Mighty Goose

Developer: Blastmode, MP2 Games
Publisher: PLAYISM
Steam / Xbox / PlayStation / Switch

Reviewed on Xbox Series S

The Bottom Line: Filled with retro charm, this run-n-gun shooter packs plenty of fierce honks into a relatively short playtime.

There’s something about geese. Is it the distinctive and incessant honking? The fact that they look adorable in video games? The way that they strut around like miniature velociraptors? In any case, geese have implanted themselves into our collective unconscious and it seems likely they will remain entrenched there for the foreseeable future.

The latest in a long list of games starring waterfowl, Mighty Goose straddles the line between retro shooter and meme game. Is it an unabashed meme of Goat Simulator proportions or is it just a fun little shooter with meme sprinkles on top? I’ll admit that while blasting through hordes of horned minions, I did occasionally feel a twinge of guilt for mentally lumping Mighty Goose in with the meme crowd. But soon enough another flurry of random explosions would rock my screen, and a humongous goose head would appear out of nowhere to remind me that the memes are strong with this one. Conscience absolved.

Sonic Turtle X

Mighty Goose’s graphical stylings take clear cues from the clean lines and bright colors of Mega Man X, while the cast of anthropomorphic animals suggests a spiritual connection to Sonic the Hedgehog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Upon taking control of Mighty Goose, however, it quickly became apparent that its gameplay takes inspiration primarily from Metal Slug. The majority of the game is spent rushing forward, blasting and tearing through waves of enemies, and then pressing forward again. Yes, there is some platforming, but it’s rather tame compared to the wall-jumping and air-dashing challenges you’d find in Mega Man X and its sequels.

This fowl creature is gunning for you

You’ll run and gun your way through a handful of levels, many of which have unique themes. One level will have you shooting robots, while the next might have you fighting with aliens. There is a simple story, told through lovely animated sequences that are all too brief, but it’s hardly memorable and serves solely to stitch the game’s stages together. If you’re looking for deep analyses about the ethics of midnight honking or the unseemly profusion of goose droppings in public parks, you’d best look elsewhere.

Vehicles also play a major role. You can plunk your white-feathered rump down into the drivers’ seats of tanks, mechs, and speedy bikes, all of which pack more punch than your regular arsenal. And, true to its 90s roots, the game even features one of those classic surfboard levels. Were it not for the complete absence of pizza, the Ninja Turtles would feel right at home.

Bullet Heaven

But enough reptilian asides. How does this goose actually feel to play? For starters, though it borrows many elements from Metal Slug, it isn’t nearly as difficult. I only died a handful of times and rarely in the same place twice. Even when it felt like the whole screen was full of bullets, I’d usually emerge from the storm of hot lead with nary a scratch. And when my health meter threatened to run dry, enemies would start dropping medkits at a prodigious pace, to the extent that I wondered if I wasn’t saving the galaxy but instead crashing a Red Cross Christmas party.

Cute characters everywhere!

All these features add up to make a game that looks much harder than it actually plays. It feels chaotic but rarely gets truly out of hand. Truth be told, I wish the default difficulty demanded a bit more patience and precision. What it lacks in difficulty, however, Mighty Goose more than makes up for in presentation. The graphics are bright and playful, of course, but it’s the soundtrack that really leaves an impact, faithfully recreating the vibes of the 16-bit generation. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the samples for the horns and orchestra hits were sourced directly Mega Man X.

Great game, cool meme, or somewhere in between? Though I can’t proclaim Mighty Goose to be a masterpiece, it packed enough goosey fun to keep me entertained for its short 2-hour playtime. Here’s to hoping that the migration of geese from our ponds and parks to our gaming machines continues unabated.

Rating: 86 of 100 Pixels