Released into the arcades in 1995 by the… interestingly named Fuuki, Go Go! Mile Smile – sometimes known as Sasume! Mile Smile depending on the territory – is an endearingly cute, maze based action game. The player controls a cyan egg which can only be moved around the tracks surrounding the play area; these spaces are completely safe because the patrolling enemies can’t actually move into them but, in order to complete each stage, the contents of the egg must literally come out of their shell and gather all of the items which are dotted around the screen.
Contents plural because the egg is almost TARDIS-like and crammed impossibly full with yellow, fluffy chicks; as they head out into the playfield these avians form a delightful little Conga line and, if an enemy breaks their chain in some way, a life is lost and the round restarts. The fire button can retract everything back into the egg at lightning speed if used early enough and there’s also a friendly fairy who drifts past occasionally, pausing on her way to drop off items which are either a score bonus or there to help, for example temporarily allowing the chicks to deal with their pursuers.
So with the bonus items, fast retract button and the egg being safe from contact with the nasties it might sound like an easy game, but Go Go! Mile Smile really isn’t; keeping a constant, watchful eye on the entire line of birds and making sure they’re not about to make contact with anything is an acquired skill and it’s incredibly easy to miss potential collisions when concentrating on where the lead one with a piece of shell on it’s head is going. There’s not much time to hesitate or strategise either since each level has a time limit, this can sometimes be topped up by items from the fairy but it’s best to play like the seconds dished out at the start of the stage are all you’re getting.
I stumbled across Go Go! Mile Smile over a decade ago, randomly downloading it whilst picking up ROM images for MAME in part because it looked bright and colourful and I wanted something that wasn’t a hardcore scrolling shoot ’em up so that my Beloved and I would sit down and play together; we did but, ironically, she spent far longer playing Parodius rather than anything else! The gameplay shares a few features of the 1982 coin-op Anteater except with more potential entry points into the maze-like playfield and, despite all the jolly colours and music, things get seriously intense as the seconds tick down whilst trying to gather those final, hard to reach items on a stage.