Ever since Toho returned the King of the Monsters to the big screen in Godzilla 1985, Godzilla “collectibles,” from books to towels, to plush figures to vinyl tots, have continued to be a popular item for the kaiju fans to spend their cash on. With the reemergence of the home video game system in the late 1980s it was only natural that Godzilla and all his kaiju friends would soon find their way into the digital gaming market. With the first release in 1989 Godzilla has appeared on all the major systems, and continues to be as popular as ever. What follows is a short run down on most, not all, of the video games released through the years. We’ll start with the early ones and work our way, eventually, through the current games available for the newest systems.
Game:Godzilla Monsters of Monsters!
Released:1989 by Toho Games
System:Nintendo (8-bit) Entertainment System
Reviewed by:John Rocco Roberto
This action/fighting game is much like the majority of titles available for video systems where the player guides a character through a scrolling scene battling all sorts of enemies. In this game you play Godzilla and Mothra (separately), defending Earth from the invading forces of Planet X and their legion of space monsters: Gezora (from Yog Monster from Space), Varan, Moguera (from The Mysterians), Baragon, Hedorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, and King Ghidora. The enemy monsters, each more powerful than the last, appear one by one as Godzilla and Mothra struggle from planet to planet. Foes defeated on one planet reappear on the next. The action of the game takes place on two screens. The game screen (called the Ring Field) has Godzilla, Mothra, and the other monsters moving about a hexagonal grid system positioning themselves to attack or defend. The object is to maneuver Godzilla or Mothra to the enemy headquarters hex at the opposite end of the screen, from which it is possible to warp to the next planet (level). After each move on the Ring Field, one of several Battle Screens appears. Here, Godzilla and Mothra must fight their way past a variety of weapons, including the Super-X, Atragon, and Markalite projectors. Even the SY3 rocket appears, dropping life sustaining capsules to the embattled monsters. Upon finishing the course, the ring field appears and the process starts over. Once an enemy monster is contacted on the Ring Field, a special Battle Screen appears for one on one, time limited combat. There is very little more to the game than fighting, which could become a bore to some. One of the saving graces is that the graphics during the Battle Screen are very good, with Godzilla and his enemies faithfully reproduced. During the battles with the space monsters, the background is completely black. Interestingly, Mothra (who shoots energy blasts and poison powder) sometimes makes a better champion than Godzilla, who cannot dodge the enemies’ ray attacks with as much agility as his lepidopteran ally. The game includes a password mode which allows a game to be saved at the current Ring Field. In addition, there are several passwords which, entered at the beginning of a new game, allow for variations in play. Entering “MONSTER 0” brings King Ghidora immediately into the game. Entering “START TO END” transports Godzilla and Mothra to the final ring field. Entering “DESTROY ALL MONSTERS” brings all eight enemies for a battle on Earth. Overall, Godzilla Monster of Monsters! is an enjoyable diversion for those who like action/fighting type video games.
The Monsters of “Godzilla Monster of Monsters!”
In addition to the traditional gaming information, the twenty eight page instruction booklet for Godzilla Monster of Monsters! contains the following colorful descriptions of the Toho monsters and their various powers:
Godzilla has enormous destructive powers for battle. It also has strong Radiation. An attack by this Radiation with the power at the maximum is irresistible. Godzilla’s Punches, Kicks and Chops with the tail are mighty enough to crush a rocky mountain with a single blow.
Mothra’s Poisonous Powder Attack at a wing beat is extremely strong. It’s Eye Beam is effective against flying objects. Mothra helps Godzilla defend the earth.
Ghidora overpowers other monsters with its giant body and power; it is a king of enemy monsters. Neck Punches using three necks and Gravity Rays radiated at random are Ghidora’s deathblows for attacking Godzilla.
Gigan’s strongest weapon is Stingers on the breast. The Stingers suddenly project and their sharp blades revolve like a circular saw; the Rotary Cutter is Gigan’s most powerful weapon. The Eye Beam shot from its eyes is dangerous because it can re- move Godzilla’s power.
Mecha-Godzilla: The destructive power of this robot Godzilla is almost equal to that of Godzilla. The Space Beam shot from its eyes is dangerous. And its Punches and Kicks have a greater destructive power than other monsters’.
Hedorah attacks Godzilla using a variety of postures. If Godzilla (Mothra) comes too close to Hedorah, it will be caught by Hedorah’s Expandable Hands. Hedorah’s Bullets are powerful, too.
Varan’s body is as big as Godzilla, but its actions are very quick. It has a high jumping power and a variety of attack patterns. Varan has no missiles but is quite strong in a grapple. Varan is dangerous if it catches you off-guard.
The gold shining horn on its head, radiating Heat Beams, is Baragon’s most powerful weapon. It jumps to make a Horn Tackle immediately after it squats to let Godzilla’s attack pass over.
