Year is at its end, and it is time to go over the Games of the Year. Unlike with most other people listing theirs, this list will consist of any game I happened to play the first time this year. Why? Because modern market allows almost any game from any year to compete with the new productions thanks to the magic of re-releasing. That, and the overall industry doesn’t seem to give a damn about release dates, as they’re completely glad to give Year of X to titles that were released in other regions year earlier or later.
That said, there listed games are not in order of preference or what is best. As I began compiling this list about six months ago, the listed games are in the order they were played in, starting from very early January.
And oh, this post counts as my Monthly Review. You’ll soon see why.
DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou (Xbox 360, 2013)
Not one of my favourite trailers. Masu Star to yourself, you damn blobs
DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou may be the last DoDonPachi game CAVE said to make, but it’s no less enjoyable than the earlier entries. In these days when good shooting games are becoming somewhat a rarity, DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou is a welcome entry.
There’s very little to actually describe or tell about the game, as anyone who has played a vertically scrolling shooting game can already measure the core gameplay. Shooting game fans will call out now that scoring is inherently what makes the difference in gameplay, but ultimately they all are just about flying towards the top of the screen while blowing shit up as much as possible without dying yourself.
What may split your opinion on the game is how CAVE has move further emphasize on the cute characters in the series, and here it seems to blossom the most as the co-pilot keeps discussing with your operator and commenting on stuff in the 360 Mode. While I don’t personally find anything too negative in this, and even laughed at few things they say, there are those who will curse CAVE’s decision to bring this sort of stuff in.
The problem with any shooting game, especially with vertical scrollers, is that the genre sort of becomes a blob of gray mass if one isn’t well versed with it already. Without a clearly defined design that would allow it to stand out, a shooting game is muddled with generic visuals. SaiDaiOuJou falls into this category, as visually it doesn’t look any more interesting than the numerous other predecessors it has. That said, the visual are rather nice and all that, but they don’t stand out. It just may be that I have played far too many space ship shooting games in my time without being a hardcore fan who wants to one-coin each and every game.
However, how the game plays can’t be argued. With the experience CAVE has under its belt, I would expect nothing less than absolute perfection in function. While there are the occasional hiccups here and there you may not even notice, controls are absolutely to the point and only the player can be faulted for losing a ship or getting a hit. A whole another question is whether or not the game deserves enough time to put into it, but that’s a completely subjective thing.
However, it must be said that for this release CAVE decided to simplify things. Whereas DaiFukkatsu had somewhat complex mechanic bullet cancellation system in it, SaiDaiOuJou simplified things by returning to the core idea of shooting and dodging bullets. Nevertheless, AutoBombing returns from past titles, but some would regard this option a standard nowadays. Hyper System is a sort of mix of past iterations, where engaging the Hyper Mode boosts the ship’s weapons fill the screen with stream of bullets and erasin enemy bullets. Naturally, invincibility comes with the mode. However, here’s the thing; the Hyper Mode has ten levels of upgrading, and any time you engage the Hyper Mode, you lose all upgraded levels. The upgarde levels are essentially multipliers, and the higher the level, the bigger score multiplier is. If you don’t give a damn about your score, this system is a bit moot. The Rank level, essentially the game’s difficulty, is tied to the Hyper System; the more upgrade levels you have, the higher the Rank is. Using bombs and entering Hyper Mode lowers the Rank.
While that previous paragraph may sound a bit complex in text, it’s really something you instantly understand by intuition. Shooting games have the benefit that when they’re well designed from the core up combined with a good visual design that conveys the system, any and all players can understand what the hell all these mean by iconography alone. Because of that the amount of time you need to invest in DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou is relatively small in comparison to some of the more complex brethrens, namely DaiFukkatsu.
Music on the other hand works for the game during the gameplay but is completely forgettable. It’s so generic modern future-y techno. Perhaps that’s what the genre as a whole has become; generic.
Regarding the game Modes, there’s nothing special to mention, but all of them are well executed.
Arcade HD is just that, a pretty looking HD version of the original arcade game. However, this adds a sort of Challenge mode to it, where the player has some 50 tasks to complete in while playing the Arcade HD. They range from doable Kill first boss without dying to bullshittingly tedious Keep a chain through the whole game. Shooting game veterans and achievement hunters no doubt will love things like this, the normal player will just wave their hand at most of them and juts enjoy the game otherwise.
