Run 'N' Honk.
When you think of sci-fi video game heroes, who comes to mind? Samus? Commander Shepard? Master Chief? Commander Keen? Well, most of them should anyways. Point being, here's another classic space adventurer to add to your list: Mighty Goose.
Release: June 5th, 2021
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Steam, Xbox, PlayStation 4
Mighty Goose is a run and gun game that puts you in the shoes...well, webbed feet...of an ordinary, everyday goose. Also, this ordinary, everyday goose is in a bad-ass mech suit and travels to distant planets to eliminate the galaxy of evildoers. That's pretty much the plot of the game. It's an arcade-style game, so in this case, the less story, the better.
But he's not in it alone. Joining Mighty Goose in his missions are several assist characters, ranging from a pig, to a crow, to some friendly robots. As Goose blasts his way through the levels, he takes on robotic baddies, alien scum, and screen-filling bosses in a fast-paced environment. There's also vehicles to jump in, power-ups to collect, and secret passages throughout the levels to find.
Much like many recent indie games, Mighty Goose is inspired by a classic game from the days of 16-bit yore. While you'll see shades of Contra or Rush n' Attack here, Mighty Goose's biggest inspiration is the classic NEO GEO game Metal Slug. Everything from the gameplay to the on-screen carnage, to the voice-over yelling the name of the weapon you pick up (ROCKET LAWNCHAIR!) is nothing less than a pure love letter to those classic titles. You can only shoot in four directions, and shooting downward slows down your falling speed. If you equip the shotgun, you can also blast yourself upwards, which – hint, hint – can help you find hard-to-reach secret areas and shortcuts.
There's also huge bosses that you fight, that require pattern memorization and a twitch trigger finger. As you complete each level, you will also unlock different abilities and companion characters. It's not a deep customization feature, which is great because the game isn't about character development – it's about blasting anything that moves! Some of these abilities include the ability to run faster, summoning a lazer beam from space, or slowing down time. You can also pull up a cell phone mid-battle and order weapon upgrades (provided you have enough coins earned by killing enemies), so that helps.
The presentation is Mighty Goose is amazing. The pixel art is beautiful, the animation is smooth, and doesn't slow down a bit in spite of all the chaos. There's also times where the carnage on screen slows down just so you can appreciate everything that's going on all around you. There's also some pretty hilarious moments, where you're just running and Mighty Goose lets out an enthusiastic “honk.” It's a funny touch that adds a lot of personality to this game. There's also quite a bit of variety as well, as not only will you be in your suit, but there's also tanks you can ride in, and sections of levels where you're in a plane, turning it into a shmup.
I did have a couple concerns about the game though. First, it can get so crazy on the screen that it's easy to lose your place and get killed by a bullet or enemy that you didn't even know was there. I've died a bunch of times that way, and was left shaking my head and yelling at the TV, “ Where'd that come from – what the heck?” Yes, I do yell at my TV. Also, the level checkpoints are not as spaced out as I would have liked. Just a heads-up – the beginning of the jungle level is pretty brutal, and you need to get quite far before you hit a checkpoint. I had to quit the game out of anger and take a break after like my 10th death. But I came back, persevered, and made it through. The game can be a bit on the short side. It took me about 6 hours to 100% it, but as an arcade title, Mighty Goose is designed for multiple playthroughs. I would have also loved to see a full-fledged co-op mode, but that's just a personal preference, and doesn't impact my final grade.
Final Grade: B+
Mighty Goose is a great example of what retro games were all about: challenging gameplay, colorful and memorable characters, and just having an old fashioned good time. It has charm, humor, and while frustrating at times, still worth playing. If you're a fan of old-school games, or have a soft spot in your heart for Metal Slug (like I do!) then Mighty Goose is definitely worth your time.