Thursday, May 16, 2019

Video Game Corner: Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (2002)

Getting to play it might have been a bit frustrating at first, given how we weren't yet familiar with systems that used RCA cables rather than the very old-fashioned, screw-on connectors we'd seen up to that point, but once we got it working, I absolutely loved my Nintendo GameCube after getting it for Christmas in 2001. The graphics were the most mind-blowing I had seen in games up to that point, aside from the most advanced arcade games, and I really enjoyed the few games I initially had, which were Luigi's Mansion, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II, and Super Smash Bros. Melee, so I was eager to see what else the system had to offer (plus, I admit I felt like something of a big shot with such a state-of-the-art system, after having spent so many years being only able to glimpse and briefly play the advanced ones others had, like the original PlayStation, which I couldn't afford to get, when I would visit their houses). I had no clue that a Godzilla game was being developed for it until I saw it on the shelves of the Media Play that was once in Chattanooga but, when I saw that cover, my jaw dropped. Funnily enough, this was during a period where I wasn't watching or even thinking about Godzilla that much, but that didn't matter; I still had to play this game. As I had hoped, I ended up getting it that Christmas, along with Super Mario Sunshine and the PC-version of The Thing, and I liked it the minute I played it, as it looked and sounded like I was playing one of the movies. Although, that said, it didn't take long for me to realize that the game's replay value was a tad bit limited. With only a handful of different modes of play, three of which were unavailable to me since I only had one controller and rarely had friends over to play games by that point, the only real incentive to play it as much as I ultimately did was to unlock all the different monsters and try them out. Indeed, of these new generation Godzilla fighting games, Destroy All Monsters Melee is the most basic, especially if you almost always play alone, but if you're a fan of Godzilla or a kaiju lover in general, like me, it's still fun and enjoyable to play.

(Despite that section of the case that proclaims this as having been only for the GameCube, there was a version for the Xbox that was released the following year, which had some slight differences. As you can guess, I'm going to focusing exclusively on the GameCube version, although I will point out the differences between them when I can.)

The game, as I said, has a handful of different play modes, though the ones I play the most are Adventure and Versus Mode. Adventure is the most significant one, as it's the one that allows you to unlock new monsters in addition to the three you start out with when you first play the game. You simply choose your monster and then fight through eight consecutive battles in various cities and other locations, hoping to come out on top and KO all of your your opponents. In order to unlock all of the monsters the game has to offer, you have to play through Adventure Mode with each of them, as each one unlocks a different one (beating Adventure as Anguirus unlocks Gigan, beating it with Megalon unlocks King Ghidorah, and so on). You only get three continues to play with and the time it takes for you to beat all eight monsters is instrumental in your ranking if you win (not that it affects anything important, other than giving you bragging rights). Adventure Mode is also the only part of the game that gives you some semblance of a plot and it's the simplest, most typical one possible: an alien race called the Vortaak invades Earth and, gaining control of the monsters, uses them to attack the world's cities. The monster that you choose to play as is one that manages to break free of the control and attempt to drive the aliens away. The most memorable part of it is how much of a stereotypical, cartoonish villain the Vortaak leader is in the cutscenes with him, as he comes on the screen, full-on declaring, in an over-the-top, comic book-like tone, his race to be "alien invaders" with superior technology and that they're going to seize the Earth for their own purposes. He even goes as far as to make an aside of, "It's... what we do," and after announcing how they're controlling the monsters, says that not even the strongest one can break free and defeat them. This is most definitely intentional camp, right down to the ending of his first cutscene when, after delivering his message, he says, "Am I still on?", and then says, "Oh. We now return you to... whatever it was you were doing," before calling someone offscreen, "Idiots." Initially, I wasn't sure if I liked that, as it seemed like the developers were mocking Godzilla and the franchise's tropes, but now, I realize that, more than likely, they were just having some fun with it.

Adventure Mode can only be played by one player, and the same goes for Survival Mode, wherein the goal is to defeat as many monsters as you can without any continues. Your health is replenished after each battle (though you get less and less the farther you go), but if you die or the three-minute timer runs out, you lose. You get a Results Screen after each bout, showing how well you did, and your final score is determined by how many fights you manage to win before being defeated. You get 500 points for each win, as well as a bonus if you manage to win rather quickly.

