Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Have a merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone. I'm off to eat turkey, open presents and dream of sugar plum fairies enlarged to monstrous proportions as they destroy city blocks with their atomic laser vision. See you all in 2008!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Game Review: Rampage Total Destruction

Back in the depths of 1986, arcade goers were introduced to a video game called Rampage, wherein players controlled one of three giant monsters: an enormous ape, a dinosaur/dragon creature and a huge werewolf. The goal of the game was to demolish as many buildings as possible while enduring the near constant onslaught of attacks from various armed forces units (soldiers, helicopters, tanks, etc). The characters’ constantly dwindling health could be recovered by eating various items- including civilians- although more often than not, it usually came down to simply plunking more quarters into the machine, as was the case with most arcade games.

After years of various ported versions and a handful of sequels, the latest version of the game, Rampage: Total Destruction was released in 2006 for the Game Cube/PS2, followed by a Wii version this past February. I recently found a PS2 copy of the game for a paltry twelve dollars, and was curious as to what this current incarnation would bring to the table. So here’s what the newest Rampage has to offer:

1. Spiffy graphics

2. A wider choice of different-looking monsters

Aaaaand that’s pretty much it.

I wanted to like this game, but it’s hard to endorse something that becomes tiring after fifteen minutes of playing it. The biggest problem here is that nothing has really changed since 1986, gameplay-wise. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if stuff like War of the Monsters and the Atari Godzilla fighting titles had never existed, as it’s hard not to draw comparisons after experiencing city smashing in a free-roaming, 3D environment verses a mock 2D setup. Granted, Total Destruction is a budget title, but in the end it’s of little consolation once the monotony kicks in.

On the plus side, Rampage: Total Destruction at the very least looks nice. The environments and characters are colorful with a slightly cartoonish aesthetic. There are thirty different monsters (with an additional ten for the Wii version) to unlock during the course of the game, although there are really only minor differences between each of them in terms of power and abilities. In fact, it’s better to stick with the slower, damage-resilient creatures verses the nimble but more delicate ones, simply because the later levels of the game become so saturated with enemy attacks that it becomes nearly impossible to avoid being hit, no matter how fast you are. As a bonus, the disc also features a ported version of the original Rampage as well as one of the sequels, World Tour. While they provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane, they further drive home the aforementioned fact that the core game experience hasn’t really evolved much in over twenty years.

I wish that I could recommend this title, but I really can’t in good conscience; if you’re still really curious, at least try to track down a copy under fifteen bucks. Two out of five.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cloverfield Monster Revealed! Sorta.

There it is, as revealed in the spiffy new official trailer (which can be viewed here). So what is the creature in the film, exactly? A spiky, scaly blob thing, by the looks of it. Admittedly, it’s really hard to tell, as the monster is already halfway through the process of ducking behind a building for the split instant it’s shown in the clip. There are claims floating around on the net that legs and a tail can be made out in the shape, but all I’m seeing is... a spiky, scaly blob thing. But I’m sure we’ll get some decent shots of the monster in the final film verses an hour and half of fleeting glimpses of the thing (like the first half of the American Godzilla movie), right? Right?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Godzilla Unleashed: Final Four

Oops- my bad. Looks like there were still four final monster reveals to go for Godzilla: Unleashed. So, without further ado, here they are:

Mechagodzilla (90’s)

‘Nother MechaGodzilla...

Godzilla (90’s)

‘Nother Godzilla...

Godzilla (’54)

‘Nother Godzilla...

Space Godzilla

Actually, I like Space Godzilla a lot, as his abilities and attacks are weird and varied enough to make him more than just another Godzilla clone. Mind you, he’s the second monster in the game based around a crystal theme (the other being Obsidius)- do we really need two?

So we now have the final lineup. There are a few characters missing in the IGN galleries that are slated to appear in the final game, including Varan (who has a profile on the game’s official website), Moguera (who also has an official profile) and Showa-era Mechagodzilla (I think you can see him briefly in one of the game site’s trailers).

While I’m not terribly thrilled about the fact that there are quite a few repeating characters (three Godzillas, three Mechagodzillas and two King Ghidorahs) and two non-Toho, original creations (Krystalak and Obsidius), I’ll take what I can get when it comes to a new Godzilla-themed fighting game. It’s better than nothing. All the same though, here’s a quick list of the monsters I would have liked to have seen in this release in place of the variants and the two exclusive characters:


I’m actually kinda surprised that Hedorah didn’t make it into this new game as all of his strange abilities would make for a great fighting game character.


