What’s good for the gander isn’t always good for the goose, no matter how mighty.
Arcade-action title Mighty Goose may immediately call to mind the Metal Slug series. With bullets flying everywhere, various guns to pick up, and even a smattering of vehicles to commandeer, the explosions of robotic and insect parts alike makes a good first impression. The thing about impressions is that they are always fleeting, and it’s up to a game to find new and exciting ways to keep any momentum it generates; this is where Mighty Goose has its wings clipped.
Chasing a villain known as the Void King through the galaxy, Mighty Goose and his handler Vark move from area to area across a world map, with the ability to revisit earlier levels to improve your performance and earn a higher ranking. As you run and gun through each area, you collect coins that can be spent instantly via an in-menu shop, with a handful of limited use weapons and even a vehicle for when the going gets tough. Unfortunately, for more veteran players, the difficulty doesn’t ramp up that much, and the abundance of weapon drops from enemies mean you’ll seldom need the coins outside of purchasing a vehicle for some particularly tough encounters. Annoyingly, health pick-ups seem to come in bunches, and it’s not always clear when you’ve reached a checkpoint. Most stages end with a boss fight, and the ones that don’t feel like a let down, given that the bosses are quite fun to take down.
In addition to a standard gun, Goose can pick up a machine gun, a tesla coil, a shotgun, and a rocket launcher. Each of these has a limited amount of ammo, and even if you collect multiple pick-ups, the total ammo for these special guns is capped. A jump, dodge roll, and a special attack round out your arsenal. New special attacks unlock regularly, and range from calling down a beam from the sky or summoning skeleton-like minions, to a buff that instantly fills your Mighty Meter. This meter builds up as you rain fire on enemies, and when full can be activated to put Goose into a temporary super state where they gain invulnerability and a massive firepower boost.
The stages scroll primarily from left to right with some verticality thrown in on occasion. Certain areas task you with activating a switch or lever to open a door or raise a platform, but these sections don't really add much to the experience. One of the main issues with Mighty Goose is that it’s over too quickly. You can roll credits in under two hours, and doing so unlocks upgraded versions of most of the stages you already completed. I was looking forward to some interesting twists in these “plus” stages, but they play basically the exact same way, and the challenge wasn’t noticeably greater. There’s apparently a reward for completing all the plus stages, but the game doesn’t offer enough to make replaying them all over again a worthwhile endeavor.
Unlockable buffs, special attacks, and even partner characters aren’t enough to justify the “Mighty” moniker. While fun for a little while, the repetitive gameplay, short main campaign, and lacking arsenal make Mighty Goose a tough recommendation. The pixel art, soundtrack, and performance are all solid, and the menus and base where you choose your loadout are presented well. There’s also something funny about Goose’s random honks and certain moments when the action slows down and a giant goose pops up in the corner of the screen. If you absolutely need more Metal Slug in your life, then I would say wing it, but otherwise maybe let sleeping geese lie.