Mighty Goose Review

Mighty Goose wears its inspiration on its sleeve – or wing I suppose. Developer Blastmode’s first major release is heavily influenced by the run and gun games of the past, with the Metal Slug series running at the front of the pack. In addition to the core gameplay, Blastmode takes the silliness found in Metal Slug, cranks it up, and uses its own distinct pixel art style. Is Mighty Goose a worthy successor or is it as interesting as a spent shell casing?

The premise of Mighty Goose is simple. The Goose is the number one bounty hunter in the galaxy. Your next target is Void King, but first, you have to work your way through his army of underlings. You battle your way across nine levels that take place in various galactic locations, such as space stations, space prisons, and a mining facility constructed on what looks like a cluster of connected asteroids. The levels are illustrated on a level select screen that lets you fly your giant red goose ship along the dotted lines connecting each level. Some of the sections contain two levels, like the infested mining facility or the desert planet Zandbak. Each level has a specific objective, for example in the first level, Void Prison, you have to find and free Commander Vark (a goggle-wearing pig). Some levels might have you targeting that level’s boss whereas other objectives might be as simple as exploring the location. Once you are in the level you get calls from one of your crew members (a rabbit) and he gives you more information about the locations and your objectives.

The basic gameplay in Mighty Goose is similar to its main inspiration Metal Slug. You can move around, shoot your gun in four directions, and jump. There are four extra weapons that can be found in each level and they each have a limited amount of ammo: machine gun, shotgun, tesla/lightning gun, and rocket launcher. There are also a number of vehicles that can be used throughout the levels if you can locate them. There’s a tank, a melee-equipped mech, a monocycle with a huge wheel, and an airplane. The ground vehicles move and control similar to the player character, but with varying movement speeds and jump heights, and they also have the ability to shoot diagonally. The airplane can only shoot straight ahead. Some of them also have powerful, limited use alternate artillery. The vehicles and gun selection are what remind me most of the Metal Slug series, they’re all tons of fun to use and make the game much more enjoyable. 

The Metal Slug series is known for its difficulty, essentially forcing players to either memorize the levels or have lighting-quick reflexes in order to succeed. This is where Mighty Goose makes its departure. There are many elements that when put together make the game a much more accessible and player-friendly experience. The first is that the Goose has four hit points, and health packs that fully restore your health are relatively common (they would almost always seem to pop up when I really needed one). The second is the armory (which could count as a few points). In between levels you can access the armory on your ship. There’s a section where you can select upgrades such as sprint boots which make you move more quickly, or rocket boots that give you a double jump, as well as other items such as gun nut which gives weapon pickups more ammo, and the protein bar that makes your mighty meter last longer (more on that in a bit). Each upgrade has an energy value between 20 and 50, and you can equip whichever items you have unlocked as long as their sum total is 100 or less. Next up is the secondary weapon selection; in the beginning, you start with a honk, which doesn’t actually do anything helpful, just makes you do a goose honk, but later you’ll be able to use more helpful items such as the chonker bombs which are a timed explosive you can roll to either side of the magic hourglass which slows time when used.

The final element in the armory is the ability to select a companion to bring with you. Early in the first level, you will get a regular duck companion who shoots eggs at enemies from its behind. At the end of the first level, once you free commander Vark he will also become an option. When you pick the commander as a companion he attacks enemies with his wrench and drops machine guns for you to use. The later companions are more powerful than the early ones, and there are a few hidden ones. Completing levels will unlock additional options for all three of the armory’s sections giving you a lot of customization combinations that really open up the gameplay. As I initially played through the first level, I have to admit that I was underwhelmed, but my opinion quickly changed once I started unlocking new armory options and playing around with them. My interest was also held by the various types of level objectives and how most of the levels had multiple sections, each with varying design and gameplay elements. 