Versus Mode allows you to fight one-on-one with either a computer controlled opponent or a friend, in various arenas that become available after every successful playthrough of Adventure Mode. The goal is simply to wear your opponent's health down or to have more health if the timer runs out, and the ultimate winner is whoever wins the most rounds out of a certain set (you can change the number of rounds and their length on the Options menu); you also have the option for a rematch after the winner is declared. For me personally, this is the best way to try out a new monster before taking him through Adventure Mode. In a similar vein, there's Melee Mode, where you and up to three friends can take part in all out free-for-all. Here, after being KOed, the monsters continuously respawn until the end of each round, where the winner is declared by the number of points they have (points are awarded for KOs, as well as knockdowns, use of combos, and for having a lot of health by the end); the player who has the most points after total the set number of rounds is declared champion. There's also Team Battle, where players are divided up into teams (you need at least three players for this one), with each team member's points being tallied at the end of the round for the team's overall score. Although I've never played this mode myself, you can apparently injure your teammate if you're not careful, although your attacks don't automatically lock onto them and you also don't automatically turn to face them, as happens when you're facing an opponent.

One last competitive mode is Destruction Mode, where two to four players can compete to see who gain accrue the most damage points by attacking and smashing as many structures as possible, in either one round whose time you can set yourself or in a number of rounds you can set that last three minutes each (in the Xbox version, you can play it by yourself). As you might expect, large buildings offer a lot of points but, on the flip side, they take longer to demolish. What's more, the player who delivers the blow to the building that finishes it off is the one who gets the point, meaning that another player can come in and get all the points for a building that you've spent time whaling on. While the object of the competition is to get as many points as you can, you can also attack your opponent and even KO them, which comes in handy to keep them from getting points (they respawn after being KOed, though).

Getting to the monsters themselves, while they each have different attacks specific to their characters, and I'll go into them presently, the types of attacks and moves they can pull off are all the same: punch, kick, foot stomps, various combos, duck, block and duck, grab and throw, sweep attacks when you get knocked to the ground, beam weapons, and projectiles (not all of them come with the latter, though). The beam weapons (like Godzilla's atomic blast, King Ghidorah's lightning beams, and so on) can be charged up by holding the button down before firing, increasing both its power and duration, whereas you shoot the projectiles by simply tapping the button. These and other moves are where the energy bar that you have along with the health bar comes into play, as these attacks drain it and their duration and power are affected by how low it is during a given shot. The projectile weapons require a good deal of energy to fire and won't work at all if you don't have enough of it. While the energy bars do refill themselves over time, the cybernetic monsters, Mecha-King Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla, use ammo for their projectiles, which can be replenished by one every time you grab an energy power-up. Energy also comes into play when you take to the air as a flying monster, as your energy will drain more quickly the longer you stay in the air and attack with beam weapons. The same goes for grabbing and throwing your opponents, as you have to fling them as quickly as possible (you can either simply throw them or do one of two special tosses, depending on the button you press); otherwise, your monster tires out and drops the enemy. If you're the one who gets grabbed, you can mash buttons to try to get your opponent to drop you more quickly. You can also pick up and throw any building that flashes red when you get near it, which makes for quite a devastating attack, actually. When it comes to blocking, a normal block works on all attacks, save for ground sweeps, whereas ducking and blocking does prevent sweeps but also leaves you open to attacks from above. Both blocks can prevent you from getting knocked down. Finally, you can make your monster run by holding the block button by moving, which is almost essential for the monsters who move really, really slow.

During the battles, the Vortaak spaceships, which constantly circle the arenas, drop power-ups that they intend for the monsters they're controlling but are up for grabs from anyone. Health power-ups, which are these big, green plus signs, replenish, as you can guess, some of your health meter (though not by much) and can be a real life-saver when you're coming close to buying it, whereas energy power-ups, represented by big, orange energy bolts, completely restore your energy bar and also increase its recharge rate. Mothra Airstrike, which is represented by an outline of Mothra, summons her to temporarily aid you in battle by making several passes above the arena and blasting your opponent with energy beams from her antennae. If your opponent is the one that gets the power-up, it is possible to get Mothra to leave by hitting her with your own beam weapon but aiming those attacks is so tricky that I don't think I've ever done that, save maybe by pure accident. She's more annoying than she is a serious threat, as her energy beams don't do that much damage, but they do have the potential to exacerbate the pummeling you may be taking from the monster you're battling. The most useful power-up in the game is the Rage Power-up, which is a blue orb surrounded by pulsating, yellow energy waves. When a monster grabs this, he enters Rage Mode, where his attacks become much more effective and where he can pull off a powerful Rage Attack. Each monster has his own unique Rage Attack and you can activate it by pressing the button combo you use to simply roar; however, using the Rage Attack causes you to automatically exit Rage Mode, which eventually wears off otherwise. In addition to these power-ups, if you play Adventure or Survival Mode on any difficultly level from Medium up, it's possible to find Atari logos inside specific buildings in arenas that unlock bonus gallery pictures when you grab them. Big deal, right? Well, the developers must have thought there would be plenty of people who'd be interested in working for them, as they made them rather hard to find by having them appear only once in a match and not always consecutively.

