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Godzilla PS4's Weirdly Calming Effect

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Sometimes, games don’t live up to expectations, sometimes they don’t even live up to the lowest expectations. What can make this sting even more is when one of your favorite franchises makes a game that is borderline unplayable. And this is what happened to Godzilla fans in 2014 with Godzilla for the Playstation 4. Because not only is getting a bad game from a beloved franchise a punch in the stomach, the constant negativity surrounding it adds brass knuckles to that punch. 

With social media nowadays, it’s near impossible to avoid news and updates about…well anything, but in the context of the PS4 Godzilla, all you could hear is how much of a joke this game is and how the big lizard let fans down. But if this is all true and the game is actually that bad, why do I care so much about it? Well, just because a game is utter hot trash, it still can have value to someone. Because I didn’t pick this game up until 2020 and I was missing all the bad news surrounding this game, because I was getting other bad news about the world dealing with COVID-19

To understand how my story with this game came about, we need to understand Godzilla’s history with video games. Godzilla has seen his fair share of games in the past but sadly, alot of them aren’t great. Games going back to the NES and SNES were often clunky and missed the point of what we want in a. Godzilla game.  Japan was lucky enough to get the game everyone actually wanted with Kaiju Diakessan, which features our favorite Kaiju brawling in a 2D fighting game mimicking the likes of street fighter. Sadly That game never came to the US to fulfill your monster, mashing childhood dreams And while Japan was getting what we always dreamed of, we got this for the Gameboy:

As time went on, though, people started figuring out what makes a good Godzilla game and the Godzilla games from the PS2 era were amazing. My personal favorite, Godzilla Saves The Earth gives me everything I could ever want. It is 3d kaiju fighting action in a city that you are destroying as you fight. The cast of kaiju is huge. The gameplay is a blast. They even have beam battles! Just remaster this and society will improve.

Fast forward to 2014 and it’s a good time to love Godzilla because we were getting the very first Monsterverse Godzilla coming to theaters and Bandai Namco wanted to keep the Godzilla hype going with a brand new game for the next generations of consoles. The trailer showed off our favorite monsters, it played Godzilla’s iconic theme, and showed dynamic angles of the gameplay very very quickly. They were smart about it, because the game wasn't as exciting.

What you can kind of see in the trailer is that Godzilla PS4 did not look like the next generation of  consoles it was played on. This is the same console that brought us Ghost of Tsushima so we could have easily made not so bland cityscapes and repeated buildings. The monsters move very slowly and the controls use tank controls, meaning you use L1 and R1 to actually turn your kaiju. Admittedly that kinda makes sense since you are a big lumbering tank but like thumbsticks exist now. There is like kind of a story similar to classic Godzilla movies but it is told through pictures, text, and some voice over. The gameplay is very repetitive.

However…it did a few things right.

The game gives us 22 monsters, some are different Goodzilla’s throughout the years, popular monsters, larva forms of Mothra and Battra, and even my personal favorites, SpaceGodzilla and Biollante. Each one of these monsters have different attacks that reference their movies and the monster graphics look much better than the environment. They tower over the buildings and feel so heavy and powerful to use. They had a multiplayer where you can fight other monsters online and though I barely got to play this given the lack of online players, I was able to dominate as Mothra for a bit and it was a blast. The game has a Kaiju field guide that lets you unlock biographies of monsters from the Godzilla series, even ones that weren’t in the game, and these bios go into detail about their attributes and movies. When playing you get the option to see the game from a cinematic bystander’s perspective that is reminiscent of the classic Godzilla films. They even include a Diorama Mode that allows players to unlock monster models and objects to place them in different settings and create their own movie moments. I can’t imagine a large amount of players wanting to spend time meticulously creating model sets in a video game, but there are alot of Godzilla fans that love this. Godzilla action figures are amazing and go for some serious cash:

And it was these last three points that made me realize that this game was not for a mass audience. Though it probably isn’t the best busin ess strategy, it was created for die hard Godzilla fans that don’t just love Godzilla’s cinematic history, but want to be immersed in it.

Like most people in 2020, my life was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At first it was ok, Animal Crossing New Horizons just came out, my friends and I would play Quiplash over video chat, and I was really just starting Wires Don’t Talk.

But the pandemic didn’t stop and these fun activities began to lose their charm and the real gravity of the situation started to set in.


The virus was still spreading, people were losing jobs, money was a concern, people were stuck in their homes, and the entire pandemic became political. 

All of this is bad enough but every single day, you would hear something like "over 100,000 US citizens dead from COVID-19." For me, this created a sense of anxiety that I have never felt in my life. This world changed so quickly and I was being bombarded with news telling me that if I leave my house I will die, if I speak to someone, I will, if I see my parents, I will and so will they. All of this doom, really affected me

My journey with this anxiety and how I overcame it has alot of stories and anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture is heavily involved in that, so those are videos for another day. But in the sea of dread, I needed comfort and of course, I could rely on this guy:

I play video games to relax. I don’t care about the esports scene, I don’t care about super cool graphics and new gaming technology. I don’t care if a game is popular. I want fun action that I can play with friends and deep immersive worlds that I can take at my own pace solo. 

But the PS4 Godzilla didn’t really offer that, but what it did offer was a much needed power trip.

The game is super slow and clunky, like an actual Kaiju. The game's graphics are pretty weak compared to the monsters like the Godzilla’s movies I love, the kaijus shoot, fight, and slam into buildings that break like miniatures as if I was watching two grown men in rubber suits wrestle each other. The gameplay is incredibly repetitive but when I was tired after a long day of worrying, I got to turn my brain off. Repeat the same game loop over and over, and for a few hours, I become a kaiju. It turns out, Tel Aviv University conducted a study and found that doing repetitive tasks will have calming effects when feeling anxious and it allows for people to manage a situation when other anxiety causing situations are out of their hands. 

As I thought the world was burning around me, I transported myself to another world except this time, I was doing the world burning. I was the star in my own Godzilla movie. I got to punch, smash, and blast away the anxiety and it helped keep me calm as I began taking on my anxiety to get me to mindfulness. 

I still return to this game at times and even 4 years later with a much cleaner mind, the game still fills me with power and I smile as I tear through a city block. I’m not going to sit here and say the game is a secret masterpiece that all kaiju fans need to play. It’s not. It is a flawed game that was clearly rushed in development. It is most certainly not worth the overblown resale prices you see on the internet from people just trying to take advantage of Godzilla fans. 

I got lucky on how I got my hands on this. A woman in my neighborhood had it and wanted to get rid of it. I told her I wanted it but that it is worth so much money that she couldn’t just give it to me for free. She told me as long as I don’t just go and sell it, I can have it for free. And that woman has no idea the comfort her act of kindness gave me because in a weird way this game was a form of light therapy for me as I began my mindfulness journey.

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