Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
Godzilla movies are awesome. I personally have grown up watching them (I lived in Japan during my youth) and own 19 of them on both VHS and DVD. Yes, I know that it’s painfully obvious that Godzilla and friends are just guys in rubber suits, but there is something curiously compelling about watching the Big G stomp his way through various Japanese cities causing extreme mayhem and destruction. Being the huge G Fan that I am, when I first learned of the upcoming release of Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters Melee (G: DaMM) for the Xbox I was beside myself with excitement. Who wouldn’t want to play as Godzilla and his various gigantic friends and advisories in an intense multiplayer fighting game! So did the final product live up to my expectations? Read on to find out…
The gameplay in G: DaMM is simple. You brawl against other Kaiju (Japanese world for large monster) in cities across the world to see who is the true king of the monsters. There are typical fighting moves to be found such as: Strong, weak, grapple, projectile and special attacks. Controlling your Kaiju is a breeze. In fact, that might be one of the game’s biggest weaknesses: It’s just too dang easy. You’ll master each Kaiju after playing through only a few times and long combos are nowhere to be found. I suppose it makes sense because in the movies Godzilla never pulls off any 21-hit combos, but it still limits the lasting appeal of the game.
The game offers a typical ‘story’ mode, as well as some multiplayer game types such as, Versus, Melee, Team Battle and Destruction. Versus mode is simple: the last monster standing is the winner. In the Melee mode, points are acquired for beating up on your opponents and whoever has the most at the end of the time limit is the victor. Team Battle allows you to team up with a friend and Destruction mode awards you for destroying the most buildings within the time limit. Unlike in the GameCube version of G: DaMM, you can battle bots in each of the multiplayer modes, but this only serves as a tease for the real excitement of brawling with your buddies.
Because G: DaMM is a fighting game at heart, there is no story to speak of. Sure, there is some mumbo-jumbo about aliens from Planet X using the monsters to take control of the Earth, but it’s not elaborated on and is just an excuse (and a pretty sorry excuse at that) to pit the kaiju against each other. It would have been nice to see some more effort put into the game’s cutscenes, as they are extremely short and extremely cheesy.
The line-up of combatants is varied and has many of the most popular kaiju including: Godzilla ’90s (a version of the Big G based on his films of the ’90s), Godzilla 2000 (the Godzilla from the film of the same name), Rodan (the popular flying kaiju), Gigan (monster with huge buzz-saw on its chest), Megalon (bug-like kaiju with good all around abilities), King Ghidora (powerful flying monster and Godzilla’s arch enemy), Mecha King Ghidora (more powerful version of the original), MechaGodzilla (’90s version of the powerful robotic Godzilla imitator), Destroyah (massive kaiju capable of doing serious damage), Anguirus (scrappy four-legged monster with a spiked shell) and Orga (slow but powerful). New to the Xbox version of G: DaMM is MechaGodzilla 3, and although a nice addition, it would have been great to see some other monsters make the cut such as Titanosaurus, Biolante, Mothra (she is only in the game as a power-up), MechaGodzilla ’75 and Baragon.
The visuals in Godzilla: DaMM are quite good, certainly the best ever in a Godzilla game. You can actually see the rough textures on each of the kaiju, and their skin flexes and moves realistically. It is clear that Pipeworks spent a good deal of time and energy updating the game’s textures to take advantage of the Xbox’s increased hardware power, and GameCube owners who see this version in action will be green with envy. Apart from the nice textures, there are some cool graphical effects in the game such as the particles that are created when using a projectile attack and the flickering lights when a building is struck during a night battle. The buildings and environments are not very detailed, but they certainly don’t look bad. Most likely the lack of detail in the environment is to help keep the framerate up in the game’s frantic four player mode. Thankfully, the slowdown found in the GameCube version of the game has been all but been eliminated.
The kaiju themselves are all modeled to look nearly identical to their big-screen counterparts. Little touches like King Ghidora waving its three heads spastically and Gigan clanging his metallic arms together are all animated very well and add to the game’s realism. Some of the animations have been altered from the Cube iteration in order to make the game truer to the films. Kaiju aficionados will be happy to see that Godzilla’s previous spastic victory roar has been replaced with one that is much slower (and far more realistic).
All of the monster’s roars are taken straight from the Japanese Toho movies and they sound amazing. When King Ghidora lets out his high pitched cry it sounds just like he does in the movies. I was worried that a Western developer would botch the small details, but Atari did a good job in keeping the authenticity of the Japanese movies. The only problem with this is that many of the people who know nothing about Godzilla movies think that many of the Kaiju sound effects are lame. Well in my opinion they can go watch the American version of Godzilla (which was a travesty) for all I care, so long as they aren’t bothering me. All of the other sound effects are well done and add to the overall gaming experience. I was disappointed that Godzilla’s main theme (composed by the great Akira Ifukube) is only played during the final credits, but, hey, at least it’s in there right? If you ever find yourself tiring of the game’s soundtrack, then just load up some tunes from your Xbox’s hard drive to spice things up.
G: DaMM is incredibly fun in multiplayer, but, unfortunately, that’s the extent of its longevity. There are some gallery pictures of the various kaiju which can be unlocked, as well as a few Xbox exclusive bonus arenas, but with only a handful of monsters available you’ll be hard pressed to come back much to play the one player mode. Fortunately, as mentioned above, the game is very fun when played with friends, so as long as you have four controllers and buddies to play with you’ll be all right.
In the end, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is a very good game that fighting fans and Godzilla enthusiasts will surely enjoy. It isn’t quite as deep as I would have liked, but I am just happy to be getting an authentic Godzilla product that is based on the Toho movies. It doesn’t rank up there with the GameCube’s amazing Super Smash Bros Melee in terms of game modes and depth, but what other game allows you to have a four way brawl in downtown Osaka between Godzilla, King Ghidora, MechaGodzilla and Rodan? Long live the Big G!