Ninja Gaiden (NES) Review

“Nintendo hard.”

That’s a term commonly used to describe the often brutal difficulty of games found on the NES. From Mega Man to Castlevania to Battletoads, the NES was riddled with games so punishing, that arguably no system has since repeated such consistently high difficulty. Among the most famous of these “Nintendo hard” games was Techmo’s Ninja Gaiden.

Ninja Gaiden is a side-scrolling action game, where players take control of Ryu Hayabusa through six different worlds, each more difficult than the last. Ryu can jump, slash enemies with his katana, and use special items Castlevania-style by pressing up on the D-pad along with the attack button.

Perhaps Ninja Gaiden’s most notable aspect that set it apart from other 8-bit action titles, however, was Ryu’s ability to wall jump (these were simpler times, when a simple new game mechanic could be used as a selling point for a title).

“Though its story is nothing to write home about, Ninja Gaiden’s cinematics were novel in their time.”

For the most part, Ryu Hayabusa is a fun character to control. His jumping feels smooth and responsive, and the simple combat mechanics are quick and fun. On the downside of things, the wall jump – despite being one of the game’s biggest draws back in the day – isn’t nearly as consistent. Ryu sticks to any wall you jump towards, which is fine, but once he’s on there, it can get tough to get him down. You can’t simply drop down, and instead have to use the wall jump (which can get troublesome in enemy-packed areas). Problems arise though, when the wall jumping doesn’t always coincide with your button presses. It’s a strange phenomenon, because while Ryu’s controls otherwise feel completely responsive, you may have to press the jump button several times before Ryu decides to jump off a wall. Playing as a wall-jumping ninja certainly is a cool idea, but I’m afraid time has exposed how unpolished the mechanic was in Ninja Gaiden.

With that said, Ninja Gaiden is still a really fun game overall. The levels are short but challenging, and for the most part that challenge – while it can be steep – is generally fair. And thankfully, the levels feature a decent amount of checkpoints, and even game overs simply take you back to said checkpoints, so this helps keep the frustration down (though it also may make you wonder why game overs were even included to begin with). You even have unlimited continues, which means you have ample tries to learn from past mistakes.

There are two major caveats with the levels, however: the first is that dying during boss fights will take you back to the start of that level, which is a dumbfounding decision, seeing as any other death takes you back to the nearest checkpoint. I’m not even saying you need to start back at the boss door or anything, but why not the closest checkpoint? It’s just a weird inconsistency.

The other problem with the stages are how easy it is for enemies to respawn. Sure, many games feature respawning enemies if you go a certain distance and come back, but it seems like if Ryu moves even an inch backwards, previous enemies will respawn. This can make things kind of annoying when trying to make the game’s trickier jumps, and you need to keep readjusting your position, only for the enemies to respawn and stand in the path of your jump.

So Ninja Gaiden has a few aged elements to it. I suppose that should be expected, considering the NES era will still something of a pioneering time for the medium. But even if it can’t compete with more timeless NES titles like Mega Man 2 or Super Mario Bros. 3, Ninja Gaiden still displays a strong sense of fun and challenge. And hey, it’s still not as tough as Battletoads.

 

 

7.0

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The 600th Blog Spectacularsaurus!

Am I going to re-use Bobby Roode’s theme music on all of my centennial blogs? Probably. Because it’s GLORIOUS!

 

That’s right, my dear childrens, I have now amassed 600 blogs here at the Dojo! Please, no need for applause. Just throw money.

Technically speaking, this is the 604th overall blog on this site, thanks to the recent efforts of AfterStory, who is so kind to help contribute to my Dojo. But we’re keeping our milestones separated, because it’s easier to keep track of. And since this is my 600th blog, I’m celebrating.

 

 

To be honest, this milestone post may be a relatively short one, seeing as I have a number of reviews I want to get to writing. Plus, this is the 600th blog. Seems kind of like a decently random milestone, at least when compared to 500.

Am I just making excuses for laziness? Maybe. But those reviews aren’t going to write themselves, you know. I’m totally going to write more meaningful content once I’m done here. I’m not just going to go eat a sandwich or something.

 

You can never eat too many sandwiches.

