Godzilla, the name brings up all kinds of fond memories for a lot of people, even if those memories are tainted by the monstrosity created by Roland Emmerich and Matthew Broderick in 1998. What other series features guys blowing up minature cities in giant rubber costumes, weird singing little people, and some of the worst dubbing ever? Godzilla is also one of the few movie franchises that has actually made the transition to the gaming world without too much pain. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters
wasn't the best game out there but it was still a lot of fun to play. Recently we had the chance to talk to the creative director for the upcoming Godzilla Unleashed game about what new things we can expect from the upcoming fighting game.
Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the game? How long have you been in the industry and how did you come to work on the game industry?
My name is Mark Crowe, and I’m the Creative Director. I’m a 24-year veteran of the games industry, having authored or directed over 30 titles. As half of the legendary Two Guys from Andromeda design team, I was responsible for co-creating Sierra’s classic Space Quest. I’ve also co-designed Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, Godzilla: Save the Earth and Godzilla: Unleashed. My interests and hobbies include: drawing/painting, the great outdoors, sci-fi movies & games, toy collecting, hanging with the family units and, of course, dreaming-up new game ideas.
The game features 23 monsters, 4 of which have been revealed on the official site. Can you provide a few details on how the various monsters for both Earth Defense and the Aliens are revealed in the game, and how many will be playable from the start?
The game will feature TOHO’s “A” list of monsters, some updated from the more recent movies and a few surprises we can’t reveal yet. But you can be assured that all the favorites are back and we’re even including two brand new monsters that had heavy fan involvement in their development. Atari will be releasing more information about monsters and their specifics very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
What plot details can you share with us? Is this plot going to be your typical fighting game where you progress through a linear set of foes or are you doing something different? Does the game take place strictly on Earth or not?
The plot for Godzilla: Unleashed doesn’t play out like your typical fighting game; it mainly depends on the character you choose to play as and their alignment and motivations. One constant that affects the story is the existence of giant alien crystals growing out of the earth. These crystals have brought about cataclysmic changes to the planet, and your monster’s faction determines how you will approach dealing with these crystals. Monsters are grouped into 4 factions: Earth Defenders, Mecha, Aliens, and Malefic Mutations- each with their own perspective and motivations within the over arcing storyline. The story path changes based on which faction you choose to represent. So depending on the choices, your story path will change with different encounters, team-ups and Graphic Novel story sequences.
You got to create two entirely new monsters for the game, how did you come up with the designs for the monster? Where there any parameters that you had to work within or were you given free reign? Can you talk about some of the designs that got left on the cutting room floor?
First of all, it was a real thrill and an honor to have been granted permission by TOHO to create 2 original monsters for the game. But we knew these new monsters had to look like they fit within the same TOHO universe. We wanted them to be original and wickedly cool, but still look like they were cut from the same cloth as the existing monsters. One of the new monsters (Krystalak) was created specifically to serve as one of the main villains in the game’s story. We iterated through many designs with TOHO before settling on something we were all happy with. The second original monster would be chosen from 4 design concepts by fans in an online promotion. Obsidius became the hands-down favorite among gamers and hard-core Godzilla fans who took part in the online voting.
We submitted about 20 original monster concepts to the publisher, who then narrowed it down to their final 4 before presenting them to TOHO for approval. With their blessing, we presented the final 4 monster concepts to the public and allowed the fans to choose which one of the new monsters to be included in the game.
Do you have a favorite monster? What kind of fighting styles can we expect to see in the game?
Everyone on the Godzilla team has their favorite monster. In fact, we each have adopted a monster to be its advocate through the play-testing and debugging phase. For instance, I’m responsible for the care and feeding of Kiryu to insure he grows up big and strong and able to kick Kaiju hiney.
I think the fighting style can only be described as feral monster brawling. The new, animation layering techniques we’re using allow players to experiment and develop their own unique fighting styles by combining different actions such as jumping+puching+kicking to create a seemingly endless variety of attack options. Being able to leap towards or away from an opponent while firing your beam weapons is very cool.
