Not quite the King of the Monsters
Tokusatsu has been a part of my life even before I knew what that word itself meant. For those that might not know, Tokusatsu refers to Japanese shows where actors put on monster outfits to either do battle against a team of super heroes or perhaps against other monsters. Shows that fall under this category are Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Masked Rider and yes, even Godzilla. However, Godzilla was never a prominent character in my childhood. My first exposure to the towering monster was (unfortunately) with the US movie starring Matthew Broderick which I certainly remembered liking when I was a kid, but slowly began to realize what a horrible representation of Godzilla, once I learned what Godzilla actually was.
There have certainly been numerous games trying to recapture the spirit of Godzilla, some more successful than others, but it seems like Bandai Namco went back to the drawing board in hopes to not only appeal to hardcore, old-school fans of Godzilla, but also hope to educate newer fans with the history of Godzilla. While it may accomplish both of those things, it ultimately fails to do one, very important thing right; fun and engaging gameplay.
That's not to say they didn't have the right ideas. You see, since Godzilla is a towering giant of a monster, you obviously can't have him be nimble and dash across the screen, and that's fine. Authenticity is important in a game showcasing various versions of Godzilla and other Kaiju (monsters). To do this, Godzilla has been given tank controls essentially. To turn Godzilla left and right, you have to press one of the corresponding L1 and R1 buttons. It's a very odd control scheme that certainly takes some time getting used to.
However, it's not really the sluggish movement and odd controls I have a problem with. It's the rest of the game that ultimately brings the experience down. The highlight mode of the game is God of Destruction, where ultimately the point is to destroy G-Force generators. What's G-Force? Some energy that's being harnessed by humanity in order to survive. However, it's also energy that helps Godzilla grow and evolve. The problem is that each and every level, despite the layout and scenery changes, plays out the same exact way. You're dropped in a city, you destroy as many buildings as you can, take out other Kaiju that occasionally appear, take out the generators and move on to the next stage where you're doing exactly the same thing.
What makes the experience much worse is the complete lack of difficulty, with the exception of a few Kaiju fights. While you're wrecking the city, you're constantly fired upon by jets, helicopters, tanks and other nuisances, but none of these actually ever seem to do any damage. It wasn't until I've gone through half of the God of Destruction mode that I've realized that Godzilla actually has a health indicator, that slowly starts surrounding the screen in an orange hue.
Perhaps the more enjoyable, and slightly more redeeming mode is the King of Kaiju mode where you take on 6 waves of increasingly hard Kaiju. It essentially strips out the monotonous destruction of the city and instead focuses on one-on-one monster brawling. The fighting itself isn't great, as it's just as slow as the movement. I will say that I enjoyed playing as various other monsters here like Rodan, Mechagodzilla, Battra and even Mothra. Each one brings an entirely different moveset to the table. However, unlocking these monsters is an even bigger issue.
You essentially have to trudge through God of Destruction dozens of times to make sure you pick up the various evo materials to even unlock these monsters to begin with. Want to upgrade them? Better grind some more in God of Destruction. Want to unlock more paths? Better make sure you complete all side objectives in every single map. Had the stages been more varied with more engaging objectives, it wouldn't be a problem, but constantly taking out generators while watching buildings crumble as if this game was built for the PS2 doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun for me. You simply can't build a game that's centered around grinding without the core experience being fun enough to make up for it. Look at Dynasty Warriors, a series that often criticized for being a button masher, however its grind is hidden under dozens if not hundreds of different characters, a plethora of stages with varying and changing objectives and combat that while often simplistic, is still extremely fun.
For the old-school Godzilla fans that might appreciate the game for what it is, the game includes a fairly impressive history of various monsters as well as a diorama mode where they can recreate (or at least attempt to) famous matchups with little toys. But I can't imagine this being the selling point here.
As it stands, Godzilla is simply not a great game. I honestly don't think I can even call it a good game. I don't have the nostalgia of Godzilla holding me over either, which might make a difference for those who actually are big Godzilla fans. It's ugly by today's standards, too slow and un-engaging, and simply too damn repetitive to enjoy.