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Godzilla (Commodore 64) artwork

Godzilla (Commodore 64) review

"Has there ever been a Godzilla movie where the military succeeded in defeating him without the help of another monster or a cockamamie invention? No. Congrats, you're the first nimrod in history to accidentally kill Godzilla with the military."

The rumble of titanic footsteps...

The flood of citizens escaping while a model of their hometown is crushed...

The awful dubbing...

The over-the-top rubber suit battles complete with visible strings and boom mics...

They're the heartwarming aspects of Japanese giant monster (daikaiju) movies. Plausibility? Plot coherence? Meh, give me a beer and a couple guys of questionable sanity in latex suits clawing, biting and firing eye lasers at each other while the military ponders what blunder they should attempt next. Yes, these are the makings of an awesome night in.

Now grids, games based on luck, pushing arbitrary buttons on a keyboard, and creatures named Godzilla that don't resemble said character? These are things I associate with torture. I don't like torture. But when I discovered that the first Godzilla game was an old school strategy title on Commodore 64, I had to let my retro gamer side take over. I knew it would be a painful undertaking, but I went through it it anyway.

Your first view of Godzilla will be breath-taking, much like being slugged in the gut. A gray grid boots up with a shabby map of Japan. And sitting in the top left in a flashing square is “Godzilla”, represented by an elderly T-Rex. Gone are his trademark spines and anthropomorphic posture, and possibly his dignity.

Grandpazilla threatens to move in on that white dot on your map--Tokyo! Time to rouse the troops and send out the JSDF. A glimpse at the right side shows you your options, with planes, ships and land troops at your beck and call. A stroke of the C button sends out planes and you cackle, thinking this is the beginning of the end of Godzilla.


This is where the grin slides off your face as Godzilla goes on an unexpected rampage and destroys the ships in the neighboring square. You've wasted a turn. It didn't occur to you that you had no planes out at sea, never mind that aircraft carriers have been invented. Nor did it occur to you that Godzilla is a perfectionist who hates improper key strokes. He teaches you to mind that by eating some of your troops and crapping them out when he reaches the shoreline.

Every move is the same. Godzilla changes positions on the map to an adjacent square, you tell the computer what you want to do and it gives you a damage report ranging from “NO DAMAGE” to “GRAVE DAMAGE”. When it tosses those descriptors, you know you're either sucking or cooking. But when it tosses out reports like “GREAT DAMAGE” or “SEVERE DAMAGE” or “MAJOR DAMAGE”, the best you can do is shrug your shoulders and hope he's dying. Godzilla's HP isn't displayed, but if it were it would probably say “GODZILLA'S STAMINA: A LOT”.

Each option does not deal a set amount of damage. Sometimes an air strike will do no damage, sometimes severe damage. Same goes with the number of lives lost as a result each decision you make.

When you've had enough of watching Godzilla make lunch out of your fleet, you can send missiles at him. That way you can give the Japanese people a second thing to fear: the inept military mastermind sitting at the keyboard. Damage to Big G: random as always. Damage to your own troops: major. There's nothing more emasculating then sending a phallic object at your enemy with no effect. It's even worse when thousands of your friends die in agony. Damage to your ego: grave.

You send troops, planes, ships, you fling more bits of your wounded pride at the behemoth and he keeps on kicking. Now and then he goes on a rampage and takes out vast numbers of your personnel. When he approaches Tokyo, you might get a little steamed. I'm betting you'll be numb because all of the SEVERE and MAJOR shots you've done aren't slowing him down. You send a small contingent at the leviathan, knowing that your minutes of boredom will end in your destruction. And yet:


Has there ever been a Godzilla movie where the military succeeded in defeating him without the help of another monster or a cockamamie invention? No. Congrats, you're the first nimrod in history to accidentally kill Godzilla with the military.

Play again?

You select yes because you've regained your pride and the death of your troops wasn't in vain. You think, “I'm a tiger and Godzilla's a wild boar!” You crack your knuckles and let more randomness ensue.

He levels Tokyo in three turns.

You see, it's all random:

  • The effectiveness of your decisions is random
  • Godzilla's motion is random
  • The number of lives lost is random
  • Whether you win or lose is random

It all depends on what mood Godzilla's in. Sometimes he'll dance around Tokyo, maybe drop in once to say hi, and let you chisel away his life for ten minutes before dropping stone dead. Other times he'll wreck you in a New York minute and leave Tokyo a greasy spot on the map. The only guaranteed victory is using option G: THE ATOM BOMB. Drop this on Godzilla, as long as he's not too close to Tokyo, then send a few troops at him. Voila. One dead radioactive lizard, served blackened with lentil beans.

Randomness and lack of interactivity reduce this game to a lottery. You win by guessing what buttons to push at what time. You lose by being ill-fated. There's no strategy involved at all. Playing becomes pointless when you realize this, and winning doesn't feel like an accomplishment.

In no way does Godzilla invoke the awesomeness of daikaiju films. Even retro gamers would be hard pressed to find anything remotely exciting about it. And the combo retro gamer/kaiju fan? Most of them will cry radioactive tears after only a few turns. Even if you feel a sense of duty to Big G, you won't want to waste your time seeking out this game. That time could be spent cracking open a cold one and watching Godzilla and Mechagodzilla go toe to toe.

Oh My Godzilla! Reviews
Godzilla (Commodore 64)
Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (NES)
Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (May 04, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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