If a developer really put some time and energy into making a Godzilla game, they could come up with something truly amazing. I wistfully imagine massive Japanese cities the size of San Andreas, stretching out as far as the eye can see. I imagine a full roster of accurately modeled kaiju, all beautifully animated and capable of traversing the landscape in any direction they damn well please. I dreamily envision massive monster clashes in these expansive cities, in both split-screen and online multiplayer modes. Yes, that would be the ideal Godzilla game.
The gratuitously underdressed Connie Matsu
Naturally, when I popped Godzilla: Domination into my GameBoy Advance, I didn’t expect this type of dream game, but I did at least expect a fun kaiju battling experience that took advantage of the handheld’s ample capabilities. Boy, was I disappointed. I’ve played just about every Godzilla game ever released, from Godzilla I & II on the NES to Godzilla: Save the Earth for the next-gen systems. Godzilla: Domination is easily the worst of the bunch.
How is one expected to enjoy a Godzilla game when it only features six monsters? I mean, SIX MONSTERS. Where are fan favorites like Space Godzilla, Gigan, Destroyah, Hedorah and Moguera? Where’s, Anguirus, one of the first kaiju ever featured in a Godzilla film? And where’s my favorite kaiju of all time (well, next to Gojira of course) – Titanosaurus? I know GBA cartridges don’t have the capacity to hold massive amounts of data, but when a game like Guilty Gear X Advance has over fourteen fighters, how can I not think of those responsible for Domination as lazy bastards?
Nice background, too bad we can’t fight there
Okay, okay, so the roster is dreadfully limited; I could get over that. Unique, deep, and interesting gameplay elements have a remarkable way of making one see past seemingly critical faults such as these. Unfortunately (and you saw this coming didn’t you?), Domination’s gameplay blows more chunks than a porcelain-worshipping frat boy on Friday night. For starters, each kaiju only has nine moves. And that’s considering jump ‘punch’ and jump ‘kick’ as separate moves. Ugh. Not only that, but many of the monsters are completely unbalanced. For example, MechaGodzilla and Megalon can drain away half of your opponent’s life with just their standard attacks. All you have to do is pin someone up against the corner, keep mashing buttons and victory is guaranteed.
Looks fun, doesn’t it? Trust me – it’s not
Which brings me to the next problem – the AI is crap. Computer controlled kaiju will repeatedly run into your attacks, wander around the arena like a child who just lost their mommy in the mall, and do all sorts of other bonehead things. These problems are compounded greatly when playing in 2-vs-1, 2-vs-2, or 3-vs-1 matches. It becomes almost a game unto itself just watching the AI do all sorts of hilarious things when more than two AI monsters are on screen at once. Overall, these issues make Domination far too easy, and who wants to play a game that you can beat by simply hammering one button? Not me, that’s for sure.
The developers did include a multiplayer mode – one that even supports single cart play. But really, who’s going to want to play such a fundamentally flawed game with their friends for more than five minutes? And if the simplistic gameplay wasn’t enough to make multiplayer a nightmare, consider this: when each person picks the same kaiju (and this is mandatory in single cart play, because everyone must choose Godzilla), the monsters are exactly the same color. So you can randomly beat up clones of yourself without knowing which of your friends you are actually fighting. Joy!
Who can repeatedly jam the A button the fastest?
Graphic-wise, the game is actually above average. The monsters have been drawn with an endearing art style that makes them almost look like Saturday morning cartoon versions of their big screen counterparts. During battles, the kaiju take up a large chunk of the screen, allowing them to be quite detailed and better animated than what you might expect from a GBA game. The final boss is certainly very cool looking (and reminiscent of a certain boss from Super Contra), but still suffers from being way too easy to defeat. Each of the seven levels, from downtown Tokyo to the surface of a massive glacier, is varied and colorful, though usually a bit on the small side and lacking in interactive elements. On a side note, what’s up with reporter Connie Matsu and those gratuitous jumblies? Yowza.
Unfortunately, for critiquing the game’s audio presentation I’m going to have to dip back into the negative. First off, the music sucks. Whoever thought that hardcore guitar riffs would sound appealing on the GBA’s hardware needs to be caned. And whoever designed the actual in-game, glam rock/techno battle music needs to be caned… bare-assed. The kaiju themselves sound reasonably like their silver-screen alter egos, but the audio definitely comes off as compressed and weak. I know, the GBA isn’t exactly an audio powerhouse, but the lack of quality here is still disappointing.
“…Pacific Ocean and repeatedly dry heaving with self loathing.”
To sum up, Godzilla: Domination is one big, kaiju-sized lump of crap. The monster selection is crap, the gameplay is crap, the audio is crap, but the graphical presentation is fairly good. So, does that sound like a game you would enjoy? Keep in mind that I am totally biased in favor of pretty much anything Godzilla related, and am scoring this game three out of ten. If you are indifferent to the Big G, or actually even dislike him, pretend you’re in one of his movies and run away as fast as you can, screaming all the way.
Three out of ten