Video Game Review: Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (NES)

*written in 2014.

Back in the day, just about every kid in America had a Nintendo Entertainment System. Truthfully, I feel for those who didn’t. Reason being, at that time in history, the NES was Americana! Sure, it is a video game console imported from Japan but it was just as much a part of American culture as it was Japanese.

Like today, you can’t say Call of Duty isn’t American. Even though it is played on a Japanese console and part of a monstrous industry created in Japan. I guess Godzilla fits that mold to a degree, as well. A Japanese creation hat has transcended an industry and also become a part of American culture.

Well, putting video games and Godzilla together in 1989 gave us Godzilla: Monster of Monsters. It was released on the Nintendo in a time when I was at the height of both my video game playing and Godzilla worship. When the game dropped, I was at the store to buy a copy as soon as I had earned enough money to afford it.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters certainly isn’t a game without flaws and in many ways, it is very repetitive. However, some of my fondest video game playing memories, from that era, where when I was fully engaged in this game. It was fun and in a time before fighting games were a normal thing, Godzilla introduced me to the style with its awesome one-on-one monster battles.

The monster battles were actually the big highlight of the game. There were literally dozens and dozens of levels, many of them just rehashes of themselves, which added to the repetitiveness of the game. The problem was that all one wanted to do was fight giant monsters and the levels became too abundant and too much of a roadblock to get to each epic kaiju battle. Honestly, that is my biggest complaint about the game.

The only other real complaint is that the mechanics of the monster battles are very primitive and tedious at times. In retrospect, it didn’t bother me back in 1989, as there wasn’t a lot to compare it to. It doesn’t play great today but at the time, it was awesome. The other issue with it, in regards to the battle mechanics, is that the fights tended to be super long, especially the further you went into the game, as the monsters become increasingly more powerful.

Today, despite the issues, I still find the game enjoyable and fire it up from time-to-time. And I should also make note of the graphics, which were pretty impressive for 1989 on an 8-bit console.

Rating: 7/10

Film Review: Matango (1963)

Also known as: Attack of the Mushroom People
Release Date: August 11th, 1963 (Japan)
Directed by: Ishirō Honda
Written by: Takeshi Kimura
Music by: Sadao Bekku
Cast: Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Hiroshi Koizumi

Toho, 89 Minutes

matangoReview:

While researching kaiju films fairly extensively over the last few months, in an effort to find stuff I haven’t seen, I came across a non-kaiju Japanese monster movie. I had heard about Matango when I was a kid but just thought it was some mythical thing I would never be able to see. As I grew older, I forgot about it. Then while reading up on Ishirō Honda’s work, I was reminded of this film’s existence. I couldn’t find an affordable copy of it or a stream on any of my many paid services but I did find the film, a dubbed and subbed copy, on DailyMotion. For the record, I’d love to own this, if anyone wants to release it on BluRay in the United States.

Like Honda’s more famous Godzilla films, this movie is a Japanese monster bonanza. Although, I was kind of expecting a giant kaiju mushroom man to appear at some point. Regardless of that, the monsters were just friggin’ cool.

Some consider this to be Toho’s greatest horror film. It is hard to dispute that but I plan to watch as many as I can get my hands on.

The mushroom creatures are more like zombies in their early form. They walk slowly, they try to catch you – hunting you into a corner, as they try to rip through doors in an effort to make you one of them. Also, at one point, one of the humans rips a mushroom creature’s arm off, similar to an old school zombie movie. But being that this was released in 1963, it predates what would become the contemporary version of movie zombies – mostly established in 1968s Night of the Living Dead.

Matango also seems to borrow heavily from Gilligan’s Island. You have a ship that goes off course, leaving its passengers marooned on an island. There is a skipper, a first mate, a starlet and another girl who is smitten with the professor of the group. Oddly, this came out a year before Gilligan’s Island.

So this movie is like Gilligan versus the zombies yet it predates Gilligan and modern movie zombies. It must have been written by the Japanese equivalent to Nostradamus. In reality, the script was adapted from a short story in a Japanese sci-fi magazine, which itself was adapted from a short story in an English language sci-fi magazine.

Matango moves a bit slow but even so, it is pretty engaging throughout the entire picture. Once the proverbial shit hits the fan, it gets really trippy and insane. The payoff is well worth the wait and viewers will find themselves in an insane tropical Lewis Carroll-like nightmare.

The special effects are effective and the film is still quite unsettling. It is darker than what Toho usually puts out and it even has a twist ending, which differs between the Japanese and English language versions of the movie.

Matango is eerie and beautiful. It is also imaginative as hell. I really liked this film and I hope I continue to find more gems like this, as I delve deeper and deeper into Toho’s lesser known filmography.

Rating: 9/10