The last week or so of my video game time was devoted mostly to Godzilla on the PlayStation 4. The dozen or so hours I spent playing it were enjoyable despite the lackluster quality of the game. I thought it was feature-rich and a solid compendium of Godzilla related information but found it to be highly repetitious and devoid of much inspiration. Instead, my enjoyment stemmed from unlocking the game’s trophies. Some look at achievements and trophies with disinterest and even disdain, but for me they can be compelling motivators and a source of satisfaction akin to completing a checklist. While I’d like to think I’m past the point of playing a game solely because of these competitive barometers, this period consumed by Godzilla makes me wonder, am I?
Developed by Natsume Atari (not related in any way to Atari, Inc., or Atari Games, or Atari Interactive) and published by Bandai Namco Games, this version was released worldwide in July 2015 and is an enhanced re-release of a 2014 Japan-exclusive PS3 title. Needless to say, it’s not the freshest game one could play on their PS4 but, it’s a budget title and won’t hurt the pocketbook too much. There are a couple of modes to play through but the feature presentation is Destruction mode and this is where I sank the most time.
Controlling Godzilla, players rampage through cities and nuclear bases destroying as much as kaijuly possible, emphasizing the destruction of G-Energy generators. The more G-Energy harvested the greater in stature Godzilla grows and by the end he’s as massive as the generators and city buildings he was once dwarfed by. On the flip side, the more destruction that’s wrought, the tougher G-Force will fight to stop Godzilla. As Godzilla roams deeper into mainland Japan, players are presented the discussions between G-Force and the revolving door prime minister, with much of this coming off laughably. In essence, the prime minister represents the difficulty level or the expediency that G-Force will raise the threat level and counter attack Godzilla.
Accommodating this concept is stage progression resembling Star Fox or OutRun where players choose the path they’ll take from a selection of levels. A pathway along the top put a non-combative leader in charge whereas lower stages featured more hawkish individuals. The variance between leaders was so miniscule it was lost on me for the majority of my playthroughs, of which there were plenty! Seeing every stage required maybe five playthroughs of Destruction mode although truly it required less as stages were recycled many times over, but hey, this is a budget game. Besides acting as venues for destruction, each stage was a boxed-in arena that usually involved a fight between another kaiju, after which, they’d become unlockable and playable.
This mode could also be played as one of the other two-dozen or so kaiju with the same intent: harvesting G-Energy with disregard to humanity. Alternatively, a defensive version of this mode was available where an ally kaiju could be selected to help humanity defend against the invading terrors. Defeating enemies and completing playthroughs yielded the currency used not only to unlock additional kaiju but also to upgrade their traits and unlock new attacks and maneuvers. These amended movesets and increased abilities came in handy but couldn’t compensate for the sluggish movement and limited selection of attacks.
Controlling Godzilla and company did imprint a certain heftiness and sense of scale with me, but damn if it wasn’t a chore! Although each kaiju had a unique stride and varying movement speed, none that I played felt faster than say, a cargo ship. And, much like I imagine is the case with a cargo ship, the simple act of turning one of these behemoths isn’t so simple. While forwards and backwards movement was tied to the left analog stick, turning was done with L1 and R1. I had a hard time grappling with the control scheme before eventually “getting” it and even then, it was still cumbersome. I remember dealing with similar issues when I played Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee! back in the day, despite being developed and published by entirely different entities. A churlish control scheme and/or languid movement is merely a barrier of entry to Godzilla games, I suppose.
Whereas Destruction mode accounted for ninety percent of my playtime, the remaining ten percent was divided amongst the King of the Monsters mode and online multiplayer. The former was a boss rush style mode fighting other kaiju, eliminating the focus on destruction. The latter was essentially the same, only against other people rather than AI. I was surprised to quickly find matches, granted, they were usually against super fans with hundreds, or thousands, of victories although I’d occasionally get matched with similarly skilled players. This versus style highlighted the simplicity of the combat system and the ease that other players could drum someone into a difficult combo to break free of. For me though, as was the case when destroying buildings, I repeated the same combo ad nauseum.
Two of the cooler inclusions were targeted at potential Godzilla converts and diehard fans. Biographies for the featured kaiju and many more were unlocked as I progressed through the Destruction mode. While my interest in the Godzilla franchise is just that, an interest, I did enjoy skimming these. Secondly, included solely for the diehard fans was the Diorama mode. Just like the biography entries, model figures were unlocked through normal play however these could then be arranged, photographed, and shared. The boundless potential within the Diorama mode underscored the uninspired design of Destruction mode, where I could predict what would happen next in every stage.
With roughly two-dozen kaiju there was quite the variety in playable creatures, ranging from the quadruped Anguirus to the airborne Mothra. Not only that, but Godzilla featured a healthy amount of modes and distractions for players to pass time. And, while Destruction mode provided an anarchic sense of satisfaction, it was repetitive and after a playthrough or two, not fun. Enjoyment can be had with this game, but for me, it stemmed from unlocking the myriad of trophies in a workmanlike fashion. Replaying Destruction mode aiming to complete a specific objective each time provided enough satisfaction for me to continue hitting the grind stone so, no, I’m not beyond playing a game solely because of its trophies or achievements.