Come to think of it, I’m actually surprised I’ve managed to reach this 600th blog milestone right now. I started Wizard Dojo back on Christmas day of 2014, so I’ve managed to reach this mark in a little under three years. Am I that dedicated? Or do I just have too much time on my hands?

Well, whatever the case, I’m happy I’ve managed to maintain this site in the way I have. I know, that sounds like I’m giving myself a pat on the back, but with the way I’ve seen blogs come and go, I’m happy that I’ve been able to continuously share my opinions and critiques on the things I love. I know some people just don’t have the time to maintain their sites, and that’s perfectly understandable, life has gotten in the way of my own writings quite frequently. But I always want to make sure I have some new content as frequently as possible, so that the kind people who take their time to read what I write have a little something to enjoy (that, and I’m an opinionated bastard, so I have no shortage of things to write about).

So thank you, dear readers. You make every update I make worth it. I hope you find some interest and/or entertainment from the Wizard Dojo. I love video games and movies, so hopefully, that love shows in the things I write.

I must admit, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep up this pace. Now now, no need to fear, I’ll keep the updates coming, but if I ever want to actually make a video game of my own some day, I have to dedicate more of my spare time to that. Again, I’ll keep this site alive no matter what it takes, but making my own video game(s) is something of a dream of mine, so I have to pursue that as well.

But that’s a little bit down the road. I hope to maintain at least a similar flow of updates for the rest of 2017 anyway. I have a number of video games that need a reviewin’, and I also think I’ll soon be dedicating a bit more of this site to animated movies. I feel I used to have a decent balance on which subject I wrote about between games and animation, but this past year or so seems like video games have completely taken the focus on this site. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I love video games. But I would like to reclaim some of that balance. Perhaps after I hit 300 game reviews, or when I finally make my list of favorite games, I’ll shift some of that focus back. I don’t know. I’m rambling at this point.

I’ve also been tempted to start writing on TV series in some capacity, but I can’t see myself dedicating as much time to writing about them as movies or games. TV shows are just a bigger, more demanding commitment. By the time it would take to watch one season of most TV shows and write one review on it, I could watch several movies or play several games and crank out a ton of reviews. TV shows are still something I would like to write about to some degree though, particularly after I’ve fallen in love with Twin Peaks over this past Summer (which explains the sudden boom of Twin Peaks gifs around here). Maybe for my tippy-toppy favorite shows, I’ll write a thing or two here and there.

I’ve also been tempted to share some of my creative writing or drawing on here. But I don’t know about that. I’m no great artist by any stretch, but I love to draw the silly little characters and creatures that spawn from my mind. Perhaps I could share some of my concept sketches for potential video game ideas? I don’t know. I’m rambling again.

Wow, this is the most boring milestone post ever! I’m just going on and on about the things I might do with this site. Geez, I’ve probably put anyone reading this to sleep before they even made it halfway to this point.

Well, I better wrap tis up before things grow even more dull. So once again, I give a big thanks to all you lovely people who continue to help my site grow, and make my writing worthwhile. I hope you look forward to all the video game and movie reviews I have lined up, and whatever other crap I decide to write as well. And I hope you look forward to whatever other creative endeavors the future holds for me.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Let’s end things with the Samurai Pizza Cats theme song!

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (SNES) Review

Terminator 2: Judgement Day remains one of the best action movies ever made, as well as one of the best sequels in film history. This, of course, made it ripe for the pickings when it came to video game adaptations. Numerous Terminator 2 games were released, with perhaps the most famous one being the mindless-but-fun arcade shooter which was ported to consoles under the title of Terminator 2: Judgement Day: The Arcade Game, to avoid confusion with the many other “T2” video games that bore an identical name to the film.

One of these games, featured on the SNES, was by none other than LJN. The same publisher which rushed one cheap movie tie-in game after another to pollute the NES library was still up to their old tricks during the 16-bit era, and it may be one of the worst games LJN ever produced. No wonder the arcade game wanted to distance itself from it…

In this version of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, player’s take control of Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, the T-800; who is sent back in time to protect John Connor, the boy who will grow up to lead the human resistance against the machine uprising.

