Crawling for Justice

More Old Godzilla Games

After getting in depth on The Movie Monster Game (which, while not great, had some good ideas) we’re back to the bargain bin for a pair of old, crappy titles. The Godzilla franchise ranges far and wide and not everything is going to be good. These certainly aren’t.

Monster’s Fair

Released on the MSX in 1986, Monster’s Fair isn’t a Godzilla game, it’s a Mothra game. But considering all these monsters exist in the same franchise, we’re going to count it (even if, technically, Mothra first appeared in their own self-titled film in 1961 before finally crossing over later). While that’s cool, because Mothra is an awesome killer kaiju moth, her actual game is, well, not very good. In fact, I’d call it pretty wretched all around, and that’s even rating it based on other early games from the MSX library.

In the game you play, of course, as Mothra, who starts off as a caterpillar. You have to crawl your way along the countryside, from the outskirts of the old Japanese islands, across to sea, and into Tokyo. You shoot at other monsters, various dangers, and even human armies trying to stop you (even though you’re the hero and you’re there to help). All this so you can take on a giant monster (I think it might be Baragon, just from the shape of the sprite, but I don’t know kaiju and I frankly don’t care about looking it up). Once you dust off the beast, you turn into a giant moth, and then fly around in auto-scroller stages, across the same paths you saw before (outskirts to sea to city) so you can then take on King Ghidorah. When you save the day your little twin priestesses thank you for being a good Mothra.

While that all sounds fine in theory, the actual gameplay of Monster’s Fair is terrible. Mothra, in caterpillar form, is slow. They’re also very bulky in both forms, and you can only take so many hits (three to four) before you die. You do get a few lives, but they’re hardly enough to get through the whole game, let alone even get through the first stage as Caterpillar Mothra. To try and beat all six stages of this game, well, I doubt most people would even bother with the effort. This is a game that prefers to punish you, for all 15 minutes or so of its game time, instead of letting you enjoy the experience.

Plus, let’s be frank, the graphics of the game aren’t great and the sound design is pretty awful as well (it’s very loud and chirpy). I know this is an MSX title and that console wasn’t exactly a powerhouse, but even then, this game is just ugly. The backgrounds aren’t bad, but the actual enemy sprites are single color blobs that don’t really look like anything. I’m not sure how you could actually salvage a game this ugly looking (without the healing power of fire). It’s just not good to look at.

I give credit to the creators for trying to make a Mothra adventure, but that’s all the credit I can give. This is otherwise a terrible experience, start to finish.

Godzilla (1986)

And yet, Monster’s Fair is somehow the better title of the two we’re covering today, and it’s not even a close comparison. That game at least tried to be a functional and complete game. Godzilla ‘88, by comparison, can’t even be called a real game. It’s actually an unlicensed title bearing the Godzilla name (but not officially) developed in Hungary. And, man, does it even suck.

The whole of the game is Godzilla running in one direction, right to left, while spikes go by occasionally on the floor and bats fly at the beast from the left and right. As the player controlling the monster, the things you can do are: move back and forth across the screen, jump, and move your head. You have to jump over the spikes, and then turn your head to eat the bats when you can. Technically that’s gameplay, but that’s also the whole of the experience. It’s essentially the same level of gameplay you’d get from a Tiger Electronics release in the 1980s, except put out on the Commodore 16 for some reason.

The game looks hilariously bad. Godzilla doesn’t look like Godzilla but is, instead, clearly a T-Rex sprite the creators stole. The spikes on the floor look like black combs, and the bats are barely distinguishable as anything other than blobs of some kind. Any time something hit Godzilla he lets out a nasty, staticy sound that is probably supposed to be a roar but just sound deafening instead. There is no music, no other sound effects, and nothing else to do in the game except endlessly run. It’s barely a game at all.

Look, don’t play either of these games. They’re really bad. But especially don’t play Godzilla ‘88. It has nothing redeeming about it at all, in any way, shape, or form.