The Wii is all about the control scheme. As a fighting game, how will the controls work to tie the player into the game? Will you be making use of the Wii remote speaker? If so, how?
The game will be played using both the Wii remote and the nunchuk attachment. Players will have 5 primary actions – Charge weapons, Punch, Kick, Rush, and Fierce Attack. The Wii remote will handle attacks, and the nunchuk will control movement, jumping, and so forth. Because of this new controller scheme, monsters can now execute any or all of their primary actions independently – which means that you can charge while jumping in the air – fire your weapon during attacks, and move freely at all times. This totally blows the “canned” animation system of past fighting games out of the water. For example, Godzilla can be walking in one direction, attacking with his claws in another, firing his weapon in a third direction, and swinging his tail at a rear target all at the same time. We’re focused on putting the maximum amount of control into the player’s hands at all times. Even beyond the controls, we’re structuring the story and the fighting mechanics to keep players engaged from start to finish.
What kind of design decisions does creating a game for the Wii create? Were there things that you wanted to do but couldn't?
Well the Wii remote is very sensitive and extremely powerful, but it is really easy to design inputs which simply don’t translate well between users. To take a specific example, we came up with an “Uppercut” motion we really liked – we could throw it every time and it makes you feel that you are really controlling Godzilla’s arm. But nobody else in the office could execute it properly. A few different people tried to tune the motion parameters, but it came out the same every time – what works for one person basically doesn’t work for another. So we decided to use much more general motion commands, which we think was the right way to go.
If you look at a game like Red Steel – they had some pretty tricky motions to learn in the sword combat. But those motions weren’t essential – if you did them slightly wrong you just got a basic slash instead, which was plenty good enough to win the game with. But in the context of a fighting game, which requires split-second precision, it just wasn’t acceptable to have the proper attack execute only 90% of the time – we needed 99% or better. We’ve got that in our game now, but it means that we don’t get to use the flashy, lavish motions that look good in commercials. But at least the game is great fun to play, and immediately accessible.
If you had to pick one thing that will make this game stand out against other Godzilla games we've seen, what would it be?
This new Godzilla game has been built from the ground up for the Wii - and as such takes maximum advantage of the controls, graphical power, audio capabilities, and revolutionary mindset of the console. As a result, you’re going to see and experience things you’ve never encountered before in any previous Godzilla games. We're not building upon what we've done before so much as crafting an entirely new Wii-centric experience.
The game is only coming out for the Wii, DS, and PSP, why did you decide to focus on those instead of creating versions for the Xbox 360 and PS3?
Note: We had to go to Atari for the answer to this question, and their response was as follows… "At this time we haven't ruled out any additional platforms, and are still exploring our options." - Jeremiah Cohn, Senior Product Manager, Atari
Blowing up lots of buildings is always fun, are you using any kind of physics engine in the game or not?
Our buildings have always been 100 percent destructible – that’s always been fun but we weren’t completely satisfied with that now that we had a new console with more power. We’re amplifying our destruction behavior, and now it’s quite a bit more dynamic in terms of the types of destruction you will see on the buildings and around the environments.
Will any of the versions support wireless multiplayer action?
Without going too much into details on the multiplayer that we can’t discuss yet, I’ll say that we’re sticking with our very successful 4-player game style that worked so well in DAMM and StE. Four-player monster battles are a critical part of the Kaiju experience. We’ll have our excellent point-based melee mode, destruction mode, and the long-awaited last-monster-standing mode, in which players do not respawn. Unfortunately, that’s about as much as we can talk about the multiplayer at this moment, and we also can’t comment on wireless functionality at this time.
Any chance we'll be able to download additional monsters down the road or any other kind of downloadable content?
Unfortunately, we can neither confirm nor deny that Godzilla: Unleashed will use WiiConnect24 at this time, sorry.
We’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to answer our questions and Vincent for helping to coordinate the interview.