If there’s anything positive to be said about this T2 game, it’s that it follows the story of the movie decently well, with the game’s eight main stages recreating famous scenes from the film. Though I also have to give some ironic points to the game for making the T-800 look like Hank Hill, which I get a kick out of.

The controls for the standard levels are basic stuff. You can jump, use an undefined punch/knee attack, and use a pistol and shotgun, once you pick them up in the first level. The control layout isn’t bad, but the T-800 controls somewhat sluggishly, especially when you encounter steps, and can’t consistently get ol’ Arnie to go on the desired path (you would think you could just press down to continue walking on ground level, but the T-800 just seems to randomly decide when he wants to continue forward or go up stairs).

During these stages, you have the consistent goal of collecting what are unceremoniously referred to as “future objects,” by means of finding the canisters they’re contained in, destroying them, and picking up the object inside (which resembles the famous Terminator skull). But each stage also presents you with other objectives as well, all of which must be met in order to move on.

The first stage, for example, requires you to pick up your firearms from fallen enemies, as well as find John Connor’s home address by means of phone booth. The stages inform you of these objectives at the start of a level, and through the pause screen. But here’s where things start to get messy.

For one thing, the text which explain the objectives can be difficult to read, being written with thin, close together letters all spelled out in a garish hue of red (which can often clash with the colors of the background, with the brown building on the first level making things all the harder to discern). Far worse still is the fact that these objectives are only barely explained to the player. When the game tells you to “collect future objects,” it says nothing about them being hidden in canisters that you need to blow up. Nor does it tell you how to get John Connor’s home address, with my mentioning of a phone booth in this review being more generous than any advice in the game.

These vague explanations only get worse as the game goes on. The evil T-1000 will begin to appear starting with the third level, but he can actually show up on level two if you take too long to complete it. Not that the game tells you that or anything.

But I haven’t even touched on the worst aspect of the game yet, and that would be the driving segments. In between the main stages are driving sections. And – my lord – they are unplayable. The T-800’s motorcycle (unidentifiable from the enemy motorcycles who try to stop you) seems to only have two speeds: Dead stop, and ludicrous speed. To say it’s difficult to control is an understatement. You don’t even have enough time to avoid oncoming cars because you’re going so fast. And should you take enough damage and die, you have to start the game over from the beginning.

To make things worse, the motorcycle is an utter mess to control. The driving stages take place at a 45 degree slant, with you needing to find your destination by following the directions of a compass. But this compass is barely any help, because it only shows you the broad, general direction you’re supposed to be going, but the scenery all looks identical, so simply telling the player to go west doesn’t exactly do a whole lot of good. As if this weren’t all bad enough, actually turning the motorcycle is a chore. You’d think just pressing a direction would be good enough to change course, but instead, you have to hold down the Y button and press a direction at the same time. And even then, it seems wildly inconsistent, with the motorcycle unable to turn in certain directions at certain times, and sometimes it doesn’t even respond to your button presses at all.

To put it bluntly, Terminator 2 on SNES has the absolute worst driving controls I’ve ever experienced.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day even stumbles in aesthetics, with bland, ugly backgrounds and – if the Hank Hill-esque Terminator weren’t indication enough – character sprites that don’t resemble the characters in the movie at all. Not to mention the ear-grating, repetitious music.

I think the simplest way to sum up Terminator 2: Judgement Day on SNES is that it’s an LJN game. It takes a beloved movie, and turns it into a game riddled with bad controls, level design and aesthetics. At the very least, this one follows the plot of the movie a bit, which is more than you can say about something like LJN’s NES adaptation of Back to the Future. But does that really mean anything when the game itself seems to actively be trying to create an unenjoyable experience?

Hasta la vista, bad game!

 

1.5

Friday the 13th (NES) Review

There really aren’t a whole lot of movie franchises that can keep going strong after more than two or three entries (with Star Wars being one of those exceptions, though even it had the hated prequel trilogy to overcome before the franchise got back on its feet with The Force Awakens). But that doesn’t stop studios from overexposing movie franchises, even long after they’ve wrung dry. Horror franchises in particular, have a long history of never knowing when to quit, and Friday the 13th may have been one of the worst offenders, with ten total films in its original series, plus a crossover and a reboot during the 2000s. That’s a lot of mileage for a series that essentially boils down to little more than a madman killing a bunch of campers. Friday the 13th was one of those horror franchises where, much like its antagonist, it just wouldn’t die.

