I want to destroy a city. Tokyo, I’m looking at you.
When I was a boy of 10, my Uncle Scott watched my brother and I quite a bit. He introduced Michael and I to kung-fu movies, flea market Mexican food, and the joys of Godzilla. At the time, circa 1989, none of us had any idea that Japan was full of these sort of movies and that they were called kaiju. No hint. All we had were the dollar weeknight rentals at some Mom and Pop video shop in Amarillo and the Sunday afternoon airings in syndication. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Mechagodzilla filled up quite a bit of our time, images of a burning model Tokyo dancing in my dreams.
A few years later, I was 13 and living on the island of Guam. These were heady days for me as a young geek. I was reading classic SF, like Asimov and Heinlein, watching classic monster movies on the new Sci-Fi Channel, and becoming obsessed with a new, to me, show on Comedy Central: Mystery Science Theater 3000. MST3K was a revelation. These were funny, geeky people that poked fun at the cheesy, but entertaining, movies of yore. I wished then, as I do now, that I could find a group of friends that had similar senses of humor and movie knowledge.
MST3K introduced me to a monster that would become my favorite. GAMERA! In case you do not know, Gamera is like a crazy turtle monster that has jet flames that shoot out of his leg holes so that he can fly across Japan to save children. The beauty of Gamera is that, as the obvious second place monster, he was free to be goofy and fun in a way that Godzilla only was later in the series. Gamera loves children and spinning and fighting a knife faced lizard monkey. How could I not be in love?
All of this went into the closet for a number of years, primarily due to adolescence and the requisite attempt at picking up girls. Had I known how miserable this would be, I likely would have stuck with low rent movies and enjoying my goofiness until at least college. Eh, you live you learn. Speaking of college, it was then that I reignited my love of kaiju, which I was reading about on the Internet instead of doing classwork. The bonus is that I learned things that I will always remember, like that the best Godzilla toy ever is the Shogun Warriors plastic from the late 70’s.
So, what, if anything, does this have to with video games? Well, it makes me wonder why there is no truly great kaiju game. Sure, Godzilla and Ultraman have few games, but no truly classic titles among them. No, what the world needs a truly awesome kaiju game for this generation. Here’s my ideas for a couple.
I know there will never be a true, licensed game based on Cloverfield, that doesn’t keep me from wanting one. How great it would be to run through New York City, dodging a monster, falling architecture, and the U.S. military. With the current generation of hardware, it would totally be possible to have all the chaos of a city being assaulted by a skyscraper sized monster. While it would not have to be based specifically on Cloverfield, controlling a group of people through an apocalyptic event would have more meaning than just controlling one dude. Perhaps each character could have a different set of abilities and require either swapping or co-op play.
Imagine the scene: five hipsters at a club, the building shakes, the group looks up into the sky to see a huge monster in the skyline. Where do you run? Where do you hide? Buildings would fall, cars would explode. I cannot think of too many games that encourage simple survival and escape instead of violent confrontation. By virtue of being about running for your life instead of standing and fighting, a Cloverfield– style game would be refreshingly different.
Yes, the monstrous turtle and friend of the children has had a couple of games, the last for the PS1, but none that really capture the inherent power of being a kaiju. For a GAMERA game to be completely awesome, it would have to put you in the shoes, or flippers, of Takateru Manabe. Perhaps it could even be a post-ironic video game. I have waited for a performance, instead of competition based, wrestling game for years, so a performance based kaiju game would have to do. Working like a pre- Dance Dance Revolution dancing game, along the lines of Space Channel 5, GAMERA would have the player learning the choreography of a fight scene and then repeating the actions to a beat. With cameras and lighting guys in the background, the player would lay a beatdown on fellow rubber suited actors with flash pots going off in the background.
This idea might seem a little out there, but it does have a little grounding in the respect the Japanese have for kaiju actors. There are actually action figures of the actors who portrayed some kaiju monsters, complete with rubber suits to put on them. By paying tribute to the actors and directors of classic monster movies, this game would be a nice change from the constant giant vs. giant monster games that are usually made for the genre.
I’m sure I will think of a million other games as my day rolls on, but those are a pair to think about. Why not rent a couple Godzilla flicks tonight and have a kick-ass evening?
Tags: thumb to the eye