One of the three playable monsters you start the game out with is "Godzilla 90's," whose design is based on the way Godzilla looked in the "Heisei" series of films, starting with Godzilla vs. Biollante. He's one of two variations of the Big G you can play as in this game, with the other being "Godzilla 2000," based on the suit used in the first two "Millennium" films and whom you unlock when you beat Adventure Mode as Godzilla 90's. Both Godzillas have the exact same attacks, which consist of punches, uppercuts, various tail whips, bites, and atomic blasts and fireballs as beams and projectiles respectively, though the difference is that 90's deals a bit more damage with his atomic blast, whereas 2000 can move quicker. Regardless, when you play Adventure Mode with another monster, you only have to fight one of them. Speaking of which, I always hate having to fight Godzilla, not because he's particularly difficult (in Adventure Mode, he's usually one of your first opponents), but because I just don't like having to beat on my favorite character of anything. Finally, Godzilla's Rage Attack is to let loose a powerful atomic shockwave, similar to the nuclear pulse attack he started using in the Heisei movies.

Anguirus (thanks to this game, I finally learned how to pronounce his name, "An-gear-us," after so many years of saying, "An-gware-us,") is the second of the monsters you start out with and is the most well-defended out of all of them, thanks to his spiked shell and the horns that dot his head and nose. Moreover, his particular block is to turn his shell towards his opponents, making them injure themselves, and when he's on all fours, such as when he's running (he's quite fast and agile while doing so), sweep and overhead attacks don't work on him. On the flip side, though, his attacks, which are kicks, charges, goring with his sharp edges, and tail attacks, do average damage at best, and his "beam" weapon, which is a sonic roar, is the weakest in the entire game (he has no projectile attack). As a result, he's far from the hardest monster to beat when faced as an opponent but, again, you shouldn't take him too lightly because of his defense (I have lost to him before). His Rage Attack is to curl up into a ball, spin around in midair, and fling energy spikes at his opponents. It's interesting to note that his curling up into ball was later incorporated into the movie, Godzilla: Final Wars, a couple of years later.

The third and final monster you start off with is Megalon, which is serendipitous, since Godzilla vs. Megalon was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw. On the attack side, Megalon is quite formidable, with his electric bolts from atop his head and the napalm bombs he spits as projectiles, the latter of which make your enemies hop in place from a hotfoot (you can burn yourself, though, if you're not careful), dealing considerable damage. On top of that, he can produce energy arks, though these leave you unable to recharge your energy for a few seconds, and he's also one of the quicker monsters. While he can only use his wings to hover in place, he can burrow beneath the ground, dig through the earth, and come up from under his opponents, grabbing them. As useful as this technique is, and Megalon tends to use it a lot when you face him as an opponent, like flying and beam attacks, it drains your energy, especially if you press the run button while digging. It's best to come up before your energy runs out; otherwise, Megalon will be standing there for a few seconds, trying to recover, and leaving him open to attack, which is a bad idea because he's one of the weaker monsters in terms of defense. He really takes damage when his opponent manages to score a direct hit with a blunt attack and is often thrown back by it. His Rage Attack, which is a magnetic vortex that sucks in his opponent and then blasts them backwards, can deal quite a bit of damage but you have to successfully make contact with your enemy after pulling them in for it to be totally effective.

