Running and gunning can be like therapy. It’s video game comfort food, to keep moving and shoot up enemy waves as they fill the screen; mowing them down by the dozens as your brain triggers a sweet jolt of dopamine. The wanton mayhem never stops being satisfying.
There have always been the reliable classics like the Contra games and the Metal Slug series for some frantic 2D running and gunning. The indie game scene has also contributed some worthy entries into the run and gun subgenre of 2D action platformers; with the likes of Blazing Chrome and Gunlord X. No matter how much technology advances, it seems that games like this always pop up.
Now it’s time for a new breed of run and gun action game; something that is a lot more fowl than anything else we have seen before. This is the other goose game; Mighty Goose.
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the game below.
Developer: Blastmode, MP2 Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Release Date: June 5th, 2021
Price: $19.99 USD
As Mighty Goose begins, the designers proudly show what their influences are. From the “MISSION START”, to the way the announcer says “Machine Gun!”; it’s obvious that the developers adore Metal Slug. They were not coy about it at all, and even include several vehicles that have similar functions, like the tank and jet.
Even the beautiful and luridly colored pixel art has a bouncy and chunkiness to the aesthetic. All characters and objects are carefully defined thanks to their color palette and silhouette. The high contrast key lighting on the various metallic surfaces, compounded with bright colors give the impression of garish action figures from the 90s.
Further still, the massive bosses that fill the screen are constructed with many moving parts. The amount of life this breaths into the sequences can’t be ignored, and it adds some authenticity to the setting to see such elaborate mechanisms realized this way.
Mighty Goose is definitely driven by its visuals, and sometimes the artists may have gone overboard with their effects. The player-goose has some devastating firepower, and can hail a vicious storm of bullets that sprat out in a fierce and chaotic pattern. On top of this, the artists chose to render every single shell casing ejecting from the Goose’s weapons.
When enemies die, they explode in an elaborately designed fireball, and erupt into a rain of shrapnel. Enemies are rarely alone, often rushing in from an meticulously crafted background to get that Goose cooked. With so much going on, the battles in Mighty Goose become a hurricane of explosions, bullets, debris, and smoke.
There is so much stuff happening on the screen that it becomes hard to see where Goose is, and even harder to tell what is a threat. Enemy bullets get lost in the background, collectible coins and the all the explosions become sensory overload, and you get a thousand yard stare from the unrelenting assaults.
Trying to keep track of everything on screen is impossible, and the only thing to do is to go crazy a bit with the dodge roll. The Goose gets a very generous amount of invincibility frames when rolling, and has a short cool-down. Playing defensively makes most boss encounters beatable in a few tries.
The Goose can be overpowered compared to heroes of past run and gun games. Not only can he takes 4 hits (similar games usually allowed only one), but enemies drop health pick-ups which never disappear and completely restore all health. By severely over powering the hero, Mighty Goose leans on being one of the easier examples of its kind.
Goose’s most unique ability that separates him from other run and gunners is that when shooting downwards while in mid-air, he can slow his descent. The properties of the physics vary depending on the weapon used, and certain arms can launch Goose further upwards in some cases, or even a sustained hover.
Even though Mighty Goose might be lighter on the challenge compared to Contra III: The Alien Wars, there is something gratifying about taking on huge foes and much more menacing looking enemies, while playing as a wall-eyed goose. He may resemble an underdog, but this goose is dynamite thanks to how well equipped he is.
Goose even has a variation of a Devil Trigger, where he unleashes a hellish fury with his guns that also grants nigh invulnerability. Attacks are made much larger and harder, where a single shotgun blast will clear half the screen and the monstrous bite of the sound effect is deafening.
This power is totally unbalanced and basically functions as a win button, especially when combined with the support ability that extends its length. Since there tons of fodder enemies being fed to Goose at all times, it takes no effort to fill the gauge up to reactivate it. The best effort to temper the use of this was that the developers reset the gauge between areas.
Between the many devastating mounts, like the mech armor, tank or the motor wheel, and the variety of useful partners who can assist with attacking or offer support; there is nothing stopping this brutal birdie. Compounded with bombs, huge lasers from the sky, and the ability to slow time; players would have to be a comatose turtle with a busy schedule to fail at Mighty Goose.
The hero is obscenely empowered, and can do so much that it replay value is high. Even after defeating the apparent final boss, a second quest opens up that offers a bit more of a fight than the first run. Stages get remixed with harder enemies and more of them. Scenarios are slightly adjusted to make the action a bit more spicy, and it feels as if this was the way the game was meant to be played.
Customizing Goose’s abilities can be amusing to craft a specific build to foster a certain play style, but the reality is that the options given are far too limited. Most of the abilities are useless, and some are utterly necessary to make the overall playability more enjoyable.
When an ability makes a slow character move at a much more comfortable speed, then it was a mistake to waste the player’s time by intentionally handicapping and creating a problem and a solution for it at the same time. The double jump is too situational to be useful, since platforming is rarely something Mighty Goose was built around.
The stages are thankfully varied to make up for the low difficulty. Each level has a unique scenario to make them memorable, and will have a goal established so that the player doesn’t go numb from constant running and gunning.
Some sequences will have extended vehicle sections and car chases. Another stage will be designed to be like an arena battle and the Goose is forced to participate in a blood sport, where he must do battle with a samurai. There are even stages that have some backtracking and switch finding, unusual gravity, or stage hazards.
The boss battles are very easily telegraphed, and do not pose much of a challenge. Since basic grunts will often help out by dying and leaving health kits or become fodder for Goose’s rage gauge, most of the time bosses go down easily and quickly except for the final boss.
Like any run and gun action platformer, nobody will be playing Mighty Goose for what is laughingly referred to as the story. A large part of the appeal of this game is its absurd premise, and the chaotic violence. The story is no more complex than there is an evil space wizard and the Goose has to stop him from invading the galaxy.
Along the way, Goose will make a couple of friends who can be used as coop partners. However, after their recruitment, they stop being a factor in the sparse narrative. This is an arcade style action game, and it plays to its own strengths, which is twitch based gameplay.
For all the lack of thought put into the story, the music does sound triumphant, and does an excellent job at emulating the sound samples used in the Metal Slug games. Not that anyone would notice for too long, since the bombastic soundtrack will inevitably be drowned out by constant gunfire and explosions.
Mighty Goose is a wonderfully playful and amusing run and gun action game. It stands out thanks to its ridiculous protagonist, and it’s apparent that the developers put a lot of care into its presentation. While the developers did go overboard with their effects, one must admire their lack of restraint for going so far with the visual feedback.
The art and animation is bursting with personality and character. The animated cutscenes are hilariously timed, and certain angles are perfectly framed for maximum comedic effect.
Gameplay is air-tight, and the generous abilities endowed by the Goose will make it easy for children to enjoy the game. Hardcore run and gun fans might be bored by the lack of bite, but this does make Mighty Goose a righteous entry level Metal Slug-like.
Mighty Goose was reviewed on Xbox Series S using a review code provided by Playism. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.