Goats are special little creatures. Their milk makes tasty cheeses, their fleece makes soft mohair yarn for our sweaters, and nary a petting zoo is complete without their horned little heads butting in for some attention. Known for their enthusiastic appetites and their noble instinct to ascend, goats have been enjoying a warm spotlight in popular culture recently. The newest offering on this theme, Mountain Goat Mountain from Zynga, is a delightfully fun arcade game worthy of its cherished, honorable namesake.
Mountain Goat Mountain is essentially an “endless climber” where you tap and swipe to ascend a mountain as high as you can while avoiding impenetrable obstacles, crumbling paths, forces of nature, and falling debris. The blocky terrain (reminiscent of Q*bert) is also scattered with springboards to assist you and coins which unlock more levels. The game mechanics are quite simple, requiring some quick reflexes and a little bit of strategic patience as you tap and swipe your way up the mountain. It’s certainly addictive, but in a delightfully charming way you won’t need to hide from any judgmental friends.
The first level is a verdant hillside dotted with pine trees and waterfalls. Tumbling logs and boulders, lightening-spitting clouds, and crumbling rock precipices all stand between your little goat and an epic altitude. Abundant springboards add some surprisingly exciting twists to the trajectory. You’ll need to find and eat grass to keep energy levels up. Along the way, collect coins to unlock more levels; 100 coins will grant access to another goat and its corresponding environment.
Along with the simple, satisfying gameplay, in this first level I was immediately impressed with the graphics; the lush, vibrant environment was an absolute pleasure to navigate. However, the incredible artistry of the game truly revealed itself in a handful of later levels. I was sincerely awed by the beauty of several landscapes including the scenes for the Samurai Goat, the Mountie Goat and the Granny Goat.
Some environments were so striking I died because I took too long to gaze at the scenery and my poor goat starved. There is impressive attention to detail, and frankly, a whole lot of love apparent in each level. The tracks left by the goat, the crumbling elements, the waterfalls, even what’s blowing in the wind are all carefully designed to evoke the unique spirit of each theme.
As with many high score chasers, I died frequently. In many similar games, these so-called “cheap deaths” can be frustrating and tedious, or worse, reveal the pay wall. However, each time I restarted a level the terrain was slightly different so I was never annoyed having to try again. Dying frequently also allowed me earn piles of free coins by watching short ads for other games. I was generously served a coin-producing ad almost every other death for a few hours.
The game’s monetization model is a refreshing change from most free-to-play games. There is only one type of purchase: a goat of your choice for $0.99. How relieved I was to find I could buy exactly the goat I wanted! No lottery spin, no energy depletion, no checkpoints, no secondary currency to purchase. If I want the Unicorn Goat, I can simply buy it outright and play that sparkly rainbow level until my heart is content. If I don’t want to spend money, I can earn gold coins through gameplay or by watching ads, then take my chance at the mystery crate.
If you’ve ever played Crossy Road, this should all sound eerily familiar — and as consumers, we’re excited to see this model catching on. In what proved to be a very fair reward system, I unlocked 15 crates over the course of a few hours and I was able to earn 11 unique goats.
Mountain Goat Mountain is challenging and charming, with gorgeous environments and pleasurable gameplay. In sum, it’s a truly joyful experience. If you’re wondering why everyone is loving goats so much these days, this game will certainly show you why.