Review by SethBlizzard
"Destroy All Rocks"
Godzilla is a very deceptive title. Indeed, it stands alone in the catalogue of the famous nuclear behemoth. If you were under the impression that it's a game where you're marching through a city and maybe chowing down on helicopters, you couldn't be more mistaken. If it weren't for the illustrations in the opening scene of this game, one might understandably wonder how this game has anything to do with Godzilla apart from the name. Well, it doesn't. This is a Bust-A-Move type puzzle game where Godzilla must prowl and climb (but never jump) around many areas, destroying rocks by punching them against either a wall or another rock. To hinder his progress are many unpleasant characters. This describes the entire gameplay, level after level after level.
The visual style of this game is a bit unfocused. Godzilla looks like a baby Godzilla, or at least like Bub and Bob. The enemies aren't astounding either, nor do they have any attacks apart from running into you. The art present in the intro screen to the game, however, is just wonderful. The story is very touching as well; Godzilla's son has been kidnapped by monsters and taken to the heart of a labyrinth. Godzilla is gonna rescue his son, no matter what it takes. You need to have the manual to know of this touching plot, otherwise you'll just see, after some levels (in the right direction - see below), Godzilla saying he'll "destroy anyone who interferes with me!" Not even hoping to reunite father and son can give me enough patience for the game. For a game with a moving plot like going to rescue his son, it's odd for the goal of each level to be to destroy all the rocks. Oh well.
Godzilla is a puzzle game presented as a platform game. Even though you climb vines and punch enemies, each level is more a big puzzle of sorts than anything, and you have to be very strategic about what you do with every rock the level has. Many times, you're supposed to line specific rocks up so that you can use them to get to previously unreachable ones. The puzzle crowd will get a lot to sink their teeth into here. One thing makes sure that players won't miss that this is a puzzle game and not a platformer; Godzilla cannot jump. The A button, indeed, is totally useless. His only moves are walking, climbing and punching. When pressing B, this ridiculously enormous fist appears, which couldn't look more out-of-place if it tried. It knocks out any enemy apart from an extremely annoying, big-eyed, heart-shaped enemy that can only be killed by a rock. No matter how many times you knock your opponents down, new ones just keep coming.
What makes the game such an unpleasant experience, however, is its layout. At any time by pressing Select and choosing Full Plan, you get a screen full of question marks. These are levels you haven't played. After you've destroyed every rock in a level, at least one but usually two arrows appear, which point you in said direction on the Plan. Now, where are you supposed to go? That's the catch; you don't know. Minilla (Godzilla's son) is hidden in one of those levels. This means that you never know how close you are to actually beating the game. Most levels have multiple exits, and you really have to browse the Plan to get hints. The question marks are identical, and there are a lot of them. We're talking no less than 64 levels. Albeit short levels, but still, levels. This means that you won't sit through this game in a hurry. Thankfully, there is a password system.
This would still be okay if it weren't for the fact that the game tricks you, a lot. There are many instances when you have destroyed every rock in a level, only to discover that you can't get to the last. Sometimes, they even appear impossible to get to. Even worse is when you do punch all the rocks, only to find that you're standing in the wrong place and you can only pass through a section which takes you to the previouslevel. This is no fun at all. Fortunately you can always press Select and decide to self-destruct, should you get stuck. However, when you die, you start the level over from the beginning.
The music for the first stages is a rather drab, forgettable little tune that underlines the game's non-serious atmosphere. However, apart from that tune, the score is absolutely astounding. The opening movie tune, the tune for the second part of the levels and the sort of 'story' tune are all achingly beautiful, not to mention is the password tune great. To put it plainly, Godzilla's soundtrack if fantastic, full of moving pieces of music, whether slow or brisk. It's a very motivating companion to accompany you through the game, or just on its own, whether in the hidden sound test screen or not.
Those who love brain-teasers ought to find something here for their liking. In later levels, the tone changes and enemies become all but absent. That's probably fair, because how to destroy each rock becomes very tricky indeed. But if you figure it out, other factors can set in. Let me give you an example. After cleverly figuring out how to destroy all blocks, I fond myself unable to reach a Lightning Box, one of only two weapons against enemies and which instantly kills them all. I couldn't reach it, and obviously I had taken my time, so King Ghidorah appeared, who was invincible. Oh yes, just in case you thought the game wasn't hard enough, in the latter half of the game you have an invisible time limit. Take too long and what is pretty much an angel of death comes to collect you. This is totally unfair; the game expects the player to take his or her time to figure out the wicked puzzles that each level comes to be, and then throws a curveball and punishes you for taking too long to do it.
While Godzilla is a well-meaning puzzler at its heart, it has a sadistic streak in it that sucks the fun out of it. The decision to make certain enemies invincible was more than ill-advised, as was it to make it very hard to follow where you're going. It's also very naughty of the game to lure you into traps even when you do succeed. There's nothing like the frustration of completing a particularly tricky level and passing through an arrow, only to find yourself in the previous level. My kudos to the amazing work of the composer, but as far as puzzle/platform hybrids go, Godzilla might be one of the reason why it's such a rare genre. And why the big monster is better off smashing buildings instead of rocks.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/09, Updated 04/25/14
Game Release: Godzilla (US, 10/31/90)
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