The 1980s were an exceptionally busy decade when it came to milking horror franchises. Another relic of the 80s came in the form of taking virtually any conceivable movie and turning it into an NES game, whether it had any right to be one or not. It only makes sense that both of these dreadful trends would eventually cross paths. Enter LJN’s NES adaptation of Friday the 13th.

In all fairness, Friday the 13th isn’t the worst LJN game I’ve played, but that isn’t exactly saying a whole lot. This is still a game that seems more cumbersome and convoluted than anything else, and still deserves its frequent ranking as one of LJN’s worst creations. But at the very least I suppose it bears the name of a movie that feels like a product of its time, as opposed to taking a classic like Back to the Future or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and turning it into a monstrosity. The downgrade in quality between movie and game simply isn’t as extreme here, if nothing else.

With that said, the game still isn’t any good. The whole goal of the game is to defeat Jason Vorhees, the ski-masked murderer from the film series, before he kills all the camp counselors. You take control of six different counselors, which have minor gameplay differences between one another (some are faster, others jump higher, or throw offensive rocks in different arcs), and the player will select a different counselor upon the death of the current one.

Admittedly, the “different characters as different lives” setup was original at the time, and some of the game’s other aspects, such as traveling through “3D” space in the different cabins, were also decently bold for their time… even if their execution leaves a whole lot to be desired.

The game revolves around the player moving around the campgrounds, finding lighters to light the fireplaces of the cabins, and slowly chipping away at Jason’s seemingly never-ending health bar whenever you come across him. Most of the game is played in a 2D side-scrolling perspective, with the cabins, once again, having a go at three-dimensional space.

Friday the 13th features a map screen (which you awkwardly open by pressing start and select at the same time), which shows your current location on the campgrounds. Every once in a while, an alarm will sound, informing you that Jason is on the prowl. During these times, you can also see where Jason is on the map, and you have to get to that location and combat him before a timer runs out, otherwise another counselor dies.

Here’s where things really start to get hairy. The time you have to face off with Jason is very limited (I don’t think it usually reaches the minute-long mark), and oftentimes Jason will spawn on the complete other side of the map. And seeing that most of the gameplay is on a 2D plain, discerning which direction during gameplay takes you which direction on the map isn’t always easy (or consistent).

In short, it’s easy to get lost, and even easier to lose multiple counselors to Jason before you even have a fair chance at reaching him.

Should you manage to locate Jason in a cabin, however, you are pitted in a battle against him that looks like something out of Punch-Out!!. You can slowly deal bits and pieces of damage to Jason, but he does considerable more damage to you, meaning you’re far more likely to lose a character to Jason than you are of sending him away for the time being. I will admit though, when you actually run into Jason upon entering a cabin and searching its every corner, his reveal is actually successfully startling.

Sometimes, you can even come across Jason in the 2D sections, in which case you simply try to pelt him with rocks (or knives, should you be lucky enough to hold onto them for a prolonged period of time), while avoiding his attacks. Slowly but surely, you can eat away at Jason’s health with every encounter, in hopes of eventually depleting it entirely and finishing the game.

Dare I say the idea of solely fighting Jason Vorhees may have made for an interesting game under the right hands? Like I said, when you do come across him, it’s probably as scary as the game could have been for its style and time, and the fact that he can run across you just as likely as you can come across him is a pretty suspenseful idea. But of course, this is LJN, so the concept becomes more than a little ruined.

On top of the confusing layout and navigation, the entire process just grows far too tedious. And more likely than not, you’ll probably lose all of your characters before you take out even a fraction of Jason’s health. And even the suspense of Jason possibly being around any corner is ruined by the inclusion of zombies, wolves and bird enemies. Sure, these enemies drop items like the lighters and the knives, but their inclusion seems unnecessary. Like they’re only there to fill out the map. But the game probably would have benefitted from a smaller map with no enemies, where maybe you had to find the items through puzzles or something, all while Jason is on the prowl. But, again, this is LJN. Shouldn’t expect too much.

