Gamestyle Archive intro: another debut review arrives in the Archive this time for Peter Brant. I don’t actually recall anything about Peter’s time with the site, so lets move on. He tackles a Godzilla game and I’ve fond memories of the widespread mayhem of the Dreamcast title he mentions in passing that didn’t make it outside of Japan.
Published: November 2002
Being a huge big monster must be great, you can pick up cars or trucks and throw them around, you can stamp on the ground and making the pavement shatter, you can push over a large building, and, of course, you can grab beautiful women and take them up the top of the empire state building. Yes, there is a downside, in that inevitably, humanity will rise up and join together and ultimately kill you, usually with missiles. But still, would beat going to the office from 9 to 5 every day, no?
Great big monster games, are, quite inexplicably for me, a rather under-exploited subject matter. Of the top of my head I can name just three, maybe four games where you get to be a huge creature and smash things up; The original Midway classic, Rampage, which whilst being good fun, was rather limited. The Movie Monster Game and old C64 game released by Epyx, where you got to be a variety of hollywood creatures. Godzilla on Dreamcast, which never saw the light of day in the west, and, to a certain extent Black & White where half the fun was launching trees and house into the sky, or using worshippers as “skimming stones” and spinning them across the water. Yes, to me, this is very strange, because, next to being able to fly, being a great big monster must be a favourite childhood fantasy. Of course, being a great big monster that can fly is just the ultimate, but I digress. The point is, that the world is screaming out for a game where you can be something that poses a threat to mankind, and can level small cities. Or maybe it’s just me.
So, could Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters Melee be an answer to my prayers? Will it let me live out all those destructive childhood dreams?…. …Sadly, no. Godzilla: DAM (applicable anacronym, I feel like adding “N!” on the end) is, for all intents and purposes, a 3D beat-em-up. Yes, like a sort of Tech Romancer in big monster suits. There is the plus of having 4-way battles though, which is nice. The last game I can remember doing that before Super Smash Bros. Melee was Powerstone 2, However, on my copy at least, the 4-way battles could only take place if you had 4 people playing. There did not seem to be an option to have 2 player-controlled combatants, and 2 computer controlled ones. Melee mode, seemed to be limited to the number of controllers you have plugged in. A little strange, to say the least.
There are a variety of modes, the main one being “Adventure mode”, which of course has a background story, which goes something like this: Alien invaders land on earth, they go to Monster Island (not to be confused with Monkey Island TM) where, of course, all the Monsters live, and blast them with a mind control ray, the cads. But wait! One monster has escaped the brain-bending beam! Yes, Godzilla (or your chosen creature) has managed to avoid having his noodle knobbled and embarks on a brief World tour to various cities and beat up all the enslaved monsters (hence the “Destroy all Monsters” part of the title). All of this is explained in a suitable “B-movie” style opening movie, which, it has to be said, is great! Various creatures from the Godzilla franchise are present, and I am sure if you are a Godzilla-ite then you will be delighted to see the likes of both the 1990s and 2000 version of Godzilla, Anguirus, Megalon, Rodan, Destroyah, King Ghidorah, Gigan, and the Mecha versions of Godzilla and King Ghidorah all battling it out, although only the first four are selectable from the start; the remaining monsters must be unlocked, and that means for Multi-player battles too.
Fighting is fairly standard fair; control movement with the stick and use the face and shoulder buttons to initiate attacks, although seeing Godzilla doing a roundhouse kick, or watching Rhodan perform a left hook is a little strange to say the least. Nothing you wouldn’t see in your average Power Rangers episode mind you. And that’s part of the problem, rather than looking like computer representations of the monster in question, they sometimes look like a computer representation of a man wearing a suit of the monster in question. Now, If that was done intentionally, then it is impressive, because the developers have captured it perfectly, but, it has to be asked, why would you want to play as a man in a suit? There are a variety of special attacks, ranging from eye-laser’s to fire breath, these can be somewhat impressive visually, and some are even accompanied with the “generic 1950’s B movie laser beam sound effect”, you know the one I mean, a sort of high pitched squeal. A gauge fills as you fight, limiting the use of these special attacks, which is not harsh enough, as you will find yourself using the beam attacks fairly often.
Some creatures have far more effective beams’ than others; Godzilla 2000, for example, having a infinitely preferable version than Anguirus, giving a somewhat in-balanced feel. As well as beam attacks, pick up a rage power-up and you can initiate a rage attack, which sounds impressive, but are somewhat disappointing when they occur. As well as rage power-ups, health and “beam gauge” power-ups appear, and also a “Mothra air-strike” power-up, which when collected, brings Mothra to the action, pelting your opponent with attacks during the fight. Win 6 or so fights, and its onto the final battle with Mecha-Godzilla, beat him, and its job done, a new stage becomes selectable, and maybe a new monster. Repeat until you have unlocked all monsters so Multi-player bouts have more variety. Hmmm.
“But, what about smashing things up!?” I hear you cry. Well you can, sort if, just not as much as you would like. It is treated as a sort of side issue to the fighting action, rather than the main objective, which is what I hoped for. All of the cities you visit, have a basically flat terrain, with the odd recognisable landmark. The fighting area is marked off with a green glowing fence, which whilst giving you a fairly generous area to fight in, is sometimes annoying, the houses of parliament, for example, being on the other side of the fence. Yes, you can throw things at it, but you can’t stomp Tony and pals into the ground. Buildings inside the area can be reduced to rubble, but during a fight, it is often a side effect of throwing a monster into them, or hitting them with a miss-placed laser beam, rather than an intentional act of demolition. I also have a problem with the way building collapse, the larger ones especially, are a bit “cardboard cut-out”. Certainly not the devastating collapse you would imagine.
There is a “Destruction” mode selectable (but bizarrely, only if you have 2 players! which involves scoring points for knocking down buildings. But its just not satisfying enough, it seems like the developers though “oh well, we better give them this mode” and tacked it on the end. The cities do have inhabitants, minuscule cars can be seen driving the streets, but you rarely pay any attention to it, so the effect is lost. Tanks and helicopters are more obvious though. The tanks fire freezing rays at you, which have an effect of hitting you at the most inopportune moment, thus leaving you extremely vulnerable to attack. Chopper buzz round, and if you do swipe one by accident, if will go down in a ball of flame. Versus, survival and team battle mode make up the rest of the game variations. All standard beat-em-up fair. Infogrames have release this title through Atari, and you can see why. It definitely has an “Atari-esque” feel about it. But, unfortunately the rest of the game just isn’t up to scratch.
Gamestyle Score: 6/10