In all honesty, I had no idea what differences the 1.5 Mode had, so the Internet kindly told me to fuck off while telling me the mode was essentially just a generic patch to fix some bugs and tweak the system. Seeing it is its own mode, there was more than enough changes to warrant a separat Mode.
Xbox 360 Mode on the other hand is solely developed for the console. It’s essentially the story mode of the game, and we all know how much plotlines in either shooting or fighting games matter in the end. This is where all those talking heads come to play and the mode with the sleekest visual appearance. In 360 Mode, pretty much all the stuff about Rank and Hyper management is thrown out of window and the player has to keep one energy meter from falling to zero, or its Game Over. Hyper Mode kills make the enemies drop starbits that recover said energy. While otherwise you have a ship selection, the 360 Mode has just one ship. However, that ship is powered with extra weaponry and all that.
Also, Novice Mode is Easy mode the Game. To tell you the truth, I had rewrite this section about seven times because I couldn’t make sense what went into what mode without some extra sources. This is is because the only mode that doesn’t bleed to others is the 360 Mode, but that doesn’t keep the other modes bleeding into it. Ultimately, after having not played the game in some time, it’s far more hazy memory than Tatsujin/Truxton, a contender for this entry. While I personally prefer Truxton from the two, coin toss said DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou and the fact that I ended up playing it far more than Tatsujin.
If DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou would be the last big vertical shooting game, it would be a decent sendoff for the genre for the time being. Much like Godzilla movies, there are times when you need to take a break and let things level down properly to meet the new demand. Nevertheless, DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou kept its place in the Top 5 throughout the year simply because not many else managed to reach its level of quality. I’m not sure if this is a sign of what sort of quality 2014
Space Hunter (Famicom, 1986)
I’ll be straight; there’s two bits of music in Space Hunter and they both are pretty tinny
Space Hunter is a gem of a game, sort of. Hailing from the year 1986, this Kemco developed title will make you mute your TV and put on some high paced techno.
Space Hunter is kind of those games that just work. Despite it showing its age with the only two pieces of music it has, repitition in graphics and rough sprites, the game design is solid with extremely well made stages that not only encourage the player to venture deeper into the stages, but also to take their sweet time with things.
The game’s story is in the manual, as usual for a Famicom title. Set in 2199 after a world devastating nuclear war, humanity cling on robots and cyborgs for their survival. As per sci-fi trope, there is a mechanoid revolt led by De Gaulle and Earth is targeted with asteroids alá Yamato. A 16-years old cyborg labelled with N0. 000837192, called Altiana, does not agree with this and proceeds to kick seven planets worth of ass in order to protect humanity but also to show that not all mechanoids are all that bad.
Here’s the thing; the game is structured much like a non-linear adventure game would be, e.g. Metroid or Symphony of the Night. Initially there’s six worlds to choose from and you are able to select any of them as your starting point. If and when you get stuck on a world, you can always exit it at any time and move to another world. That’s similar non-linear approach Metroid used the very same year. While Metroid was on the Famicom Disc System, Space Hunter was on Famicom Cassette, which allowed saving for Metroid. The key difference between Space Hunter and Metroid is how the areas are structured, where Metroid created one whole world, Space Hunter opted for a more stage like approach akin to Mega Man. The final stage is unlocked after the initial six have been cleared, but every stage has an escape scenario, where a time bomb is ticking down. When the timer hits zero, or the player manages to escape, the planet explodes.
The action in the game is pretty nifty as well. The view is your normal side view outside dungeons, but most of the time you’re controlling Altiana in air, zipping around the scenery with her jetpack powered flight. The game does not use scrolling and plays like the Legend of Zelda in this regard, where the map has been designed to be played screen-by-screen. More importantly, it works extremely well. With this the player can tackle each screen properly without worrying about threats attacking off-screen, but also allows the player to escape any screen he feels like he can’t handle.
