Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Danger on Godzilla: Godzilla vs. The Three Major Monsters!

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since my last review. I meant to do this sooner, but, I changed my job, have been just overwhelmingly busy, and… hmm, you don’t look too sympathetic… okay, I lost my smile, alright? What? It worked for Shawn Michaels when he didn’t want to lose the WWF title to Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13!

Missing, one smile.

Sure, judge all you like, but if Shawn hadn’t had the foresight not to lose a pre-determined fight to a pink clad Canadian, we may have never had the catalyst for Stone Cold Steve Austin to take the WWF by storm! I know, I know, you guys didn’t come here for wrasslin’ talk, you came here for Godzilla video games! Bad ones, to be precise! That’s right… I aim to review every single Godzilla video game that I’ve ever played, up to and including the upcoming release of Godzilla: The Game, stomping its way onto PlayStation 4 on July 14th! Best of all, unlike many of the games you’ll find on this list, it is receiving an official American release. It is the rare case of something being made BETTER for America, too. See: the game released on PS3 last December in Japan, simply titled “Godzilla”. It was fun (full disclosure: I only played the demo) but ultimately lacking as only ONE monster was playable in the game, that being Godzilla himself. Also many of the classic friends and foes of Godzilla such as Rodan, Anguirus, and Space Godzilla were curiously absent. I will not be reviewing this version of the game, because “Godzilla: The Game” (Or the infinitely cooler title of “Godzilla Vs” as it will be known when it is released in Japan) packs everything the original game did, and more. But we’ll get to that later. Happy days are… not here just yet.

We started with what I consider the absolute worst Godzilla game of all time, Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES. This game committed the cardinal sin of forcing you to play as the Japanese military and attempt to fight off Godzilla, Ghidorah, and more with ineffective toy tanks and planes. Read about how much I hated that game in the previous entry! Today, we talk about the SECOND worst Godzilla game of all time, a dubious distinction to be sure, if you will…

Say hello to what is commonly known as Godzilla Vs the Three Major Monsters (though the Japanese title translates more directly to Godzilla vs Three Giant Monsters). This putrid pile of prehistoric poopie predates the previous game I pontificated upon (Try saying THAT five times fast), as it was released by Bandai for the MSX system in 1984, perhaps to coincide with Godzilla’s return to movie screens that same year.  I will go ahead and say that I know NOTHING of the MSX, I am assuming it was one of the many unimpressive systems released between the original Atari and the NES, but I am sure I have angered some very dedicated fans out there who will swear up and down it was fantastic.

Hey - it’s what I do.

I didn’t learn about this game until sometime over the past 10 years, as I stumbled across it on eBay from time to time when looking through the Godzilla listings. I was able to track it down and play it through nefarious means earlier this year (emulation), though I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone but the most hardcore of Godzilla completists. Oh, hey, that’s me too!

So, right away, to this game’s credit I’ll point out something it does right over War of the Monsters; you play as Godzilla. The game only consists of one screen that does not scroll and appears to be set in a wasteland type environment. Your first challenge will be Megalon, the giant, burrowing beetle monster Godzilla battled in, appropriately enough, Godzilla Vs. Megalon! Megalon will burrow up from the ground, creating a hole that will cost Godzilla one of his lives if you fall into it. Ah, video game logic. Godzilla has survived bombs, missiles, evil aliens, and any sort of giant sized beastie you could conjure up… but falling in a moderately deep hole? FORGET ABOUT IT!

Touching Megalon will also kill Godzilla, but that’s the extent of his powers in this game. Your one and only attack, meanwhile, is Godzilla’s trademark atomic breath, which can be aimed straight ahead or diagonally up or down. Blast Megalon and he’ll disappear and reappear somewhere else on the stage, digging more holes as he goes. You need to try and kill him as quickly as you can, because those holes remain for the rest of the game and are a huge pain in the ass.

PROTIP: Secondly, the quicker you kill Megalon, the quicker you can stop playing this game.

After you send Megalon back to the 1970’s, your next challenge is the giant spider Godzilla fought in Son of Godzilla, Kumonga, also known as Speiga. Only this time, there are two of them. They can inhabit any of the holes Megalon created, like the world’s most horrifying game of “Whack a Mole”… seriously, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of, people - an innocent-if-a-tad-annoying children’s carnival game infested by MURDEROUS TARANTULA HELLSPAWN.

I don’t think I’ll sleep the rest of this week.

