The mighty Godzilla’s an ideal lead for video games. With his colossal size, uncanny strength, and sheer building-stomping awesomeness, playing as Godzilla should make you feel like … well, like exactly what he is: king of the monsters.
Over the years, we’ve had plenty of Godzilla video games that manage to do just that, though others have been a tad less successful. While various Kaiju-based games featuring Godzilla-like monsters have done a neat job in an unofficial capacity, we’re just focussing on games actually starring Toho’s legendary beast (so Rampage and War of the Monsters won’t feature).
Of the dozens of video games starring Godzilla, then, which are the best? Let’s take a look …
Godzilla: Monster of Monsters
This classic NES Godzilla game still looks pretty nice today, with the big guy himself represented as a cool, colourful blue sprite. The other character you get to take on, Mothra, looks even better, with some nice wing-beating animations despite the dated hardware.
You get to strategically move your monster from one area to another, before ploughing through various stages with cosmic backdrops, fighting all kinds of monsters and smaller, punier enemies.
Considering its age, this is a quality game with plenty of fast-moving, fun action.
Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
The first of three great games developed by Pipeworks Software, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is regarded as one of the best of the king’s virtual adventures. This stars 11 playable beasts (including multiple versions of Godzilla himself), and consists of massive 3D brawls in various environments, with destructible buildings and vehicles aplenty. The developers really captured a sense of scale and power, which is obviously crucial.
Each character feels unique, and handles like the massive creatures they are. Four players can also kick butt on one screen, for truly epic battles.
Godzilla: Save the Earth
The second Pipeworks Godzilla outing, Save the Earth honed the previous game’s looks and gameplay a little, and introduced new characters. The single-player mode has a nice sense of progression, and the objective-based missions are a blast: these challenges let you play basketball and bowling with a distinctive Godzilla spin, while others see you defending buildings from B-movie UFOs or causing as much environmental damage as possible.
This sense of humour helps to make the game especially fun, and the mini-games offer plenty to come back for beyond the core brawl-based experience. This is a favourite of many hardcore Godzilla fans, and is accessible for total newcomers, serving as a neat introduction to Toho’s kaiju universe.
The third and final entry in Pipeworks’ trilogy of Godzilla games, Unleashed was released to the Wii and PS2 with some differences. On Nintendo’s console, the motion controls made for a more immersive, dynamic experience, but this version also included some characters left out of the PS2 release. The latter plays more like a slight update to Save the Earth, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself but left some feeling short-changed.
There are either 26 or 20 monsters available to play as, depending on which version you bought, all of which are split between four different factions. The group you play in dictates your objectives and enemies, which help to add a little more depth to the gameplay.
Still, across the board, this was generally less well-liked than the previous two games, and for many fans’ money, Save the Earth is still the one to go for.
This has its fair share of critics, but Super Godzilla is worth playing for hardcore fans. Much of the gameplay revolves around guiding Godzilla around maps (as a tiny blue dot) while you see him on the top half of the screen, wandering through environments. There are various fights against iconic monsters, though these aren’t quite as gripping as they should be.
Released on Android and iOS as a tie-in to the 2014 movie, Godzilla: Smash3 is a mix of brawling and match-three gameplay. The screen is divided in two, with a gorgeous Godzilla sprite moving through levels at the top and a field of symbols below.
As you match certain symbols, Godzilla will perform certain moves of varying strength. The gameplay is challenging and pretty addictive, with some exciting encounters between Godzilla and other monsters. There are also plenty of different stages to wade through, and upgrading your own Godzilla takes some time and investment (unless you want to spend real money, of course).
While it might not have the same sense of scale or epic gameplay as, say, Save the Earth, Smash3 is a great little Godzilla game that slots the character into a mobile-friendly format.
Godzilla Kaiju Daikessen
Though this was only released in Japan, on the Super Famicom / SNES, this 1994 game is still regarded as a classic. It’s the sequel to Godzilla: Battle Legends, released on the Turbo Duo, with updated gameplay but a reduced roster.
As a 2D fighter, this lacks the obvious depth of later games, but still has a strong, epic feel, with weighty sprites and an awesome soundtrack. The sound effects add plenty to the atmosphere too (particularly Mothra’s calls), as do the detailed backdrops (fighting in front of Mt. Fuji is especially cool).
Though smaller than the roster in its predecessor, the range of characters is decent, each looking as they should, with their own moves and style. While it was a Japan exclusive, if you can find a way to get hold of this today, it’s definitely worth checking out.