While Altiana zips around the screen completely free, all enemy types have their own little way of advancing towards Altiana. Some act like they home in to Altiana, while some simply move around and shoot now and then. Initially, Altiana has a bomb that explodes at infinite horizontal length when she is from the harms way. Thus, the player is required to do split-second decisions at times. Each stage contains items or weapons that are necessary to obtain in order to beat the game, thus exploring the game throughout is highly important, despite some stages having hidden doors that need to be bombed open. These hidden doors can hide stuff like Energy power-ups, but the game is completely beatable without ever upgrading the Energy meter. Extra weapons on the other hand are something you really want to get, as they can change your approach to the enemies drastically. The basic bomb may require player to mix the fast and methodical action, but e.g. Heart Beam allows you to shoot enemies down directly. The boxart shows Altiana holding a Beam Sabre, but you need to pick this weapon up from one of the planets.
In comparison to other games released in 1986 for the Famicom, Space Hunter had to compete with numerous seriously heavy weight contenders. The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest, Arkanoid, OutRun, Bubble Bobble, Akumajou Dracula and Rolling Thunder rightfully took their place in electronic game history, and in comparison Space Hunter looks and sound archaic. If the game had been released a year or two earlier, it would have been a great hit. While the gameplay is still solid, the music and visuals do betray its nature as one of the lesser releases of the year, but one that still holds up relatively well. Space Hunter sort of fell into the crevice where it wasn’t good enough to be remembered but not bad enough to gain any infamy. There is a minor cult following to it in Japan, but then again almost everything has a cult following in Japan. In 1986, Space Hunter would not have been success in the West without some serious revamping, so it really was better to leave it as Japanese exclusive at the time. I ended up with my cassette because I tend to buy blind game sets from time to time for dirt cheap, and found this in one of those.
If you can’t tell, I’m rather passionate about Space Hunter and I don’t even know why. Preferences be damned.
Senran Kagura 2 Shinku (Nintendo 3DS, 2014)
Unlike with the blobs in DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou, these are the things that sort of matter as they’re the main focus
While agenda driven people will call the game shit because of its abundance of titular action, Senran Kagura 2 Shinku really is a solid game I really couldn’t put down.
Truth to be told, Senran Kagura 2 Shinku is nothing all too special in terms of bringing anything new to the table. However, it is exactly the kind of game Senran Kagura was supposed to be, at least from the customer perspective. In comparison to the first game, practically everything has been improved to the point that the first game is simply obsolete. If one has access to this title, there’s no reason to get the first one, unless you’re a completionist or care about the story that much.
Essentially, the player controls one of the multiple kunoichis in order to tackle often multi-part stages either alone or with a friend, either AI or an actual friend who bought the game as well. While the two core sides of Senran Kagura intentionally mirror each other, each character has their own weapons, movesets and key differences in gameplay, even thou speed, jump power etc. seems to be universal across the board. It would have been nice to see every character specialised even more, almost to your normal VS. fighting game level.
Comparing the controls to the first , they’re a tad more technical and require just a hint more skill, but that small difference makes this title worlds apart. Y is your standard attack you’ll most likely be mashing for most of the time, but the combo tree now requires you to hold the attack button as well. X works as character specific modifier, to some adding an attack while some have equipment changes. This adds s level of dynamic fluidity to the core gameplay, which most people could ignore if not for the lack proper Guard. Senran kagura 2 Shinku opts for sort of Burst, to loan a term from Guilty Gear, where the character sends a burst of energy to cancel damage and push enemies away. In air this will cause the character to do a ground pound with the same effect. R is reserved for dashing and this move will be your friend in avoiding some attacks. I’ve done some damn nice weaving across enemy attacks when I’ve been top of my gameplay. Holding R will initiate the classical ninja run. However, when locked to an enemy, you will hit the enemy with a wire and essentially home into them. Properly combining this homing with launching finisher can rack you long damn combos. A is a dedicated character switcher, and balancing between the characters and their scroll counts (which allow you to pull off Special moves) is somewhat important. Of course, during multiplayer your friend will be controlling the other character all the time.
Another thing is that the game makes use of the Circle Pad Pro in that it adds some level of camera control. However, the core design of the camera function is actually rather well executed and there is no real reason to get the addon just for this title. I would rather have my fingers on the controls at all times in this one.
