[Review] Mountain Goat Mountain

Mountain Goat Mountain

Developer: Zynga
Genre: Arcade
Download from Google Play
Download from iTunes
Price: freemium

As far as animals are concerned, I am a traditional dog and cat person, and deep inside my heart I think goats are wonderful, but smelly, and are best observed from far-far away. Zynga challenged my prejudice in its latest mobile game Mountain Goat Mountain for iOS and Android, and for one, the mobile games can’t convey the odor just yet, so I felt pretty safe, yet skeptical. Did the game change my skepticism? You bet it did, and here is why.

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Gameplay

Mountain Goat Mountain is a reflex-based endless twitch game, where the end is your limit of hand-eye coordination and spatial skills. You control a goat on its ascension to what seems to be an impossible to reach mountain top. The mountain is constructed of blocks – some regular, some grassy and that’s where your goat can eat and replenish its flaky energy stock. Some blocks fall apart right beneath you, so you either avoid them, or jump really fast to get to safety. As any mountain, Zynga’s has rivers, trees, and plenty of ways to jump to your death.

Whenever your goat dies, it happens from a variety of reasons, the most common being the starvation, a rock falling from the top, or a plank of wood rolling, or a badly calculated jump that sends the goat directly off the edge and into the abyss. Wherever the goat dies, you see a tombstone appear and a short summary of your goat’s cause of death, plus the current score.

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Controls

There are two schemes in Mountain Goat Mountain, and I would suggest you switch from the default swipe scheme to the regular 4-direction controls, also touch. The second option makes gameplay a lot more enjoyable while swiping gets you dead more often than you deserve. That said, the second 4-directions tap scheme works buttery smooth, and when I die, I know it’s because of my bad planning or unfortunate lack of grass anywhere around.

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Goats

One of the hooks of this game is… the goat, as odd as it sounds. The thing is since you play to get a better high score, there aren’t levels, but areas. And areas come with unique goats. So, the first one is the basic regular goat jumping across the green mountain with a blue sky around it. It’s ok, but until I realized there was more to the game I was willing to quit. Trust me, give this game some 10 minutes and don’t reject the video ads. You get some 20-30 coins for watching one video ad of Clash of Clans or the like. Once in a while, the game grants you free coins just because you are wonderful.

As a result, within one gameplay session, even a short one, you get to unlock a crate with one new goat. Well, it’s the same goat, but with a different outfit and a unique area. And they are amazing – there is a VR goat, granny goat, geisha goat, rainy goat, winter snowland – a total of 20-something areas.

The allure of unlocking new areas is obvious – new gorgeous designs and funny geographical or cultural references make the gameplay even more enjoyable.

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Design

As I already mentioned, the variety of areas is excellent and the design of each is a delight. It is obvious a lot of love has been invested in this game art-wise, and that’s what makes it so appealing to me. The color palettes, the design decisions, the hats and the little things like the goat waving its tail when anxious to jump – it’s funny, it looks good and it does the job of getting players hooked.

The sound score is appropriate and not irritating, which is fine by me. I am still looking forward to unlocking the Dubstep Goat to see if its soundtrack is different.

Overall, the design is superb, and I am digging the acid VR area while my girlfriend is fond of the Geisha and Granny areas with pando trees, lamp-lit sakura trees and all that soft pink and cherry charm – very atmospheric.

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Replay Value

The higher your goat ascends, the better score you get – no saved checkpoints, so every time you start from zero. Nonetheless, the randomly generated areas never give you an impression like you’ve been there before – level generation done right.

The great variety of goats keeps you hooked, and the relatively accessible and easy way to unlock them without paying real money is a great incentive to keep playing.

Why, the game is annoyingly addicting to be honest. It is not impossibly hard, so you never feel like a complete failure. Yet, it is challenging to have the frequent replays, which are one tap away – no obnoxious menus and screens to go through in between the re-tries.

The only downside is you need to have the connection to watch the ads and get those coins for free.

Overall, the replay value is excellent and Mountain Goat Mountain will most likely become your resident time killer for quite a good while.

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Difficulty

The game is accessible, and the 4-direction controls scheme seems easier than the swipe controls. It’s definitely not the hardest reflex-based game ever, yet it has its challenge and the re-tries are frequent. At the same time, you are never stuck with one and the same area and once you have unlocked a few of them, you can choose them in random order whenever you like. The randomly generated grids don’t let you get used to the layouts, so each replay is different, and it’s an enjoyable challenge.

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IAPs

I described how the ad system works in the Goats section of this review – watch and ad, get 30 coins. Once you have 100 coins you can unlock a new goat with a unique area. The ad offers are frequent, but at some point you wish they’d were even more frequent just so you could unlock another area.

That said, the system makes it possible to unlock 1-2 new goats within one gameplay session. Once a day, the game gives you a pack of free coins as an incentive for playing.

However, the goats you unlock for the in-game coins come in random order. Once I even unlocked the same goat twice. If you don’t want to wait till that Unicorn Goat comes your way, you can spend $0.99 per specific goat via in-app purchase. The great part is when you buy it for real money, you get to choose the one you really want, and the price of IAP is appropriate.

This thought-through system eliminates paywalls, and the game opens its new areas just at the right time to keep you coming for more.

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The Good

  • Addicting gameplay, accessible and catchy – the kind you keep playing in your head when you try to doze off at night
  • Smooth controls
  • Gorgeous design
  • Freemium done right – no paywalls, frequently unlocked new areas
  • When you buy a goat with its area via IAP, you choose the one you want – no fortune wheels when you pay
  • Great for short sessions
  • Fun for the competitive folks who like to climb the leaderboards and solo players alike

The Bad

  • Erm.. I am struggling here. Maybe the first area seems a bit dull and may lose a few players who can’t spare 10 minutes to get hooked. Or maybe the game’s icon that doesn’t convey how cool the gameplay is…

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The Verdict

Many compare Mountain Goat Mountain to Crossy Road and Qbert, and while I utterly disliked Crossy Road, I am more inclined to compare MGM to the Quest Keeper, even though the latter is incomparably harder. The beautiful design, addicting gameplay, accessibility of content that can be unlocked for free gives the player the right dose of novelty quite often, so the overall worth of a freemium game is superb. Especially considering it’s a freemium game done right, without obnoxious IAPs or interfering ads. It’s balanced and polished, and ultimately ingenious in its simplicity. Goats can be fun!

Play the game and let us know what you think in the comments below or join a conversation on our forums. Don’t forget to follow and like our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ pages for more hand-picked news, reviews and guides on everything Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Gameplay
Controls
Design
Replay Value
Difficulty
IAPs