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CONSOLE: Game Boy DEVELOPER: Toho Co. Ltd. PUBLISHER: Toho Co. Ltd.
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 1990 GENRE: Action/Puzzle
// review by SoyBomb

Ah! Godzilla! ...AHHH! BAD GAME!!!

Right before I started actually writing this review, I replayed this game one more time. And it's a good thing I did, because I finally figured out what I actually have to do in this game. Had I not played, I'd be even more ticked off at this game. Not until a few minutes ago was I able to complete the first level in this game and move on. Anyway, let's get right to it:

Anyway, this is Godzilla for the Game Boy. You should already be quite aware of who Godzilla is: a giant dinosaur from Monster Island who periodically comes to help human civilization when it is threatened by other monsters. He's probably one of the most recognizable icons of Japanese culture, and boasts a strong cult following. I've seen a few Godzilla movies (with English dubbing, of course), and even though they're quite cheesy, they're nevertheless entertaining (especially if you seek a few good laughs). It should only be natural for a series that is so popular to have games that reflect the high standards placed upon the series by its fans. In that respect, this game fails.

The story follows (as far as I can tell) that Godzilla's son has been kidnapped by a gang of anti-Godzilla monsters! I suppose all the monsters from the various Godzilla movies have banded together and, instead of just all tackling Godzilla at once, have opted to take the route of the hostage plan. So Godzilla now has the wonderful task of rushing through 50 levels of mayhem and mischief as he breaks his way through countless foes that respawn even after they meet an untimely death!

You might think the game would be really good based on the interesting introductory sequence which features cool rendered versions of some of the key players in this battle of good vs. evil. Here are a few examples:

Yes, I did notice that Godzilla is cross-eyed. I believe he was like that during the 1970s as well, so it's still fairly accurate. And look! It's Hedrah, also well-known as the Smog Monster! And Baragon, the... um... There are more, of course, but you'll have to play to see. The music in the introduction is likely the best you'll hear in the game, as the rest is monotonous, but I'll touch upon that aspect later. But after you see graphics like these, you would assume that the rest of the game should be looking so spiffy as well. Well, as the classic phrase goes, "You know what happens when you assume..." You end up making an ass out of yourself in this case, because you spent good paper route money on this game, only to realize that you've been duped!

The remainder of this game is less than pretty. Godzilla is not so menacing when you have almost embarrassingly childish basic graphics with very bland details. He looks more like a plump gray plush toy than a 50-foot-tall fire-breathing dinosaur. The only monster that at least closely represents its full-scale counterpart is Hedrah, but even it looks like a soggy leaf with eyes. This game looks drab with its blank backgrounds and minimal foreground excitement. I'm sure I could hork up something more visually amusing. The music and sound are equally unpleasant. The title screen music blares at you like an aural explosion with no remorse, but at least it's a Godzilla theme. However, if you wait a little bit, you can hear the lively background music for the introduction, which is by far the best music in the game. After that, you'll just get the same happy-go-lucky average tune in every level afterwards. The sound effects are few and far between in variety. There's a noise for Godzilla's punch, another more higher-pitched one for when he is injured (you'll hear this one a lot), and a third for when Godzilla breaks a rock. That's pretty much the extent of the game: three sound effects. Oh joy. And they sound very bland, although you can't expect as much from a first-generation Game Boy title. I wish they had at the very least provided a digitized version of the Godzilla scream. Granted, with Game Boy sound hardware it would cause mass panic and window shatterage throughout the land, but it would have proven that the developer had actually done their homework.

The biggest pitfall of this game, though, is its actual gameplay. In the Godzilla movies, Godzilla can perform a variety of moves. He can swing his tail around, breathe toasty fire, pick up enemies and twirl them around before tossing them a great distance, and he's even been known to fly on rare occasions (utilizing his fire-breathing abilities as a propulsion system). None of these cool moves are present in the game. All you can do is walk, climb, and punch. Punch? Since when was punching his primary means of offensive attacking? And you can't punch while you walk or climb either, so if Rodan (the flying pterodactyl hybrid) happens to fly at you while you're climbing something, you'll be defenseless and will be consequently pecked a few times, losing precious life energy from your health meter. Not just a little bit, but a significant amount! But Godzilla's purpose in each level is not to defeat the enemies (they will respawn anyway, but it's good to get them out of your way for a while), but to destroy 'carefully-placed' boulders throughout each stage so that exits appear. Nothing says "awesome gameplay" like going around and punching rocks. It doesn't sound too difficult yet, but the developer expects the player to punch the rocks in a pre-specified order. If you punch them in the incorrect order, exits will NOT appear, and you will not be able to complete the level. That's horrible, but you'll just have to give yourself up and die in order to continue. So you can get stuck in any stage, even the first one (which I had managed to repeatedly do until shortly before I began writing this review). This game was simply reeking of tedium even by the second level (amazingly enough), and I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy it. Boredom was never fun anyway.

There isn't much else to say about this game, except that it is not worth whatever hefty price tag you could consider slapping on it. Even if you like this style of game, you'll find much more pleasure in the "Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle" series by Kemco, the first of which was already available for the NES a year earlier and was far more entertaining (and Bugs Bunny didn't even have much of an attack strategy...). Unless you really love Godzilla, and I mean REALLY love Godzilla, you should avoid this title and move on to greener gaming pastures.


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