couldn’t add Jackpot King functionality or Prize Lines at some point in the future.
Such an approach has worked tremendously well with other existing Blueprint titles this year, with customers appreciating the familiarity of a brand while experiencing new mechanics.
It’s all about finding the right balance between creating original content alongside revisiting existing gameplays and adding a new layer to them. This is the exact approach that has made Blueprint Gaming such a respected gaming developer with the world’s leading operators.