Tag Archives: wild arms

FGC #472 Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee

GODZILLA!In 2002, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee was released. In 2020, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee has given me an incredibly dumb idea for a new videogame, and I would like it very much if one of my readers could get around to creating such a game.

Allow me to explain.

Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is a Nintendo Gamecube title that was released a solid eighteen years ago. At the time, it was very well received, as it allowed four players to sit down on a couch, grab a controller, and then destroy the entire city of London with atomic fire breath and the occasional assistance of Mothra. This was a game that was never going to be the next Super Smash Bros. Melee, but it was still a damn good party game. Hell, it was basically the bastard monster child of Rampage and any given Wrestling title, and how could that possibly go wrong? There’s even immediate accessibility, because, unlike most fighting games, you don’t need to “know” the fighters beyond “this one has drill arms” and “that dude has wings”. Ultimately, it’s not like this was ever going to be a game we were talking about twenty years later (wait a minute…), but it was certainly a fun way for a quartet of bored college students to whittle away the wee hours of the morning before finals (not that I have any extremely specific memories of this game or anything).

But, like so many games of the era, there was an immediate problem with Godzilla: DAMM: it required an unholy amount of unlocking. There are a total of three monsters initially selectable, and (if my math is right) that’s one shy of the total number of players. We need two Godzillas! … Which there actually are on this roster, but that’s not what I’m talking about! That second Godzilla requires playing through the entire game once, just like the other six unlockable fighters (“fighters”). And, yes, that only adds up to a roster of ten total monsters for meleein’, which feels very lacking when you’ve got four players palling around. DRILL!You can “see” the entire roster inside of three matches… but only if you’ve actually unlocked that monster roll call. And who wants to play through a game ten times (Mecha Godzilla requires three separate adventure mode clears) just to prepare for a Melee party? Yes, Super Smash Bros. Melee had similarly byzantine unlocking methods available, but that game was incredibly fun to play, and featured a whole host of interesting modes. God:DAMM was limited to one cruddy arcade mode.

… Which is probably why we just used cheat codes to unlock everybody every time we played. Man, we gotta go buy seventeen gallons of vodka, we don’t have time to unlock Ghidrah.

But if we had to manually unlock everyone in Godzilla: Destroy AMM, well, then there probably wouldn’t be any pleasant memories of this otherwise forgotten game. This is an amazing game when playing with three other humans that are all pretending to be monsters and occasionally attempting to simulate bad engrish dubbing across the couch. However, when it’s just you against the adventure mode, it’s an entirely different experience. The computer cheats! Or, more accurately, the AI seems to have complete awareness of the battleground beyond the view of the traditional monster cam, so they will often break off from the fight to pursue some previously unseen powerup. And let me tell you, an AI monster can book it when it wants to! Meanwhile, your own Godzilla (why would anyone play as Aguirus? Godzilla is right there!) moves like a slow, lumbering beast. This is right and proper for a King of the Monsters, but it does feel a bit like you’re being taken advantage of when a rival is pelting you with fireballs from across the screen. FLY!This is never an issue when you’re playing with friends, as you’re all equally slow and terrible thunder lizards, but when you have limited continues and an opponent that seems to have extrasensory awareness? It gets old fast. A fighter controlling like a mack truck isn’t great under normal circumstance, but it’s somehow even worse when the same rules don’t seem to apply to your opponent.

And that’s when I had my grand idea: why not make a videogame where everybody sucks?

Wait, no, let me try that again.

My thinking here is that G:DAMM is a game where you’re controlling classic movie monsters. And, let’s be real here, absolutely every movie monster from earlier than about 1990 was a dude in a dreadful rubber suit. If a head was allowed to peak out, there could also be a dreadful mask or dreadful prosthetics involved, but, by and large, we’re only talking about big, puffy, and inevitably sweaty rubber suits. And, while this certainly also applies to Western monsters (Abbott and Costello simply could not afford a CGI Frankenstein), we all know that Godzilla and his many opponents were all dudes (and ladies, presumably) in rubber suits. So, while this game sees your monsters maneuver about as well as a freight train being steered by FRA-licensed cow, that feels almost appropriate, as how well do you think you would be able to maneuver while being trapped in a miniature, mobile sauna? Godzilla controls terribly, but it always looked like “real” Godzilla would have the same kind of problems. Oh, a powerup appeared outside of your line of vision? Well, do you think it would be easy to see in that suit? Of course not! This is immersive gameplay!

