Monday, October 24, 2016

1PanelReview Godzilla (NES)

Monsters, fight on the NES!!

It's time for an All-Monsters Attack!!

Want more Kaiju-related reviews? Check these out!
What it is: Godzilla: Monster of Monsters also known as simply Godzilla (NES)

Which is: A top-down boardgame/sidescroller action videogame
Created by: Compile/Toho Eizo/Toho
Year: 1988/1991
Available on: NES

The long-running Japanese Godzilla franchise is part of our pop culture! There's been over dozen of films, countless tie-in merchandising from toys to video games and comics, not counting all the numerous ways the King of Monsters inspired, influenced or has been alluded to in all sorts of medias. Of course there's been all kinds of videos games, from bad to good, some great ones and some even worse.. Let's start with the infamous NES Godzilla game, also known as Godzilla: Monster of Monsters. Developed by Compile, and distributed by Toho.

The game doesn't really have an actual proper story, it's basically simply riffing off old Showa-era Godzilla films. A mysterious Planet X suddenly appeared in the Solar System and aliens started attacking Earth!! The King of Monsters, Godzilla, must join forces with the protector Mothra to face all these alien Kaijus in a fight for planet Earth, helped by the allied forces of Earth against these alien invaders!

What's Good about it: Monster of Monsters is a pretty complex game. For some reason Compile didn't simply make a simple no-brainer beat 'em all Godzilla game, but instead they went for something rather original.
For the most part, the game takes the form of a top-down isometric boardgame. You're moving both Godzilla and Mothra like chess pieces from place to place, either entering sidescrolling level or a boss fight when you come to face with one of the monsters on the board. 
The player and the computer take turns. Godzilla and Mothra are quite different, Mothra can move across more tiles and his stages "literally" fly better since she can, well, fly. Godzilla is much stronger though. Both have a wide range of attacks, radioactive breath and all.
There aren't that many different "boards", although you will have to do several stages while moving on those every time you land on a different tile. There are mountains, jungle, cityscape and a space board. You're mostly fighting your way through hordes of aliens and giant monsters.
To clear a world you have to defeat all kaijus before moving on to the next one. These boss battles last up to 90 seconds, but you can "clear" them by simply surviving the time limit if you can't defeat a specific monster. The final board on Planet X has your two monsters go through every previous kaiju along the ultimate boss, King Ghidorah himself!!
As a Kaiju fan, the game has a ton of references to old school Toho monsters and science-fiction films. Like the alien space ships taken directly from The War in Space or Manda from the 1963 film Atragon used as a common enemy throughout the game.
The boss monsters are taken from various Godzilla films and other Toho daokaiju films, such as Gezora (from the 1970 movie Space Amoeba), Moguera (from the 1957 movie The Mysterians), Varan (from the 1958 movie Varan the Unbelievable), Hedorah, Baragon (from the 1965 movie Frankenstein Conquers the World), Gigan, Mechagodzilla and King Ghidorah!
Also, this one of those games that makes great use of cheat codes with a ton of fun stuff through passwords such as a mode where Godzilla & Mothra must "DESTR0Y ALL MONSTERS" all at once, and other fun oddities. Anguirus is also available to play as through a cheat code, but only on the Japanese version of the game. There were supposed to be several more scrapped monsters originally planned for the game that have been found in the game's code by fans, like Rodan...

What's Bad about it: ...and despite all these promises, and this very unique and interesting premise, it's still a pretty bad game.
The game is rarely fun. While boss fights can be enjoyable if you're a big Godzilla fan, the stages are simply horrendous to go through.
This whole boardgame design is such a chore...
These sidescroller stages are never fun. There's way too much clutter on screen, it's basically impossible to avoid the constant wave of enemies and direct hits if you're not playing with Mothra. There's always constant flickering and slowdowns, this is one of those games were they tried to give too much to the poor ol' NES. You rarely have everything on screen with so much flickering...
Meanwhile the boss fights can be ridiculously easy..
The graphics are nice on the monsters, but everything else is a mess. With bland boring black backgrounds (they probably did that to allow the NES to run all this on screen... and they still didn't manage to pull it off!).
It's just no fun.

Overall: Godzilla: Monster of Monsters is a great idea for a game, ruined either by short deadlines, a tiny budget, an incompetent developer or a publisher not allowing them to pull it off. The fact this was released for the NES certainly didn't help the premise.

I say Try It, if you're a big Godzilla/Toho/Kaiju fan, but it doesn't fulfill any promises... There's so much better Godzilla games!

Despite all this the game still landed a place in pop culture, and like other cult horror NES classics NECA also produced a figure of Godzilla based on this game. 

Monster of Monsters would be followed by a radically different game called Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters in 1991. Based on a scrapped Rodan game where you control the army this time.

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