This strange monster is constantly jumping off the ground by expanding and retracting its legs. If Gezora catches you off-guard, these legs suddenly expand to attack Godzilla.
Moguera is a robot monster like Gigan. It repeats simple attacks restlessly. Its actions are slow but the Eye Beam shot from its eyes is quite powerful.
Released: 1990 by Toho Games
System: Nintendo Game Boy
Reviewed by: Robert Biondi
Being a fan of Nintendo’s first two eight-bit games (Godzilla Monster of Monsters! and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters) I was looking forward to acquiring the Game Boy version. As the game has not been available for some years, it took quite a bit of searching before I finally managed to locate one. Impressively packaged, the object of the game is to guide Godzilla through a 64- scene labyrinth matrix in search of his son Minya, who has been kidnapped (kaijunapped?) and locked away. Using the control pad and various buttons to manipulate Godzilla’ s powers (basically punching and spewing smoke), the player must guide Godzilla through a series of mazes, destroying boulders, climbing vines, and eventually engaging in battle with such famous foes as King Ghidora, Mechagodzilla, Hedorah, Rodan, Angilas, and Baragon. Each of these fearsome creatures is rendered in the “Godziland” cartoon style, and all try to prevent Godzilla from making his way through the maze and reaching his goal. Although the use of the puzzle/strategy formula is interesting for a Godzilla game, the limitations of the system, compounded by corny music, awful graphics (the monsters are so vague it’s difficult to distinguish them from one another), and the absurd idea that a Godzilla fan would ever want to rescue Minya, make the Game Boy Godzilla a disappointment. In addition, each defeat makes it necessary to start at the beginning all over again. When dealing with sixty four scenes, that results in more than a little tedium. Sad to report, the Game Boy Godzilla was not worth the effort of tracking it down, much less playing it.
Game:Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters
Released: 1991 by Toho Games
System: Nintendo (8-bit) Entertainment System
Reviewed by: John Rocco Roberto
By far the best Godzilla game ever produced. While the graphics are not what one comes to expect in a 16-bit and higher game, and while the music quickly becomes annoying, this simple strategy game captures the feel of the Godzilla series. This cart features a strategy/simulation game of battle between monsters and various units that make up the Allied Defense forces. Lovers of simulation games will not be disappointed with this cart. There are twelve independent scenarios in the game, which can be selected in any order. However, playing them in order allows the game to follow a loose story. The player controls the Allied De- fence Forces whose job it is to defend cities, industry, atomic plants, and other aspects of civilized society from Godzilla, Mothra (both larval and imago forms), Rodan, Hedorah, Baragon, King Ghidora, and a UFO. The action is played out on two screens. The Map Mode, the screen where most of the action takes place, is an overhead view of cities, ocean, forest, roads, etc. where turns between the player and the monsters alternate much like in a chess match. While the monsters trample their way through everything manmade, the ADF has at its disposal tanks, missiles, AA guns, planes, a mazer tank, a freezer gun, the Super-X II, and the ability to construct the SY3. Scientists (including Dr. Serizawa!) and technicians are available to provide information and advice regarding how to proceed and what weapons to employ. (Not all weapons are equally effective against each monster.) As well, if Mothra’ s egg can be discovered before it hatches, the emerged larva will fight on the side of the ADF. Enjoyable as this game is, there are two major drawbacks: the music is so bad it is best turned off and the graphics for the Map Mode are primitive. Both monsters and the local topography are very nondescript. The only decent graphics appear during the second screen, the Battle Mode. Here, the screen switches to a side/scrolling view of the attacking unit and the monster. The graphics are very good, from the recoil of the tank’s cannon to the glowing fins on Godzilla’s back. The drawback of the Battle mode is the manner by which the results are determined. Rather than maneuvering and firing the weapon directly, the player must play a “slot machine” type game. The resulting combination of symbols and colors determines the preprogrammed outcome as monster and military each trade one shot. To players preferring a simulation game to a fighting game, Godzilla 2 War of the Monsters is highly recommended.
