When you hear something like “Doom,” the first thing you imagine is a man gunning down Hellspawn, locked in a quest to blast imps and save his flesh. You’d be hesitant to imagine something like a sergeant telling you the best way to stroke a demon horse with your touch-pen. The people who made these games weren’t hesitant to dream that impossible dream. They took the game series they were working on and shot for the stars, or at least for the awkward middle.
Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
Mortal Kombat is a fighting series based around the art of pulling out spines. I know that there’s a convoluted mythology of tournaments and Chosen Ones, but once you’re playing, the obvious objective becomes to cram buttons repeatedly into their sockets until your Lizard Man eats the head off a Thunder God. In the long history of the series, I honestly doubt that anyone has said “Man, you know what would make a great Mortal Kombat game? Fucking not this!” “What was that?” a Mortal Kombat developer woke up saying to himself, replying to the voices that only he hears. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces is a platformer, taking Jax and placing him in a quest to stop a gang from getting their hands on a powerful artifact, and from the way the game plays, he also has to fight the game’s mechanic s too. The camera will follow him around and then suddenly leap up a wall, as if it’s terrified of being caught in this stupid mess, and Jax’s punches resemble the writhing calisthenics of a senior citizen’s swimming class. The story doesn’t make up for the abominable everything else either. One of the primary antagonists is No Face, an explosives expert who lacks ears, a nose and hair, and if the people behind Special Forces were trying to come up with a classic Mortal Kombat character with this guy, they might as well have just tried to buy the rights to M. Bison and called it a day.
Batman: Gotham City Racers
The perfect formula for Batman video games has been released to the public in the form of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. If you disagree with this, I’m sorry for all the other stuff you’ve probably been wrong about in your life as well. However, to get to something that perfect, there had to be a lot of trial and error. One game that was 95% Error and another 95% Why? is Batman: Gotham City Racers. Now, I know that 95% plus 95% is an impossible 190%, but Gotham City Racers has enough shit in it that it takes on the poor qualities of another whole game. Thanks for your martyr cause, Gotham City Racers. If you don’t believe me, play the damn thing and then attempt to dodge a bomb. I’ll give you some achievement points for the endeavor: 20G: Utter Futility.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Usually, when not doing a total switch in genres, but simply adding new aspects, video game developers will ease into it, giving you only a bit to test the audience reaction. In this case, the new things were vehicles and rather than play it safe, the makers of Nuts and Bolts went all out, making a game that was mostly driving/piloting, with a little bit of grunting bear and annoying bird added in to make it recognizable.
The surprising part? It totally works. Nuts And Bolts makes creating and controlling new vehicles an engaging practice. Usually, when I need to build something car-related, I’m left scratching my head, wondering why the hell a “Nitro” is. Nuts And Bolts alleviated my fear of having to painstakingly decide what I wanted my hood to look like by giving me the option to easily construct floating tanks, literally. The story isn’t that memorable, but it’s not about the narrative here. My drunken roommate repeatedly yelled “WE HAVE TO GET THE PAYLOAD!” while playing it, so, as long I can fly my makeshift, clunky rocket plane in peace, I’ll take that.
The early Godzilla games for systems like the Nintendo and the Gameboy were side-scrolling exercises in masochism. You’d guide something that looked sort of like Godzilla and his friends as they battled their way through things that looked absolutely nothing like enemies. The later Godzilla games, such as Destroy All Monsters: Melee, Save The Earth and Unleashed, are awesome fighting games.
Super Godzilla is somewhere in between these. You are the unlucky person given control of Godzilla, or rather, for the most part, Godzilla’s blue dot, as you guide him haphazardly through buildings and land mines until you collide with an enemy. There’s not a lot of strategy to this half of the game, as it’s pretty much a dull adventure of leading Godzilla through the maze that is Japan until you wind up on a sector that has King Ghidorah or Battra in it, and then crashing him into every damage-causing thing in his way until he hits his foe. The damage caused by buildings and mountains don’t really matter at that point, though. Godzilla moves like there’s a secret, invisible player beside you, pressing for him to go backwards, so by the time you’ve reached an enemy, you’re happy to lead him into suicide.
After this, you fight (?) enemies in one on one combat, where you send Godzilla towards a bad guy, punch the bad guy (unless the bad guy chest bumps you, Godzilla’s Achilles heel, which sends him scooting backwards), and then back up, filling your energy meter enough to pull off attacks. The higher the energy meter, the more powerful of an attack you can launch.
I know what you’re thinking: That sounds terrible. Who would make a game like that? Why can’t the fight against Mechagodzilla be fun? To this I answer, I don’t know. To design a game like it, the creators of Super Godzilla apparently knew a lot of things that we didn’t know, and will probably never learn.