Which is where my game idea originated: why not create a fighting game where all the fighters are stuck in big, cumbersome monster costumes?

POWER!Haruo Nakajima is the man behind the monster that played Godzilla in twelve separate films from 1954 to 1972. When you close your eyes and picture Godzilla destroying Tokyo (aka every time you close your eyes, obviously), you’re picturing Haruo Nakajima inside a Godzilla costume. And you know something else about Haruo Nakajima? He had a black belt in judo. This means one thing: Haruo Nakajima could kick your ass. And, considering he did his job masterfully for nearly twenty years, there are pretty good odds he could kick your ass while wearing a Godzilla costume. And wouldn’t that be kind of neat? – Well, to watch, not to get your ass kicked by Godzilla… or… Or would that be even more interesting… Wait, never mind, back to the original topic – Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see how a martial artist adapts to fighting within a giant rubber suit? How moves are changed and adapted to accommodate for added bulk, extra exertion, and, inevitably, a little foam tail? And wouldn’t it be fun to control a fighter of black belt caliber trapped in such a suit?

Yes, I am suggesting someone create Rubber Movie Monster Fighter (Melee).

Look, I know we have the technology. And it doesn’t have to go full QWOP (though that would be kind of amazing), I’m just suggesting a fighting game where it feels “right” that your fighter is struggling to survive while locked inside a mascot costume. And, to be clear, we don’t need a Godzilla license. The Power Rangers franchise alone has to be responsible for a collection of rubber “movie” monsters greater than the actual population of Iowa. It’s wouldn’t be that difficult to work out some original monsters that may or may not be Tyrannosaurs-adjacent. ZAP!And nobody gets “fireballs” or “dragon punches” or alike, it’s just all mascot monsters throwing fists and stubby little kicks. Bonus points for posing after your opponent has been knocked over, and maybe a mini-game involved on just finding the effort to stand up again if you’re the one that toppled over in an enormous turtle costume. It would still be, at its core, a fighting game, but it would be a very different fighting game.

And if Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee proves anything, it’s that people will put up with cumbersome controls if it means enjoying a “different” fighting game. So, if you’ve got some coding experience and a graphics department laying around, have your people call my people, I’ve been anxious to add a “concept by” credit to my résumé. I mean… it could be a really fun game!

FGC #472 Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee

  • System: Nintendo Gamecube initially, and then ported to the Xbox (one… but not that One). There was also a Gameboy Advance title that Wikipedia thinks is the same game (Godzilla: Domination), but that was a Wayforward joint that was completely different by virtue of containing an enormous Mecha Ghidrah.
  • Number of players: Four, as is appropriate to a melee.
  • Blazing!Further Issues: Maybe the reason the controls for this seem so wrong so often is that many of the monsters have non-standard body types. No, I’m not saying some of the monsters are shaped unusually, I’m saying many of the fighters don’t even have arms. That impacts the “one size fits all” controls pretty significantly. And don’t get me started on all the monsters that just happen to have the power of flight…
  • Favorite Kaiju: Technically it is hard to choose anyone but Godzilla. But Megalon does have drill arms and the ability to dig through the Earth for some rad flip attacks, so he’s certainly right up there.
  • Missed Opportunity: Jet Jaguar basically looks like a budget Ultra Man, and he’s completely missing from this adventure. Granted, he’s not technically a monster, but I wouldn’t mind having at least one vaguely menacing humanoid robot running around.
  • Did you know? Haruo Nakajima had an asteroid named in his memory in 2018. I really hope that asteroid stays the hell away from Earth, because, if we somehow survive such an apocalyptic impact, we’re going to spend the next century talking about the grand irony of Asteroid 110408 Nakajima destroying Tokyo.
  • Would I play again: Nope. I might have an idea for a game where characters control like bulky monsters, but it’s not all that fun on the Gamecube. I enjoyed this title in its time, but its time has passed.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Dragon Warrior 4! It’s time for Alena and a bunch of losers to save the world. Please look forward to it!

Wild Arms 2 Part 42: Goggle Bob and The Odessa Effect

Let’s Plays are inherently personal. Videogames are intimate experiences to begin with (how else would you describe a situation where you spend forty hours alone with your hands on your controller?), and expanding such an experience to include everyone willing to read/listen is immediately going to, strangely inversely, make that title more intimate to the Let’s Player. Let’s Plays, whether they be screenshots or videos, at least double the amount of time one dedicates to a game, so, assuming this isn’t a Player’s first rodeo, anyone going into a Let’s Play knows it’s going to be a long haul, even on a title as simple as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. On a JRPG, we’re talking about an experience that could literally take years.

This Let’s Play took years. Even if I were able to stay 100% on an update a week, these past forty updates would have taken nearly a full year. Why would I even bother?

Wild Arms 2 is a weird game. It is a late Playstation 1 JRPG that existed in that peculiar JRPG adolescence where everyone was simultaneously trying to chase the success of Final Fantasy 7, but also “advance the genre” in its own way. Many JRPG directors of this period had years of experience as being the audience for the likes of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, and an age of post-modern JRPGs was due. But everyone wanted that phat Cloud Strife dough, though, so we saw a number of titles that seemed downright at odds with themselves. A title where a chosen hero battles a group of anime villains but also eventually has to repel an encroaching abstract idea while disproving the very concept of heroism is exactly the kind of title you’d see in ‘99/’00. Wild Arms 2 has a narrative that is seemingly doomed to be bonkers right from the start, as it stands at the intersection of conflicting goals that is “make a Power Rangers game” and “say something meaningful about the world”.

And the translation doesn’t help. Wild Arms 2 is already toying with some intellectual notions for a “typical” JRPG, and the fact that Irving might wind up explaining the same concept using three different incongruous homonyms isn’t helping. What’s more, the translation completely neuters characters’ voices, so the only characters that seem to get individualistic nuance are the heroes that have non-verbal animations that clearly convey their place in the story. Lilka has a tendency to “sound” like everyone else thanks to a dull localization, but her constant cycles of stomping her feet or waving her arms convey the emotions of an impatient young lady. Unfortunately, the majority of the rest of the cast doesn’t get such consideration, and thus characters that should be standouts like Brad and Ashley begin to blur together. This ain’t Persona 4: the localization of Wild Arms 2 is not only confusing for actual plot purposes, it also does an incredible disservice to one of the more unique casts on the Playstation 1.

So we come back to the same question again: why did I, the venerable Goggle Bob, star of stage and screen, bother to dedicate my precious time to Let’s Playing Wild Arms 2?

The answer to that question is a long one.

(Like you thought anything I would ever write would be short…)

NOTE: This section gets incredibly personal. I just started typing, and it happened. Also, general trigger warning for overwhelming grief.

Venture with me back to the bygone time of my college years. In fact, technically the absolute beginning of my time at college. I was to start my higher educational time at Montclair State University, a college chosen for the twin reasons of its affordability and great distance from my parents. It didn’t hurt that Montclair was a stone’s throw from the always-exciting New York City, either. Everything was going swimmingly until there was a snafu with my housing, which would make my college life difficult, as I was looking at a 2 ½ hour commute from home. After begging and pleading and straight up calling a senator (“Let me speak to this state school’s manager!”), I finally received some on-campus housing, and I was all ready to start my college career, albeit a few days later than expected. I was able to “commute” to my opening classes, but I finally moved in on campus on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

It was September 9th, 2001.

Two days later, things got dicey.

Like most people at Montclair, I had a front-row seat for September 11th. My first exposure to the event was being in the campus library that Tuesday morning (thanks to my class schedule, maybe the only morning I was awake that entire semester), and having someone nearby get off the phone and shout to a nearby coworker, “Some idiot just rammed their plane into the World Trade Center.” That’s what had happened in that moment, too. It’s hard to describe now, but immediately after the first plane hit, it was just kind of assumed that this was some random accident. Some jackass had a pilot’s license, and did an unthinkably stupid thing. Regardless, interested in what was happening, I walked over to a nearby hill that overlooked New York City. I could see the already smoking first tower in plain view, and then, in a moment I’ll likely remember to the end of my days, I saw the second plane hit the second tower, live. Actually, strike that, I don’t remember that moment clearly at all. Over the years, and even there in that moment, my brain kind of recoiled at what was happening. In my memory, it’s practically some morbid comedy routine. I “remember” everyone immediately looking at everyone else there on that hill, looking at the nearby dorm “tower” that rose next to the hill where we all stood, and we all collectively stepped out of its shadow, generally fearful that that nearby building would be next. That, obviously, never happened. I’m still pretty sure 9/11 happened, though.

And it’s hard to describe to anyone that “wasn’t there” how 9/11 impacted the entire campus. For future generations and younger readers: no, there was not widespread panic and rioting on campus. We were mostly just… confused. Something no one talks about is that the World Trade Center was a broadcast tower, so nearby Montclair State completely lost its television for a solid 24 hours. Phones were still mostly land-line based at that time, but the local circuits were literally overloaded for obvious reasons. The only information source available was the internet, which was still fairly new as a “legitimate” news source. In that moment, we had collectively missed the memo on the coming War on Terror or the president urging for calm or whatever, it was just… annoying? Like, people were dead. The nearby New York commuter lots were filled with cars whose owners were never coming back. There was no one on campus (including myself) that didn’t know at least someone who could already be dead. In many cases, we were just waiting for those inevitably terrible phone calls. And, again, we had no real idea what was going on. It was generally assumed that this was a planned attack, but the full breadth of what happened (including the attack on the Pentagon) wouldn’t be revealed to us until that evening. Yes, there were rumors abound, but nothing was confirmed for hours, and, in such a situation, hours can last for years.

And that left a bit of an impression on the campus at large. I would say that literally the entire student body was a little shell shocked by the event. You would see it literally everywhere. When a plane flew overhead, people flinched. No one was comfortable living on the higher floors of the dorms. Visiting New York City went from a joyous event to what was seen as a risky, dangerous proposition. And one thing that seems to be rarely mentioned nowadays: the 9/11 “death cloud” hovered over NYC in thickest black for at least a full week, and looking at the skyline any day thereafter seemed… wrong. There was a constant reminder of death and destruction right there, always outside a nearby window. In the weeks and months to come, the world at large would mutate, but right there at MSU, every last student and professor had to deal with a tragedy that was much more up close and personal.

So, on that cheery note, I’m going to switch gears to talk about my freshman anthropology course.

I was an incredibly enlightened high school student, so I naturally believed that, having figured everything out, I would take the smartest route through college. My plan was to take all the superfluous/required general courses first, and thus get those all out of the way early, and then focus on my real major studies closer to graduating and getting a job that would actually apply these skills. NOTE TO ANYONE THAT WILL LISTEN: never do this. Fun fact: if you transfer to a different school, they’re going to have different superfluous/required classes, and you will have wasted your time. It happens. But, during the summer when I was barely past high school, my plan was to take courses that were ultimately required early, and if a side effect of such a plan was that I’d wind up inadvertently lumped in with a bunch of “seniors” just trying to graduate and get out, so be it.

So this anthropology course was pretty much exactly what I already expected: a large group of chunkheads of various ages that were only taking the class so as to graduate. Actually, the majority of the class may not have been chunkheads, but, given no one ever said a damn word, I’m forced to assume they were all maximum chunkheads. In that class, there was the professor, and there were exactly three people that participated in class. There was…

  1. Myself
  2. One random woman
  3. One man, the younger brother of the one random woman

The siblings had apparently arranged to take this course together, as senior and freshman, and had that naturally intellectual thing going on where they wanted to discuss everything. I, as you’re no doubt already aware, cannot absorb any information without gargling out like a thousand words on the subject. Together, the three of us replied to practically every question the professor tossed out, and I’m moderately certain every other person in the class hated us. Or they loved us. I don’t know. They could have appreciated how we managed to railroad practically every topic into unknown, “this won’t be on the final” territory, and they knew they could just sit back and relax while we prattled on about comparing ancient tribal tattoo ceremonies to going to the mall and getting some fairy princess ink.

