Oh Godzilla. I have a soft spot for the big beefy-thighed lizard, so over the years I’ve played a lot of Godzilla games, and most of them have been bad. Like, really bad. Even Superman has probably had, on average, better games than the King of Kaiju.
By all accounts the new Godzilla movie is pretty good — good enough that you may be tempted to scrounge up some Godzilla gaming fun. Well, unless you immediately want to sully your good Gojira vibes, you should absolutely avoid these five games (ranked from bad to worst)…
5) Godzilla (1990)
I’ll give this Gameboy version of Godzilla points for being adorable, but when you pick up a Godzilla game you expect wanton destruction — not a gentle puzzle-platformer. As far as cutesy puzzle-platformers go, it’s okay, but who wants to play a Godzilla game where Godzilla can’t jump, breathe fire or do anything except throw a feeble punch?
4) Super Godzilla (1994)
Super Godzilla for the SNES was fairly impressive graphically, but the gameplay couldn’t have been duller. For whatever reason a lot of Godzilla games try to foist some kind of strategic gameplay off on the big green guy. Most of this game is spent staring at a map screen as Godzilla very…slowly…trudges…around. Once you finally do encounter another monster, the battle system is this sort of rhythm-based RPG amalgamation that I never fully understood.
3) Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters (1992)
Speaking of foisting strategic gameplay off on Godzilla, War of the Monsters, the second Godzilla game on the NES, was a full-fledged strategy game. Instead of controlling Godzilla you’re in charge of the military as they try to stem the tide of Godzilla’s destruction. In theory a well-designed strategy game where you have to outwit rampaging kaiju actually sounds like a lot of fun, but this game was shallow, arbitrary and impossible to understand. I just want to smash buildings and punch King Ghidorah in the face! Is that too much to ask?!
2) Godzilla Unleashed (2008)
Hey, finally, a game where Godzilla gets to fight things! Godzilla Unleashed got the spirit right, but it was hopelessly dated and cheap looking when it was released on the Wii in the late 2000s. It was also a sequel to perhaps the only good Godzilla game ever made (we’ll get to that in a bit) and was a crushing letdown in comparison.
1) Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (1989)
Ugh. Uggggh. I still get acid reflux thinking of this game. Godzilla: Monsters of Monsters is probably my second least favorite NES game of all time (next to Conan: The Mysteries of Time). The game takes place in space, so yes, no building crushing and once again there’s a misguided attempt to add some level of strategy to the game, as you have to play this weird board game in between levels. Once you get past the board game, Monster of Monsters is a side-scrolling action/shooter featuring incredibly bland levels and a main character that’s slow, painfully unwieldy and too big to dodge any of the enemies’ attacks. Surviving for more than 30-seconds is a Herculean task. Despite all this, I’m pretty sure I still rented this game at least two or three times.
The One Good Godzilla Game
But wait, it’s not all doom and gloom! There was at least one Godzilla game I enjoyed…
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (2002)
Don’t get me wrong, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is no masterpiece, but its heart is in the right place and ultimately it’s good dumb entertainment. It’s essentially a wrestling game starring kaiju, which is what most Godzilla games should be, right? You can smash buildings, suplex giant monsters and unlike its sequel (the aforementioned Godzilla Unleashed) the game actually plays fairly smoothly. Also, because it was initially a Gamecube game it has a four-player Melee mode, which is a ton of smashy fun. If you must play a Godzilla game, this is the one to track down.
So, any terrible Godzilla games that I missed? Did I unfairly malign a Godzilla game you have some misguided nostalgia for? By all means, let me know.