Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Retro Gaming: Godzilla: Save the Earth (2004)

Continuing my recent return to Godzilla super-fandom, I have been watching old Toho trailers on Youtube of the Big G in action. Two Thursday's ago, I came across the teaser for the X-Box game entitled Godzilla: Save the Earth (posted above) released in 2004 and developed by Pipeworks Inc. and Atari. I have a slight recollection of renting the game from Blockbuster when it was originally released, but I haven't played the game in nearly 7 years. After reading a a few reviews and searching for a screen grab or two, I called down to my local used game store to inquire about purchasing a copy. Apparently the game, like it's predecessor, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (2003), is fairly hard to come by. (Online prices range anywhere from $25-$40.) Fortunately, the store had a used copy of Save the Earth for $9.99, so I went and purchased it later in the evening.

More and more frequently, I find myself enjoying the sheer game play experience of older generation games, and Godzilla Save the Earth offered a similar pleasant surprise. The controls are not terribly complicated, and offensive/defensive moves are both specialized depending on which of the 18 playable characters you choose) and fairly easy (move toward the opponent + "A" button for Destroyah's "Wing Destruction" blunt attack) to perform, without the necessity for mindless button mashing as a way to move from level to level.

The narrative is straight forward, and easily recognizable to any film fan, as all of the playable monsters (only Ebirah is unplayable) from the Toho movies, along with two of the updated versions of Godzilla, are battling alien invaders. Of course if it's aliens invading Earth, they must have unleashed King Ghidorah and his "evil" pals to bring mayhem to our populace. The aliens (and their monster minions) ultimate goal is to capture enough "G-Cells" (yes, Godzilla-cells) to develop a super-army of monsters. The option to play as either good or evil monsters insures that the loose narrative is definitely not the driving force of the game though, smashing stuff up is.

As this is a retro review, I had the opportunity to read previously written reviews prepared during the games original release. In doing so, I was surprised to read how poorly received this game was by both the gaming media and general public.

Ever heard of Moguera? I hadn't either,
but his speed and mobility makes him a
very useful character to play!
Whereas one reviewer wrote "...truth, don’t buy this, it’ll ruin your memories of Godzilla films on late-night Channel 4," I would suggest that quite the contrary is true--Save the World is full of many of the elements that made those movies so enjoyable and with, believe it or not, in many cases better visuals. One of the realities of Godzilla movies is that, while the "star," Godzilla is often little more than a plot device around which to build forgettable invasion plots and romances. Save the Earth is all the parts of the movies you really want to see: big crazy monsters beating each other up.

Even trustworthy IGN gave the game a score of 6.5 out of 10, saying: "While Save the Earth is still fun with the manic action of beating up three friends, there's still not much to do when there is just one computer controlled opponent to fight... As it is, there's barely anything that's new and even the online addition barely makes this aging game look any better." Of course, the whole thing was new to me as I had not played that game which had preceded it to market, but having had the experience of playing both Dead Rising games, and feeling similarly about that franchise, I can understand the validity of this criticism in its context.

The opportunity to hear some of the common sounds of my movie going childhood, such s Godzilla's trademark roar and Megalon's claw clank, among other nuances of the game were enough to make the $10 investment well worth it. Even better is that he game play, with three different levels and additional challenges, provide hours of mindless smashing and gamma-breath explosions.

Highly recommended!

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