I had mentioned in a previous blog entry on the subject that Kumonga would be a welcome addition to the list of characters, and they could even give him the leaping ability from his Final Wars incarnation.

The Gargantuas

Admittedly, one of the fun aspects of a fighting game featuring Toho’s cast of daikaiju is to enact brawls that never actually happened in the films. Although the Gargantuas would be entirely melee-based in terms of their attacks, the game could compensate by giving them their signature regenerative abilities and allow them to slowly regain their health when not being hit.


Yeah, it’s an odd choice, but I’ve always liked this beastie from Space Ameoba- goofy design and all- and it never hurts to have a few non-humanoid entries in the games’ roster to mix things up visually. Although he never displayed the ability in his film appearance, it wouldn’t be terribly out of character to give him some sort of pressurized water spray-like ranged attack for the sake of the game.


The War of the Monsters fighting game for the PS2 featured a giant mantis as a playable character- why not a Godzilla game? Kamacuras could be totally based around speed and his flying ability, making him more of a “hit and run” fighter. Although he was briefly shown having a camouflage/invisibility power in Final Wars, that ability would be somewhat hard to pull off in the context of a two-player game.


If you really want a new and exclusive monster in the game, why not make it one that was actually meant to legitimately appear in a movie? Bagan is sort of an infamous monster in Toho fan circles, as he has appeared in various projects, including early drafts of The Return of Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985), as the headlining villain in the unmade Mothra vs Bagan film and again in another Godzilla installment which would eventually become Godzilla vs Destoroyah. He did finally show up in the Super Nintendo game, Super Godzilla as a final boss, but it would be cool to see him in a fully rendered, 3D incarnation. The best thing about Bagan though, is that he actually looks like a proper Japanese-style kaiju... unlike certain, other exclusive creations that I could name.


Although having this monster appear in this game might be considered a blasphemous maneuver by some fans, I can think of no better way of making up for the American re-imagining than by turning the character into a virtual punching bag to vent frustrations upon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters

I got my grubby little hands on a copy of this great new book which comprehensively covers the life and career of Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects guru behind Toho’s fantasy/science fiction films as well as the creator of the Japanese superhero, Ultraman. Those familiar with Tsuburaya’s work probably won’t find too much info here that they don’t already know, but the slick presentation along with the wealth of rare, behind-the-scenes photos is worth the price of admission alone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jack Kirby Giant Monster Generator

Anyone who is a fan of comic artist Jack Kirby is probably familiar with his monster-themed stories that appeared in 50’s and 60’s science fiction/fantasy comics. Jack’s monstrous creations had a flavor that was uniquely their own; weird, vowel-heavy names, meaty designs and a propensity for wearing wrestling trunks (when it was applicable). For those of you not terribly familiar with said books, you can find a very extensive collection of information and scans at this website: Monster Blog.

I decided to dip back into my MEMEgen account and whipped up a Kirby-style monster generator for the hell of it. You know the drill: input your name into the first field and the generator will cook up your very own Kirby monster identity. So sayeth... Gorga, the robot from Mars! Go here:

Jack Kirby Giant Monster Generator

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Three More Monsters (Minus One)

In a recent update, has revealed what may be the final two monsters for Godzilla: Unleashed line-up:


At last, the genetic combination of Godzilla, human and plant DNA finally shows up as a playable character. The game designers have seemed to given her quite a number of varied abilities, including long-distance-reaching tentacle attacks, a ranged acid spray and what seems to be the ability to burrow underground (like Megalon and Baragon). In fact, she almost seems a little... too powerful and versatile. I guess we won’t know for sure until the final game is actually played.


It’s not unexpected to see Orga returning for this new release, as he has become sort of a staple for the Atari Godzilla games. Not that it’s a bad thing by any stretch; he’s a hard-hitting badass that can do some real damage to his opponent if he gets in close enough. When playing as some of the more delicate monsters in the game, it’s often best to keep your distance and throw stuff at him like a big coward.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The Cloverfield News blog first drew my attention to this upcoming straight-to-DVD attempt to cash in on J.J. Abrams’ monster movie. The plot synopsis on the AFM Films’ website describes the film thusly:

After a massive earthquake in Tokyo, two American filmmakers document the true cause of the destruction.

In case you can’t make out the tagline at the top of the poster, it reads: “On 1-18-08 the truth will be told.” Truer words were never written. Perhaps AFM might consider making a sequel and have their monster fight the Transmorphers.

