Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Super Godzilla (SNES)

I'm gonna preface this one by saying I know absolutely nothing about Godzilla, except that it involves a giant dinosaur rampaging through Japan or something.

Now that I've angered the entire fanbase, lets check out Super Godzilla. That's some really cool pixel art behind the title. This has to be a great game... right?

Leaving it on the title screen starts the obligatory exposition cutscene, where we're informed it's the year 199X, and a mysterious message arrives somewhere unknown to tell someone unnamed that Japan is under attack. Japan did not notice the giant 3 headed dragon attacking them until this mysterious organisation informed them they were under attack. This is why the monsters always invade you Japan! Who cares about this plot anyway, lets go smash some stuff.

The game opens up with some exposition about Godzilla being mind-controlled or something in order to fight some monsters. It doesn't really make sense to me, and I don't get why they made this backstory up about remote controlling Gozilla. Why can't I just be Godzilla? Maybe it's a subtle and elaborate commentary on gaming and the way we, as players, dictate the lives of characters against their free will. Or maybe the story is junk. Also what is going on with the size of that text box? There's a painful amount of dialogue to scroll through in that tiny, tiny window.

I picked this up hoping to rampage through the streets smashing buildings as far as the eye can see, but apparently not. This isn't a game where you can mercilessly slaughter and smash up the city. Shame on me. Just because GOD-ZILLA is a giant monster, that doesn't mean he has to act like a monster. Gosh.

It's screens like this that only go to reinforce how pointless these pre-level briefings are. Just look at that minimap in the corner - the minimap is the only relevant thing on the screen right now, everything else has no relation to the game. How is that going to help anyone at all? I'm not even told what I'm meant to be doing, just that the forces of Japan are under attack and this is the battle zone and I better not smash any buildings or I get injure.

Okay this actually looks really cool. This looks a lot like what I was hoping for in a Godzilla game. Nobody can deny that this game has brilliant pixel art, it's just a shame that it's almost completely devoid of animation.

You move your remote-control GODZILLA (this is seriously the setup in play) by sending him in any of the 4 cardinal directions and that's it. That's the only thing you can do until you find the boss battles. The entire game at this point is played in that small grid at the bottom, and the top screen is just static animationless eye-candy.

Destroying buildings at last! This is really cool, right? Nope. Godzilla just stands in front of the building alternating between two frames of his arms moving up and down - not even touching the building or in the general direction of the building, just up and down. The building crumbles away, and you get injure. I never thought smashing buildings in a Godzilla game would end up being this dull. It's faster to just walk around the buildings, and you don't lose energy. There is nothing to be gained by causing mayhem here.

Here's a picture of Godzilla smashing an enemy tank. Eagle-eyed readers may notice there's a lack of 'Godzilla smashing an enemy tank' in the top half of the screen. When you attack anything in this mode (except buildings) you just walk on it and it disappears off the map, that's it. There's no animation for it at all. At the very least I would have hoped for the tanks to be animated on the map, but they are not. They're stationary and don't even turn their turrets to fire at Godzilla when you're being shot by them.

In case it's not obvious by now, this mode is about as enjoyable to play as it sounds. It's a concept that has so much promise, and the only single thing they desperately needed to change was add some animations to the top of the screen. As it is though you're basically just watching a blinking circle moving very slowly across a grid whilst navigating a simplistic maze to reach the boss. At least the painfully slow movement speed gives you time to contemplate why you thought playing Super Godzilla would be a good idea.

This mode is 90% of your playtime, but there's really not much else to say about it. The blue boxes on the map are recharge stations (see below) and the yellow ones contain hints or power ups. There's really nothing else to say.

At various points on the map there's these giant energy towers that restore your energy to full. Maybe in future if people don't want giant remote controlled monsters invading their cities they shouldn't install easily accessible recharge stations all over them? Just a thought, Japan. Continuing on the theme of wasting screen space, that blue squiggly line is your energy level. I currently have 100% energy right now and it only takes up 2/3 of the bar. I really can't understand any of the decisions that went into designing this mode.

Much later a boss arrives! Hooray! I'm sure the diehard Godzilla fans out there will be able to identify it, but I don't really care. As far as I'm concerned I've spent the last half an hour not destroying the city and now I'm gonna take it out on this guy. But not before a quick tutorial on how to fight!