Unlike the first game, Senran Kagura 2 Shinku is not a cakewalk. It’s not absolutely horseshit with its difficulty either, but in a good region where the game does feel challenging but fair. Some of the reviewers in Japan did complain that the game was too hard, but far from the true. If the Normal difficulty feels too hard, one can always drop to easier level. However, the hardest difficulty level does up itself to bullcrap level, but this is more because the controls, while significantly upgraded, are still not up to the task. Not to say that the game controls badly or anything like it, but it’s still a far cry from absolutely accurate controls like in e.g. Bayonetta. The controls just would have needed one more notch up to be just perfect.
Outside the core game, there is a Challenge mode, where you have a pyramid made of hexagons. Every stage ups the difficulty with more and more opponents with varing kinds, and the lower you get in the pyramid, the larger selection of stages you have to tackle. Some of them can be insanely hard, but the pyramid is an excellent place to level up.
Oh yeah, Senran Kagura 2 Shinku has levelling up system. It’s nothing special and same as in every game, despite lacking any numbers to show your stats. The stat that matters any is the Friendship level, and you’ll find yourself playing stages over and over with different character combination to increase their Friendship levels.
A welcome addition to the game is proper level of customization. By unlocking pieces of clothing and weapons you can then create your own ninja chimaera of a costume for whatever character you so choose. I decided to change every character’s clothing to something else, and I completely admit putting a bunny girls costume on Homura because it fits her so perfectly. The alternative weapons look pretty damn nifty and of course there are spoof armaments to boot.
Anyways, with the customization you also have sort of posing mode. There’s numerous poses and faces you can choose from and save the pictures for you SD card. As the game has the whole dual character dynamics going on, you can pose your favourites in racy way. Or not. There’s some potential in there, but in all honesty it’s more a curiosity than anything else.
Music is absolutely great. I’m sure this is more dependant on the listener, but I can say that I enjoyed the soundtrack very much to the point of listening to it while working. Especially the arrange soundtrack. Overall, the soundtrack varies from light, everyday tunes to very hard hitting boss battle themes. They’re never intrusive or will overstay their welcome, but dammit if they’re not something I’m happy to own.
No the best song in the game, but it’s nicely hard hitting
The 3D offered here is one of the best I’ve seen on the system. It also helps that the 3D has some use in determining the character placement on the field. This isn’t essential, but it’s nice to see some 3D with decent framerate when compared to some of Nintendo’s own games, which have horrible 3D going on for them. I don’t know why Nintendo kept pushing 3D as the new thing, but very few of their games actually have managed to use it in a non-intrusive way with at least decent framerate. Hell, I expected Game Freaks to get their Pokémon games to look smooth, but they’re just choppy messes. Of course, the 3D here also allows you to oogle the ample ‘talents’ of the characters as much as you can in the posing mode.
Senran Kagura has come a long from its initial, really low quality entry that seemed to rely mostly on the fanservice than anything else. I would have liked to see this level of quality from the get-go, but it seems the series has more life on PSVita anyways in other forms of games. Senran Kagura 2 Shinku saw abysmal sales and I have some doubt whether or not there’s going to be a third entry in the main series for the 3DS in action game genre.
That said, the ending of Senran Kagura 2 Shinku was absolutely perfectly executed. The blend of gameplay, style and everything that the game had been building up to that point created a perfect climax that only a few game achieve. It is without a doubt the game I played most on the 3DS this year alongside Super Out-Run!, which is another absolutely superb game, which deserves a spot in my Top 5 Games of the Decade. Nevertheless, Senran Kagura 2 Shinku is a game that needs to be given a long try, even if you disliked the first game to a large extent in regards of the gameplay.
What I love the most about this game is how lax it is. It allows the player to jump in and jump out at any point, tackle a challenge or two or try to beat a new story stage and be on their way. Despite this, the challenge it throws is often on the spot. Or almost bullshit on the harder level with lower level characters with no ally in play.
Bayonetta (Xbox 360, 2009)
Speaking style and climaxes, I decided to get Bayonetta after playing Metal Gear Rising a bit too much and yearning something more.
Despite not really liking the Devil May Cry series, it feels that Bayonetta is a perfect example how improving a formula to the point of making past games obsolete is the key to move onwards. A lot of most important points in game design and coding has to be almost absolutely on-point in games like Bayonetta, otherwise the whole game will suffer from having a lax core. Bayonetta is not one of those games, otherwise it would be an awful, awful experience all around.
