Being a Godzilla fan for virtually my entire life has shaped me in a way that I’m only starting to become aware of in recent years. I prefer practical effects over CG. I don’t trust movie and videogame reviews all too much. While a lot of fans—especially in comics—obsess over continuity and timelines, Toho Studios never gave much of a damn about such things for most of the Godzilla movies, so I’ve learned not to care much either. Playing a perfectly designed videogame, reading a perfect comic, listening to a perfect album—all of that is awesome, when everything falls into place and works so well, looks and sounds slick, but…I don’t know. For some reason, that isn’t as appealing to me as something that isn’t quite so perfectly put together. I like seeing when mistakes are made. I like awkward translations, weird cuts, proportions that are somehow off. It feels more human to me. I can relate to it better as an imperfect artist and imperfect person myself. I like it when things get occasionally sloppy.
It’s one reason I love Suda51’s games so much. It’s the source of some of my fondness for the Sega Dreamcast. It’s why I dig through dusty boxes in back rooms, looking at comics that haven’t been touched in who knows how long. It’s why I own a Roomba.
So I didn’t even hesitate to preorder the new Godzilla game for the PS4, even though I know licensed games are usually crappy cash-ins. The King of the Monsters himself doesn’t have the best track record. The Gameboy game (oh god what a piece of garbage that was)—what a dumb way to make a game about a giant mutated dinosaur that spits radioactive fire. And yet I played the crap out of it as a kid! Because it was Godzilla. Sort of. Barely.
My girlfriend recently brought her Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo to my apartment, and I’ve been scratching my head figuring out what games to buy for them. All of the good stuff like Super Metroid and Gunstar Heroes are games that are easily and more cheaply available on the Wii (and Wii U) Virtual Console. But I remember the games I owned for my own Genesis as a kid: X-Men 2, the Lion King, and the Power Rangers fighting game. Licensed stuff! Those games aren’t on the Virtual Console, so that’s what I should be looking for!
The games I’ve been playing lately have largely been really good: Bloodborne, Captain Toad, Earthbound, so on and so forth. I haven’t played anything particularly mediocre in some time, so this has been long overdue!
For the SNES I bought Primal Rage, Ultraman, and the Judge Dredd game that came out with the bad Sylvester Stallone/Rob Schneider movie. My girlfriend bought a bunch of Spider-Man and X-Men games for the Genesis from a friend of ours, plus a personal favorite: Maximum Carnage.
It feels good playing on retro consoles again. Stick the cartridge in, turn the system on, and the game starts right away!*
*Most of the time. Sometimes you have to mess with the cartridge or put it in in a particular way. OLD CARTRIDGES AND CONSOLES!
Primal Rage’s popularity in the 90s comes almost completely from the fact that it’s a super violent fighting game with dinosaurs. It isn’t very good, but that doesn’t stop most people because: DINOSAURS RIPPING EACH OTHER‘S THROATS OUT. Controls are clumsy and I have no clue how to pull off any special attacks, let alone finishing moves, and there are too many clone characters on a roster that’s all too small.
The Judge Dredd game is okay. You can use all the different types of ammo from the comics, and certain enemies give up and will let you arrest them after taking so many hits, leading a drone to fly in and pick them up after being cuffed. That’s awesome! However, most of the different ammo types, like the Ricochet bullets, seem useless, and the level designs are confusing and maze-like, taking forever to navigate and figure out what’s a ladder, what’s a ceiling you can hang from, things like that. Not a broken game, just somewhat poorly designed. I hear one of the final levels involves Judge Death though, so I’ve gotta see that!
Ultraman is a single player fighter. Again with awkward, stiff controls, and finishing off an enemy when their health meter is empty requires waiting for your own energy meter to charge completely so you can use Ultraman’s Specium Ray/Ultra Beam. I knew it would suck—I’d played it before—but I still wanted it. Will I ever make it past the second monster, though? Not likely. Which sucks! I have an action figure of Majaba, the monster in the screenshot above (and on the game‘s cover), but you don’t encounter him until one of the final fights. I’ll probably never get to see that myself.
I can’t beat the first stage of Maximum Carnage, so maybe it’s not as good as I recall. I couldn’t beat the first stage in X-Men, Spider-Man, or Spider-Man and the X-Men In Arcade’s Revenge. At least the soundtrack for Maximum Carnage is by Green Jelly, so that’s cool, right?
The Godzilla game, not unlike the majority of the movies, is getting pretty poor reviews. I love it, though. Everything about it is authentic to the movies, from the music and sound design right down to feeling like you’re controlling a man strapped into a heavy rubber costume, lumbering around to smash up fake buildings. I keep taking screenshots, thrilled by the fact that I can play as Hedorah, or that I’ve run across the Shinjuku-based Godzilla hotel which just opened its doors back in April. It’s easy to pick up and play, despite being a little difficult to explain, good for short bursts. Especially since it’s incredibly repetitive. There’s so much fan service papering over the bland design work for it. I’m happy to have this as the second game purchased for my PS4, as it‘s almost the current gen equivalent of the above games I‘ve described.
Sometimes you just have to sit down and fully experience something bad, if for nothing else to have a greater appreciation for the things that aren’t so terrible. Sometimes the lousier, shoddier things are just more fun!