Did you get that? That's thirteen screens to scroll through for a single paragraph of text. Surely they should have realised this textbox was too small when they constantly have to write Godzilla's name as GOD-ZILLA across two seperate lines? It's kind of hard to follow so in order to make sure you understand how this works I'll type it all out. I'm totally nice like that.
Ok, listen. GODZILLA and the enemy monsters both have ferocious fighting spirit. The stronger it is, the more the enemy attacks and the more destructive the techniques GODZILLA can attack with. Each of the enemies has its own rhythm and the instinctive bar rises and falls with a certain pattern. Aim for the low point in the enemy's fighting spirit, then move GODZILLA in. Slip in close while holding down the enemy's fighting spirit as much as possible, then punch. This opens up GODZILLA's attack window. Then pull him back quickly. The farther back you go, the more GODZILLA's energy builds up and the more powerful technique he can mount.
It's pretty obvious when you phrase it like that.

Then it's straight into battle. Before I have a clue what I'm supposed to be doing or how to do it, my new friend decides to cover me in melted cheese.

All that palava about timing, patterns, punching to create an opening before you can special attack? Yeah, the AI doesn't do that. The AI just does whatever it feels like doing, and there's not the faintest hint of a pattern to it. This picture looks amazing, as all the art in this game does. However it's still not animated! We're in a battle and these are completely inanimate pictures of the two characters, save for a little bit of sliding left and right. It looks really weird in the game. They saved time by copy pasting the same head 3 times, so they could have at least put a little effort into animating them.

I was tempted to have an animated .gif to demonstrate this, but then I realised it would look exactly the same as a still screenshot.

Godzilla reacts about as much as you'd expect when hit by a couple of jets of melted cheese: he doesn't. He doesn't ever react to any attacks, that's just his normal expression. Though from what I understand of the old movies this is pretty faithful to the source material.


So this is the battle screen about 20 seconds into the fight. Before the fight we both had 600 energy, which is the max. After 30 seconds I've dealt 6 damage and I've taken 275. This is basically how every single fight acts out, and I'm really not surprised when you get into the mechanics of it. Prepare for wall of text!

This is how combat works for Godzilla:

The player has to charge up their blue bar before attacking, in order to unlock their most powerful attacks and do decent damage. This bar charges slowly when walking back and forth, and drains rapidly when stationary or blocking. It takes around 10 seconds or so of walking back and forth to fill this bar. You then have to walk forward painfully slowly and punch the enemy, in order to unlock your actual attacks. Punching them knocks them back a very, very small amount.  Only after you have connected with a punch can you then use your moves, they aren't even accessible before this point.

After landing a punch you have to walk backwards, waiting for the move you want to appear in the bottom window. These change as you walk backwards and the more powerful attacks only appear when you are near the back of the screen. Then you press the attack button and you can unleash your attack. Attacks range from 30-100 damage, depending on how full your meter was before you pulled it off. If you are hit at ANY point during this process your meter empties, you're sent to the far left of the screen and you have to punch them again before you can attack.

This is how combat works for the AI:

They can use any attack in their arsenal at any time, without a leadup 'punch'. The orange bar fluctuates wildly, whether the enemy is stationary or moving. It can and will fill from 0 to 100 in 0.2 seconds. Attacks can be performed at any time regardless of what Godzilla is doing and if punched or not. Attacks range from 40-150 damage, and can be performed in rapid succession.

Am I missing something here?

The obvious result of the fight. I got the enemy down to around half health before dying, and I honestly don't think I could have done any better. It feels like it entirely depends on luck as to whether you have the time to attack or not.

This continue screen is really well done. I can totally feel the pain Godzilla is experiencing there, and I had to continue just because I felt so bad about it. There's 3 continues and I can't find any way to increase that number. Once you run out of continues you're sent back to the title screen. This feels like a pretty good sign to me that the game is not very long, and uses arbitrary difficulty to make it seem longer. However when you continue you are at least put back in the same fight you died in, except with full health. The opponent also remains damaged, though they get a little bit of their energy restored back.

Tapping R whilst in battle lets you use any items you found during the map stage. You then scroll these with the d-pad and use L to activate them. There's 4 face buttons on the SNES (if you don't include start/select), but all 4 of them are mapped to the same punch. It's a really weird system and in several instances I used the wrong item because of it. I also used the wrong item because every item has the exact same graphic but just a different colour. There's no text telling you what any of these items are, except the moment when you first pick them up. Hope you have a good memory!

When you do attacks in battle it cuts to the characters for these cinematic moments, though I always laughed at this one. Something about it just doesn't look right. The design makes it look too much like a mammal, not a reptile. The face also looks completely flat. It's really weird when it cuts to it in game.