Powerpuff Girls: All Monsters Attack

Here’s another little online computer game to eat up some spare time- this one is based on the Powerpuff Girls cartoon and involves fighting three different monsters in the “Little Tokyo” district of Townsville using a giant robot named Dynamo. The game play is pretty solid (although the last opponent is a bit of a grind) as is the animation.

You can play it here (requires a Shockwave plug in to play)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Rip-Offs in Disguise!

I came across this little gem the other day in my neighborhood Blockbuster store and just had to share. It’s another entry in the “ye olde straight-to-DVD release that attempts to capitalize off of another more popular movie by putting out a box cover that mimics said property as close as one can without actual legal repercussions in order to confuse stupid/near-sighted people”-school of filmmaking. Awesome.

You can also watch the official trailer on YouTube for further pain. I won’t bother posting the link as I’ve already committed too much attention to this thing than it properly deserves.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

D-War 2: Electric Boogaloo

Okay, that’s not the actual title (if only!)- but according to an online Korean news source, it seems that the director Shim Hyung-rae has been approached to do a sequel to D-War. It’s no real surprise, given that the film has apparently managed a decent box office return in Korea as well as achieving a limited theatrical American release (an elusive thing for foreign films nowadays) despite its lukewarm critical reception at home and abroad. Said sequel is aiming for a summer 2009 release.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Art Spotlight: “Godzilla” by Bob MacNeil

Artist Bob MacNeil was kind enough to allow me to share this nifty illustration that he did for a commemorative book celebrating Godzilla’s 50-year anniversary. Mr.MacNeil is a very busy fellow who divides his time between graphic design, illustration and animation work- quite frankly, I’m amazed that the guy has time to sleep, let alone create neat artwork of a famous Japanese giant monster.

You can find his blog here:

And his website full of cool artwork here:

Three More Monsters: Part 4

Another crop of playable monsters for Godzilla: Unleashed has been unveiled at

Mecha-King Ghidorah

As I have previously mentioned in one of my earlier posts on the subject, I’m not a terribly huge fan of variations on a given character taking up entire playable slots in fighting games- it just seems like a bit of a cheat as it arguably amounts to playing the same character twice with only slight differences in strengths, abilities and appearance. Mecha-King Ghidorah is certainly no exception to this opinion. Ah, well.


So anyhow, moving right along...


Admittedly, Megaguirus was one of the last characters I played in Godzilla: Save the Earth but I was surprised to find out what an effective and versatile fighter she can be with her speed and energy-draining abilities. I’m happy Pipeworks included her in this new sequel.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Random Webfind of the Day: Gorgzillicus

I really love this super cool painting by fantasy illustrator Bob Eggleton. His website is located here and a bunch of Godzilla-themed paintings can be found in the “Monster Vision” category of the Gallery section (He also provided the cover artwork for the first Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales anthology novel). Mr.Eggleton has an art-related blog, in which can be found some additional Godzilla-related works.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Three More Monsters (Plus One) has rolled out more Godzilla: Unleashed character reveals- this newest batch however, featured a rather unexpected (and thankfully pleasant) surprise.


I’m glad that see that Baragon in all his GMK-version glory is making a return in this new title as a playable monster. He was one of my favorites from Godzilla: Save the Earth.


Well, it really wouldn’t be a proper Toho daikaiju game without Rodan. He is kind of a fun character to play as his flying ability gives him an almost unfair advantage on terrain-heavy maps, although it conversely does turn him into a bit of an open target for most ranged attacks.

Jet Jaguar

Ah, the composite hybrid of Ultraman and Jack Nicholson. I was never terribly adept at using Jet Jaguar in G:STE, although strangely enough, I did find him to be a bit of a headache as a computer-controlled opponent.


And here I thought that this character would never make an appearance due to the same messy licensing problems that kept him out of the previous game incarnations- I’m glad I was wrong! I’d imagine that Titanosaurus be able to use his signature whirlwind-inducing tail whip maneuver that he displayed in Terror of Mechagodzilla; although within the context of the game, it will probably be relegated as a special ranged attack.

Friday, August 31, 2007

"1-18-08" News? This looks like a job for... someone else.

With all the rumors and supposed spoilers that have been spilling out onto the net on a near-daily basis regarding J.J. Abrams’ upcoming giant monster movie, I could easily devote the majority of the entries on this blog to covering tidbits and theories on that subject alone.

