Godzilla games over the years have tended to fall into one of two camps – destructive, destroy everything in sight affairs - like that which launched alongside the Dreamcast in Japan in 1998 - and those that more closely resemble a one-on-one fighting game or brawler such as the entries on the Gamecube and PS2. This one ends up being something of a mixture of the two, with wanton destruction being encouraged, but thwarted by the appearance of several other kaiju that have appeared throughout Godzilla's silver screen outings.
The main event on offer is Destruction Mode, which essentially tells a story to give some context to the chaos. Starting off on the same stage every time,players can choose which route to take once a stage has been completed, ranging in difficulty from easy to hard with a total often overall. At the most basic level, the requirement to pass a stage is to destroy several generators scattered throughout, with the army doing what little they can to bring Godzilla to a halt. As in the films though, the most effective Godzilla repellent comes in the form of a similar sized kaiju and these will, at times, appear. This is where the game transitions into a beat 'em up of sorts, although those expecting a lot of depth will be disappointed as combat is limited to a few offensive manoeuvres - the familiar atomic breath as well as kicks, punches and a grapple. The movement is slow and somewhat cumbersome, with the right stick moving the camera and the left moving forward and back, or strafing side to side. This, coupled with the lack of any real variety in attacking moves (although these can be customised – more on that later) does make the combat repetitive, even if it isn't the main attraction.
Whilst the main goal is the destuction of said generators, there are a few other things to pay attention to as well. First off, the more buildings, and tanks are destroyed, the more Godzilla grows in size, up to a maximum of one hundred metres. More height means more destructive capabilities, and this can come in handy on the harder stages, when a powerful ninety metre Mecha Godzilla might appear whilst you are also battling against the clock, for example. As a counter to this, more destruction will see the disaster level rise which dictates the amount of enemy tanks and helicopters that appear and also how much damage they dish out. It can be tricky to determine just how much damage is being taken too as, although enemy kaiju have health bars, Godzilla doesn't and the screen gradually getting more red (à la basically every modern FPS) is the only way to determine how much danger the player is in.
King of the Monsters is the other mode that is on offer and this is where the story is stripped back, allowing for one on one encounters to take place. Not every kaiju from the Godzilla series is represented, but most fan favourites are included and these are also the ones that can appear throughout the story mode as well. While fans will be happy with the sight of Godzilla taking on Mecha Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and even Jet Jaguar, bizarrely none of these are controllable characters, with the player granted play of only Godzilla. Although several variations can be unlocked by playing through the story (including the recent Legendary design), it is only Godzilla that the player will ever be able to control. This comes as a huge disappointment, especially given Godzilla's limited moveset, but also because the kaiju models are superbly detailed and it seems a shame to have them relegated to random story mode appearances.
The other modes on offer include a Diorama mode where the previously mentioned models can be placed into one of a number of stages, with some tanks and helicopters and photographed, but this seems like a bit of a waste of time to all but the most dedicated kaiju figure collector. The encyclopedia of sorts is a nice touch though, providing a biography and stats on the friends and foes that have appeared with Godzilla since 1954. More useful though is Evolution mode where Godzilla's attacks can be changed and customised. This includes what way combos play out, but also adds some fan service, with classic animations from some of the movies able to be used in battle.
In the end, Godzilla feels like it is lacking, both in terms of substantial, engaging content and variety when destroying buildings and attacking enemies. Having said that, fans are unlikely to be too disappointed with what is, at its core, a solid game. The language barrier is minimal, but would be importers would be advised to wait until the game receives its Western release this summer. A PS4 version is also planned and maybe Bandai Namco will take this opportunity to include some more playable characters. Most interest for this game will be from Godzilla fans or those that have fond memories of stomping around Tokyo in the early days of the Dreamcast. By all means add a point or two to reflect how much kaiju appeal to you, but non-genre fans would be advised to get their beat 'em up kicks elsewhere.
- Excellent character models
- Lacking in content
- A bit repetitive
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Other versions: N/A
Version reviewed: Asian