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DS  header logo

Godzilla: Unleashed

For: DS   Also on: PSP

Monstrous

Product: Godzilla: Unleashed | Developer: Santa Cruz Games | Publisher: Atari | Format: DS | Genre: Fighting | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (network), sharing one cartridge | Version: Europe
 
Godzilla: Unleashed DS, thumbnail 1
Remember how much you loved Godzilla as a kid? Him and Mothra and Gigan and Mechagodzilla. Remember how great it all was back in the day when giant Japanese monsters or 'kaijū' ruled the telly? When we were kids our imaginations soared as we pretended to be giant monsters from under the sea and huge flying creatures destroying whole cities. (Well, some of us did.)

Of course if you remember it with any clarity at all, Godzilla movies were actually pretty camp with dodgy sets and shoddy storylines. The games were shoddier still. There have been over 20 Godzilla games in the last 25 years and not one has dazzled us with its brilliance.

Unfortunately, Godzilla: Unleashed isn't the game that's going to put that right, being the Godzooky of Godzilla games that it is. (Don't remember Godzooky? Lucky you – he's the supposedly funny, but incredibly annoying 'nephew' of Godzilla in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon that you'd happily repeatedly beat around the head with a lamppost given the chance.)

The narrative of Godzilla: Unleashed has it that a giant crystal has fallen from space and caused chaos throughout the world. Godzilla and friends therefore have to walk the globe from San Francisco to Sidney to Cairo, destroying army planes and boats and other monsters as they do, in order to get to parts of the crystal and smash them too. That's about it for the story. It's told in badly drawn cut-scenes that make little sense and unfortunately hold none of the excitement and kitsch value of the movies or TV shows.

The game is a side-scrolling fighter. Like the 2D fighters of yore, you move along the screen from left to right, beating up enemies that come at you right to left. You'll only encounter a few types of enemies, who don't really change as the levels go by, and neither alas does the format of gameplay.

In play, you take the role of two characters and get to switch between them. The first available duo is Godzilla and Mothra, with Godzilla controlling mainly the bottom screen and Mothra the top. Their move sets are incredibly limited, however. Godzilla can punch, kick, jump and use his 'atomic breath' while Mothra flaps around firing energy blasts.

At this point we'll hazard a guess you might be trying to remember if you've ever seen Godzilla jump and do roundhouse kicks. To save you the bother, the answer is no.

There are many things wrong with Godzilla: Unleashed but from a fan's point of view none are quite as unforgivable as making Godzilla look stupid and have access to a limited set of rubbish moves. This is the King of the Monsters, after all. But if that weren't enough, worse is to come in the realisation that the other playable characters you unlock turn out to be better than the big green guy. And that's simply not right.

Still, let us get back to the 'action'. As you move right along the screen very, very slowly you'll kick and atomic breath your way through a group of identikit enemies until reaching a boss. These, unlike the dreary minions you face in every level up to this point, are fairly varied. In fact, even the brilliant Mechagodzilla puts in an appearance.

But the joy soon disappears when you discover the AI is abysmal.

You can simply hide in a corner of the screen and repeatedly breathe 'atomically' all over the bad guy until he falls over. At the end of each boss fight you then have to destroy the crystal in each city by inputting a variety of three-button combos that appear on the top screen. Like the rest of this sorry excuse for a game, it's boring, repetitive and doesn't even hint at the sort of power you would expect to yield as a city-stomping monster.

Playing through the whole game won't take you more than an hour or so, given that the difficulty curve is misjudged to the point of not presenting you with much of a challenge. In fact, the hardest aspect of Godzilla: Unleashed is maintaining the determination to keep going when every gaming cell in your body is screaming for mercy.

But for those with completist genes and Godzilla-thick skin, bear in mind you'll have to play through in one sitting as there's no save function in the game. It seems ridiculous in this day and age to not be able to save your progress in a handheld game but this design decision seems to be based on a misjudged idea about repeatedly playing through to unlock new playable characters and bosses. We suspect there isn't a being on our planet able to tolerate such torture, however.

What else can we tell you? There's also the option of engaging in a co-op mode with a friend, either using two game cards or download play via gamesharing. This enables you to play with two characters onscreen and, predictably at this stage, isn't one iota more fun than when doing it on your own. Co-op simply doesn't allow for any more strategy or diversity in the gameplay than the single-player version and so there just doesn't seem any point in sharing the pain.

Like some of us, you may have fond memories of Godzilla and the gang. You may think, tempted by the box artwork, that Godzilla: Unleashed is a good opportunity to refresh those memories. Sadly, you would be very wrong. This is so appalling and insultingly exploitative an experience that we wouldn't even unleash it on Godzooky-lovers.

Run for your lives, this is one enormously horrific game.
 
Godzilla: Unleashed
Reviewer photo
Kirsten Kearney | 22 February 2008
A good idea, an imaginative tale, a scary but heart-warming hero and some lovely childhood memories are all completely wiped out by this atrocious game
 
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