A run-and-gun action title similar to SNK’s popular Metal Slug series, Mighty Goose is an approachable digital download that favors player progression over ridiculous “memorize everything and have perfect twitch reflexes” gameplay.
Playing as a Rambo-like Goose, it is your job to shoot anything that moves while reaching the end of the stage. Gameplay is paced well as enemies, bosses, and hazards are rarely placed unfairly. If the goose takes too much damage, the player will need to start at the most recent checkpoint. There are some checkpoints that are placed a little too far away, which can be mildly annoying, but the pacing and difficulty is presented in a way that the player will rarely, if ever, die more than twice in any given area. This is not the most difficult game but the experience is all the better for it. Instead of replaying stages to memorize patterns to “git gud,” most players should be able to cruise through the campaign without much trouble but with enough incentive to the see the end.
Part of that incentive to keep going comes from the constant and adjustable unlockables. At the conclusion of each stage, the player is rewarded with a new optional perk or ability like replacing the pointless (but super humorous) honk ability with bombs. The perk system also allows the player creative freedom to adjust play styles too. A really powerful perk, for example, will take up much more space than compounding a bunch of smaller perks. Adding another layer of the customization is the companion system. Once you save a buddy during the campaign, they can essentially be added to your loadout for additional privileges. Your piggy friend, for example, will occasionally attack enemies but he is mostly there to drop machine gun ammo randomly. This system works well, keeps gameplay addicting, and encourages experimentation. Also, once enough enemies have been destroyed, the goose can active a limit break where attacking and speed is increased for a limited time. This can be essentially helpful during the boss battles and rewards the player with a super move every few minutes.
The pixelated art design also leans into the humor. Everything looks good and the over exaggerated features increases the coolness factor. Whether it is the preposterously sized shotgun that packs a punch so strong it can boost the bird in the air, the honk special ability that does nothing but make the player laugh, or the giant goose face that randomly appears from the lower left corner of the screen, the visuals mostly hit the mark. Even the intro radio conversations that happen at the start of every stage are only couple lines long which gives the player just enough narrative while keeping the action at the forefront. The only complaint comes from intense explosions. Occasionally, the screen will be filled with so many explosions, bullets, enemies, and effects that it becomes difficult to determine what is a hazard to avoid. Also, when the campaign is finished for the first time, New Game+ unlocks. However, in order to activate the New Game+ stages, the player needs to traverse the map, enter the transitioning screen, sit through a cutscene, then navigate the New Game+ map. It is a lot of unnecessary work when it should have been a single button press. Also, when you return to the game after powering down your system, your loadout does not save. These are mild annoyances but could potentially be fixed in a future patch
Mightly Goose is easily one of the better run-and-gunner Contra-like clones I have played in a while. The weapons make the experience more fun, the unlockables keep the addicting nature high, and the humor is subtle enough to make its presence known without being eye rolling. I really appreciate that the gameplay is non-technical and very approachable. With so many games pouring on the Souls-like treatment, sometimes it is just more fun to blast the crap out of everything that stands in your way. This is a wonderful merging of mindless action with thoughtful, entertaining design.
Also available on Steam, PS4, PS5, Switch, and Xbox Series X.
Also Try: the Metal Slug compilation on PS2, Wii, or PSP
More Approachable Than: those super difficult Contra clones
Wait For It: Contra Rebirth to be ported to a modern system