Beating Adventure Mode with Anguirus unlocks Gigan, whose attacks with his hooked hands and feet, as well as the saw-blade in his chest, are very punishing, and his berzerker attack, which you activate by repeatedly pressing "X" makes him impervious to weaker attacks. Gigan is also not only one of the fastest monsters but he has the added ability of teleportation. Depending on whether you simply push or hold the "L" and "R" Buttons necessary for the move makes Gigan either teleport a short distance through the arena or appear right behind his opponent, allowing for a sneak attack. His Rage Attack is quite devastating, as it's a more suped up version of an attack you can do normally, where he twirls around the arena, swinging his hooked hands in a deadly whirlwind. While in Rage Mode, Gigan can also perform a move called Aerial Twirling Blades by holding the buttons that normally allow him to teleport. However, his defensive capabilities aren't the best and his beam weapon, the eye laser (which, despite having been advertised as one of his powers since his first appearance, he still hadn't done onscreen at this point and wouldn't until Godzilla: Final Wars), is fairly weak, although it has a fairly long range. His projectile weapon is a close range burst of his eye laser, which seems to do more damage but its lack of distance often makes it a liability.

Beating Adventure Mode with Gigan, in turn, unlocks Rodan, who is by far the speediest and most nimble monster, both on the ground and when he takes to the air. His flight also only gradually drains energy, making it all the more valuable, especially since Rodan lacks in every other department. His beam attack, his uranium heat beam (which he used in the film, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, which is also where this particular design comes from), does a fair amount of damage, as does his Rage Attack, where he spins around in midair while firing his beam, but his other attacks, which are airborne strikes and wing slaps, as well as a headbutt here and there and the ability to knock down opponent with wind gusts, really work on only the weakest of monsters, of which he himself is one. In fact, he has the least defense capabilities of any of them and is easily knocked down by really harsh attacks. In short, if you choose to play as Rodan, your best bet is to fight as defensively as possible.

By contrast, Destoroyah, whom you unlock by beating the game with Godzilla 2000, is a major powerhouse in terms of defense and attack. Not only does he shirk off attacks fairly well but his physical attacks pack quite a punch, and that's to say nothing of his energy weapons, which he has a plethora of. Said weapons, which consist of a deadly micro-oxygen spray, an oxygen absorber projectile that instantly floors an opponent, and his unblockable laser horn, which he can slice in just about every conceivable direction, be it straight across, up and down, or use to charge and his gore his opponent, are the most powerful in the entire game, along with Mechagodzilla's. His Rage Attack, dubbed the Oxygen Destroyer, is also devastating, as he shoots an orb up into the sky that comes down and flattens his opponent. However, as powerful as he is, Destoroyah has a major weakness: his enormous girth makes him the slowest monster. Even when you try to make him run, he doesn't move much faster than he does while simply walking, making it nigh impossible to dodge most attacks (one time, Megalon was able to beat me twice because of how hard it was to outrun him while he was burrowing), and you can't fly, despite the fact that Destoroyah has wings and could fly in the one movie he appeared in. Also, despite how deadly it is, his micro-oxygen spray's range is a bit limited, meaning you shouldn't try to rely on it totally. As a result of the weaknesses, winning Adventure Mode with Destoroyah can actually be quite difficult, despite all the power he does have.

King Ghidorah, whom you unlock by beating the game with Megalon, is like if you took Rodan and beefed up the power and defensive capabilities while sacrificing the speed. Indeed, while Ghidorah is able to fly, it's much slower and less agile than Rodan (it's about as graceful as a flying hippo, to be honest), but it can take a lot of abuse, with blunt attacks doing little damage and being unable to knock it back. Its physical attacks, consisting of kicks, tail swipes and grabs, and uppercuts with its three heads, are among the strongest in the entire game, second only to Orga's, and it can perform a flying body slam while in the air, as well as produce strong winds, like Rodan. Its energy attacks, which consist of firing its traditional lightning bolts from all three of its mouths and firing one short blast while flying, aren't quite as strong as the physical attacks but they still pack a wallop, as does the Rage Attack, where Ghidorah spins around in midair while spraying its lightning all across the arena.

Mecha-King Ghidorah is what you get when you beat the game with normal Ghidorah, and while its physical attacks and defense capabilities are, surprisingly, one notch below its biological counterpart, and its speed and agility aren't improved at all, its energy attacks are just one notch below perfection. Its physical attacks, beam weapons, flying projectiles, and Rage Attack are all the same as regular Ghidorah but the addition of the cybernetic head's powered up energy bolt makes a difference when used, as do its taser projectiles, which freeze its enemy in place (the projectiles are an example of ammunition-based attacks, which you only get three of for each battle). And if you press and hold the block button, Mecha-King Ghidorah puts up this shield that not only shields it from physical attacks but actually absorbs energy attacks and converts them into health. It's a handy move to have because, while physical attacks don't affect it as much as other monsters, Mecha-King Ghidorah is quite vulnerable to energy beams, which tend to knock it back. Regardless, though, as the penultimate opponent in Adventure Mode, it shouldn't be taken lightly when faced.