In the end, Friday the 13th just ends up being another example of LJN’s almost shocking ability to produce rushed and unfinished games. Though some of Friday the 13th’s concepts were novel at the time, the horrendous layout and arduous nature of the game make it a complete bore.

 

2.0

Back to the Future (NES) Review

Ignoring director Robert Zemeckis’ trilogy of uncanny valley heavy motion-capture films released in the 2000s, the famed filmmaker has had a pretty solid resume. Many of Zemeckis’ films have received high praise, and are remembered as classics of their respective decades, such as Forest Gump and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Perhaps the most beloved Robert Zemeckis film, however, is Back to the Future. With its unique blending of genres (a time-traveling/buddy comedy/high school drama), tightly wound storytelling (a movie about time travel that makes sense!), and its memorable characters, Back to the Future is one of the quintessential “80s movies.”

Like so many other beloved films of the 80s and early 90s, Back to the Future received an NES game courtesy of the now-defunct LJN, who became infamous for their ability to take seemingly any movie, and create a rushed, broken game out of it. And LJN’s treatment of Back to the Future frequently ranks as one of their biggest crimes against beloved movies.

Basically, the game works like this: You play as Marty McFly, the hero from the film famously portrayed by Michael J. Fox, and you make your way across rail-like stages, where you have to avoid enemies, collect clocks, and make it to the end of the stage with as much time left as possible. In between each series of walking stages are levels where you have to throw root beer floats at bullies, or collect hearts from love-struck high schoolers (or something).

In other words, it has nothing to do with the movie.

Mistake number one – which has been pointed out time and again – is that Marty bears no resemblance to the film’s main character. Sure, this was NES and developers could only do so much, but when the character’s red life vest and brown hair are replaced with a sleeveless black shirt and black hair, you get the impression they didn’t even try.

That’s actually the least of the game’s faults, however, as the actual gameplay is much, much worse.

In the walking stages, Marty automatically moves forward, with the player needing to guide him away from obstacles and enemies (which range from bees to hula girls) and grab the aforementioned clocks. There are two timers at the bottom of the screen. One of them, the more obvious timer, simply counts down how long you have to reach the end of the level. Every time an enemy hits you, you lose time on this timer. If it reaches zero, you lose a life. And however much time you have left when you reach the end of the level is multiplied into points.

The second timer is presented as a picture at the center of the bottom of the screen, and is suppose to represent the photograph of Marty, his brother and his sister from the movie (the one where each figure in the photo slowly disappears as Marty keeps inadvertently altering time). This timer works over the course of the walking levels, with the pictured characters slowly disappearing. For every 100 clocks you collect, you reset this timer.

Okay, things may not sound all that bad from that description, but where things really begin to fall apart are with the way Marty himself plays. For one thing, Marty’s standard jump is completely useless. If you try to jump over an enemy or obstacle, you just smack right into it, leaving you wondering why the jump was even included. You can, at times, find a skateboard (hey, something from the movie!), which allows you to move faster, and even makes the jump successful in leaping over some obstacles, but it also makes Marty move so fast that it becomes really easy to run into walls, and to miss out on collecting the clocks. So it’s a power-up that actively works against your goal.

To make matters worse, the enemies are all over the place, and most of them move much faster than Marty (of course). The worst are the bees, who will continuously follow you for a good while before they fly away. You can fight back enemies by picking up a bowling ball (remember the bowling scene from the movie? Me either), but if you get hit once, you lose the bowling ball as well as precious time.

As one final middle finger to the players, the clocks, skateboards and bowling balls are often placed directly in front of walls which will knock you down and steal time when touched. No point in even attempting to get those items, since you’ll just be punished for it as soon as you grab them, so then why are they even there? Back to the Future on NES was trolling before trolling was a thing.

Perhaps the worst bit of all is the music, which is just an obnoxious, sporadic loop of noise that repeats throughout the majority of the game. From the title screen and any level that features music (save for the final stage), it’s just the same scratching loop over and over again.