No, Bayonetta is one of those kind of games that throw a bullshit level challenge at the player, but at the same time giving the player all the tools to burn the bullshit down without any of the foul smell as long as the player is up to the task. Senran Kagura 2 Shinku could be Bayonetta level game if the core had been as polished and accurate, and where it becomes a slugfest, Bayonetta gracefully evades this.
One could almost say that Bayonetta has perfect difficulty curve. However, it is a complete waste to play the game on the easier levels at all. As said, the game has pretty much perfect controls and gives the player every tool he needs to solve any situation, but all these tools truly shine and see use when the game pulls the player’s skill through the roof.
Rather than repeating same things other sites have said, let’s talk about P.N.03, a game that was released for the GameCube in 2003. P.N.03 has certain elements that remind a lot of Bayonetta in a far more restrictive format, but similarly once the player masters the gameplay, you might as well bump the difficulty to maximum level and proceed to give the game its ass. Not only that, but the main character Vanessa has similar classy, nonchalant attitude Bayonetta has but also knows know her value. The two design worlds couldn’t be further apart between the games, P.N.03 concentrating on clean, simplistically futuristic white designs (that sometimes look something like Apple could come with in few years) whereas Bayonetta has darker, highly detailed stone structures with fantastic twists to them. However, P.N.03 has more in common with Vanquish thematically.
Seeing how Platinum consists of ex-CAPCOM employess, it’s only natural to see this sort of thing happening. I would rather see this sort of past experiences put into good use rather than wasting them. Exploration of ideas that were not mature enough at the time or didn’t have enough to develop themselves into full bloom is another that we’ve seen to some extent with Platinun. Evolution of ideas and themes has been sort of trademark from Platinum to the extent one could fault them for creating an offering from the company that seems far too homogeneous for its own good. While I agree with the notion that a company should mainly concentrate on what it does best, it should also be noted that a becoming a one-note company may be a death sentence in entertainment business.
GODZILLA (PlayStation 3, 2014)
When discussing Godzilla games, the reality is that none of them are great. There are good games, and Godzilla-kun on the GameBoy is surprisingly well made and the Atari monsters fighters like Save the Earth are not bad by any means. Despite this, all Godzilla games have a niche audience as they don’t really work outside fanbase, albeit the aforementioned Atari monster mash games were party worthy. Nevertheless, truly great Godzilla game has yet to arrive. Often people just want to step into Godzilla’s shows and proceed to destroy anything in their path. It’s a simple concept, but thus far it’s been rather limited is success. The Dreamcast Godzilla games were the closest thing to this idea, but the execution left a lot of desire. The numerous Godzilla strategy games never really were all that good, thou the one on Saturn is probably the best of the lot. With the success of Street Fighter, it was no wonder Godzilla saw few 2D fighting game during the VS Series era. However, SNK’s King of the Monsters was largely more influential to the point almost all giant monster games were modelled after. The aforementioned Atari Godzilla games are a prime example of this.
The 60th Anniversary game of Godzilla, aptly just named GODZILLA, will be a game that some love and some will think is shit because it’s not any of the Atari monster masher games. As such, if you’re looking for this game to be anything like them, you’re sorely going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you go in with an open mind, you’ll soon find a very enjoyable, multi-routed Godzilla simulator that by all means is the Godzilla game people have been expecting. To a point.
How the game is structured is stage based, a thing I wholeheartly welcome. Each stage has four Data collection points, where the player is expected to pose Godzilla for the camera while an unseen soldier takes a picture. It’s sort of fun to try to get the best looking shot possible. The stages themselves contain structures for Godzilla to destroy to oblivion, which is absolutely necessary in order to collect Energy, a thing that applies to G-Force units as well. The main objectives of destruction are G-Energy Generators, which usually end the stage when all of them are destroyed. By chaining these destructions together, Rush bars fills like any other combo bar, and by keeping the Rush bar adding to itself keeps the Energy multiplier rising. x10 may be the biggest multiplier in the game, but it’s essential to keep up in order to reach why you even collect Energy; to get Godzilla over 100m high. In this game, Godzilla grows as he collects Energy, which affects Godzilla’s properties. By getting over 100m height, and using all the Data collection points in each stage in your selected route, you unlock the Final Stage, where at least on the Hard route you fight the Hollywood Godzilla. The thing is, at this point the player Godzilla has triggered the Burning state and is about to explode, much like in Godzilla VS. Destroyah.