As your final opponent in Adventure Mode, Mechagodzilla is, by far, the toughest monster in the entire game, and you have to beat the game with three different other monsters (namely Destoroyah, Rodan, and Mecha-King Ghidorah) in order to unlock him as a playable character. Though his speed and physical attacks are about average, and he can only hover rather than actually fly, what makes Mechagodzilla such a tough monster are his strong durability (he has no weaknesses to speak of) and his plethora of powerful energy weapons. His plasma cannon and laser eye beams, the latter of which he can do both on the ground and while hovering in the air, are very potent, as are his finger missiles, which use ammo, and the combo attacks he can use with the plasma cannon and his hovering abilities. His Rage Attack consists of him unleashing all of his weapons in one burst, akin to what he did during the final battles of the original movies in the 70's, and it's very, very hard to escape, especially in close quarters. Speaking of which, Mechagodzilla is not a monster you want to tangle with up close in general (which is complicated by the arena you fight him in at the end of Adventure Mode), as he'll usually beat the living snot out of you. And if you're down to your last continue by the time you face him, you'd better make every hit count.

As it was with Super Godzilla, one of the major differences between the various versions of the game lies with Mechagodzilla. In the North American GameCube version, you have the iteration of the character from the film, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, whereas the Japanese GameCube version features Kiryu (dubbed Mechagodzilla 3 in the game), from the film, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, which was released in Japan around the same time. The Xbox version, however, features both of them, and so, it's only fair that I talk about Kiryu a little bit. While he has many of the same physical attacks as Mechagodzilla 2, his longer and more flexible tail enables him to use it in battle in different ways, and he makes up for his lack of laser eye beams with a maser discharge, which he can do both on the ground and in the air. Like Mechagodzilla 2, he hovers rather than flies and he also has missile fingers and a jet sweep, but his Rage Attack is the Absolute Zero Cannon from the first movie that features him. While it doesn't freeze your opponent like in the movie, it still delivers a harsh blow, nevertheless. Looking at Kiryu's statistics on the game's page at Toho Kingdom, he seems to be less formidable than Mechagodzilla 2. While he's a bit more nimble and his physical attacks pack more of a punch, his energy attacks aren't nearly as powerful and he's also more vulnerable (that said, though, edged attacks don't deal much damage to him), so it seems like you'd have to play a little on the defensive side with him.

Once you've unlocked all the other monsters, you can access Orga, the villainous monster from the film, Godzilla 2000, by beating Adventure Mode with that particular version of Godzilla again. Orga is interesting in that he has the most punishing physical attacks in the whole game, as he uses his enormous fists, hard skull, shoulders, and an assortment of kicks to pound his opponents into pudding. His defense is also pretty good, as blunt attacks tend not to do much damage, but his speed isn't the best (he's still more nimble than Destoroyah or either version of Ghidorah) and his beam and projectile weapons, a shoulder cannon and plasma spit respectively, aren't as effective as you might expect. His Rage Attack, which is simply called Berserk, is little more than him flailing around in place while firing some beams and it ends just as suddenly as it begins. While in Rage Mode, Orga can also perform some special type of throw attacks that he can't do otherwise, with each one depending on what button you push once you have ahold of your opponent.

Given how popular she is, especially in Japan, it's odd that Mothra's role in the game is to act as little more than a power-up that aids whoever grabs the icon representing her. It's especially weird how she's always been depicted as a benevolent kaiju and yet, she'll come in and fight against you, the one trying to save Earth, if any of the other monsters controlled by the Vortaak manage to grab her icon. It can also come off as unusual when you're playing as a monster who's often depicted as a villain and you still summon her to help against your foe. Anyway, I need to move on, but Mothra would become a playable character in the games that followed. One last kaiju who shows up as an unplayable character is Hedorah, the Smog Monster. Every once in a while, he'll randomly appear during a match you're having and fly around the arena, leaving behind a smog trail that can make it more difficult for both you and your opponent to refill your energy bars. He eventually leaves but you can give him some incentive to do so sooner by hitting him with a beam weapon (but, as it is with Mothra when she's attacking you, getting a bead on Hedorah is quite difficult).

