Godzilla: Save The Earth. What an ironic title considering that not even the hottest rubber-suited monster ever can save this game from the eventual trade-in pile.
Atari sent developer Pipeworks Software back into the dungeon and what they come up with was a pumped-up version of the previous Godzilla game, which would've been fine and dandy if that earlier game hadn't been so mediocre (to put it politely).
This second verse is just like the first–the fighting engine is still woefully basic, the graphics (although improved) still border somewhere between blech and average, and the roster is still missing some fan-fave monsters in favor of no less than four costume swaps of the titular "hero" and three costume swaps of the world's most lovable three-headed dragon, King Ghidora.
Then again, they did put Jet Jaguar and M.O.G.U.E.R.A into the game…
Some of the new fighting setups are pretty neat, too, such as sudden death and beam match. The roster includes 18 monsters and 20 cities, which is certainly adequate. There's a big collection of unlockable photos and music clips. And you really can't scoff at the inclusion of on-line play, which lets four people log in with their Network Adapters and duke it out in battle royals over the Internet.
But how far you go with the game depends on how much you can stomach its mediocrity. The combat system gives each monster a few basic punches, kicks, and tail-wags, as well as a couple grapples and their requisite arsenal of flame attacks. Each battle takes place in a large city, which you ultimately ruin throughout the course of the match. Buildings can be torn down to uncover power-ups (health, strength boost, etc.) or tossed at your opponent. Unfortunately, there isn't much strategy to combat. The monster with the best beam attack almost always wins, and combo attacks don't seem to provide any advantage even if they're fun to watch. Kids may tolerate such simplicity, but adults will most likely end up bored half-way through the story mode.
The graphics and audio also don't add much to the whole package. The cities are loaded with buildings, skyscrapers, and familiar landmarks (Space Needle in Seattle, yo!), but the texture quality, polygon count, and overall level of detail are all minimal. Perhaps the developers wanted the cities to look like giant sets full of models. If so, the effect works better in the movies than it does in a video game. Furthermore, the draw distance is laughably short, so short that loads of fog was used to hide the obvious manner in which buildings gradually appear in the distance. Not surprisingly, most of the PS2's horsepower went into drawing the monsters, which actually do look most excellent. Watchful eyes will notice their tails flopping around and their skin bending in such a way that suggests there just might be a human inside that rubber suit. As for the audio, the music isn't particularly faithful to any of Toho's films, but the "feel" is similar. The monster voices (yells, barks, whatever you want to call them) also bring a certain degree of authenticity to the mix.
Don't bother renting or buying this game if you're only mildly interested in the Godzilla concept, felt the previous game sucked, or consider yourself a fighting game snob. The best thing about Godzilla: Save The Earth is that Godzilla is in it–and it's for that fact alone that devout kaiju fanatics and younger players may actually milk a great deal enjoyment out of the game.