I grew up in the early 90s, in what I like to believe was the Golden Age of Videogaming. It was a time before day one DLC and loot boxes; a time when new games were universally celebrated and players were more interested in gameplay than what FPS the developer had managed to achieve. And with my bias towards games from ‘back in my day’, I was ecstatic to see that Blastmode, MP2 Games and Playism were reviving the arcade shooter, in the guise of their plump, spacefaring hero, Mighty Goose! Armed with a twitchy trigger finger and a pocketful of change (in case I need to insert coin[s]), I fired up my Nintendo Switch and blasted off to honk the hell out of all the baddies in the galaxy!
At A Glance
|Visuals||9 / 10|
|Sound||9 / 10|
|Gameplay||9 / 10|
|Overall||8.5 / 10|
|Positives||+ Absolutely stunning pixel art|
|+ Mega synth score and in-game effects|
|+ Masterful example of classic, madcap-arcade action|
|Negatives||– Enemy gunfire can be tricky to see amongst the mayhem|
|– Can only shoot in four directions as Mighty Goose, putting you in the line of fire|
|– While it’s a perfect length for an arcade shooter, you’ll be left wanting more|
Our protagonist is the titular Mighty Goose, a chunky little bird sporting a Samus Aran-style arm cannon and adorable flight goggles, who spends his life fighting evildoers as an intergalactic bounty hunter. Aided by his friend Chonk, a rabbit who acts as an eye-in-the-sky, and a collection of unlockable companions, Mighty Goose has to fight off an army of slimy Buggo and the nefarious forces of the VOID King who threaten the good people of the universe.
Mighty Goose sees you blast your way through hordes of enemies in a traditional run-and-gun shooter, dodging a bombardment of enemy fire on your way to a showdown with a larger than life boss that takes a lot of bullets to bring down. All of the key elements of the genre are there – weapon pick-ups that offer you a temporary upgrade in firepower, selectable secondary items like grenades/shields, and limited health that requires you to stay to your toes lest your goose be cooked! And in a clear homage to Metal Slug – one of the grandaddies of arcade shoot ‘em ups – there’s a collection of crazy vehicles dotted throughout the levels that add a change of pace to the action and really help to mix up the play style as well.
One arcade tradition that’s perhaps less welcome is that MIghty Goose can only aim up, down, left and right, with the diagonals off limits. It’s an incredibly minor gripe but it’s noticeably annoying being unable to shoot at flying enemies without running directly beneath them and opening yourself up to their bomb-attacks. It feels like a missed opportunity to add a genuine quality of life improvement, particularly as the problem is alleviated when you’re in a vehicle, with many of their weapons allowing you to fire in 360 degrees.
In addition to the traditional, Mighty Goose also adds customisable power-ups that you can toggle on and off in between levels, allowing you extra abilities such as double-jump, extra ammunition or quicker movement speed etc. There’s a limit to how many upgrades you can have running at once, and you can really fine tune things to best fit your play style in a way you don’t often see in arcade shooters.
One of the coolest aspects of the game is your ability to activate ‘Mighty Mode’ once you’ve killed a glut of baddies, transforming Mighty Goose into a goggles-down, flame-headed Super Saiyan who has incredibly ramped up damage and is impervious to damage. Switching on Mighty Mode and shredding an entire screenful of enemies makes you feel like a complete badass, and you can even prolong the carnage by continually killing baddies and making the meter deplete more slowly. I’m perhaps being unnecessarily prickly, but there were a couple of occasions where I found that pushing the shoulder buttons didn’t activate Mighty Mode as it should have, costing me some health here and there, but I’ve no doubt this will be tidied up in a patch in no time.
What makes an even bigger impression than the play style though, are the eye-popping graphics – from the moment I fired up Mighty Goose, I was immediately blown away by the entire visual presentation. You’re offered a fun little cut-scene that sets up the premise really nicely and gives a sneak peek at things to come. And hold onto your tail feathers ladies and gentleman, because what’s to come is a masterclass in pixel art that cannot be described as anything but exquisite. The level environments are stylish and have the right amount of detail, with characterful palettes and beautiful lighting, but where the visuals truly shine are with the stunning character sprites and animations.
While he’s very nicely drawn, Mighty Goose himself is probably the most understated sprite out of the bunch, with the floods of enemies taking centre stage and drawing the attention of your eyes. Enemies are chunky, vibrant and beautifully shaded, allowing you to quickly identify the different threats amidst the bedlam of pixelated gunfire and explosions, making busy screens much more manageable. And while each individual enemy is uniquely depicted, each set of baddies has a strong overarching visual theme that ties them all together, offering a wonderful consistency that makes you believe that the individual units are part of the same greater whole. And even amongst a myriad of well drawn and animated sprites, the madcap Metal Slug-inspired vehicles manage to stand out above the rest, with each one displaying considered individual designs and impressive fluid movements that jump off the screen.
The sprites definitely make for wonderful viewing, but it’s arguably the animations that are the key feature in making the experience as enjoyable as it is. Every single encounter in Mighty Goose is punctuated with clouds of semi-transparent dust and smoke, an endless stream of tiny bullet casings and crisp explosions that transform the screens into a series of beautiful little warzones. There’s some lovely cinematic touches that raise the bar too, with the use of slow motion and large character facial expressions overlaying the action to accentuate just how cool the carnage really is. The only downside to having so much craziness on screen at once is that enemy fire can sometimes get lost in the mass of explosions and scattering debris, and you’ll often take damage without really knowing what’s hit you. Health items are relatively plentiful though and you’re not necessarily doomed as a result, but it did lead to me having to replay trickier sections of the game a few times as I struggled to track enemy gunfire through the mayhem.
Not content in simply offering a stunning example of throwback pixel art, Mighty Goose goes all in on delivering a pitch perfect arcade soundtrack as well. The score ranges all the way from a moody piano title theme to pulsing synthwave battle music, always accentuating the theme of the level and your current objective wonderfully. To hammer home the commitment to the arcade theme, voice acting has been eschewed almost entirely, and characters bibble and chirp away during portions of the story in a way that I found entirely endearing. The only voice acting you’ll hear is when collecting a weapon upgrade and a great exclamation rings out to confirm your pick up – “MACHINE GUN!” or “ROCKET LAUNCHER!”. It’s a small but masterful touch of nostalgia that immediately launched me back to being ten years old and shovelling coins into a ruthless and unforgiving arcade cabinet.
In fact, an unforgiving nature is the one arcade shooter tradition that Mighty Goose chooses not to follow, instead offering tricky but manageable levels that never feel unfair. And this decision to have a realistic difficulty level kept frustration levels to a minimum, really allowed the sheer fun of the gameplay to shine through. It was however this punishing nature that required absolute precision that artificially inflated the play time of many arcade shooters, and with Mighty Goose offering you infinite lives on every level, the easily enjoyable experience comes at the cost of the levels simply slipping by too quickly. It’s a double-edged sword that’s honestly very difficult to criticise; I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel of the game, but like a greedy toddler with a tasty treat, I was left pounding my fists on the table wanting more once my portion was finished!
So like a plump pixel-art phoenix rising from the ashes of modern Battle Royales, Mighty Goose offers an incredible throwback experience where the gameplay is an absolute blast – in every sense of the word. With a loveable honking hero, chaotic but never frustrating gameplay, and artwork and sound that offer flawless examples of the genre, Mighty Goose is the dictionary definition of a good time. Quite honestly, Blastmode and MP2 Games have laid a golden egg with Mighty Goose, and the only things holding it back from a perfect score are the tiniest of niggles and my wish that there was quite simply more of it to dip my soldiers into.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.