Instead, I think I’ll defer that duty to a handful of devoted bloggers who are committed to reporting the newest information about the film as it shows up. Listed below are a few “1-18-08/Cloverfield” sites that appear to be really on top of things:

Cloverfield News blog

1-18-08 Project Cloverfield blog

Cloverfield Clues blog

As for me, I think that I’ll just bide my time until the really substantial (and confirmed) news items roll around.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monsters vs. Aliens

Another tidbit of upcoming film news- Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens is an animated entry into the crop of 2009 summer movies and will be presented in stereoscopic 3-D (both Disney and Dreamworks are apparently working towards releasing all of their future CG-animated projects in that format). Little is known about the plot other than it obviously involves monsters and aliens, but it has been described by Dreamworks as a “reinvention of the classic 1950s monster movie into an irreverent modern-day action comedy”. Hopefully that doesn’t mean an endless stream of smug, pop culture reference jokes in the vein of Shrek...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sleeping Giant

While snooping around in the depths of the internet as I am prone to do, I stumbled across some info about an upcoming comic book called “Sleeping Giant” from creators Jeremy Mauney (writer), Joey Mason (artist) and Zad Arshad (colorist). The synopsis from the comic’s MySpace page:

Maverick, a young American college drop-out suddenly wakes up in Japan, not knowing how he got there. To give him aid and clues of his arrival are a young Japanese boy, an African forest dweller, and a small forest creature... Spooky things are going on around Mt. Fuji, and Maverick has been enlisted to investigate and help stop the horrors ahead.

Giant monsters, forest creatures, and strange twists galore, this story is like Princess Mononoke, Godzilla and Donnie Darko all mixed into one with a comedic twist!

Sounds good to me! Some links of note:

The official “Sleeping Giant” MySpace page (warning- keep your speakers at a modest level due to the background music)

Joey Mason’s deviantArt page (with some comic samples in the gallery section)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monstrous Music

What does Godzilla and rock music have in common? Well... nothing, admittedly. But musician Adam Alexander is doing his part to bridge that gap with his CD album called The Monster Project; an offering of various Godzilla scores (as well as some other non-Godzilla music, but still monster-related) reinterpreted with an art rock twist. You can get the details here along with some audio samples from the album.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Book Review: Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales

Kudos to editors Robert Hood and Robin Pen for assembling this great anthology novel- as almost every other subject matter imaginable has been done by fantasy anthologies, I’m surprised that a compilation of short fiction tackling this theme took as long as it did to make an appearance.

The majority of the stories (plus a handful of smaller pieces) in the collection are solid, fun reads with only a couple of entries that I didn’t really care for. I found that the works which I tended to warm up to the most were ones wherein the writer displayed an obvious level of familiarity and fondness for the theme; although there were a couple of contributors who were clearly not as familiar with the particulars of the genre that ended up with some interesting takes on the subject nonetheless (The Transformer of Worlds by Mark Rainey comes to mind). The final piece in the book is an essay regarding giant monsters in film called Wonders 8 Through 88.

A quick list of the stories I particularly enjoyed:

Running- A man participates in an amateur sport which amounts to a monstrous take on the “running of the bulls”.

The Transformer of Worlds- Two rivals adept in traversing and manipulating the alternate existences known as “dream worlds” conduct a battle in our reality with destructive results.

Seven Dates That Were Ruined By Giant Monsters- details of how living in the shadow of daikaiju can also affect one’s love life.

Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Home for Retired Actors- Those monsters you see in old films? They’re not special effects. They’re real. They’re thespians. And they also eventually get old and retire to specialized nursing homes...

Watching the Titans- a researcher in the vein of Jane Goodall accounts her experiences while observing daikaiju in their natural habitat.

Calibos- an elite military team is dispatched to stop a malfunctioning deep-water probe (a gigantic, mechanical crab) that is destructively carrying out its data-collecting mission on land.

Park Rot- When an enormous robotic mascot goes amok in the Thrill Acres amusement park, Kazuo Tabuchi and his domesticated giant monster, Itara are brought in to solve the problem.

Kungmin Horangi: The People’s Tiger- In a world where nations use daikaiju as weapons of war, North Korea unleashes a most devious creation.

Man in Suit- The brilliant scientist Dr.Nomura is coerced into using an untested invention to rid Japan of the monster Ragnaroka.

If you’re a fan, I definitely recommend hunting down a copy of this book. According to the publisher’s website, a second volume has just been released (and will be available on shortly) as well as plans for a third installment. Cool beans!

