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Godzilla is an extremely popular media franchise and most of my knowledge of it comes from the Hollywood films, video games, and what I’ve read online. I like Godzilla and the whole kaiju thing and decided to hunt down and watch all of the Japanese Godzilla films. I’ve seen several already and have enjoyed them for the most part. Anyway, I was watching the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters and it got me in the mood to play some Godzilla games. I went through a phase several years ago where I started collecting all the Godzilla games I thought looked interesting. Developed by Pipeworks Software and published by Atari, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee was released for the GameCube in October, 2002 and Xbox in April, 2003. The Game Boy Advance version, titled Godzilla: Domination!, was developed by WayForward Technologies and released in November, 2002. For this review, I played the Xbox version. I have played this game before years ago on the GameCube and remember it being pretty cool.
Do we really need a reason for giant monsters to fight each other and destroy things? Is that concept just being awesome not good enough? I guess the developers thought it wasn’t so they actually included a plot. The story goes that an alien race known as the Vortaak invade Earth and release all the monsters which results in them attacking cities across the globe. That’s basically it.
Destroy All Monsters Melee is a fighting game. There’s three difficulties – Easy, Medium, and Hard – and numerous game modes. There’s plenty of monsters to select from, all from the Toho universe including two Godzilla’s, King Ghidorah, Gigan, Rodan, and several others. Most of them need to be unlocked. The monsters can freely move around the arenas and while each one does have its own set of moves, they all share many basic functions like being able to walk, run, jump, taunt, grab and throw objects and opponents, and fire a beam or projectile which does drain their energy meter. Certain monsters can fly around which also drains energy and energy does regenerate over time. You can punch, kick, block, throw buildings, structures, and tanks at opponents, and chain attacks together. The monsters do move a bit on the slow side and getting used to the mechanics will take some time. You can’t cancel moves and practice will be required to win battles. Unfortunately, the camera isn’t the greatest and there is an auto lock-on mechanic of sorts which can prove to be problematic. If you’re close to your opponent, your monster will automatically face the foe so if you’re trying to do something like grab a building or move to a specific location and an opponent gets near you, the lock-on can mess you up.
The Adventure mode is where you unlock monsters and arenas. You select your monster and then must defeat a specific set of opponents in order. Even on Easy, this game is extremely difficult. The AI is relentless, often feeling downright cheap. They will spam attacks, smack you around the environments, they’ll hit you when you’re down, and just never let up. When you block they grab. When you attack, they block. It can be very frustrating and I often found myself spamming certain moves to win. Megalon likes to be a little bitch with his underground attack. He burrows underground, gets under you, and then comes bursting out and grabs you. Rodan seems to enjoy grabbing and throwing you constantly like the flying asshole that he is. In fact, the AI likes to grab you frequently and you can’t block it so it’s best to keep your distance. The AI will constantly use their beam or breath attacks, they will often chain attacks together and bounce you off the arena barriers, and it sometimes seems like they can block all your attacks. And if your back is ever turned for whatever reason, the AI will take that opportunity to make sure you never make that mistake again. You should learn each monster’s move set just so you know what moves are at your disposal and what each monster is capable of. Randomly mashing buttons will get you nowhere. In the Adventure mode, you’re given a set amount of lives, at least on the Medium and Hard difficulties, and if you lose them all, it’s game over. And you have to beat the mode on those difficulties to unlock most things. Despite the frustrating gameplay, it can be fun pounding your opponents into the ground and throwing them across the environments, and when I did defeat one, it felt very satisfying.
Outside of the Adventure mode are other game modes which can be somewhat customized from the options menu. To get the most out of these modes, you would need to unlock everything which means you should beat the Adventure mode with all of the monsters. With that said, unless you’re really good at the game or cheat, you’ll be in the Adventure mode for quite some time. The Xbox version allows you play against bots in several of the multiplayer-focused game modes and in my opinion, that feature alone makes this version very appealing. The versus mode is where you can fight any opponent in any arena. The Survival mode is where you fight opponents in succession and try to survive as long as you can. You have to defeat them within the time limits and your health is only partially replenished between fights. Destruction is an interesting mode. The objective is to destroy buildings for points and the monster with the most points at the end of the match, wins. If you play solo, you can’t lose so it’s clearly a multiplayer-focused mode but it doesn’t support bots which I find odd. However, playing solo can be enjoyable if only because it gives you a break from getting your ass kicked. Plus, who doesn’t like running around destroying things? And then being declared a winner? The Melee and Team Battle modes allow up to four monsters to fight. The difference between them is that Team Battle allows monsters to team up and, unfortunately, monsters on the same team can attack each other and there’s no way to disable it. You’re scored in these modes and the monster or team with the most points at the end of the round or match, wins. Whenever there’s more than two monsters fighting, the camera shifts to an isometric or top-down view and just like the standard camera, it’s not always positioned in ideal spots.
