Godzilla Unleashed

Review

posted 1/22/2008 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: DS
How is it possible that we've gone three decades without a half-decent Godzilla game? I'll admit it; I'm a fan of the Japanese film franchise, even with their painfully cheesy special effects and man-in-suit technology. But while I'm ready to forgive the movies for being nothing more than a guilty pleasure, I can't extend the same kindness to the various video games. For whatever reason it seems like the best Godzilla games aren't Godzilla games at all, instead they are titles like the original arcade version of Rampage and Sony's criminally underappreciated action game, War of the Monsters. What about Godzilla? Is there just something about this massive lizard-creature that cannot be brought to an interactive experience?

Going into Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash, Atari's newest Nintendo DS game, I wasn't expecting a masterpiece, I knew that at best this would be nothing more than a brainless action game starring some oversized creatures. I knew that if I kept my expectations low there would be no way for me to be disappointed with the game. Boy was I wrong. Not only is Godzilla Unleashed one of the worst games of the year, it may just be the worst game currently available for the Nintendo DS.

So let's get the good stuff out of the way right at the top. The game has a story. It may be an incoherent story, but it definitely has a story. Apparently some weird crystal meteor has landed on Earth and is now causing all sorts of destruction. As you can imagine the humans are freaked out, they are worried that the monsters are going to kill them all and are ready to send the Army after anything bigger than 40 feet. Like I said, it's not a real good story, but it's no worse than some of the hackneyed plots used in the classic man-in-suit movies.

And that's not the only good thing Godzilla Unleashed has going for it. This Nintendo DS game actually features a whole roster of familiar names and faces, including the likes of Mothra, Fire Rodan, Gigan King Ghidorah, and several others. On top of having a nice roster of well-known characters, Godzilla Unleashed also offers "Co-Op Duel Screen Destruction" ... at least, that's what the back of the box says.

In truth none of this really matters, because Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash (get it? The initials are "DS," like Godzilla Unleashed DS) fails on just about every possible level. The game starts with you choosing two different characters, one that can fly (such as Mothra) and one that can walk (such as Godzilla). These two characters each take up one of the Nintendo DS' two screens (the flying creature is on the top screen and the walking creature is on the bottom, in case you couldn't figure it out). You play as one character at a time, so from time to time you will want to push the shoulder buttons and "tag" the other large creature.

The problems begin almost immediately. The problem with Godzilla is that he's just too damn large; the guy is the size of skyscraper. Have you ever tried to throw something at or shoot a skyscraper? They're not so hard to hit, mostly because they take up an entire city block and are a mile tall. You would have to be blind to not be able to at least come close to hitting a skyscraper, and even then you would still probably hit it. Well, the same can be said about our hero Godzilla. The character is so large that he seems to soak up any and all of the bullets shot from the tanks and airplanes.

And if the idea of getting shot non-stop wasn't enough, you also have to suffer through some of the worst controls I have ever seen. Basically the screen forces you to move at all times (unless you're fighting a boss, which is a painful experience we'll talk about in a minute), so you walk from left to right punching and kicking your way to victory. Unfortunately these attacks aren't very effective. The punches don't have much range to them and the kicks are only good for taking out ground vehicles. You can jump, but all that does is make it easier for the airplanes in the sky to hit you. Thankfully you do have another attack, which is a charge attack that has you shooting a large stream of energy across the screen. This is definitely the most useful attack in your repertoire, but that's only because you're limited to about five different moves.
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