Godzilla: Unleashed First Look

We check out the dual-screen destruction in our look at this Godzilla action game for the DS.

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What's better than Godzilla wreaking havoc on unsuspecting humans and enemy monsters alike? How about Godzilla tag-teaming with another monster from the Toho pantheon? That's exactly what you'll be doing in Godzilla: Unleashed for the Nintendo DS, an early build of which we got to see this week. Along with Godzilla: Unleashed for the Wii, the DS version of the game is planned for later this year. As you might expect, the DS version of Unleashed plays different than the console version, yet still maintains a charm all its own.

Two monsters are better than one. In Godzilla Unleashed for DS, you can wreak havoc with a friend.
Two monsters are better than one. In Godzilla Unleashed for DS, you can wreak havoc with a friend.

In keeping with the dual-screen design of the Nintendo handheld system, Unleashed will let you take control of two monsters from the Godzilla roster--a flying creature such as Mothra on the top screen, and a ground-based beast like Godzilla on the lower screen. The side-scrolling action game is designed to be played either solo or with a friend via the DS's wireless connection. When playing alone, you control one monster at a time, tagging in the other monster by pressing the shoulder buttons on the DS. In multiplayer, both monsters are on the screen at the same time, with one player controlling the airborne monster and the other taking care of business on the ground.

Enemies will stream toward you in both screens. On the top screen, for example, your Mothra might have to shoot down helicopters and bombers, while on the lower screen, Godzilla will face down tanks and trains and other ground-level threats. Though you're mostly tied to one screen when playing in solo mode, all the monsters in the game have the ability to briefly move to the upper or lower screen to take care of enemies; as Mothra, for example, you can dive-bomb to the lower screen, and Godzilla is able to make huge leaps that will take him up to the upper screen.

While the storyline in the DS version of Godzilla: Unleashed won't be exactly the same as that found in the Wii game, the two will share some similarities, most obviously a strange crystal infestation that seems to be driving the planet's monsters mad. The level we saw during the demo featured Godzilla and Mothra battling their way through a city overrun by crystals. Periodically, you'll encounter objects onscreen that you can destroy with your monster by quickly tapping on the DS's touch screen. The levels will have minibosses and end-level bosses to fight as well. For example, in the demo level, we saw Godzilla go up against Mechagodzilla (who, along with Batra and Gigan, make up four of the currently announced roster in the game) and, later, take on a huge lobsterlike creature at the end of the level.

It's the end bosses that seem to be worth waiting for in what looks to be a fast-paced action game. The lobster boss, for example, was massive--taking up both screens of the DS. If you're playing the game with a friend, you'll both need to watch out--the bosses will have both upper- and lower-screen attacks that you'll need to dodge. The good news is, you aren't without weapons of your own. In addition to standard attacks (controlled with the face buttons), all the monsters in Unleashed will be able to use powerful ranged attacks (enabled by either tapping or holding the X button). As you defeat enemies, you'll slowly build up your surge meter; once it's filled, you can let loose with special surge attacks that will affect multiple enemies at once. In multiplayer you can combine your surges for even more powerful attacks that will wipe out all onscreen enemies.

The DS version of Unleashed has a look all its own, though it is somewhat influenced by the cartoon stylings of the Viewtiful Joe series. The monster models of Godzilla and his pals are stylized a bit, and Godzilla purists will likely note the oversized limbs of the monsters. Still, when combined with the impressive lighting and 3D particle effects in the zone we saw, it makes for a nice presentation. The boss battles are especially effective, thanks to the huge size of the enemies, as well as what looks to be some imaginative character design.

The bosses in Unleashed make even Mothra look like a pipsqueak.
The bosses in Unleashed make even Mothra look like a pipsqueak.

With tons of unlockables to earn, such as new monsters to play, character and concept art, and different background music, Godzilla: Unleashed looks to be aimed at players who want quick-and-dirty monster thrills on a portable system. Producers have said they are aiming for players to pick up and play the game with a friend for a few minutes at a time, but thanks to a nonlinear story, you'll discover new elements when you play through multiple times with the different monsters found in the game.

With lots more development time to go--the game is due for release toward the end of 2007--there's more to come from the DS version of Godzilla: Unleashed. We'll be keeping tabs on the game in the months ahead and will be bringing you more information as it becomes available.

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