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NDS Review - 'Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash'

by Chris Lawton on Dec. 8, 2007 @ 7:58 a.m. PST

Godzilla: Unleashed is the ultimate fighting monsters game on a giant scale. The game stars the legendary Godzilla and a slew of the most renowned monsters of all-time.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Santa Cruz Games
Release Date: November 20, 2007

I've never been able to make it through a Godzilla movie. Well, I take that back. I did watch that one with Matthew Broderick where the giant iguana laid eggs in Madison Square Garden, but I guess true Godzilla fans don't consider this one valid, so I'll reassert my original point: I have never made it through a Godzilla movie. There's just nothing that appeals to me about a giant monster destroying a bunch of buildings and making people run. This is probably why I find Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash exceptionally bad. It takes the Godzilla formula of a giant monster fighting humans and other monsters in a city and couples it with extremely boring and repetitive gameplay.

Double Smash opens with a bunch of crystals falling from space and landing all around the world. The Global Defense Force goes to investigate, only to find out that these space crystals have mystical powers that are causing some of the monsters to go berserk. Fortunately, Godzilla and his friends are here to save the day.

You begin by selecting two monsters to use. You have your flying monster that fights on the top screen, and your ground monster that fights on the bottom. From there, the game becomes a pretty bad side-scroller as you move through each level, fighting the humans who don't seem to trust you and the crazy monsters that are leveling the cities. Along the way, you'll also come to some of the space crystals and have to destroy them.

Double Smash features five flying characters and five ground characters, with only a few of them available at the start. To be honest, the choice doesn't really matter. Each character controls exactly the same and has pretty much the exact same moves. You have a high attack, a low attack and a charge-beam attack. The flying characters have a smaller laser attack, but it doesn't do enough damage to be noticeable. The high and low attacks can be linked together in hit combos, but you don't really need to do that; your beam attack is more than enough, and you'll probably spend the entire game using that attack over and over again.

The game has three modes: story, endurance and survival. Story mode takes you through about five levels, with three stages apiece. Each level is set in a different city, with different monsters attacking it; like the character selection, though, you won't really be able to discern much of a difference. The sky is a different color for each city, but all of the buildings look the same. The enemies fall into one of four categories: small plane, big plane, small boat and big boat. In each level, the enemies do exactly the same thing. All of the big planes drop bombs on you, all of the big boats shoot missiles at you, and the small planes and boats use machine guns against you.

You meander through the stages by slowly moving right. Take note, though, that your character moves quickly, but the screen scrolls slowly, which means that levels take about 10 minutes longer than they should. While you move through the levels, you're bombarded by wave after wave of enemies that you can continue to beam attack over and over. Occasionally, they'll break up the monotony with a crystal destruction mini-game, in which you'll be required to hit the attack buttons with precision timing to perform a specified combo. If you do it quickly enough, you're rewarded with a power-up, such as invincibility or health. If you don't do it fast enough, nothing really happens. You just continue on with the level. Each level features a mini-boss and a boss, both of whom you can defeat pretty easily with your beam attack. If the game seems boring by my description, that's because it is. What I've told you in the last few paragraphs is pretty much Double Smash in a nutshell.

The levels are held together by an extremely confusing story. The main characters are a man who's in control of the Global Defense Force and his son, who is enrolled in some academy. The son believes that Godzilla and the other playable characters are trying to destroy the crystals, while the father doesn't think so. The story's really fuzzy to me, and I've already played through the game multiple times.

Endurance and survival modes are essentially the same as story mode, without the cut scenes. You select a specific level and try to gain a high ranking by killing as many enemies as possible in endurance mode or taking as little damage as possible in survival mode. The higher rankings unlock extra stuff, such as 3D models and sketches.

The graphics are pretty bad. None of the enemies have any sort of animation to them. They're just a single sprite that moves from right to left. The characters and bosses are animated, but they still don't look very good. Double Smash chose a stylized, cartoon look for the game, but everything appears really ugly. The backgrounds are even worse, with plenty of dull brown- and gray-colored buildings.

The sound is downright grating. The monster roars are kind of cool, but the title is plagued by annoying music that just plays over and over again. It would have been nice to hear something different with each level, but no. It's the same song.

There are also plenty of technical issues that further cement the horridness of this game. Each level has some long loading screens, which I haven't quite figured out. The game can't be that taxing on the DS, but each stage starts you off with a loading screen for the cut scene and then a loading screen for the actual level. Note that this loading screen is followed by another screen with the word "Loading" on it. It's just another thing to throw onto the pile of stuff I don't get about this game.

The hit detection seems way off in Double Smash. The sounds of you hitting the enemy and of the enemy hitting you are exactly the same, so there is no way to know if the enemy has died from your punch or your scales.

Above all else, the game is just not that fun. You'll spend the entire game asking yourself why you're playing it. Double Smash is extremely easy, and you don't get any sense of accomplishment when you beat it. Most people will be able to beat it in one sitting without any trouble.

Of course, the difficulty level isn't helped by the game's length: You can beat the story mode in about 45 minutes. Now, to be fair, there is some replay value to lengthen the experience. Although story mode only takes you through five levels, there are about eight in total. The game will randomly select which ones you play through, although the last level is always the same. If you want each character, you have to play through each level, which means that you'll probably play through the story mode plenty of times. There are also plenty of additional unlockables to obtain, if you like the game enough to feel the need to complete everything.

Double Smash offers cooperative multiplayer, with one person controlling the flying monster and one person controlling the ground monster. This is, by far, the only thing in this game that's even remotely interesting, but that's because misery loves company. You will both groan at how boring the game is and ask each other why you're still playing it. If there's a truly redeeming factor here, it's that you only need one cartridge to play in multiplayer mode. That's a good thing because you'd be hard-pressed to find another person with this title, let alone one who will admit to owning it.

With incredibly boring and repetitive gameplay, it's pretty much impossible to recommend Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash to anybody. There's really nothing good about this title that will make you want to play it. There are plenty of other Godzilla games out there that may not be any good, but they are still, at least, fun to play.

Score: 3.0/10

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