HEADBUTT ATTACK. Not the most powerful attack I have, but it makes me laugh so I tend to over rely on it - though there's really no difference at all between any of the attacks, except the most powerful energy beam which is almost impossible to use.This is another one of those images that looks really cool freeze framed, but is actually rubbish in game due to a total lack of any animation at all. It's like playing with action figures when you're a really small child, where you just pick them up and slam them against each other until your hands hurt and you declare one of them the winner.

Eventually I managed to win, but only after using several healing items and temporary invincibility. Even with that it took me a continue to win.

Negative score for destroying things in a Godzilla game. That just ain't right.

Ghidorah's middle head snaps off and disappears, but the rest of the body remains exactly the same and doesn't react. Then aliens beam it off screen. It's hard to show any emotion for these characters when they're frozen in the same expression the whole game. It's certainly not satisfying to have the enemy beamed off screen without letting me get a killing blow. I'm GOD-ZILLA! Let me blow some stuff up already!

Suddenly the Microsoft Kinect invades the game. Nobody recognises it because it's technology from the future, but Godzilla is just as unimpressed as the general public of today. Or.. is it from the future? Just when is 199X anyway?

Mission 2 and oh my god WHAT IS THIS PLOT TWIST? Godzilla is attacking but I'm controlling Godzilla. How can this be? Clearly the same time shenanigans are at work here as the ones that sent the Kinect back/forward in time to 199X. It's another useless briefing of course, but I am told the rampaging Godzilla is threatening all of Tokyo at the current location. Just where is this location?

Oh it's a completely deserted mountain stage. At first I was pretty upset that this is a rubbish place to go on a rampage, but worry not. You can indeed walk into and wave your arms at all those hills until they explode (but it does injures!)


As you walk forward these little yellow blips appear on the map, but only when you're on the tile next to them. They're mines I guess, I don't really know. The only indication you have that they might be mines is your health goes down when you walk on them, but the time you're given to change direction before getting hit is tiny. It took me a long time before I could react fast enough to avoid these. If they weren't annoying enough you constantly get attacked by totally weak UFOs too.

I have a fire breath attack? Was the game ever going to tell me this in the last level?

You fight these like a normal boss fight, but they're at the complete other end of the spectrum. They have 50 hp, almost never attack and die in one hit. They're the sort of enemy you'd expect in level 1 to teach you how to play, not level 2 after the insanely difficult boss. Level 1 didn't even have enemies!

It's the same routine here. Punch the UFOs then step backwards to do an attack, but this time the only attack I have after punching is 'fire breath'. What's wrong with the headbutting UFOs?

That's meant to be fire breath? Godzilla's pose is so flat and emotionless that this attack feels really powerless and silly when you use it.  At least it gets the job done fast before I inevitably get crushed by the next boss.

A bit later I accidentally bump into the Kinect. This thing is controlling all the UFOs in the area and killing it will stop them spawning, so it's effectively a mid-level boss. It's only got 1/4  the hp of a boss character, but it's the mid-level boss so it must be somewhat challenging.

Or not. 'Fire breath' electrocutes it with a beam of energy and kills it in a couple of hits. Like the baby UFOs this thing was kind of a wimp and just hid in the corner not really attacking too aggressively. Now it definitely feels like they got level 1 and 2 mixed up.  There is a certain sense of satisfaction blowing up a Kinect though. That's gotta be worth a Gold Star alone.

Scattered throughout this level are loads of items to help fight the boss with, so I made sure to clear out all the silly tanks and mines before sweeping the map of all items in safety. There's more than enough recharge stations and time to still get to the boss in full condition anyway, and the boss happily sits there waiting for you until you're ready to fight.

Wait what? I can only carry 4 items? This stage has around 8 items on it, but I can only see what an item is after I pick it up. There's no way to access your inventory or dump items outside of battle, so you're stuck with whatever the first 4 you touch are. This is really frustrating, as some of the items are absolute junk and others virtually compulsory if you want to win.

An epic grudge match between GODZILLA and GODZILLA. Even the person that is never identified is excited about this. I'm relatively confident that even if I totally suck Godzilla will win this fight.

Yes! Victory, and I only lost 35 energy. This was a really intense fight where I had to unleash my full arsenal to h-- actually he died in one punch and then exploded. He dies in one punch and still managed to hit me 3 or 4 times before I could get a single hit on him.

Shenanigans!! How hard could a fight with a monster mechanically superior in every way to me be? I was warned not to use my basic fire breath or it will just bounce off his shiny tin can armour. We'll see about that!

Fair play game. You warned me not to use it, though I wouldn't call putting up an impenetrable forcefield the same as bouncing off armour harmlessly. Looks like I'm gonna have to rely on my physical attacks for this fight, as I can pretty much never charge up my full strength fire breath in time.