Let’s take a moment to realize that this fits both monsters extremely well. Burning Godzilla by logic would leak radioactive materials and irradiate its surroundings like a nuclear bomb that keeps exploding and walking. The Hollywood Godzilla feeds on radioactivity, and would be the better source of food than another, world ending Godzilla?
There are numerous other monsters about as well, not met in every stage. Pretty much all of these are fan favourites, ranging from all three Mecha Godzillas, Millenium series version of Gigan, Mothra’s both forms, King Ghidorah and Biollante. However, G-Force is not helpless. As the Disaster level grows, the more equipment is thrown at the player. Initially it’s pretty normal tanks and helicopters, but escalation Maser Cannons and Super X machines are thrown in. Later on, you will face a stage where there is a time limit (the G-Generators will be withdrawn underground, thus preventing their destruction when time is up) with all three Super X machines attacking Godzilla, entering the fray in sequence.
While the stages gets pretty damn hectic at the latter half of the game simply due to the amount of units thrown at the player, as well as the enemy monster appearances sometimes combined with a time limit, they are rather small. All the smaller stages however are the most interesting ones, as they contain the most buildings to destroy and have the best overall atmosphere all the while the larger stages have very little to destroy and large areas to walk through. However, there is a good balance between stage size and destroyable objects in Oil refinery/ port and is probably my personal favourite because of this. However, finding the most efficient way to move through the city to maximise the energy gain will makes the stages dull. The stages do replicate some of the iconic cities and places from the movies, but they lack variety. Next to this, almost every stage is repeated throughout the game. For example, there’s two variations of the oil refinery, one with thick fog and one with sunlight. That’s it. Even the G-Force unit placement seems to be exactly same between the two.
It’s not really fun to see more city outside the boundaries, to be honest. You know it’s there, but you can’t destroy anything there. There’s a stage, where you can see cars and buses parked outside the stage area, but nothing damages them. Atomic breath even reaches them, but does nothing. Larger areas would be nicer to have, but it would be even better if there was more variety in them with more imaginative places with a level of hazards, like a volcano or beach. Multiple monsters per stage is another thing that should have been a no-brainer. Whether or not the PS3 could handle that is not really the question, but how it should have been executed.
Stage repetition is a problem; you are forced to play through the initial few stages every time you replay the game for a new route. The length of the game overall something many people will be turned off by, as I managed to finish about 50% of the routes in my first four hours of play. The amount of enemies found is also lacking, enemy monsters counting at twelve, three of which are a Mecha Godzilla. The addition of three Super X machines help in this alongside Gotengo, but ultimately the four aforementioned shared too many common tactics among each other. The repetition found in GODZILLA is very much loyal to the form found in the movies, thus it would be highly recommended to play a route at longest per session, otherwise the game may feel like its overstaying its welcome and neither nostalgia of fan obsession will rejuvenate the charm of often visited stages. The tedium is upped with certain unskippable scenes that repeat every single time. They’re not longer than few seconds, but when you have a methodically slow paced with further slowing parts, you just want to mash that Start button and skip all of them. Including forced tutorial, because nobody except three of us read manuals anymore.
This being a cross-generation game, the visuals will without a doubt be superior on PS4 but I wouldn’t give a damn about that. However, whenever there is a huge amount of stuff flying across the screen, like destruction of half a dozen of tanks, seven helicopters dropping from the sky, loads of buildings getting wrecked, Super X flying and shooting at Godzilla all while Biollante decides to spit acid, the console feels a bit overwhelmed by all this. The slowdowns are not uncommon, but I have to say they do have certain cinematic feel to them, allowing the player to take in the action in a very different way, but of course is horseshit when one remembers that this is a game and not a movie.
However, despite that I would be somewhat willing to give leeway with this. GODZILLA is very much a tokusatsu recreation game at its core and the scene is highly important. This is reflected in the control scheme as well. While most of you have learned to control the aim with the camera with the right stick, in GODZILLA the right stick moves only the camera. Nothing is relatively to it, only to Godzilla. If you were to move right, Godzilla would move to his right. Godzilla moves forward with the left stick or D-Pad, but rotates like a tank or Resident Evil character with L1 and R1. All face buttons are use for attacks and general control, and L2 is reserved for Special attack and R2 is more akin to attack modifier. Now that I think of it, I never used R2, it’s that useless. If you’ve ever played Mega Man Legends’ PlayStation version, the controls are somewhat similar. However, these tank controls simply work and you do feel that you’re controlling a giant monster despite sometimes interesting flailing going on the screen at times. Much like the movies themselves, GODZILLA doesn’t concern itself with realism too much.
