Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unmade Daikaiju Movies

Here's an odd bit of trivia: King Kong verses Godzilla originally started out as a proposed sequel to the original Kong film wherein the titular ape battles a gigantic version of Frankenstein’s Monster. Although American studios showed marginal interest in the idea, it was the Japanese film company Toho who eventually purchased the script and then reworked the story, most notably replacing Kong's intended opponent with their own creation.

This site categorizes a list of giant monster movies (with accompanying info) that never achieved actual, finished production. While it’s not exactly a bad thing that a couple of these films disappeared into cinematic limbo (I’m looking at you, Crackodile) there are more than a handful of aborted projects mentioned that sounded pretty entertaining.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Godzilla Unleashed

Atari has recently announced a Godzilla game release for the Wii in late 2007. Described by Atari as “the ultimate giant fighting monsters game”, this new version promises updated graphics, more detailed destructible environments and a story mode that will change and branch in different directions depending on which monsters you choose to play as and who you then decide to battle in a given level.

It all definitely sounds good. So then why am I feeling so underwhelmed?

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve played the Godzilla titles for both the Gamecube and PS2 (in fact, I still own a copy of
Godzilla: Save the Earth). They are fun games that do a pretty decent job of capturing the feel of the Toho movies. But this new one just looks like a slightly polished version of those two titles- isn’t this supposed to be a next-gen game we’re talking about here? I’m not seeing much in the way of anything terribly new, graphically-speaking. The character models don’t really look that different from the previous games and the cityscapes still appear oddly sparse at the ground level. Granted, they’ve added some animations to the building destruction, which is a definite improvement over the older versions (structures in Save the Earth and Destroy All Monsters Melee would kinda wobble like jelly and then sink into the ground), but even then, the actual crumbling effect came off as somewhat ham-fisted in the video that I watched.

According to the preview articles there will be a total of 16 playable monsters, which sounds impressive provided that the game designers reign in their temptation to “double-dip” with regards to a given monster (in the previous games, there were two different playable versions for Godzilla, King Ghidora and Mechagodzilla). Still, the designers have promised a lineup consisting of (quote), “Toho's ‘A’ list of monsters, some updated from the more recent movies and a few surprises we'll not reveal.”

Well, that sounds to me like we may get some playable characters that were unused in the previous titles. There are still a few to choose from:

Even though he did make an appearance (albeit, a brief one) in the
Godzilla: Final Wars film, he doesn’t have much in the way of potential fighting moves. He’s a snake; what can you really do with that?

Toho’s King Kong
Unless one of his in-game abilities is the power to circumvent legal nightmares, his chances of being in the game are pretty much zero.

He’s another monster that isn’t terribly flashy; just an overgrown T-Rex, which means they’d have to create a whole bunch of abilities for him just to balance him out against the other characters.

Titanosaurus was intended to be playable character back in DAMM, but was dropped due to “licensing” issues. Little has probably changed since then, so it’s doubtful that he’ll make an appearance in this new game.

He was already in
DAMM as an environmental effect/attack, but could easily be upgraded to a fully playable character with all of his weird pollution-based powers.

It’s not that he doesn’t have potential as a fighting game character, but he hails from a movie considered by many fans (myself included) to be a low point in the Godzilla series. Plus, he's merely the imaginary representation of a bully in a dream that was cooked up by a kid with social issues. Pass.

According to some interviews, Biollante was supposed to be playable character in
DAMM but was dropped due to time constraints. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the game’s designers put her into this new release.

Kumonga (Spiga)
Playing a huge friggin’ spider would be pretty nifty and his
Final Wars appearance imbued him with a jumping ability, which could be incorporated into the game.

King Caesar
I’ve always been partial to this character, although I can’t really explain why (he’s just a big, bipedal Chinese lion-thingy). King Caesar’s only gimmick is the ability to absorb energy and then redirect it back at his opponents through his eyes, so the designers would have to cook up some other abilities for him.

He did show up as a non-playable character in
Save the Earth, but let’s face it; Lobsters, giant-sized or otherwise, make for uninteresting fighting game characters. His only real ability is being delicious with butter and garlic.

He’s not much of a powerhouse, having been easily disposed of in both of his movie appearances, but he could make for an interesting fighter with his flying abilities.

Much like Hedorah in the earlier games, Battra showed up as an environmental attack, but given that the designers could’ve simply slapped a new skin on their Mothra model, it's odd that he wasn’t a playable character before.

Minya/Little Godzilla
I’m not sure what the point would be of having a baby version of Godzilla in the game as a playable fighter; other than being able to play as a moving target, that is. Still, stranger things have happened.

Now if only someone would get around to making a sequel to
War of the Monsters as well...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This was the day that engulfed the world in terror!

What can I say? I adore giant monster movies.

It's a subgenre of science fiction that completely enthralled me as a kid- back in the days before VCR’s and video rental stores became prolific, I would anxiously await Saturday afternoons where a Cleveland affiliate channel would air an afternoon matinee double bill of horror and sci-fi films. If I was lucky, one of the movies would be of the giant monster variety. While I bear no ill will against human-sized creatures like the Wolfman, Dracula or the Mummy, nothing says “monster” to me better than an over-sized beast that can terrorize an entire populace while trampling generous amounts of real estate.

Now as much as I enjoy these kinds of movies, I’m certainly not going to defend their actual cinematic merit- I freely admit that a lot, if not the vast majority of these films can be pretty awful. As with all things, you're always more forgiving of the stuff you like verses the stuff you’re indifferent to.

So… yeah. This is basically going to be a giant monster-themed blog. When I come across anything pertaining to the theme, I’ll put up an entry or two.