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Godzilla Unleashed: Exclusive Interview, Screens

by The Wiire Staff (2007-09-05)

Even before Yoshi hatched onto the gaming scene, another hungry green dinosaur reigned supreme. The citizens of Tokyo may recognize him as the sign of their city's impending doom, but everyone else will know this creature as Godzilla.

With Godzilla Unleashed, a sequel to the series of Godzilla fighting titles for GameCube, publisher Atari and developer Pipeworks Software intend to mark their stomping ground on Wii. The Wiire spoke with Game Producer Shelby Wills about the finalized controls, the storyline, the purpose of those huge crystals and much more. Read on at your own risk.

The Wiire: What is your favorite Godzilla movie?

Shelby Wills: Each movie has its own unique take on Godzilla, which brings something new to the universe; we see the individual movies more as chapters within a larger Godzilla experience.

The Wiire: How much of an inspiration are the classic Godzilla films to a project like this?

Wills: If it weren't for classic Godzilla, there would be no Godzilla Unleashed! So, we obviously take inspiration from the classic films in this game. Then again, there is only so much that can be done based on the films. To make a fun and enjoyable game, we had to take the strong source material from the films, and expand upon it. We've created a totally new environment and story around the characters. So, everything that makes Godzilla great is still in our game, with the addition of many new elements that will make Godzilla Unleashed a worthy addition to the Godzilla canon.

Exclusive Screen #1

The Wiire: How is Godzilla Unleashed different from its predecessors?

Wills: Godzilla Unleashed represents a leap in evolution in Godzilla games. The Wii version has more monsters than Save the Earth, including two brand new original monsters, several TOHO monsters never before seen in any previous Godzilla game, vastly superior graphics, fine-tuned Wii-specific controls (taking advantage of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk), a new single-player Story Mode campaign with branching storylines and hidden objectives, monster affinities - think of alignments in D&D - customizable multiplayer game settings, improved building destruction, and more.

The Wiire: How do the controls work, and are they finalized?

Wills: The game will be played with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, giving players complete control over their monsters. Players will have 5 primary actions at their disposal - Charge weapons, Punch, Kick, Rush, and Fierce Attack. We use a combination of button presses and gestures to give you control over your monster.

Our new fighting system allows you to execute any or all of their primary actions independently or simultaneously - which means that you can charge while jumping in the air - fire your weapon during attacks, and move freely at all times. For instance, Godzilla can be walking in one direction, swiping with his claws in another, firing his weapon in a third direction, and swinging his tail at a rear target all at the same time.

The controls have just been finalized, after the build shown at PAX. Throughout the length of the project, we have constantly been tweaking them and trying to make them more responsive and easier to use. For instance, we came up with an "uppercut" motion that we loved - we could throw it every time and it really made you feel like you were swinging Godzilla's arm when you did the move. However, nobody else in the office could execute the move properly.

A few different people tried to tune the motion parameters, but with the same result every time - while one person could pull off the move easily someone else always had a tough time with it. As a result, we settled on using more general motion commands, which we think works best. So as you see, we're always making modifications to the controls to make them more accessible and less frustrating.

The Wiire: How much will the story change depending on which monster or group of monsters you play as?

Wills: Excellent question! As a matter of fact, the story will change drastically depending on what monster you play as and what faction he belongs to. Monsters are grouped into four factions: Earth Defenders, Mecha, Aliens, and Malefic Mutations - each with their own perspective and motivations within the over arcing storyline. Earth Defenders include characters like Godzilla, and their obvious motivation in the story is to defend the planet from alien invasion. Monsters from the Alien faction seek to invade the Earth and conquer it for their Alien masters.

Exclusive Screen #2

The Mecha faction is controlled by humans who fight to repel all monsters in an effort to save their cities from destruction. Mecha and their human controllers are not above joining forces with Earth Defenders to battle a common Alien threat. Mutants are plain evil, with no alliances at all. However, their weak minds make them susceptible to Alien manipulation, forcing them into unwilling alliances. The story path changes based on which faction you choose to represent, and the actions you take within the story. So depending on the choices, your story path will change with different encounters, goals, team-ups and Graphic Novel story sequences.

The Wiire: Could you tell us about the HUD?

