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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gushing About: Godzilla - Destroy All Monsters Melee

     This game was my hidden gem. Nobody had heard of it when I brought it over to play. I had oh so much fun with this game. Countless hours of screaming with rage and roaring with excitement back in elementary school. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee was one of my first Gamecube games and it had multiplayer so others could play with me. With all the hype for the new movie (which I hope is really good) I think it's a good time to recall how I met the King of Monsters.

     Aside from the 1998 movie I barely remember (except for the toys) this was my introduction to Godzilla. The only giant lizard cooler than Charizard (or maybe just as cool). It was also one of those really hard games that I had to practice to get good at. Eventually I was wrecking all my friends in it and apparently developed severe stupidity because I traded it in to get Warioware: Smooth Moves a few years later. A decision I somewhat regret.

     Let's bask in memory lane and try to figure out why I would even do that.

     Going way back, I remember playing this game for one round at my cousins house. I remembered the title because the narrator said it on the start screen. My first battle was with my cousin as 90's Godzilla and me as a giant cockroach with drill arms named Megalon. For me, it was like playing an N64 wrestling game but with giant monsters with superpowers and laser beams. In other words, the definition of awesome.

    The next time I saw the game was in Blockbuster and I rented it, hyped up for the great time at hand. After deciding a week just wasn't enough, I bought it with my allowance. The game was awesome of course.  More hype than you could ever believe. It had interesting combat mechanics I hadn't seen before. Before this the only fighting games I played were Smash Bros., Mortal Kombat Trilogy, BioFreaks, Wrestlemania 2000, NCW Revenge, WWF No Mercy, and Marvel vs Capcom 2. All 2D fighters or wrestling games, with BioFreaks being a more poor example of a 3D fighter.

     This was before I played Tekken so the concept of rolling around and sidestepping attacks was beautiful and new to me. Every character had unique abilities and a very unique look. For the sake of safety I stuck with familiar faces at first, gravitating to Godzilla and Megalon. After a few tries in the single player mode The first monster you fight, Anguirus, grew on me and I tried playing as him. That experience opened my eyes.

    That moment made me realize that I don't always have to pick familiar characters when trying new games. Playing as this unknown monster was fun. He crawled on all fours and used sonic shouts instead of a laser. He even had attacks where he rolled around like Sonic (my all-time favorite character)! It was something new and it was refreshing! It made the game feel bigger than ever having multiple characters I liked to use instead of a limited two. After using Anguirus I was excited to try every possible monster. You never knew what you'd get with these things!

    Each playthrough with a new character was great because you got to try new things. It felt like being in a different body with dramatic differences which just felt more intense than in other fighting games. Essentially the mechanics were the same, and the characters were as about as diverse as the original Smash Bros. roster. Maybe it was just the unfamiliar faces that made things feel the way they did. I felt like I should know who the characters are but I didn't and this as my chance to become familiar with Godzilla lore.

    Every new encounter was amazing because each monsters moveset was a mystery. I had to approach each fight with my own strengths and weaknesses in mind, ready to adapt to the method of play required to counter my foe. I really felt like a giant monster on a mission to fight all other giant monsters. I knew these monsters were famous and starred in all those Godzilla movies I've never seen, but Godzilla was the only one I knew about and even my knowledge of him comes from my understanding of Reptar. However, his iconic screech is definitely recognizable.

    There was one thing bothering me though. The Godzilla on the cover, the most memorable of all, wasn't playable at the start. He was an unlockable character. I settled for 90's Godzilla but really wanted to be the robot punching King of Monsters on the box art. Godzilla 2000 was his name and I wanted to play as that guy more than anything. Using my pre-internet gaming logic I deduced that the only way to get him, clearly the best character (why else would he be on the cover? 2000 is better than 90), was by beating the evil Mecha-Godzilla in story mode with every character. It turns out you only need to do it with 90's Godzilla and I wasted a lot of energy trying to beat the single player mode with 5 other characters first (I was saving 90's Godzilla for the final showdown). 

     Beating the single player campaign was a nuisance because of how many times I had to retry. I had to keep fighting Mecha Godzilla and Mecha King Ghidorah because I'd loose most matches against them. They were tough, and I mean really tough. They kicked my pre-teen butt over and over. Every time I managed to conquer them (without rage quitting and trying again later) felt like an achievement worth bragging about. I beat the (brutally hard) game multiple times over the years and unlocked lots of characters and stages but not everything. I never got around to unlocking Mecha Godzilla or the secret character Orga. Playing as the robot who beat me up so many times might have been really satisfying.

    Playing through the game multiple times got me familiar with all the characters. Now I have a fanatic love and appreciation for monsters like King Ghidorah, Destoroyah, Gigan, and Mothra (an assist character in the game who drops power-ups). My heart aches a bit thinking about how I gave the game up just because the single player was a bit frustrating and other games came along. This is a title that needs to be in my collection. I can only imagine how much better the game would be now that I'm old enough to appreciate the small things and have tons of hilarious college friends who would get a kick out of playing this.

    I still haven't played a game with a fighting system like Destroy All Monsters Melee. You genuinely feel like a hulking behemoth able to tackle buildings, crush bridges, and step on tanks. Every impact felt huge and the ruble emphasized each wallop. Charging up and firing your super finishing move always felt exciting and powerful as something only your character can do.Jumping felt just like you'd expect a giant monster to jump. The way you could walk slowly or sprint across the map to tackle a foe felt unique in this game in a way that needs to be felt to be understood. A missed opportunity really, because I can only imagine this game having a bigger roster and Ultra HD graphics. A PS4 sequel to this would make my jaw hit the floor.

     Just writing this makes me want this game back more than ever. Actually, it's my mission now. I'll have this game again soon, whether by GameStop, eBay, or Amazon. I need to become the king of monsters and demolish my new friends in this old gem of a video game as soon as possible.

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