Game:King of the Monsters
Released: 1991 by Takara USA
System: Super Nintendo
Reviewed by: John Rocco Roberto
While not actually a Godzilla video game, this one borrows heavily enough from the Toho legend to make one wonder why Toho hasn’t sued! King of the Monsters is an action/fighting game in which two players (or one player against the computer), battle it out within various Japanese cities using moves such as drop kicks, punches, and flips. Players have a choice of four different monster characters. Astro Guy, the so-called hero of the game, is a cross between Ultraman and Captain America. Geon, released from a melting ice cap, is a large, dinosaur-like creature with a row of plates down his back and the ability to spew fire (Godzilla?). There’s a large stone giant called Rocky , and Beetle Mania, a mutated roach from the rain forest with a single huge horn sprouting from the top of his head which shoots laser bolts (Megalon?). The creatures battle through eight stages, finally ending up in Tokyo, destroying bridges, oil fields, office towers, and forces of the military , which include tanks, F- 15 jets, battleships, Super-X III’s, and laser (mazer) tanks. The graphics are acceptable and the music is not nearly so annoying as that of, say, Godzilla 2. The drawback to the game is that the sequence can become boring very quickly. With five skill levels to choose from, Easy to Hyper, and the ability to continue up to twelve times, one can easily defeat the computer through all stages, tire of the game, and not proceed to a higher level. It is best played in the two player mode with a friend. Robert Biondi and I spent one night playing a single stage as Geon (Godzilla) and Beetle Mania (Megalon) for over two hours trashing Tokyo and enjoying ourselves the whole time!
Released: 1993 by Toho Games
System: Super Famicom/Super Nintendo
Reviewed by: Fred Piccolo
Compatible with the Super-NES, this Japanese version is another fighting/action game with improved graphics for both monsters and backgrounds. One after the other, Godzilla battles his recent movie adversaries, each with a variety of attack strategies. King Ghidora attacks with energy beams and head punches. Mechagodzilla sports eye beams, mouth missiles, and reflection rays, which make him immune to Godzilla’s atomic heat. Biollante appears using acidic sap and squeezing vines which strike from under water, while Battra relies on its prism rays and agility to stay out of Godzilla’s reach. Mecha-King Ghidora also has energy beams but also comes equipped with the patented Machine Hand. The final foe, Bagan, possesses power ray claws and three way electrogrenades from its horns. Throughout the game a variety of colored pills appear, each with its own usefulness. Collecting all of them transforms Godzilla into Super Godzilla, multiplying his powers and making it possible to defeat the most powerful foes towards the end. The game requires a variety of fighting tactics; maneuvers that work against one enemy may not be effective against others. Generally it’s necessary to punch the opponent, then back up and a “wheel of powers” appears. Choose the desired power carefully and be quick; the enemy monsters won’t wait until you’re ready to attack. The game includes music by Akira Ifukube which, while strangely edited, imparts an atmosphere of authenticity to the proceedings. The only draw back to the game however, is the inability to “save” from your current position. Should you turn off the game, you have to start all over again.
Released: 1993 by Systemsoft
System: IBM Compatible w/adapter
Reviewed by: John Rocco Roberto
This Japanese computer game is a battle simulation something along the lines of the PC Engine Godzilla game, where the player recreates some of the most famous battles from Godzilla and other Toho kaiju movies. Memorable conflicts represented are from such films as Godzilla vs the Thing, Monster Zero, Godzilla vs the Cosmic Monster, Godzilla 1985, Godzilla vs Biollante, Godzilla vs King Ghidora (including the finale at Tax Tower against Mecha-King Ghidora), and Godzilla vs Mothra. Other related conflicts include the battle scenes from Rodan, Varan, War of the Gargantuas, and the final onslaught by the Earth Defense Forces at the headquarters dome from The Mysterians. The game also offers the opportunity to create original scenarios where the player is given the choice of controlling the military against Godzilla or Godzilla against another monster. Most of the action takes place on battle maps like in Godzilla 2 War of the Monsters, and both the graphics and the sound effects are what one would expect from a computer game. Unfortunately, having been manufactured for the Japanese market, the game can only be played on American systems after the user has installed an adapter program which will allow the computer to read the Japanese program (NEC MS.DOS: 3.10-3.33 loaded directly onto the hard drive). As the adapter program runs in the neighborhood of $300 and the game itself costs about $145, it all adds up to a very expensive game playing experience, one that probably caters to the tastes of only the most devoted Godzilla fans.