Tail whip! Ineffective, only does 30 or so damage. I took 200 damage before I could pull off one of these. At that ratio I'd need 4000 energy to win, so I guess I better try something else.

You'll probably notice in these screenshots that Mechagodzilla is in the exact same pose all the time. Sadly this is not a coincidence of my screenshots. The extent of animation present here is pretty much just 'the eyes glow'.

I really can't work out where the weapon in this picture is meant to be attached to. It looks like it's supposed to be coming out of the front chest panel thing (see the shot below), but it's just hovering out in front of it. The pixel art has been really good up until this point so it's a shame when they put in really weird designs like this. Especially when the pixel art is the only good thing in the game.

Good old faithful headbutt! Nope, 30 damage and a game over attempting to pull it off. The only way I can see to be able to do any form of decent damage to it is with a full strength fire breath, but I can only pull that off if the AI decides to just sit still and not attack. This white bar quite literally charges up in 0.2 seconds and doesn't give you any time to react to it.

Take a look at the positioning of Mechagodzilla here. My 'standard attack' is a punch with the range of an index finger. M-God stands at one side of the level and sends a phase-clone of itself to hit me, knocking me back to the edge of the screen. It does this attack constantly and in rapid succession, and I cannot find anyway to counter this. I've tried punching it but this attack is insanely fast without any tells before it's too late and you're hit. If it's possible to counter it with a punch I can't do it. It's also possible to block by holding down, but it doesn't seem to do anything and doesn't reduce damage noticeably.

Mechagodzilla decides to return the love with a couple of MGs. I have no idea why MG is painted on the side of these. Maybe it's a reference in the canon I'm not unde--- wait a second. Please tell me that doesn't stand for Mechagodzilla. Is that in case there's a mix up at school and someone goes home with your missiles?

On my last continue and I don't even manage to take off a third of its energy.

I just can't work out how I'm supposed to defeat Mechagodzilla. No matter what strategy I attempt to perform, it always uses an attack that hits me instantly without warning with no pattern to it. Everything I get hit I'm throw to the absolute far left of the screen and have to desperately try to approach it again, but even if I hit it I still have to then walk all the way back to the far left of the screen again before I can unleash the best attack. Nine times out of ten I will be hit and interupted by a devastatingly powerful skill way before I get my own attack ready

Still, I want to give it a few more tries. Not every boss is gonna be a cakewalk you can complete first time, I'm sure I'll be able to beat it eventually.

I was not able to beat it eventually. I figured I would finish this game in a couple of hours when I decided to play it, and spent over 3 hours on Mechagodzilla alone. I never got close to winning the battle. I was at the point where I can quite easily beat the first boss whilst only losing around 100 energy or so too. Even if I had the superhuman reflexes to do something in the 0.2 seconds whilst that white bar filled up I probably still wouldn't have won, as I have no idea what you're meant to do to counter the attacks. I really don't care if it's something wrong with the game or the way I'm playing it, because nothing in this game is enjoyable. I'm calling it a day here.

The best way I can think of to summarise this game would be: it sucks. It really, really sucks. It has great static sprite art but nothing else going for it at all. The music is probably all iconic Godzilla themes, but it was so repetitive it was driving me insane. The gameplay is uninspired. There's so much dead space on every screen. The difficulty is also absolutely absurd. I'm completely stuck on level 2! It doesn't help that the battle tutorial is in terrible Engrish, and that you're only told the vague theory of how to win rather than how to actually fight.

If you're not a hardcore Godzilla fan you should avoid this game.

For those of you that are hardcore Godzilla fans, you should avoid this game.

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Looks like a really bad game. Thanks for suffering through so much of it so that we don't have to.

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    Replies
    1. If I'm brutally honest with myself there was a fleeting moment early on where I thought I was actually enjoying this game, but it didn't last more than a few minutes. The pixel art is genuinely nice at times and it has a habit of lulling you into a false sense of comfort. The incredibly poorly designed mechanics and wonky pacing always help to fix that though.

      I sent this to da man a few weeks ago and since then I've watched videos on youtube of how to beat Mechagodzilla. After watching the video of someone winning comfortably I still have absolutely no idea at all what I was doing wrong and why I kept losing so badly. They were doing the same thing as me and for some reason the enemy never attacked them, but when I play they attack me constantly without remorse (maybe I just have that effect on people/giant monsters?)

      Ray told me he gave the game a shot and had about the same experience as me.

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  2. Replies
    1. What did you like about it? Other than the pixel art I couldn't really find anything particularly redeemable in the game.

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