The arenas are set in various cities across the Earth and there are some other unique locations. You can select night or day when selecting an arena. They are filled with buildings and structures that can be destroyed or picked up and thrown. You can throw monsters into large buildings and its pretty cool watching them crumble as a result. UFO’s and turrets will be shooting at monsters, helicopters will be flying around firing rockets, and freeze tanks will freeze monsters. Sometimes Hedorah will appear in the skies and it if it flies over a monster, it can slow down their energy regeneration. UFO’s will spawn pick-ups around the arenas and they all provide some benefit when collected. The Health pick-up grants you some health, the Energy pick-up refills your energy bar, and collecting the Mothra pick-up results in Mothra flying in to help you out by attacking opponents. Then there’s the Rage pick-up. When acquired, monsters can inflict more damage with their basic attacks and they can unleash a devastating attack that inflicts massive damage. In the Adventure and Survival modes, destroying certain buildings will reveal Atari logos that unlock images in the Gallery when acquired. You do have to play on the Medium or Hard difficulty modes to find them.
The visual presentation in Destroy All Monsters does a pretty good job at reflecting the campy nature of the Toho films. At least from the films I’ve seen. The monsters are well detailed and are good reflections of their on-screen counterparts. Each city has something unique about it which makes it distinguishable from the others whether it be the way the buildings look or specific landmarks. However, it’s all cosmetic and each arena is more or less a giant box with things to destroy. Parts of buildings will break off as they are damaged and they will eventually crumble to the ground in a satisfying spectacle. The environments contain just enough detail so you feel as if you’re actually stomping around real locations. You’ll see vehicles driving on roads and my only complaint is the lack of pedestrians in the urban arenas. It would have been awesome if the game let you stomp on people. The action is accompanied by fitting music which does include classic Godzilla tunes. Monsters will roar and scream as they pulverize each other and the sounds of the attacks and buildings being destroyed and crumbling are all satisfying. Unfortunately, the frame rate dips constantly. Usually whenever there’s a lot of action on-screen which is all the time and more often when there’s more than two monsters fighting. But on the plus side, I didn’t notice any major bugs.
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is a great game. It’s hard as fuck but it’s fun. The camera sucks, the controls may not be as responsive as you’d like, and the frame rate dips can be annoying but it’s got almost everything you could want in a Godzilla game. Giant monsters, environmental destruction, numerous game modes, team battles, and challenging fights. Very challenging fights, in fact. That alone should keep you playing for a while. Throw in the multiplayer element and all the unlockable content and there’s a good amount of replay value here. The difficulty can feel a bit unfair at times even after you’ve mastered the mechanics, so playing with friends may be the ideal way to experience the game if you’re just looking for some casual fun. Despite the high difficulty, it’s the kind of game I wanted to keep playing even though I knew I was going to get my ass handed to me. Godzilla games don’t come out often so when one does come along and there’s fun to be had, it’s hard to stop playing. And even today, this is still one of the better Godzilla games out there.
I would recommend Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee to fans of the franchise or anyone looking for a good kaiju game. It’s got some problems but I would say the good outweighs the bad just enough that the issues can be overlooked. If you’re looking to just fire it up and fight some buddies, Destroy All Monsters is perfect for that but I would recommend you use cheats because most of monsters and arenas are locked away. If you’re looking for a kaiju game that you can really sink your teeth into, Destroy All Monsters is also perfect for that because there’s plenty to see, do, and unlock and practice is required to succeed. If you like Godzilla, arena-styled fighting games, and fun, definitely check out Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee.