Run Godzilla Review: Big on roars, short on interest

Run Godzilla

Was anyone really hanging out for a game which drops the world’s most famous Kaiju into a horse racing simulation? If so, have I got a game for you!

Game: Run Godzilla
Platform: iOS
Price: Free with IAP and advertisements
Rating: 2/5

Right now, the hype around Godzilla is at its peak. Here in Australia, Godzilla Vs Kong has just opened in cinemas – and to be clear, I’m yet to see if and if you spoil it, you and I are going to have words*

I’ve been a Godzilla fan for many years, as anyone who follows one of my instagram accounts, the not-terribly-subtly named mini_gzilla probably already knows.

As such, if there’s a new Godzilla game, I’m all over it.

Also, all too frequently, I’m rapidly over it, because while there have been a very few shining examples of how to get a Godzilla game right, there have been far more that get it horribly, horribly wrong.

The last Godzilla game I’m aware of for mobile platforms, Godzilla Defense Force was essentially “meh” at best. How will Run Godzilla fare?

The game is called Run Godzilla, but some of these kaiju are CLEARLY flying. That's cheating!
The game is called Run Godzilla, but some of these Kaiju are CLEARLY flying. That’s cheating!

Well, if you haven’t worked it out by the subtle hints above, not very well, I’m afraid. The core concept isn’t a terrible one, on the surface. It’s an idle game that takes as its central conceit that you’d want to raise Kaiju to run.

Looking for more plot than that? Sorry, that’s all you get – quite literally, this is the game’s iTunes description:

Nestled away on a planet where civilization has long since died out, there is a small village where you can raise Kaiju.

The Kaiju love to run.

That’s the whole plot.

But, I hear you ask, why do they love to run?

That's why. Don't ask difficult questions.
That’s why. Don’t ask difficult questions.

What this means in practical terms is that it’s mostly an idle resource management simulation, where your humble villagers pray to your chosen Kaiju – you can name them whatever you want, but clearly if you’re not trying to raise Godzillas, you’re doing it wrong – for as long as their time remains.

Get used to this interface in Godzilla Run. You're going to see it a lot.
Get used to this interface in Godzilla Run. You’re going to see it a lot.

Using Apples extends their time, using diamonds brings in new villagers, but you only get diamonds from factories that pollute the air… which lessens the number of apples you can get.

"Daddy, what are the villagers doing?" "They're... erm... making new villagers. You'll understand when you're older."
“Daddy, what are the villagers doing?”
“They’re… erm… making new villagers. You’ll understand when you’re older.”

It’s a fairly simple – no, strike that, it’s an astonishingly simple gameplay loop to deal with.

It’s also not terribly interesting, because the odds are that you clicked on this or downloaded the game because you want to see Godzilla run, at the very least. A little Kaiju violence wouldn’t go astray, either.

The Melbourne Cup would, it's true, be infinitely more interesting if Kaiju were running.
The Melbourne Cup would, it’s true, be infinitely more interesting if Kaiju were running.

The good news in terms of the gameplay loop is that Kaiju races – and specifically winning Kaiju races – is how you deal with the air pollution problem.

Plus you get a nifty classic Godzilla movie poster. Which is nice.
Plus you get a nifty classic Godzilla movie poster. Which is nice.

The bad news is that the races aren’t terribly exciting in themselves. Like a lot of horse racing sims, you don’t actually control your Kaiju in races.

Instead, all you can do is breed (or in this case, pray) for stats in specific ways to make victory more likely, while also cheering them along to renew their stamina as you go.

For some races, you’ll romp it home… erm… stomp it home, I guess… while others will be a foregone conclusion long before they’re actually over.

"KING GHIDORAH WINS IT BY A HEAD... NO... WAIT... THREE HEADS!"
“KING GHIDORAH WINS IT BY A HEAD… NO… WAIT… THREE HEADS!”

Before you ask, no, you can’t skip to the end of a race you’re going to lose unless I’m missing something obvious.

Run Godzilla was at least developed in Japan, and it does rather show, because sadly the translation isn’t that great.

It’s not too tricky to work out what individual buttons and systems do even if you don’t read Japanese, although it’s a little clearer if you do.

Instructions, rather like the settings are rather sparse until you dip into the game’s help file, even though you have to sit through a full tutorial before you can start your kaiju breeding.

How bad are the IAP elements?

Honestly, I’ve seen worse. Way, way worse, from titles like EA’s awful Dungeon Keeper from a few years back as an obvious example.

You can score just about any in-game currency element for real money, but there’s no bulk buying options present, so just about everything is priced at either AUD$1.49 or AUD$2.99. There’s also a range of boosts that you can get by watching advertisements, nearly always for dodgy online casino games for whatever reason. It’s all rather bland, and all very par for the course.

One IAP element I didn’t expect or appreciate was for the game to ask if it could track my web browsing.

Other acceptable options when Godzilla Run asks you this include:  A) No B) Hell No C) Crush Tokyo Beneath Your Mighty Kaiju Feet (*Kaiju only answer)
Other acceptable options when Godzilla Run asks you this include:
A) No
B) Hell No
C) Crush Tokyo Beneath Your Mighty Kaiju Feet (*Kaiju only answer)

That may well now be an Apple requirement, but who in their right mind is ever going to agree to that?

Godzilla Run: The Verdict

Look, it is free, and it does feature that iconic main Godzilla theme, which I utterly adore.

That’s about it, though.

While I don’t want to be too harsh on what is by its own definition an idle game, and therefore not that deep, this just isn’t all that compelling an example of the form. Even as a heavy duty Godzilla fan, I’m not really likely to return to Run Godzilla all that much at all.

*Words like “Argh”, “Oof” and “Stop stomping on my head, please”.

Godzilla is copyright Toho, etc, and they seem to like getting litigious. But this is a review, all screenshots taken by me, etc, etc etc.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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