There are a few more mechanics that help you in your adventure. You have a dodge roll with a very quick cool down and a very large no-hit window, making it very useful. The second is the ability to essentially hover in the air if you shoot down while airborne, using the shotgun with this method actually lets you rise in the air and you can reach platforms you otherwise would not be able to reach. The third is the Mighty Meter; as you kill enemies a vertical meter below your health bar at the top left of the screen will fill – the faster you kill enemies the faster it will fill. Once it’s full the left and right trigger buttons will appear at the bottom of the meter and you can press them simultaneously to initiate a mighty attack, which supercharges whichever weapon you are using and makes you almost invincible until the mighty meter depletes. The game makes use of a lot of screen shake and flashes, especially during mighty mode. Sometimes the game also goes into slow motion if you kill a bunch of enemies very quickly, and a goose head will pop up at the bottom of the screen and give an approving honk. Design elements like this do a great job of spicing up the game, making it exciting and more fun. The final helpful mechanic is Mighty Goose’s smartphone, which functions as the pause menu. You can use this to call in a weapon or vehicle drop if you have enough coins – earned by killing enemies and breaking certain objects in the environment. You can also turn on co-op mode from the phone menu. The second player controls whichever companion is currently with you. Some are more effective than others, but overall their attacks are somewhat limited; luckily however, the companion doesn’t take any damage. These mechanics gave me a slightly carefree feeling and I took on a fast-paced style of play, that seemed to fit well with the game

The bosses in the game are a mixed bag, on my first run-through of the game I found most of them to be a decent challenge, but once you get your loadout set to your liking you can breeze through most of them, which will help you to earn a better ranking for the level. My favorite boss was probably the Convoy King fight at the end of Kra’bak’s first level, after outrunning a convoy you fight against a bizarre vehicle that has a laser spewing mechanical snake at its helm. The second part of the fight has you dodging swarms of projectiles from two directions as you shoot down towards the chassis of the vehicle. Most of the bosses change their attack patterns just like the Convoy King, and some have multiple phases with no checkpoint in between. On your first playthrough, it can be very frustrating to have to refight the first form of the boss, but once you have all your upgrades and are familiar with the game they are much easier to deal with.

The component that attracted me the most to the old Metal Slug games was their fantastic pixel art. Every level contained so much detail with added bits of humor and plenty of secrets. Mighty Goose has its own distinct pixel art style, it has an almost cartoony look to it but with strong outlines. The levels are missing all that extra detail though – don’t get me wrong, the art is well done, but there’s nothing in the levels that ever rises to that level of detail. One aspect of the art design that I disliked is how the enemies’ bullets are a similar color to your own so it can be hard to differentiate between the two. The over-the-top action also makes it difficult to see enemy attacks and while some enemies telegraph their attacks others seem to attack at random.

There is humor to be found in the game but most of it is related to the protagonist and the other characters. When Mighty Goose loses all his health he falls to the ground and turns into a baked goose on a plate. There are also a few secrets to find in the form of hidden companions, alternate routes through levels, and vehicles. The audio design in the game fits well with the gameplay. During the more action-filled levels, it’s fast-paced and intense. During the slower sections like in the mining facility where the lights are turned down, the music is slower and more ominous. The sound effects also fit well with the gameplay, the guns sound powerful, and there’s plenty of explosions – and don’t forget about the “HONK”, which is very appropriate.

Conclusion

Mighty Goose is solid run-and-gun fun, borrowing from the classics of the past and adding a modern spin. The campaign is on the short side, but there’s a new game plus option offering some extra challenge. The over-the-top, hectic action gives the game a carefree feeling, but I never felt like I was mastering the gameplay since a lot of the enemy attacks are hard to see and avoid. It’s by no means a golden egg; however, if you’re a fan of the genre or looking for some careless action then it might be worth giving Mighty Goose a try.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Familiar gameplay for fans of the genre
  • Armory customizations make the game more interesting and approachable
  • Unique art style that makes use of plenty of explosions and fun effects
Bad
  • Over-the-top action makes it difficult to see enemy projectiles
  • New game plus adds extra length to the game, but a few more levels would have been nice
  • Co-op implementation is interesting on the surface, but overall it feels superficial
7.6
Good
Gameplay - 7.5
Graphics - 8.2
Audio - 8
Longevity - 6.5
Written by
I started my gaming odyssey playing 8-bit console and arcade games. My first Xbox was the 360 and I immediately fell in love with achievement hunting and the overall ecosystem. That love was cemented with my purchase of an Xbox One. I play a bit of everything, but I usually end up playing fast paced games that remind me of my days spent in dark, smoky arcades spending quarter after quarter, telling myself "one more try!". Gamertag: Morbid237.

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