Review by Matt Paprocki
|Japanese "Kaiju" (giant monsters) have been
around for nearly 50 years. It's popularity stems from one single solitary word...
Godzilla. It's a household name, a classic example of film making, a collectors market,
and an average NES game reviewed here.
How can anyone go wrong? You have the most
popular movie monster in the world, a license from Toho to use all of their creations, and
one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time. Let's see... make Godzilla the worlds
largest target, put him on a huge boring grid for most of the game, and not have a single
building be destroyed. Nope, the only thing that's destroyed here are the defenses of
Earth and Planet X, the reason the Big G and Mothra must team up. The evil aliens from
Planet X have sent some of the greatest monsters of all time to Earth and it's up to
Godzilla/Mothra to save the Earth. This plot is ripped right out of one of Toho's finest,
"Destroy All Monsters." Not a bad start, but the essence of Godzilla is
completely lost in the translation.
Part strategy, part action, Godzilla puts players on a grid map in which they must maneuver their two monsters across to the base located at the other end. Along the way, players will be forced to dodge laser guns, tanks, jets, and of course, other giant monsters. Since Mothra has the ability to move more spaces on the grid than Godzilla (but is much weaker), strategy can play a role. Forcing Godzilla to plod through the numerous respective stages before reaching the end goal proves to be monotones.
Cheap shots come from all angles and some of the weapons
used by the defense forces are downright impossible to dodge. Mothra is a much
smaller target and is easier to maneuver, but still falls victim to the powerful weapons.
At least the designers were kind enough to have plenty of power-ups strewn throughout the
stages, making death rare in these stages.
Once a monster battle is initiated (accomplished by landing next to one on a map), it's
a one-on-one battle to the death, at least for 30 seconds. After that, players are taken
back to the map to decide their next move. The same problems that plague the rest of the
game are also present here, minus the generous power-ups. Most of the kaiju simply walk
into the players creature and corner trap them into submission. This tactic is used even
more when your closer to the end of the game, especially with the games final challenge,
King Ghidorah. A two-player fighting mode would've greatly increased this games enjoyment,
but it's obvious the designers were relying on the games license to sell copies.
The above mentioned "essence" of Godzilla means a few things. For
one thing, he must breathe fire, captured in this game very well. Another is Godzilla's
trademarked roar, totally absent from the game. Not even the classic music form the films
is to be found anywhere in the game, a definite disappointment. None of the other monsters
sound anything like their movie-counterparts either, diminishing what little atmosphere
the game has. Sounds of jets blasting into Godzilla's hide are pathetic and the rest of
the explosions are nearly non-existent.
While the sounds may falter, the majority of the graphics do not.
This is arguably the best looking game on the console, at least when the game is paused.
As a sacrifice for the outstanding look of the mutated dinos, the animation was sliced
right out of the game. The boss battles are fought against nothing more than a black
background making some of the classic confrontations meaningless. How cool would it be to
brawl inside a major metropolis? The rest of the stage designs are completely ludicrous,
looking NOTHING like anything out of classic Toho monster movies. No giant cityscapes, no
underwater battles, just barren landscapes full of volcanoes and vegetation. The amount of
flicker and slowdown is also worth noting.
Even with every major portion of the game being seriously flawed, it has moments where it comes together. The extensive roster of recognizable monsters, the never before seen battles, and great looking graphics will be enough to pull in hardcore fans, but anyone else should avoid this one. The ability to control Godzilla may be enough to lure a few people in, but the vast majority will quickly be diving for the power button.
Note: For a complete rundown of US released Godzilla games, see the article here.
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