One thing I've always been sure of is that Godzilla kicks ass. The rubber-suited madness grabbed my attention many years ago and I've been a fan ever since. So you'll understand my pain when we stop to reminisce about the dreadful Godzilla videogames of yore. Luckily, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee finally reverses the trend. Not only is it a dream come true for Godzilla fans, it's also a fine game for those just looking to have a little bit of fun.
Destroy All Monsters is fighting game where the action takes place in cities around the world. The game controls more like a wrestling game than a traditional fighting game. You have your basic melee punches and kicks, as well as three throws per character. Many characters also have a ranged attack. For example, Godzilla can shoot a fireball or unleashe his trademark radioactive breath. Pressing the Y button blocks, allowing you to quickly counter enemy attacks. You also have a Rage attack, which can only be executed after picking up the Rage power-up. These are powerful attacks, and you can be sure that there will be plenty of jockeying for position when the power-up appears.
You aren't limited to your character's moves, as each stage provides alternative ways to mount an effective offensive. Many buildings can be picked up and hurled across levels at your opponents. There is also the effect of the local armed forces, which will launch an assault on the monster that does the most damage to the city, regardless of whether that is the monster winning the match. The damage adds up after a while and the military even has the ability to freeze you in your tracks. Another notable offensive move is a power-up that calls in Mothra to attack your enemies. This is a great help as the AI-controlled Mothra deals out a fair amount of damage while you continue to attack.
The only problem I have with the fighting system is that there is no way to reverse or otherwise escape from a throw. This is especially unfortunate when you consider that many characters can use a throw as the beginning of a devastating combo. For example, once Godzilla manages to grab and throw you, you can guarantee you're going to feel the brunt of a fully charged breath attack before you even stand up. The ability to roll before standing eliminates some of the problem, but I still wish there were a better way to defend against being grabbed in the first place.
All characters moves are authentic to the movie experience. King Ghidorah blasts opponents with his multiple lightning rays, while Anguirus uses his spiny back plating as a defense to stun opponents who hit him. Rodan uses his flying ability to strike quickly yet still maintain a safe distance. Godzilla is a balanced fighter who's not afraid to stand his ground and duke it out, while still possessing a great long-range offense. Destoroyah is devastating in close quarters and should always be attacked from a distance.
Graphically, much has improved since the GameCube version. The newly added bump mapping looks spectacular. There is noticeably less fog in the environments and glass buildings now feature environmental reflections. All of the textures are much sharper, adding an increased level of detail to the game. As before, buildings take real-time damage before finally collapsing. You'll notice the lights in the windows flashing on and off as the buildings lose power. Cars and military vehicles patrol the streets as chaos ensues around them.
The most notable feature of Destroy All Monsters is the superb character animation. The animations are fluid and smooth, allowing each character to exude its big-screen personality. Whether it's a punching combination or a monster hopping around in circles after getting his foot smashed, it all stays true to the source material. Melee's greatest achievement is making you feel like you are controlling a huge monster while still keeping those monsters the men in rubber suits that they really are.
All of the monsters sound exactly as they should, which is a real treat for fans of the movies. Music is quite good as well, providing a great backdrop for the action on screen. The Xbox version also adds the capability to play your own soundtrack, yet another nod over the GC version.
There is no question that this game is a whole lot of fun, and the Xbox version is without a doubt the better one. In fact, this is the only version to feature MechaGodzilla 3. I'm absolutely sure that any Godzilla fan will enjoy this game, but fans of fighting and wrestling games should also definitely give it a shot. Of course, a few friends to play multiplayer games with are required for maximum replay value. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee may not be the deepest fighting experience you'll find, but throwing buildings at your enemies is just too much fun to pass up.
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