You may think that when you finally manage to get to one of the stages that doesn’t involve automatic walking, you are getting some kind of reprieve (not only are they different, but that awful music is muted as well). Sadly, you’d be wrong, as these stages may be even worse than the walking ones.

In the first such level, the one where you are throwing those root beer floats at bullies, Marty is confined behind the store counter. You can move up and down, and throw the delicious beverages at the oncoming bullies, who will charge towards Marty in different rows. Marty must continuously move up and down to make sure he’s in position to hit the closest bully. The problem is it’s incredibly difficult to make out when you are and are not in the right spot until the bullies are right in front of you. And should even just one of them make it to the counter, you not only lose a life, but go back to the previous walking stage! 

Keep in mind that you have to successfully defeat 50 bullies in order to finish this level alone, and said bullies increase in speed, and even start showing up in packs as you defeat more and more of them. I doubt most players would have the patience to continue with the game past this levels, but if they do, they can look forward to more walking stages, capped off with levels of similar difficulty to the root beer one. It’s a mess.

Back to the Future on NES should rank among the worst licensed games ever made. Up there with LJN’s own Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure. It not only has virtually nothing to do with the beloved film it’s based on (save for the title), but even without the mockery of its source material, it would still be a flat-out terrible piece of game design.

 

1.5

I Has a SNES Classic!

Huzzah! I hath managed to snag an SNES Classic Edition! Or SNES Mini… whatever you wanna call it.

Okay, I still have an original SNES (it’s still positioned just to the left of my Switch seen in this picture), but seeing as it’s my favorite console of all time, and the most timeless video game console yet created, I just had to have this special item.

Getting a hold of one of these babies wasn’t easy though, as my sleep depravation and noodle-like legs from waiting in long lines will attest to. I had to try a couple of different stores before I ended up getting one (I got the 15th console out of an available 19 at the location I got mine). Yeesh, I really wish Nintendo could just meet the demand for their products for once.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this isn’t to brag about the fact that I actually managed to get an SNES Classic, but just to say that I plan on writing some reviews for many of the games included in the SNES Classic. Obviously, I’ve already reviewed some of the games included in the console (Including a perfect 10 review for Super Mario World), but a good chunk of the games included are classics I have yet to cover on this site. So expect that to change soon, with reviews for such revered games as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, and basically all the others that I haven’t already reviewed. It will be over time, of course, I still need to finish reviewing the games of Rare Replay, and there are a few contemporary releases I hope to review in the coming months. I also plan on finally reviewing GameCube games, starting with Super Mario Sunshine. Seeing as Odyssey will be a return to the “sandbox style” of Super Mario 64 and Sunshine, it just seems like a good time.

So yeah, expect some more SNES reviews in the coming weeks. I’m happy to own the SNES Classic Edition… even if it does come with the baffling exclusions of Donkey Kong Country 2 and Chrono Trigger! Seriously, why aren’t they on there? Both were among the best games on the console, and some of the best of all time! Okay, so I suppose in the case of Chrono Trigger, Square-Enix might have been their usual, Square-Enix selves and wouldn’t allow it (I’m actually pretty shocked the SNES Classic includes Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy III, to be honest). But there’s no excuse I can think of for DKC2’s omission. It’s Donkey Kong! One of Nintendo’s own franchises! They own it! How can it not…

*Ahem!*

Excuse me. I kind of lost my cool there… Anyway…

I’ll try to get to some of those SNES reviews ASAP. Between them and those other reviews I mentioned, I have my next few months of game reviews covered. I’ll even try to get to reviewing Chrono Trigger soon, seeing as I have the DS version staring me in the face (I still want it on the SNES Classic though). As for DKC2, well, it sucks that what is probably my favorite 2D platformer isn’t on the SNES Classic, but you can always enjoy the review I wrote of it on the game’s 20th anniversary (which is another of the very few 10/10s I’ve dished out).

