Big G In Your Homes
Early Godzilla Games (1984-1987)
We last looked at the earliest GodzillaThe acknowledged King of the Monsters, Gozilla has grown far beyond his early days as a nuclear fallout allegory into one of the biggest, and longest running, franchises ever. game, the 1983 release of Godzilla for the Commodore 64. In the process of doing that research I learned about other early Godzilla games that you will probably also never want to play. Not all of them are bad, but most of them are so basic and rudimentary that it’s hard to go back to them now, even if you could.
Godzilla Challenge One
In the early days of game consoles, so many electronics companies tried to get into the market, whether they had any business being there or not. Takara introduced the VIdeo Challenger system which allowed players to play light gun games against video tapes. Considering these were video tapes, which are linear and didn’t allow for any variance in gameplay (you see the same animations, the same movements, the same actions every time) you can understand why these things never took off.
Godzilla was featured in one of those games, and it’s a title so bad I can’t find anything more about it than a single entry on a Wikipedia list. You can’t emulate it because, of course, this was something run off a video, and, no one on YouTube has even bothers trying to find, hook up, and play this thing for the rest of us to see and… well, I don’t want to say “appreciate”, even if that’s grammatically correct. Regardless, assume it’s terrible because, well, everything else released for the Video Challenger was.
Godzilla & the Martians
In the history of cinema Godzilla had one major, crossover rival: King KongThe original "great ape", King Kong was created by RKO pictures and stands as America's first entry (official or not) in the "kaiju" genre. (all you King Ghidorah stans can back off because he was part of the Godzilla franchise and not a crossover character). I suppose, then, it makes a certain amount of sense why, when someone wanted to make a Godzilla game they took inspiration from a supposed King Kong knock-off, Donkey Kong. Godzilla is a giant monster. He could be put into the place of Kong, right? Well… no.
The game has the big green monster team up with little pink, Space Invaders-like aliens to defend against a spaceman coming to save his lady love. Why? How? Well, maybe the instruction booklet for this ZX Spectrum game would have said, but realistically it’s just because the designer needed obstacles in the way of the spaceman, so he put in little aliens. Godzilla is there, sitting at the top right of the screen, but he doesn’t actually do anything. This is just a bare-bones, one level, repeating, Donkey Kong game with bad controls, worse animation, and horrible design. You’re better off just going and playing the real thing.
Godzilla vs. 3 Major Monsters
This MSX release actually feels like a proper Godzilla game, if a tad rudimentary. The game sees Big G (in total protector, hero mode), taking on three of his rogues in a battle to save the world. At least, it’s something like that. As with so many early titles there is no real in-game plot here. It’s just Godzilla, stomping around, taking out monsters as they arrive on the scene, dealing damage and causing destruction. And, you know, that actually works as a basic idea for a Godzilla game. Give us the big man, and then let him swat down other monsters. That’s all we really want or need.
The action in this game takes place all on a single screen. The bad guys come in waves, from Megalon digging up from the ground and marching towards Godzilla over and over, to Kumonga arriving in the holes Megalon left behind and firing projectiles at our hero monster, to finally King Ghidorah flying in from the top of the screen to kill a human Godzilla is protecting. In each wave, Godzilla can move and fire his breath weapon. He has to deal enough damage in each wave to progress, and then in the end the game loops and the action starts all over again (so you can get more points).
It is really basic, and it just barely feels long enough to qualify as a game, but if you’d had any of the early consoles back in the day (like the MSX, the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, etc.) then this would have been a decent little title for your collection, something you played for a few minutes once in a while before switching to the next Game. But once better Godzilla games would come along, I’m sure this one would sit around just collecting dust.
Fierce Dragon Godzilla: Metropolis Destruction
Published (as with 3 Major Monsters) by Bandai, this time for the FM-7 and PC X-1 personal computer systems, this is another Godzilla game that seems to have been all but forgotten online. I can find it on lists, and I can find people talking about it on YouTube, but no one actually seems to be able to play the game. The issue, not unlike with the Video Challenger system we discussed before, is that there’s no easy way to emulate the PCs this game came from. The systems are old, without a lot of support, and players don’t seem interested in trying to get these consoles working cleanly. As such you can find a tiny bit of footage available about it, but nothing to clearly indicate how well the game played.
Its core seems to be a top-down kind of Rampage adventure, where you take Godzilla around the countryside and stomp on things. You invade towns, cause carnage, and then attack the military vehicles that come for you. The graphics are nice, and clean, and everything looks interesting. Sadly we might never be able to really discuss it considering the game is all but lost to time. Maybe one day…
Developed by Toho (based on the Godzillaland anime), this game (aka Gojira-kun) features chibi-fied versions of the Godzilla cast, from the main Big G himself to his various monster friends. The game is a puzzler, with Godzilla being forced to go around various single-screen, platforming stages so he can break boulders. Or maybe they’re eggs. Whatever they are, he can punch them around and, when they’re stuck (either in a pool of water or up against a wall or another boulder-egg), punching them breaks them. Once all the boulder-eggs are broken, the way out of the stage opens and Godzilla can escape to the next area.
Godzilla can battle the other monsters, punching them with his big fist and sending them flying off the screen. But he has to watch out for water (as do the other monsters) because if he falls in he dies. You only get so many lives, most of which will be eaten up by water or the slow, steady drain of damage the other monsters will do, so completing these stages, especially as the game progresses, can be hard. But in essence this is a block-pushing game just like so many other block-pushing games from the mid-1980s. It’s not bad, but it’s not really special even with the simple Godzilla graphics included.
It's worth noting that this was the one Godzilla game to actually see life beyond these older, rarer consoles. A Game Boy port of Godzilla-kun, titled simply Godzilla for Nintendo's console, was released in 1990. It featured slightly updated graphics but was otherwise largely unchanged from the MSX version.