Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Forgotten Gems: Godzilla 2, War of the Monsters

Building off of last week, there was actually an NES sequel Toho produced to their Godzilla game. This time, it was a significantly different genre of game. Where as the first game was basically, at it's heart, a side-scrolling action title, Godzilla 2 on NES took a vastly different route, experimenting with the (at the time) fairly new "tile based strategy game" genre.  As a kid, naturally, I rented it because it was there, and it was Godzilla. I would have rented it if it was called "Godzilla Teaches Spelling". That actually might have been pretty awesome, now that I think about it. Also, the cover really lures you in.

I mean just look at that bad boy!

The cover definitely promises something amazing. Giant Godzilla, towering above skyscrapers (which is unrealistic, because he's not THAT big, only 40-50 odd stories tall in most films), surrounded by lighting and an ominous red hue. Funny story, that artwork is actually the Japanese promotional art for the 1984 movie "Return of Godzilla", the first film in the so-called "Hesei Era", the first Godzilla film in roughly a decade, after the last "Showa Era" film, "Terror of Mechagodzilla". For the uninitiated, Japan tends to refer to "eras" of the nation's history by the title of their Emperors, and "Showa" was the title of Emperor Hirohito. A little cultural history for ya! But yes, that was the super-awesome (and somewhat misleading) promo art for the first of a whole new line of Godzilla films, whereas the promo "art" we got in America for our version, "Godzilla 1985", was just an image of Godzilla's face straight out of the film. They obviously decided to use the Japanese art for this game, and considering I never got to see most of the "Hesei Era" Godzilla films until I was in my late teens (they weren't really available until then), I of course had no way of recognizing it, even though I had seen "Godzilla 1985", which isn't all that great as G-films go. But I digress.

Just look at that action.

Back to the actual game, what you see above is pretty much the game in a nutshell. You have 12 scenarios to choose from, each a different map with different monsters and varying goals. The overall goal in each scenario, is that in this game instead of playing as the monsters, you play as the Earth's military defenses, which include fighter and bomber planes, tanks, missile launchers, electric maser cannons, and even the Super-X ship from "Return of Godzilla" (and 1989's "Godzilla vs. Biolante").  You do get to play as one monster though, Mothra. She starts out certain scenarios as an enemy monster, but if you find and protect her egg, you will then gain control of her as a friendly unit to fight other monsters with. As a kid, naturally, I was disappointed to be fighting against my hero, "The Big G". But I still played the hell out of it, and I may have even rented this game more than once (I really can't recall now).

"You couldn't hit the broad side of a Godzilla!"

As you can see, the way the game plays out, is that you move units around the map, and when you run into monsters, or they approach you, you can initiate a battle sequence, wherein you choose from whatever attacks your particular unit has at it's disposal, and then as seen above, you play some weird "slot machine" type game, where you have to match up different icons, that do different things like raise your defense or attack, accuracy, etc., and literally depending on what you get in that, is the basis for how that battle tends to go. If you don't defeat a monster relatively quickly, and they move away from you, they will recover health, while naturally you don't. To do that, you have to move your units back to their particular bases for repairs, which you can do as many times as you need. However, once you exhaust all available units, it's game over, as there is no real "resource management" in this game, just the units you start with, and a limited number of reserve units you can call into action from the bases. Like I said, it's a very basic, bare-bones tile based strategy game, but it's not really bad at all. It's fun for what it is, and it helps if you're a Godzilla nut like I am. The tunes in this game aren't nearly as awesome or memorable as Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, but they're decent, if not a bit repetitious after awhile.

The one real flaw I'll levy at this game, is that it doesn't have a real ending. I know, I've played and beaten all 12 scenario missions. You get the same little "Congratulations" screen for beating each one, but there is nothing for beating them all. Too bad really, but it's still kind of neat for what it is. So if you're into Godzilla, or are curious about an early tile based, turn based strategy title, I'd suggest giving it a spin.

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