GamingGodzilla: Destroy All Monsters

I've always been a Godzilla fan but never knew just how much until I met Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters (GDAM). I almost bought the Nintendo Gamecube just to play it. I'm glad I waited.

I've been playing giant monster games since the 80s. I loved Crush, Crumble & Chomp! and immediately took to Rampage. What can I say, I like the idea of stepping on people. Wait, that didn't come out right.

Taking its name from the insane movie title of the same name, GDAM stays true to its roots: this is a flat-out battle for the title of toughest, baddest giant monster. And you can play all of them:

Anyway, by far the best part of GDAM is just how perfectly the game captures the original characters. As a kid, I didn't notice the bad special effects; I was much more focused on the monsters beating the daylights out of each other. No zippers, wires, or guys in suits are visible.

And yet, the game captures the feel of the movies perfectly. The monster sounds are spot on (Ghidorah, Godzilla, Gigan, and Megalon all have distinct cries). All the special attacks are rendered in three-dimensional glory. When a monster stomps on Godzilla's foot (a common joke from the movies), he hops around in pain. When Godzilla punches something hard, like Anguirus' spiked shell, he shakes out his wounded fist in comedic agony. These are details that only a Godzilla fan would care about. Clearly Atari is a fan.

GDAM also has its flaws. When a monster engages his opponent, it's difficult to get away. The monster refuses to step away from combat, instead choosing to face his opponent. So if you need to run after a power up, which is quite often, you end up hopping TOWARDS your opponent.

And you do need to run after power ups, because the AI opponents will relentlessly pursue them. Power ups include the Rage ability, which gives your monster more lethal attacks as well as a special area-effect power. Problem is, after you use the Rage power up, the camera flips to the other side of the screen, reversing positions of the monsters. It's very disconcerting and unnecessary.

Other effects include the ability to summon Mothra, healing, and recharging your special power. In the background the military attacks whoever causes the most damage to the surrounding structures, which crumble in spectacular fashion. You can also pick up buildings and throw them at your opponent, which is strangely satisfying.

GDAM got me so excited about giant monsters bashing that I put Destroy All Monsters on my wish list. That's the highest compliment I can give a game I played over and over until I beat it.