Godzilla and his megalith crew of monsters is once again being hassled by the man in Godzilla Unleashed Double Smash for the Nintendo DS. Will you sit idly by and let some faceless military rain on your parade? Team up with other colossal comrades like Mothra and Megalon and prove to the world what survival of the fittest is all about.

It’s hard for anyone to really care about a license such as Godzilla. On one hand, it is a mainstay in pop culture, especially when making stereotypical jokes about the Japanese. But over here in the West, Godzilla and other destructive giant monsters really fail to garner the fascination of anyone who’s not a boy under the age of 7. The whole prospect of a giant dinosaur/lizard that only cares about breaking buildings and making people scream and run in mob like fashion, is a cheesy and overdone idea.

So with that in mind, Atari has brought a game based on such a franchise in hopes of sparking some interest in this fossil of a dinosaur. It is a commendable effort to do such a thing; but the game lacks any kind of fun, appeal, or innovation. Most people will find that playing with Godzilla action figures and tissue boxes will result in a more satisfying experience.

Godzilla Unleashed DS is a side-scrolling brawler/shooter hybrid which makes use of both top and bottom screens. Action is always taking place on both, and you can switch between Godzilla for the ground, and a flying monster like Mothra for the air. Your monster can perform a limited number of attacks to destroy incoming planes, subs, and tanks. Each character can also charge up a beam to shoot across the screen. The idea of each level is to meander through a mind numbingly series of vehicles and planes that repetitively drop bombs, and for the most part, just end up crashing into you. Midway through the level you come across a giant crystal structure which allows you to perform combos. The player is told to press the x and y buttons in a 3 hit combo in order to destroy the obstacle. Think the Street Fighter 2 bonus round where you destroy the car, except this lacks fun or a point. The only purpose that this serves is a lame attempt to convince gamers that there is a deep combat system at their disposal. This doesn’t work quite well since enemy vehicles tend to explode after one hit.  

At the end of each level you get to fight another giant monster whose loyalties remain unknown. These battles are the real purpose of this game, but the matches are short and are as exciting as watching two wrestlers wearing straight jackets duke it out. Battles are quickly won – usually by being cheap using Mothra’s death ray – and after a monster is defeated, you unlock the ability to use them as playable characters. By far the biggest let downs of this game are the lack of emphasis on character battles and the shallow combat system. The attacks leave much to be desired and there is no way to turn around. If a baddie jumps behind you, you have to wait until he leaps forward again to continue the pummeling. There should have been a block button included too. Most people would prefer to grapple with other titans in a destructible arena setting than inch their way across boring Flintstone-style repetitive backdrops while planes and tanks bounce off the monster’s skin like harmless bugs.

Godzilla Unleashed DS doesn’t use the touch screen, except for menu selection and for activating a clear screen attack. Surely there could have been more of an effort to tie stylus swipes with in-game combat maneuvers. Oh well – that takes effort after all.

Multiplayer options for single or multi-cart are there if you want to share the torture with one of your friends.

This game will leave your eyes scarred for life. The whole package is uglier than a greasy, mustard and ketchup stained crumpled paper bag. Menus are text with some colour and blurred pictures. Cutscenes look like they were borrowed from a grade 2 art class. The in-game graphics are a disgrace to what the DS is capable of. Monsters are blocky smudges with no detail whatsoever. The environments are city backdrops that repeat over and over. The limited graphical approach of this game makes me convinced that this game started out as a Flash application.

Generic music and sound effects are available to those who want it. The Godzilla shriek is there to remind players of what that green blob thingy is that they are controlling.

This bargain bin cartridge will do nothing to help the aging Godzilla franchise to become anything more than a joke. There is no fun to be had with Godzilla Unleashed Double Smash. Don’t waste draining your DS’ battery with this monster of a game. Somebody let the collar off this lizard a little too soon.

Gameplay:1.5, Graphics: 2, Sound: 3, Innovation: 1, Mojo: 1.5. Final: 2 / 10

Reviewed by Brad Pritchard | 12.05.07

Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash

Santa Cruz
Released (US)
November '07