How ever the other students felt about us was inconsequential in the long run, though, as the professor apparently adored us. Later in my college years, I decided that this was because it was a once-a-week, 6 PM Wednesday course, and the professor assumed the class would be dead for a solid two hours. We livened up the place, and I suppose we were rewarded for our participation. The three of us collectively could do no wrong, and I personally tested this theory when I turned in a midterm essay about a week late, and received absolutely no punishment for my tardiness.

Which would be why I decided to push the boundaries a little further during the final. There was an in-class test, and a homework essay component. The essay was ridiculously vague: choose an anthropological concept, either from the book or an outside source, and apply it to modern humanity. Could be anything! Take your pick!

My pick? That turned into an essay titled “9/11 & The Odessa Effect”.

You have to understand that 2001 was a lawless time before googling for a source was something any old professor could do. Assuming you claimed a source was “foreign” or “contemporary” (or both), you could basically cite your cat as a valid voice on a term paper. Yes, there could be problems if you tried such a thing at the higher levels of learning… but for a generic anthropology course? You could get away with it with zero issues. And, while I am unequivocally stating that this was the only time I ever committed such a crime, I am going to admit that I may have gotten a name for a source from Gamefaqs…

The time after 9/11 was a time of seemingly impossible nationalism. The 9/11 incident allowed the leaders of our nation to whip the majority of the population into a righteous fury that justified invading at least one country that had nothing to do with anything. And that seemed almost impossible in those early days, given President Bush had previously been involved in one of the most divisive election victories in (then) recent memory. On the day that I moved into my dorm, Bush was seen by half the population as a passable leader, and the other half as a Saturday Night Live punch line that stole an election and was about as qualified for the position as your average toddler; yet, two days later, President Bush was lauded as the one man who could steer us through these turbulent times, and people on both sides of the political divide put their differences aside to hang cardboard flags on overpasses and buy action figures named “Freedom: The American Eagle”.

It wouldn’t last. While the Forever War would keep going until at least the end of this essay, people began to drift back apart and actually question the administration that demanded we rename our preferred potato side dishes. The Dixie Chicks were able to wake us all up (and not Evanescence, oddly enough), and, soon enough, we were back to a nation where a healthy portion of the population couldn’t stand to hear the lies about “WMDs” ever again. We were, in short, back to normal in just a few years’ time.

But there in that moment, in those scant few months after the attack, we were united. We stood together against any threats that might try to take away our Freedom. Particularly, there on that campus, collectively shell-shocked and flinching every time we heard a plane fly overhead, we were ready. We were together in the one singular goal of doing whatever the hell we were told just so long as nothing like this would ever happen again.

And if you told us to impregnate some random twin so as to trap an encroaching universe and then attack a giant monster fetus, we would have been all over that.

I am rather annoyed with myself that I did not preserve that essay in some manner. However, to relay the basic gist of the essay, I claimed that the current nationalism seen in the wake of 9/11 was described only a few years earlier by the modern philosopher Eitarō Nagano (one of the directors of Wild Arms 2 with what I figured was a foreign-enough sounding name), who described “The Odessa Effect”, a phenomenon whereby people would rally behind a heroic leader if a malevolent enough villain rose to power. The theory was so named for the example Nagano initially put forth, which would involve a hypothetical terrorist organization named “Odessa”, and an imaginary nation named Filgaia that would instantly unite against said Odessa. For a touch of flare, I added some random bits about Nagano being generally disliked in his home country for also using Hitler as an example, and seemingly calling out his nation’s former leaders for siding with the wrong side. However, the bulk of the essay focused on 9/11, and how our unity would inevitably lead to a potentially corrupt leader making broad changes with the uncontested support of the nation, just as Nagano predicted. Truly, this “Odessa Effect” was unambiguously applicable to our current situation.