Oh, and one more thing. Although I have a crap-ton of video games I need to get to reviewing, I still plan on increasing my output of movie reviews. Because I’m crazy.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters Review

It really shouldn’t be that hard to make a good Godzilla game. Okay, that’s perhaps an unfair statement, because actually making any game is a hefty endeavor. But in regards to concept, why would it ever be difficult to figure out what a Godzilla game should be? You have one giant monster fight another giant monster and there you go, a Godzilla game. But for whatever reason, it took developers a long time to figure out the obvious when it came to thinking of an idea for a game starring the king of the monsters. Such is the case with the NES’ Godzilla: Monster of Monsters which, despite having a few unique ideas at its disposal, is far more complicated and tedious than it needs to be, and is bogged down all the more thanks to some utterly baffling game design choices.

In Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, players take control of Godzilla and Mothra, as they make their way across shoot-em-up stages and face off with other monsters. Sounds simple enough, but here’s where things get weird; the game is presented as a kind of board game. Godzilla and Mothra make their way across a game board, with the different spaces leading to a short stage, and the enemy monsters having a turn of their own. When the good and evil monsters come face-to-face, they do battle with each other. More enemy monsters are added with each new board, and Godzilla and Mothra can gain levels a la RPGs by defeating more boss monsters.

Okay, so far it doesn’t sound so bad. Why Godzilla needs to be presented as a board game is anybody’s guess, but hey, combining the board game setup with RPG and fighting elements is original, at the very least. Godzilla and Mothra even play differently; with Godzilla moving two spaces on the board at a time compared to Mothra’s four, and Godzilla attacking with his claws and his devastating laser breath, while Mothra spits a projectile and can drop her wings like bombs (strangely, the special moves are used by pressing the Start button, with the Select button pausing the game).

Here’s where things start to go haywire, however. During your turn, you can only move one of the monsters at a time! And when I said the spaces on the board have their own stages, I meant every space on the board! So basically, a turn consists of moving one of your characters a few spaces, and then playing a stage in which you’re constantly being bombarded with enemy fire, and there’s often no definition between what’s in the background and what’s in the foreground (many obstacles, such as volcanos, which appear in the back must be destroyed before your character can walk past them). And how do you finish a board and move on to the next? By making your way to the opposite end of the board and completing its final stage, naturally.

The stages themselves may not be particularly long, but when you have to play through one for every space you land on, combined with the limited movement of your characters on the game board, the process becomes beyond tedious.

Things get even weirder when you realize your fights with enemy monsters have time limits. If you fail to defeat a monster during the fight, you’ll have to wait for another round to finish them off (thankfully, they retain any damage you did to them previously). But if you fail to defeat them two or three times, they’ll run away from the board (complete with hilariously translated dialogue boxes explaining the details of the monster’s cowardice), which means you miss out on gaining a level or two.

Here’s where the flaws go from obnoxious to game-breaking: In order to progress through the game, your surviving monster or monsters have to make it through the board’s end level. That may sound like it makes sense, but if both of the player monsters are alive, they both have to make it through the finish, which doubles down on the already tedious process. So if you think you’re being clever by strategically moving the slower but more powerful Godzilla into the path of enemy monsters to take them out while you have Mothra dart for the finish line, sorry. No dice. They both have to get through the finish line, which means you have to go through every stage on every space you land on!

Now, you can take a bit of a shortcut… if you purposefully get one of your monsters killed in one of the levels or against a boss. But that puts you at a huge disadvantage should your surviving monster have to go up against multiple monsters in order to progress (like the bosses, your damage also stays intact, unless you find enough healing items in a stage). But if one monster dies early, you can get the other to the end and both of your characters will be back on the next board. It’s just a risky game to play.

Don’t think that process will work in reverse though. If you manage to get one monster through the board, you can’t have the monster that’s left on the board die, because then it’s game over. The game would still be pretty bad even if the progression were more streamlined, but I can safely say it wouldn’t be nearly as bad if you could just move on by having one monster reach the end! If the player reached the end of the board, that’s all that should matter. The game really gives off the impression that the developers just didn’t think all these details through.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters is one of the many early examples of developers overthinking what a Godzilla game should be. Although the board game and RPG elements have a bit of originality to them, the gameplay featured in the stages is just too bland, and the process of getting through it all is simply beyond arduous, making the whole thing go from a missed opportunity to a flat-out bad game.

 

3.0