Wills: The HUD has five elements. It includes Health Cells, the Health Bar (the remaining hit points in your current Health Cell), Energy Cells, Ammo Counter (for monsters with Ammo), and the Critical Meter. While the energy bar can be recharged, it will take a skilled player to keep the health bar full.

The Wiire: How many arenas will there be?

Wills: There are nine arenas in the game, featuring some of Earth's most well-known cities and locales. Each city has been drastically altered by the presence of Alien crystals that have created cataclysmic changes. Every level is fully destructible, with an amazing level of detail put into every building you smash along with every dent and tear in the earth you cause. Plus, each level has a unique theme, like ice storms or lava flowing through streets.

The Wiire: Have you created any new monsters specifically for this game?

Wills: Yes! We had the honor and good fortune of being granted permission by TOHO to create two new monsters specifically for this game. The first monster, Krystalak, was created specifically to serve as one of the main villains in the game's story. He has a very unique, wickedly cool look. We went over several designs with TOHO for Krystalak before we settled on something we were all happy with.

The second original monster, Obsidius, was chosen from four design concepts by fans in an online promotion. We submitted around 20 original monster concepts to the publisher, who then narrowed them down to the final four that we submitted to TOHO for their approval. With their blessing, we presented these four monsters to the public and allowed fans to choose which monster they wanted to see featured in the game. Obsidius was the hands-down favorite among gamers and hardcore Godzilla fans who took part in the voting.

The Wiire: What is the purpose of those huge crystals seen in the screenshots?

Wills: Great question, very observant! Those crystals actually play a huge role in Godzilla Unleashed. Basically, they are Alien crystals that have suddenly appeared on Earth; their presence causes major, cataclysmic changes to the planet. Cities freeze over, volcanoes erupt and spew lava through city streets; it's a huge mess. The crystals are also an amazing source of energy. This, of course, is an important element of the single-player story as it gives players several different directions to pursue. Do you defend the Earth and destroy the crystals?

In addition to all that, if your monster comes into contact with these crystals, he or she will gain massive amounts of power and potentially go berserk, reaching what we call Critical Mass. In Critical Mass mode, your monster will temporarily get stronger and faster, but will be burnt out and vulnerable when the frenzy leaves you. Absorb too much crystal energy and you'll experience a Power Surge, one-time abilities that give you super powers like immunity to weapons and special finishing moves capable of taking out multiple foes at once! So as you can see, the crystals play a central part in the game.

The Wiire: Is there going to be a stronger presence of the military forces in the single-player game?

Wills: There is a strong military presence. The inhabitants of these cities don't want monsters destroying their buildings and wreaking havoc, thus they will attempt to stop you. They will be a nuisance and they can certainly alter the tide of battle.

The Wiire: Are the cities modeled after any real-life cities?

Wills: Most of them are. So far the cities that have been revealed are New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Sydney. Other stages will be modeled after fictional places that Godzilla fans will be familiar with.

Exclusive Screen #3

The Wiire: Can players eat runaway humans if they happen to be in range?

Wills: [Laughs] There certainly is no human-eating within Godzilla Unleashed. Humans can and will attempt to stop your monster via the military, but they are not edible.

The Wiire: Will we ever be able to play as the humans?

Wills: In Godzilla Unleashed, playing as humans is not the focus of the game; who knows what may come in later incarnations of the Godzilla franchise, though!

The Wiire: Looking at other fighting games on Wii like Mortal Kombat: Armageddon or Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, can you talk about what effect you think motion controls have had, or will have, on fighting games?

Wills: Typical fighting games like Mortal Kombat contain gameplay in which your controls do not mimic the actions on the screen, thus lacking an immersion factor. Godzilla Unleashed takes the motion controls and transplants the player into the game. The player is no longer simply watching seemingly-unrelated animations onscreen while he button-mashes.

There is a finesse to the motion control that helps the player to feel that much more like they are in the proverbial shoes of their choice giant monster. This type of immersion through motion control is practical and fun. We believe this is where games will continue to go in the future, and we see more fighting games taking this control scheme and adapting them for their use.

The Wiire would like to thank Shelby Wills for cooperating on this interview. Stay tuned for a full review of Godzilla Unleashed when the game releases this November.