So, you’ve seen Godzilla Minus One and are now in love with everything kaiju-related. They’re big, stompy, and there’s a never-ending supply of strange-looking, bizarrely powered giant beasts. Sometimes, they even fight each other! Incredible!
The surprising popularity of Godzilla Minus One has re-ignited a love of giant monsters in the West, even earning Toho an Oscar nomination.
There have been countless reimaginings of kaiju films in recent years, including Shin Godzilla, Shin Ultraman, and Shin Kamen Rider. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is on the horizon. Kaiju movies are booming, but what about those who want to immerse themselves in some kaiju gaming action? For those who want to game, here are some earth-shaking, building-stomping, monster games for that kaiju craving.
King of the Monsters
This is the original kaiju fighting game from 1991, King of the Monsters from SNK. Originally for arcades, the games were ported to the Neo Geo in the same year. You can choose between six playable monsters to battle and even play with two players. The game features 12 levels with fights like wrestling matches, where the winner pins their opponent for a three-count. The action takes place in the distant future of 1996 in Japan, and the brawling beasts take inspiration from pre-existing creatures from other franchises. There’s a big Godzilla-esque lizard, a massive gorilla called Woo, and Astro-Guy, essentially Ultraman. This is a solid and super fun kaiju fighter that spawned a sequel for the SNES. Some characters from the franchise have also appeared in other SNK games.
Into the Breach
In this turn-based strategy game from Subset Games, you control massive mechs trying to protect the Earth from gigantic creatures breeding beneath the surface. Visually similar to the Xcom series, it’s up to you to analyze the enemy’s attacks, create a strong defense, and neutralize the threat. The levels are randomly generated, meaning there’s a lot of replayability. As you progress, you can find weapons and upgrades to create your ultimate mech. There is also an element of time travel. If you fail, you can send help back through time to save/create different timelines. This one is for the strategy-minded monster killers who dream of living in the world of Pacific Rim.
Part arcade city destroyer and part Tamagotchi-style pet rearer, Gigapocalypse comes from Goody Gameworks. The monsters in this game are referred to as Gigas, and there are nine of them to potentially raise and use as instruments of destruction. Face down all sorts of enemies, including wizards and mechs, to flatten buildings in six different stages before facing down the stage boss. As well as side-scrolling destruction, you can raise your Giga through Tamagotchi-like minigames; you can even upgrade your Giga and its living space. The inclusion of monster rearing in this game sets it apart from others. All I want in life is to raise giant monsters and be their friends.
Another 2D turn-based strategy game, this time from Foolish Mortals Games, Kaiju Wars is a less serious approach to the tried and tested formula. The premise is that you play as the mayor of the soon-to-be-doomed city Floatio, and it is up to you to coordinate the futile efforts to stop a kaiju attack. There are five different kaiju that can potentially attack you, and not only do they each have a unique set of abilities and can also mutate. They also can’t be killed. The whole idea of the game is to slow them down and get them to fall back. Use intelligence gathered by scientists, experimental weapons that are definitely safe, and strategic building placement to block the kaiju and slow it. Stylistically, this is more visually my kind of thing than Into the Breach, and it also features a story mode and some wicked humor.
Shadow of the Colossus
One of the most beloved PS2 games of all time, Shadow of the Colossus from Team Ico is a beautiful tale of a young man named Wander looking for a way to resurrect a young girl called Mono. To revive her, Wander has to face 16 colossi in the forbidden land. These gigantic creatures are spread across the land, their locations shown by hoisting your sword into the air and following the beams of light reflecting off it. Once you track down a Colossus, you must scale the beast by grabbing onto their fur. Then, you have to strike them at their weak points, which are glowing sigils. It’s a peaceful, meditative game when you traverse the countryside, with the tension ramping up once you encounter a Colossus.
Dawn of the Monsters
Wearing its manga inspiration in its art style, Dawn of the Monsters is a city-destroying brawler from 13AM Games. Containing four playable monsters, which seems to be the default for all kaiju brawlers, you can play solo or with a friend to complete over 30 missions. Collect DNA augments to improve your monsters and unleash massive rage-fueled attacks for maximum damage. Where people might gravitate towards this title over other brawlers is its highly stylized art.
This brawler from Passion Republic Games features original kaiju to battle and offers a DLC pack featuring four characters from the Godzilla universe and another pack featuring four characters from Ultraman. Playable solo or in multiplayer, players can interact with stages to throw objects at their opponents and also have the opportunity to grab a Giga-ball during the match, which gives them a special attack that deals huge damage, much like in Super Smash Bros. Alongside battles, you can complete four story campaigns, multiplayer minigames, and free-for-all battles. It’s a fun mix of elements from Toho, wrestling, and Smash.
Terror of Hemasaurus
Developed by Loren Lemcke, this retro smash ‘em up goes all in on carnage. The planet is facing a climate catastrophe, and science stands helplessly by. One group has the courage and foresight to stop the apocalypse. The Church of the Holy Lizard releases a massive monster to smash everything up. The world can’t end if it’s already flattened. You can play solo or with up to four friends in local co-op, and luckily, there are four monsters to play as, including one that is a massive sloth. It’s a hilarious, extremely funny game, and you get to chuck people into the whirling blades of a helicopter.
Finally, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for: a kawaii kaiju dating game. Developer Squiddershins saw a gap in the market and swooped in to fill it with adorable giant monster romance. You play as Gigachu, a giant pastel lizard, and you have six other kaiju suitors to woo. Made to look like a cartoon, Kaichu offers the chance to visit 24 landmarks across the globe and date any giant freak you want. While on dates, you must answer compatibility questions to determine if true love will stomp the heart of your chosen monster into submission.
Ultra Kaiju Monster Rancher
This mashup of two famous monster-iffic properties, Monster Rancher and Ultraman, this game from Koei Tecmo is my kind of game. By that, I mean I have played it for over 100 hours, made a list of my favorite kaiju, and sent a picture of it to my best friend every time I unlocked a new weirdo to raise. The game features Monster Rancher mechanics with Ultraman characters. You are a new rancher looking to rise through the ranks by raising kaiju on your ranch, entering competitions, and going on adventures. You can only raise one kaiju at a time, but you can switch them out whenever you want. To raise their stats, send them to do stat-specific jobs, but be careful not to let them get too tired. If a kaiju becomes too tired, it can go on a rampage, destroying your property or disappearing for months at a time. As you become a better rancher, you unlock different kaiju, and you can create further varieties by fusing them. The only bad thing about this game is that your kaiju eventually retires and leaves you.