In the various arenas, there are nuisances that can get in your way, like Vortaak spaceships that buzz around, shooting lasers at you, and drop various items that they intend for your opponents (therefore, they tend to drop them as close to your foes as they can, which is really annoying; incidentally, in the Xbox version, you can grab spaceships that have ended up on the ground and use them as weapons), as well as various military units, which fire on the monster who's done the most damage to the city. The tanks and Apache helicopters don't do much of anything to you, so you can easily forget they're even there, but the same can't be said of the maser tanks, which fire freezing lasers that can stop you in your tracks and leave you open to attack. You thaw out within a few seconds and you can break free sooner by mashing buttons but the brief time you're frozen is still enough for your foe to pummel you (of course, when it happens to them, it's a different story).

The GameCube version of the game has a total of eight different environments to fight in, six of which are real world cities: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Osaka, and, of course, Tokyo. Said cities are divided up into three different quadrants, with each one having a day or night variation and being chosen randomly for each match during a playthrough of Adventure Mode, and the more times you beat the game, the more arenas you open up for use in Versus Mode. The various quadrants range in design from the tightly-congested hearts of the cities to more open areas like ports, airfields, and bridge crossings across rivers, and each one is fenced in around the edges by a green-colored force field that will stop you dead or fling you back into the arena if you happen to get knocked into it with some force. Most of the time, the hazards comes from the force field, the military vehicles and spaceships, and the danger of damaged buildings collapsing on top of you, but the industrial sections of the city of Osaka have fuel tanks and other structures that will blow up if you bump them. Besides the cities, you also have the option of fighting on Monster Island, which is much less congested and with fewer hazards (the rock pillars scattered across it are capable of collapsing on you, though), but there's a volcanic corner of it that can damage you if walk into it. Finally, there's the interior of the Vortaak mothership, where you start out in a very confined space, surrounded by a force field, but if you destroy one of the pillars around the rim, the field will dissipate and give you access to the rest of the place. Since you fight Mechagodzilla, who can be a nightmare in close quarters, here in Adventure Mode, it's a good idea to shut the force field down as quickly as possible.

The Xbox version of the game has a few other arenas you can unlock, one of which is the Vortaak homeworld, a rocky, volcanic planet dotted with hotspots capable of harming the monsters, as well as launching pads for spaceships that could hurt you if you stand to close to them during takeoff. A giant boxing arena can be unlocked by putting in a cheat code and, while it features no power-ups, the military don't bug you while you're fighting in there either. Finally, when Xbox Live was still available for the original systems, it was possible to download three arenas known collectively as "Thrashburg." The first one was a pretty confined environment, with buildings scattered here and there and plenty of rocks and other such projectiles to throw at opponents; the second one was much more spacious, with an enormous, wide open nucleus of an area with a small lake in the middle; and the third simply combined the two to make create a very large arena, one that was the biggest available in the game.

As there were no Godzilla games released for the Nintendo 64, I initially thought that this was the first one to ever be produced in 3-D. It turns out that wasn't the case, as there were Godzilla games released for both the PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast, though it seems like they only got a Japanese release, so this was possibly the first 3-D Godzilla game that us in the U.S. got to play. In any case, it's a very handsome-looking game, taking good advantage of the advanced graphics that both the GameCube and Xbox had to offer (unavoidably, they're rather outdated nowadays but at the time, they were a real knockout). All of the monsters look great, most with barely any hint of polygonal shape to their designs, and this was definitely the closest they'd ever looked to their live-action versions in a game. The battle environments also look good, are nicely-detailed, and, supposedly, the real cities are very true to life (I can't say for sure, as I've never been to any of them, but I'll accept that that's the case). You also have to give the designers props for going the extra mile of giving the arenas day- and nighttime variations, as well as having the daytime ones range from midday to misty sunset. And the few cutscenes the game does have, such as those with the Vortaak leader and an opening scene with the monsters showing up and attacking a city, look nice as well, if, again, more than a little dated by today's standards in terms of graphics.

