Sunday, July 7, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 7 - Override: Mech City Brawl

2018's Override: Mech City Brawl kind of came and went without much fanfare, which is a shame because it is an awesome giant robot fighter that kaiju and mecha fans alike can have a lot of fun with. For today's blog on day 7 of Eric Vs. 365, we're going to examine just why in the heck it is so hard to make a good Pacific Rim or Godzilla game.

The Godzilla franchise and Pacific Rim seem like natural fits for video games, but for some reason it just hasn't ever happened properly yet. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy Pipeworks' trilogy of Godzilla brawlers - Godzilla Unleashed is the best - but great games they definitely aren't. And the less said about Yuke's 2013 XBLA Pacific Rim game, the better. How can you keep screwing up something so obvious as letting giant robots and giant monsters beat the crap out of each other?

I think the problem is multi-fold. Mostly it seems like the cost of the licenses eats up a lot of the budget, so other aspects - like the presentation - suffer. I think the budget constraints also hamstring the gameplay a bit, so developers can't get very creative or spend much time on it because they have to crank something out fast to try to make a profit. This results in pretty much every game being a shallow brawler that doesn't hold your attention for very long.

Another issue is that, despite what fans want to believe, the heart and soul of kaiju movies are actually the human characters and the big cool looking monsters are just window dressing. When you remove the human element entirely, which is what almost every game does, suddenly things are a lot less interesting. Showa-era Godzilla is an exception (and it had way too much personality) but these giant robots and giant monsters don't exactly have a lot of charisma or innate charm to them. They are merely plot devices to further the human drama and little more and without the humans framing them as a threat, all they are is guys in cool looking rubber suits. A good kaiju game needs a human element.

I think many games also fail because they try to be too true to the source material, which ultimately isn't all that fun. What I mean is they want to mimic the lumbering, slow, glacial movement and stiff attacks and fighting - that were more limitations of having guys in heavy rubber suits than anything else - and it hasn't translated particularly well to video games. Players want speed and excitement and most games just haven't delivered. 

Here's the ultimate conundrum in this whole discussion - I know what the problems are, but I don't know how to fix them. By making a video game with genuinely fun and quality gameplay with Godzilla or Pacific Rim it wouldn't really be true to the films anymore. By giving the games an actual story centered around human characters, morons would say it was too boring and wouldn't play it. Despite seeming so obvious, making a good kaiju game is going to be incredibly hard.