History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of men.
— Blue Oyster Cult
He has conquered every major city with a sea port, only defeated a handful of times in his five decade career, and now he has come to conquer the current generation of gaming counsels. He is Godzilla, and he’s celebrating his 50th anniversary in yet another video game.
The game comes hot on the heels of other anniversary events.
First there was the halfhearted re-release of the original 1954 Japanese version of Gojira, which was heavily edited as Godzilla: King of Monsters with Raymond Burr added to Americanize the film when it was released in the states in 1956. Gojira was released for the first time with English translations in 2004, but the print run was so limited that only a few American cities could show the film at a time.
Then there was the no-holds-barred Godzilla: Final Wars movie. Purported to be the last Big G film to be produced by Toho, Final Wars throws the monster king against all of the greatest monsters, excluding the other franchise monster hero Gamera but including the embarrassingly ill-conceived 1998 American Godzilla, affectionately known by fans (and detractors) as Gino.
And finally, Godzilla has made his leap into commercial work as the spokesperson of Imodium. Wait, strike that. He’s not representing the well-known diarrhea relieving medicine. In the commercials Godzilla, atomic breath and all, represents the actual diarrhea itself. That is what advertisers felt the greatest monster to ever destroy Tokyo should be doing.
So what does all this have to do with Save the Earth?
The long-running film franchise is coming to an end because Toho is seeing diminishing returns from the movie monster. The perception is that any Godzilla movie must feature the tried and true man-in-a-rubber-suit special effects that made him popular in the first place. The 1998 Godzilla movie is often used as further proof of this since the computer-generated monster in that flick is considered the ugly stepchild of the creature’s legacy.
This game, especially the opening sequence, proves that wrong. Here you have completely computer generated cinematography with pixel-quality much lower than any big budget Hollywood film, and yet it looks like a Godzilla movie. This is how a seriously done Godzilla flick could be produced. The 1998 film was derailed the second they deviated from the tried and true Godzilla formula and turned the movie into an action/comedy about an androgynous iguana that acts like King Kong and has the chin of Jay Leno.
Additionally, this game is all about team-ups. In the first game Mothra was the one everyone wanted to play, but she was only available as a supporting character. In Save the Earth she is a full-fledged fighter, complete with two forms (larval and moth). Admittedly, every Godzilla film after the first has been about team-ups, versus matches, and guest stars, but the big guns would need to be brought out for a true revival. Godzilla 2000, the last Big G film to receive wide release in the United States, only had Godzilla himself and a second-rate Spacegodzilla named Orga (both Spacegodzilla and Orga are playable in the game). Toho could up the ante and take a cue from movies like Aliens vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason, and release Godzilla vs. Gamera, or expand further and have Godzilla vs. Transformers or something equally exciting.
Atari did an adequate job following up their first game by adding flashier graphics and online play, but there is little else to make Save the Earth stand apart from the three-year-old Destroy All Monsters Melee. And, thus, it will ultimately be as overlooked as the American release of Gojira.