The Kumongas are much more annoying than Megalon. You can only hit them during certain phases of their attack animation, otherwise they are hunkered down too low in their holes to hit, no doubt plotting all the horrible, evil things that spiders talk about in their spider holes. Planning to hide in the shower and scare the hell out of me, no doubt. As for attacks, they have two - first is firing a web stream that, if it should hit you, begins to pull you towards Kumonga. If it drags you into a pit or you touch one of the spiders, you lose a life. They also fire their venomous stingers at Godzilla, which have homing capabilities. Both spiders take multiple hits to kill, and once close to death they employ the classic video game tactic of getting faster and cheaper, as, little known fact, the computer HATES to see you win, ever, in any game. Seriously. Losing games to human players is the number one cause of AI suicide. Especially around the holidays. 

"Mama-Mia...you don-a want your ol' pal a'Mario to hafta end-a it all-a, do ya?!"

Should you defeat Kumonga & Speiga (two names, two spiders… why not? Prove me wrong), your final challenge shall appear… the ferocious three headed golden terror from beyond the stars, King Ghidorah! Only today he’s a fat red lump. But don’t worry. One of my favorite aspects of the Godzilla series are the various tag teams Godzilla forms with other monsters to combat bigger threats, like Ghidorah. So it should come as a relief to notice you aren’t alone for this final battle. It SHOULD. Instead… say hello to Godzilla’s son, Minya. 

He's just as surprised as you are.

Minya is here to make the game even worse. He wanders around the screen while you and Ghidorah fight. Should Ghidorah or one of his gravity bolts touch Minya, the game is instantly over. Should Minya walk his goofy ass into one of the holes that litter the screen, the game is instantly over. Should you hurl your MSX (Whatever one is) off the roof, the game is instantly over. Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to one of the first escort missions in the history of videogames. Hell, it may BE the first, for all I know. In any event, I assume you can blast Ghidorah long enough to win the game. I have no idea. I like Minya and all, but, not enough to keep playing this abomination any longer. Godzilla has other offspring anyway, he’ll bounce back.

I just don't care anymore.

I know, another disappointing game… but your faith in me shall be rewarded. Unless you didn’t have any to begin with. In that case, get out.

As I mentioned in my LAST review (cheap plug, go read it if you haven’t), I’ll also mention some of the games inspired by Godzilla and friends, not just those officially featuring him. The most famous of these is probably Rampage.

Rampage has been released in one form or another on every system you grew up with, but it started in the arcades in 1986 at the hands of Bally Midway. For its time, Rampage was a fun little time waster. You could pick one of three monsters, Lizzie the giant lizard, George the giant gorilla, and Ralph, a giant Wolfman; humans mutated into giant monsters by… I don’t know, games weren’t really big on story back then. Smaller than the Toho Kaiju, these monsters trashed cities by climbing up the sides of buildings and punching holes in them until they collapse. There are also helicopters, tanks, cars and more to vent your frustrations on. If a monster loses all of its energy (which can be replenished from eating things found in buildings such as fruit, turkey, or people!), it mutates back into a (naked!) human and shuffles embarrassingly off the screen. I had a lot of fun as a kid trolling my friends by eating their monster once they reverted to human form. The NES port (only featuring Lizzie and Ralph) was the first game I ever bought. I stood in Toys R Us and AGONIZED over whether I should get that, or the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. Thankfully, the lure of 2 player play made me choose Rampage, which, while not a great game by any means, blew that pile of Turtle crap from Ultra Games outta the sewers. It was also the first game I ever beat, as my awesome Mother sat patiently with me one day after school until we destroyed the entire US together, only to be greeted by a screen that said “CONGRATULATIONS”. I didn’t know what game endings were like back then, but even then, I’d known I was ripped off.

"You just wasted your whole afternoon, kid! Life's not fair, is it?"

So, obviously Lizzie is based on Godzilla and George on King Kong, but what of Ralph? Godzilla never fought a giant Wolfman…………


Here’s a little treat for you that is some fairly obscure info outside of hardcore Godzilla fandom. In 1983, a former Toho staff member named Shizuo Nakajima directed an amateur film Legendary Giant Beast Wolfman vs Godzilla which, if you didn’t know better, you might mistake for a “lost” Godzilla film Toho never released! 

Lizzie Vs Ralph: The Movie!

The Godzilla suit is almost a dead ringer for the 1962 Godzilla that famously fought King Kong. The miniature sets are almost up to the Toho level of detail. It’s just really cool stuff. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nakajima at G-FEST - an annual Godzilla convention held in Chicago - a few years ago and saw several minutes of footage from the film and would love to see more. Apparently he has been negotiating with Toho to be able to release the film to Blu-ray and DVD… here’s hoping!

As for Rampage, apparently there will be a movie made based directly on the game... starring The Rock. I'm not kidding. A movie based on a nearly plotless arcade game starring a muscled up meathead with questionable acting abilities? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!


See you next time!

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