Playism Game Show Hands-on: Mighty Goose

At yesterday evening’s Playism Game Show, developer Blastmode showed off a new trailer for one of their upcoming games. We had the opportunity to go hands-on with a demo. This game, this indie goose game, has a title, and it leans into it.

The mightily funny Mighty Goose feels familiar yet welcome in its combination of nostalgia and absurdity. It’s like if Contra III: The Alien Wars was crossed with Starfox. More specifically: the side-scrolling, run-and-gun elements and frenzied feel of Contra meets the goofy, animal characterizations and teammate tagalongs of Starfox. There are even helicopter-type vehicles with a spotlight that drops bombs, a clear homage to an enemy in level three of Contra III.

You play as the titular Mighty Goose, who is tasked with flying across the galaxy to accept missions on different planets and locales. Giving you radio intel along the way is Chonk, a chubby rabbit who calls himself your “operator.” In the beta preview build I played, the first mission you play has you trying to free, and eventually have as companion, Weaponmaster Vark,
a pig who pathetically fights with a wrench and gives you special ammo.

As you save Vark and tear through swarms of enemies with the gun attached to your wing (a la Metroid), you risk dying, of course—but when you do, you’re sort of rewarded by seeing your character turned into
a cooked goose on a platter.

Mighty Goose has a lot of humorous, low-stakes fun. However, since there isn’t much complexity to plot, characters, or even environments, the gameplay issues that are still present in this beta build become that much more glaring. Not to mention that it is one of the core, must-be-polished
mechanics of a run-and-gun game at the root of these issues: movement.

Your character, goose though it may be, feels sluggish and floaty in its general walk and jump actions. Though surely the sluggishness was in small part due to the fact that I used a keyboard rather than controller to play, there is clearly an awareness of this problem on developer Blastmode’s
part. This is because one of the abilities your character has seeks to compensate for the slow movement: the dash feature.

While, again, it is appropriately funny to have a goose clumsily somersaulting (rather than, say, gliding), the stark contrast between walking and dashing is frustrating. One second you’ll be ambling, gun ablaze at the enemies closing in on you, and the next your character will zip from one side of the screen to the other. Oftentimes this made me
lose where my character was. What’s more, the dash strangely makes you cut through bullets, as if you’re invincible, which makes the feature seem more like a band-aid for the inability to avoid attacks with simple jumping and walking. I found myself relying too much on ducking just to get
by.

This game has a lot of potential, but is lacking polish to its core game mechanics, especially movement. Surely many players would forego seeing charming humor and zany character interactions for a game that runs smoother. Even among the crowd sympathetic to indie games, nostalgia for simpler, more whimsical games won’t always make players overlook fundamental issues to gameplay mechanics.

Mighty Goose is planned for release for PC via Steam in 2021.


Preview copy provided by Blastmode for PC. Featured image courtesy of Blastmode. Screenshots sourced from game’s Steam page.