And I got an A for that bullshit.

The professor sent me a personal email (it was the end of the semester, there was no reason for us to ever be in the same room again) about how it was one of the most interesting reports in the class, and she was going to miss my unique insight into current events. Given my interest in the class and the fact that I was obviously doing research on my own, she thought, if I was undeclared, entering the field might be a good career path. There was something in there about needing “more people like you”.

In the full scope of my life, am I proud of such a thing? Well, I can safely say I felt downright bad about apparently impressing my professor to such a degree through writing about a videogame (wow, what a shape of things to come). And academia is important and…. Phhhtt… I’m sorry, I can’t get through that sentence. Dude, it was complete BS from start to finish, but I managed to create an anthropological concept out of a random JRPG that I remembered from like a year prior. I didn’t even have the game handy! I would have much rather written about Super Smash Bros Melee! But, somehow, it all came together well enough to impress my professor, and, while I did legitimately feel bad for deceiving her, I very much enjoyed boosting my GPA with a little help from a Playstation game.

And, ultimately, that’s the reason this Let’s Play exists: I felt like I owed Wild Arms 2.

Wild Arms 2 is not the best JRPG out there. It is not even the best Playstation 1 JRPG. It has its moments, but, from a gameplay and presentation perspective, it could easily be lost in the sea of “wannabe Final Fantasy 7” titles that would flood the market until the dawn of “wannabe Grand Theft Auto 3”s. It has some memorable characters, but they’re drowned out by a slapdash localization. The puzzles are forgettable, and, while some monsters might be interesting, the actual combat is not. Wild Arms 2 is, at best, a mediocre experience.

But, like so much media out there, it can stick with you. It can shape your viewpoints. It can become an experience that is permanently a part of you. In this case, it was the strange intersection of current events and JRPG philosophizing. Was Irving right? Would his plan work in the real world? Or was it all the result of one JRPG writer reading Watchmen’s finale right before starting some plotting? Global peace through uniting against a common enemy? It’s been done before. It’s been done better. But Wild Arms 2 did it, too, and it stuck with at least one player. And that player utilized that thought for a college class. That player decided that that decades old game was worthy of further examination. And, it may have taken an ungodly amount of time, but that player wrote a Let’s Play.

Thanks for being you, Wild Arms 2.

Thank you to everyone that made this Let’s Play a success.

And thank you for reading.

Wild Arms Mission #30
Finish a complete Let’s Play of Wild Arms 2
Status: Success!
Notes: Well, that sure took a while.

Wild Arms 2 Part 41: Post-Mission Debriefing

Previously on Wild Arms 2: Everything. Every damn thing. It’s over now, but thanks to an Eskimo’s dying curse (I was unaware he would react so poorly to a hot cup of coffee), I am forced to spit out a few more words on the subject of Wild Arms 2. So let’s get to it.

Upon completing the game, Wild Arms 2 allows for the creation of a game clear file. This was fairly common in the Playstation 1 days… or at least it happened with Saga Frontier. I… can’t think of any other games that did that. Probably Chrono Cross? Hm…

This extra file is not a “playable” save file, though. This would likely make it first on the chopping block on your precious PS Memory Card that can only contain 15 save files.

The clear file is a way to “review” your final game data, and maybe rewatch a few cutscenes. Let me tell you: rewatching anime cutscenes was all we had back in the earliest 21st Century. Why, I remember when Lunar

Here are the final stats on Ashley. And, incidentally, I’m going to use it an excuse to talk about Wild Arms 2’s Battle System.

Short answer: it’s not great…

Wild Arms 2 Part 40: A Farewell to ARMS

Previously on Wild Arms 2: Liz & Ard only appeared in 10% of this Let’s Play. It has been an abject failure.

But now we’re in the final chamber of the final dungeon, so maybe we can turn this whole thing around.

And some dude is talking!

Oh, sweet. Guess we just have to do some punching and we’ll be home in time for Jeopardy.

Unfortunately, Irving’s brilliant plan has already hit a snag: the Kuiper Belt is too much for the vessel, so it is growing uncontrollable, physical roots.

So, anyway, new mission…