Saturday, November 14, 2009


Toho / Alfa System
Super CD-ROM

Alfa System did a wonderful job on this fighting game's presentation. Even the pre-match "stage select" parts are memorable thanks to very cool music, Godzilla's fierce roar, and the large names of the combatants slowly sliding into place. It's stylish stuff that gets me psyched for battle every time.

The battles themselves are also aesthetically awesome. I've seen the backgrounds panned for being "too basic" at times, but they look great to me whether they involve "fancy" stuff like clouds rushing by overhead and dueling giants in the distance or simplistic depictions of faraway seas or planets. The monsters are large and well designed in almost every case, and while most of the musical tracks aren't particularly memorable, they always seem appropriate and effective for the scenes they accompany.

I figured that the superficials wouldn't be bad, but I was worried that the gameplay would prove too clunky for my tastes. After all, reviewers are fond of pointing out that the disc has you control lumbering beasts instead of lithe martial arts experts. But frankly, I can think of a number of fighters starring standard human clowns that don't control nearly as well as Godzilla does with its mighty behemoths. And I'm glad that the game, in one-player mode at least, goes for epic matches rather than quick knockouts. Battles between mega-monsters should be lengthy, hard-fought spectacles and should have a "do or die" feeling about them, and these ones are and do.

With its praise-worthy presentation and surprisingly sound play mechanics, Godzilla proves itself worthy of recommendation. While it doesn't quite rank among the best fighters for the system, it can certainly hang with the second-tier titles. But before you go ahead and purchase it, keep in mind that the Japanese release is much, much cheaper... and that price isn't the only major difference between the two versions. The PCE rendition features quiz bonus rounds that the US disc lacks.

This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that you need to rack up high point totals to reach the elite monsters.

The US version's lack of bonus stages puts you at an enormous disadvantage, as it's possible to play phenomenally well--and I'm talking the game of your life--and still fail to reach the ultimate boss.

Of course, the assertion could be made that for players who can't read Japanese, the quizzes won't be of much help anyway. But believe me, every point earned is important, and stumbling upon even a few correct responses might make all the difference in the world when tally time comes. Still, if matters of collecting trump the notion of owning the fair and complete PCE release, at least Godzilla is what a lot of other expensive US titles are not: a damn good game.

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