However, the game does have some flaws, mostly in the controls. They are nicely responsive, for the most part, but there are so many moves that require various combinations of the same buttons that you can end up doing something you didn't intend and, as a result, be left open to attack. When it comes to picking up buildings and boulders to use as projectiles, it seems like you sometimes have to be very precise in where you're standing for it to work, as I've wound up grabbing at thin air rather than picking up the object. Shooting your beam weapons has the potential to leave you open to attack because, while your monster automatically locks onto your opponent, if he manages to slip out of your beam's range, it's almost impossible to aim it correctly in order to get a bead on him because your monster can only turn his head so far while firing. Aiming with your beam weapons, in general, is often awkward because of the angle of the third-person camera view, especially when you're trying to hit Mothra or Hedorah as they fly around the arena. Even when the camera ends up behind you, it's still hard to hit your mark, and you might as well forget it when it's in front of you. Speaking of the camera, while you can adjust it with the "C-Stick," it still tends to be a liability, especially with how it gets caught behind buildings and other structures, blocking your view of the monsters, and the structures only become transparent when the camera gets in close enough. Also, the limit to how far the camera can pull back when the monsters move away from each other can be annoying, as it limits how far you can go, regardless of the force field. There could be a power-up just inches away from you but you wouldn't be able to reach it because it's just past the limit of the area. Finally, as true to life as the city designs may be, the really congested areas that are filled to the brim with buildings often make it very hard to maneuver around and avoid attacks, especially when you're playing as one of the larger monsters, like Destoroyah or Orga.

Going back to the positives, the game is also very pleasing on an auditory level, making use of Dolby Pro Logic II for the sound. Not only do the various sounds of the military units firing, weapons crumbling, and the stomping and slamming of the monsters sound nice, but it's also cool to hear all of the monsters' familiar vocalizations accurately put into the game. Some of them have notable additions to their "vocabulary," like a high-pitched yell that Megalon makes when he gets seriously injured and Gigan having a rusty, metallic texture placed over his piercing cry, and in the case of King Ghidorah, they managed to make use of both of the vocalizations it's had over the years, using the melodic cackling from the Showa series most of the time, as well as the high-pitched, otherworldly whirring when it flies, but going for the Rodan-like Heisei roar whenever it gets injured (speaking of which, all of the monsters have one roar they make most of the time and another they let out when they're injured). Although, if I'm going to be a nerdy nitpicker, I'd have to say I find it inconsistent how, in the opening cutscene, they had Godzilla 2000 use his proper roar but, otherwise, he lets out the same Showa-style roar that 90's does. And it also would have been nice to hear some of the classic Toho sound effects for explosions, buildings toppling, crumbling, etc., but you can't everything. There isn't a lot of voice-acting in the game, aside from the main menu narrator and the Vortaak leader, but they do well enough and are nicely bigger than life in the way they speak. Although, in the opening cutscene, when Godzilla first enters the city, there's a stereotypical Japanese guy on the sidewalk who points and yells his name in the most cliched way imaginable ("GODZILLAAAAA!"), which I've never cared for. Besides the annoying, stereotypical nature of the voice, it bugs me because no one has ever yelled "Godzilla" that way, save for Katagiri in the English dub of Godzilla 2000 and that popular misconception has been around long before that movie. Plus, if anything, he should be yelling, "Gojira!", instead. Again, I'm being a nitpicking nerd and fanboy but I just had to get that off my chest.

Music-wise, the game is a bit more mixed, as you only hear the legendary Godzilla theme and march by Akira Ifukube over the ending credits after you beat Adventure Mode, with the music that plays during the actual gameplay being rather generic and dismissive, acting as little more than background noise. The music that plays during the opening cutscene is okay, albeit still more than a little uninspired and forgettable, but I do like the constant, rhythmic, pounding music that plays over the game's menus and the intentionally over-the-top, alien-sounding music for the cutscenes involving the Vortaak leader. As a whole, this game doesn't impress on the musical side of things.

At the end of the day, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee may be rather limited in the amount of material it has to offer, as well as a bit dated technically and not as impressive a game as it was when originally released, especially if you're someone who mostly plays games by themselves, but it still has enough to recommend it for fans. As with the games that followed, it's fun to be able to take control of your favorite kaiju and have them battle it out, the monsters are well-rounded and diverse in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, the incentive to unlock and try them all out is enough to keep you coming back for a while, and it's a well-done game in terms of its visuals and sound effects. Again, the different modes of gameplay are simple and fairly few in number, even more so if you don't have someone playing with you, the movement and camera controls can be finicky sometimes, and the music isn't much to write home about, but if you're a fan, there's no reason why this shouldn't be a nice distraction that you can easily pick up and play every now and then.

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