However, the game holds your hands too much in regards of the controls. For you beam breath attacks, you have three options; normal ground hitting one, a ground sweeping one and then enemy locked version. Outside these three, you have zero control of it, exactly like in any other Godzilla game and this is just awful. This is a lazy to ensure that the breath attack is not overpowered, but the lack of control means you have to control Godzilla in proper position. This would be acceptable if not for the fact that the running tackle homes in. If you’re slightly angled off an enemy in order to rush a building next to it, the running tackle will adjust Godzilla towards the enemy. This makes fine tuned tactical positioning impossible, forcing the player to use over exaggerated, almost 90-degree angle positions, motions and movements. This is especially infuriating against enemies that are considerably larger than you. For example, Destroyah often appears in 100m scale, where Godzilla may be just 70m or 80m. There are multiple positions and points in Destroyah’s attacks moves player could make use of, but because of these hand held controls it’s better to abandon any tactical aspects and just blast away. It’s frustrating to fight an overwhelming enemy and trying to get proper data photo of it while fighting the controls at the same time.
Then again, pretty much every single enemy monster can be caught into a pattern of running tackle > tail whip >repeat. Throw one or two breath beams in there here and there and you’ll beat every single opponent in the game.
Music in the game is, without a doubt, accurate. The game has some original sounding compositions, but familiar tunes are visited and the whole overall atmosphere it adds is what you would except. Same goes for the sound effects and there is nothing to criticize. I would have wanted to see some Godzilla Island references, but I guess even the most Japanese fans hate that show.
The main mode you’ll in be playing is the Destruction Mode, which contains everything mentioned above. Go reread that if you want to.
Second mode is King of the Monsters, which is essentially a series of VS. fights against the enemy monsters. The aim is to finish the fights as fast as possible. Initially you only have Godzilla open, but you can unlock Hollywood Godzilla with pre-order code and Burning Godzilla by getting to the Final Stage. The mode in general is nothing special, but it would have been great if this mode could’ve been a proper VS. fight mode with two players.
Evolution Mode is where you modify Godzilla’s stats, like getting more Temperature gauges, which allows you to use more than one atomic breath in sequence before regeneration is complete. This also opens more attack moves, and all these are dependent on monster parts you somehow gain while beating up enemies in the Destruction Mode.
Diorama Mode is pure fanservice. There are numerous stages set out where you can place monsters in almost as you like in order to replicate a scene or create something completely new. These pictures then can be saved, used and shared, but the models are somewhat restricted and posing is not all too dynamic. Diorama Mode is a nice addition, but the lack of freedom keeps it from being an absolute blast to use. I still see some people sinking hours upon hours to get the best possible picture, but overall the mode’s promise lefts wanting a bit more. However, there’s a catch; all the poses taken via the Data Points translate to poses in the Diorama Mode, so multiple playthroughs with various photos of Godzilla and other monsters is a must.
Monster Field Guide on the other hand is just that; a guide to the monsters in the Godzilla franchise. The thing that makes me all giddy is that the guide seems to be list pretty much all major monsters from the franchise as well as some of the units like Gotengo. It lists differences between series, like Manda’s lenght or Hedorah’s height.
Ultimately, GODZILLA falls a bit short. It’s a remarkable Godzilla game a lot of people have been waiting for since the genesis of home video games, yours truly included, but it feels like the devs finished the initial content but didn’t have any time expand it enough. This may be just my own expectations crushed, however. If this is going to spawn some sort of upgrade or sequel, all they really need to do is refine the code and add more content in form of more stages, monsters and that play VS. player mode. Godzilla 2, or whatever it is, needs more aliens and other monsters. The growing gimmick could be discarded altogether to boot, as the whole thing really is just about racking the highest score.
Nevertheless, the game is pretty damn remarkable piece of the Godzilla franchise and it’s good to see it getting a Western release, thou as an importer I can say that it has zero language barrier.