Game:Godzilla’s Greatest Battles
Released: 1993 by Toho Games/Alpha Systems/Hudson Soft
System: PC Engine/Turbo Duo
Reviewed by: John Rocco Roberto
Toho’s long awaited venture into the world of 16 bit gaming is well worth the wait. “Godzilla”, released in Japan for the PC Engine (the Japanese equivalent of the TurboGrafx 16 system) takes advantage of the CD Rom format to achieve an action/ fighting game which holds its own when compared with most games available for this system. While the CD Rom format could have been utilized more effectively, Godzilla’s Greatest Battles holds up as a true reproduction of the King of the Monsters and some of his most famous fights. The game has two modes: “Normal,” in which the player controls Godzilla, and “Vs Game,” in which two players can choose from a variety of Toho kaiju. In the normal mode, the player must guide Godzilla through a series of battles in order to complete four stages and advance to the final round. Along with the ability to choose from three different skill levels (Easy, Normal, and Hard), each stage gives the player two locations to fight in, each with its own monster. For example, in stage one the player has the choice to enter Osaka and fight Angilas (referred to as the “Fierce Monster”), or to Mt. Fuji to fight Rodan (referred to as the “Flying Battle Fortress”). Each monster has its own special abilities, from Godzilla’s atomic breath to Rodan’s hurricane wings. The monsters are depicted very much like their film incarnations. The music accompanying the battles is uninspired and only two Ifukube tunes are employed, one for the opening sequence and the other during the final battle. However, the conflicts give the player the joy of reliving Godzilla’ s most famous fights in his original incarnations. When he battles Angilas, the Gigantis design is used; for Rodan the Mosu-Goji suit is pictured, and so on. The authenticity even extends to the backgrounds for some of the fights; while Godzilla battles Gigan in Children’s Land, Ghidora and Angilas slug it out behind them. To make the Normal game more interesting than a simple punch out, knock down fighting game, certain goals must also be attained. The higher the player score through the various stages determines which foe can be selected for the final battle. The options: Super-X II, Mechagodzilla 2 (from Terror of Mecha-Godzilla), Super Biollante, Mecha-King Ghidora, Battra (imago), and Super Mechagodzilla. Failure to defeat a monster during the initial stages doesn’t prevent moving on to the next match, but undefeated monsters will not be listed in the “Vs Game” kaiju menu and cannot be employed in the two player mode. As if fighting skills were not enough, two bonus stages consist of a series of Godzilla multiple choice trivia questions. The correct or wrong answer determines whether the mazer tanks, jets, and various other JSDF vehicles score a direct hit on Godzilla or are trampled underfoot. Since the text here is in Japanese, it’s a good test of language skills, too. If your Japanese is “a little rusty”, the tanks will win nine times out of ten. [Editor’s note: the American release of this title by Hudson Soft had the trivia section, as well as the two Ifukube themes.] Overall, the Normal mode is fun to play and offers some interesting challenges (as well as a loose story) to the player, especially if played in the Hard level. For those interested in two player head-to-head action, the “Vs Game” is sure to please. Both the location and the music (not Ifukube) are variable, and each player can choose from among the monsters defeated in the Normal Mode: Godzilla, Angilas, Rodan, Ghidora (from Monster Zero), Battra (larva), Megalon, Gigan, Mechagodzilla and Mechagodzilla 2, King Ghidora (from Godzilla vs King Ghidora), and the Super-X II. Any combination can be selected, allowing players to recreate famous battle or invent new ones. Ever wonder whether the new King Ghidora could defeat the original? Could Mechagodzilla beat Super-X 11? A battle of the bugs: Megaton vs Battra? How about Godzilla vs Godzilla? Intriguing as this all may sound, there are some drawbacks to the game which leave one wondering why the CD Rom format was used, especially as only two lfukube themes are represented (game music is played directly from the CD and is not computer generated). The game play is a great improvement over the 8 bit Godzilla games, but the $ 90 import price tag, or the lack of trivia on the American version leaves one felling disappointed.
Released: 1993 by Flying Edges
System: Sega Genesis
Reviewed by: John Rocco Roberto
The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare is an action/adventure game that follows the story of Bart’s attempts to track down his missing homework in the land of dreams. Besides having many interesting sequences involving Bartman, Itchy & Scratchy, and others, there is one dream sequence in which Bart takes on the role of Bartzilla! Destroying buildings, attacking nuclear power plants and military units, Bartzilla must climb to the top of the Springfield State Building, avoid Momthra (Mothra’s body with Marge’s head), and knock Homer Kong (do I have to describe him?) from the top of the tower in order to clear the stage. If you like the Simpsons or just enjoy some oddball stuff, then The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare is sure to please. Enjoy!
Released: 1994 by Toho Games
System: Nintendo Game Boy
Reviewed by: Thomas Gangone
Toho’s newest entry for the Game Boy system is a vast improvement over their earlier release, but still can’t compare to the games for the larger systems. No fault of the programmers, this reflects the limitations of tile system itself. The graphics are good and clear with the faithfully reproduced charac- ters occupying more than half the screen. The game is an action/scrolling type where Godzilla must fight his way through various stages destroying buildings and fight monsters such as Battra, Biollante, Ebirah, Hedorah, King Ghidora, and Mothra, as well as units of the JSDF. There is no time limit to the game so it’s simply a matter of defeating the enemy monster on each level before it defeats you. Unfortunately, unless the ganle can be completed in one sitting, the lack of a password means restarting at the beginning every time. The music tracks are nice reproductions (at least by Game Boy standards) of themes from Godzilla movies, and the actions of the monsters are nicely animated. It’ s a considerable improvement over the Game Boy Godzilla, but the system limitations make it worth missing for all except true Godzilla fanatics.
Article © 1994 John Rocco Roberto, Robert Biondi, Daikaiju Publishing.
Revised version © 2003 Visagraph Films International.