Combat and destruction: The long history of Godzilla video games

The movie monster is king of the beasts, and its games take a big bite of the industry's earnings

The first Godzilla game to come out on Nintendo's SNES console was Super Godzilla in 1993. Photo: Toho Co Ltd
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No movie monster has seen the success and staying power as Godzilla. Since its debut in 1954 by Ishiro Honda, made with modest and primitive methods, it has sprouted dozens of sequels, remakes and reboots over the years.

The monster was originally an allegory for Japan dealing with the aftermath of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US in 1945. The film was made in the wake of a country lifting itself up after admitting defeat in the Second World War and suffering massive casualties from the atomic bomb.

To date, the nuclear-powered reptile has featured in 38 films between Hollywood and Japan. Japan’s latest, Godzilla Minus One, won an Oscar for its special effects last month.

The popularity of the character has also translated to video games, with the monster first appearing in games as early as 1983. There have been many Godzilla titles over the years, with varying degrees of quality and entertainment value.

As Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire released in theatres in the Middle East in time for Eid Al Fitr, here's a look at some of the best, as well as an entry for its unlikely friend King Kong.

Super Godzilla (1993)

In the early 1990s, there was a huge jump in the quality of video game graphics, far exceeding the simplicity of the '80s. Nintendo’s lead console at the time was the SNES, capable of producing games with a level of depth that wowed gamers.

The first Godzilla game to come out on the console was Super Godzilla in 1993, a battle game that allows control of the monster as he takes on others in the film’s universe. These include King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Bagan.

The game is simple to control and focuses mostly on reaction time and strategy of when to use the monster’s abilities and superpowers.

Godzilla Generations (1998)

An often-forgotten console is Sega’s Dreamcast due to it being overshadowed by the PlayStation 2. It was Sega’s last venture into console production and shifted the company completely into video game production and design after the system failed to compete.

The console had some memorable games, however, and one of the best was Godzilla Generations. It features a lumbering Godzilla controlled by the player to achieve one objective – destroy the city.

Many have watched the Godzilla films and wondered what it would be like to lay waste to skyscrapers as if they were made of cardboard. This game makes it a reality.

Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (2002)

Moving past the new millennium, gaming experienced another jump in quality as Nintendo’s GameCube and Microsoft’s Xbox were released. During the same time, fighting games became more popular.

Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee allows friends to pick their favourite monster to duke it out and see who comes out on top. It is not framed as most fighting games are, it gives players a perspective from above to see them destroy the cities they are in as well.

The game features different versions of Godzilla from over the decades, as well as different versions of his enemies, including Gigan, Megalon and Rodan.

Godzilla (2014)

Video game releases in the past 10 years have achieved a level of graphics fidelity and an entertainment factor many never imagined was possible. Video games are becoming more cinematic, and Godzilla has come along for the ride.

This 2014 release revives the need to destroy a city wantonly and without recourse, giving players an even bigger playground to run riot in. The level of destruction on the PlayStation 4 game can become quite chaotic, with everything from helicopters to submarines trying to take the big monster down.

Every level is also accented with battle against another monster, building in difficulty with every encounter.

King Kong (2005)

While Godzilla has experienced an incredible amount of attention from filmmakers and video game designers over the years, his sometimes enemy/compatriot King Kong has not enjoyed a fraction of the adoration.

The latest King Kong video game experience came last year with Skull Island: Rise of Kong, but the less said about that game the better. It scored dismally for being a buggy mess of an unfinished game.

In 2005, King Kong experienced a cultural moment with the release of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s adaptation. The film starred Jack Black, Adrian Brody and Naomi Watts. As was the case in the 2000s, the film received a video game adaptation as well, a first-person adventure game that follows the events of the film.

While it might seem at first that players will only be able to control the human main character of the game, there are levels that allow players to control Kong as he takes on large birds and spiders on Skull Island.

Updated: April 15, 2024, 1:22 PM