4 out of 5.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"Cloverfield" a.k.a. "Monstrous" a.k.a. "1-18-08" Teaser Poster

A teaser poster has been released for J.J. Abrams' upcoming monster film (which I will be referring to as "1-18-08" from now on until the proper title is announced). Lookin' good!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Three More Monsters: Part 2 continues to reveal more playable characters for Godzilla: Unleashed. Two are expected appearances; the third is... er... well, just read on.


Another staple of the Toho universe. I’d imagine that the character will maintain the setup wherein you initially fight in larval form and eventually "power up" to her winged incarnation when her health gets low enough.


I admittedly never played as this character much in Godzilla: Save The Earth, but I’m glad to see that he’s back in this new game- his weird, demonic design makes for a nice bit of visual variety in the lineup of Toho monsters. I figure that his “Oxygen Destroyer” powers will be pretty much the same.


Uh... what the heck? There’s ANOTHER “homemade” monster in this game now? What’s going on here? According to the write-up at

Krystalak is a semi-sentient crystal organism, spawned by the same meteor shower that threatens to rip the earth apart. Born from the crystals, Krystalak seeks to bring all of their energies together to make himself into the ultimate monster. Like the crystals that spawned him, Krystalak is quite resistant to most forms of energy weapons, forcing opponents to fight him tooth & claw. Krystalak can expel crystal shards in a solid stream, bludgeoning foes from a distance. Krystalak can also overload his crystal heart - sacrificing his own physical integrity to damage everything nearby. With no ties to any existing alien or terrestrial powers, Krystalak seeks power at any cost.

So is this guy a replacement for Space Godzilla? If so, why? If not, do we really need two crystal-based monsters? Worst of all, Krystalak’s design is just kinda, well... bland (there, I said it). He also suffers from the same problem that plagued the other four “original” creatures designed by Pipeworks- he just doesn’t look much like a Japanese daikaiju.

Pipeworks, why not just not just make your own giant monster fighting game featuring your own creations? It would seem to me that you’re chomping at the bit to do so.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

City Smasher

Got a couple of minutes to kill? City Smasher can help pass the time by putting you in control of a crudely drawn, Mohawk-sporting giant who has to destroy a set number of specific targets before the counter at the top of the screen runs out (or play in “Sandbox” mode and simply run around and wreck stuff to your heart’s content). It’s not exactly going to set the online gaming world on fire by any stretch, but it is fun in a "temporary distraction"-sorta way.

Play it here: City Smasher

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Review: Devil Dinosaur Omnibus

Marvel has just released its hardcover collection of Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur comics which compiles all nine (yup, that’s all of ‘em) issues of the short lived series that Kirby had created during his final stint at Marvel Comics.

One of my criteria as a wee lad with regards to purchasing a comic was firmly entrenched in whether a book featured either monsters or dinosaurs, so I did run across Devil Dinosaur a couple of times in my earliest comic-reading days. My initial exposure was actually from the character’s guest appearance in two issues of the Marvel Godzilla series. Shortly thereafter I managed to find a copy of the eighth issue of Devil Dinosaur at a garage sale (keep in mind that this was back before specialty comic shops were commonplace, so for a kid living out in the suburbs, selection was limited to whatever showed up at flea markets and variety stores). As such, my reason for picking up this new collection was out of pure nostalgic curiosity, but I was happy to find that it still holds up as an entertaining read.

In a nutshell, the book’s strength comes from its own enthusiastic insanity. The central character, Devil, is an infant Tyrannosaurus who survives being burned to death (a side effect of the ordeal is that his skin is now red instead of green) by a group of malevolent, furry Neanderthals. The injured dinosaur is found by the similarly hirsute, but friendly “Moon Boy” who helps to nurse the creature back to health. Within a short time, Devil reaches his full, mature size and returns his benefactor’s kindness by acting as a companion and guardian. Good thing too, as the pair quickly run into all manner of adversity: evil cavemen, giants, alien invaders, enormous ants and time warps. Even beyond said high-concept story elements, Kirby clearly approached the material not terribly concerned about historical or biological realism, as all the dinosaurs (even the herbivorous ones) are drawn as razor-toothed monsters that engage in over-the-top, hyper-kinetic brawls worthy of a superhero book. However, this further supports the overall surreal experience of Devil Dinosaur, which is ultimately what makes the comic fun.

Now it's not as if this book isn’t without its flaws. The writing feels like something out of the 1960’s (despite being made in the 70’s), rife with plentiful amounts of unnecessary exposition and clunky dialogue. It’s also not hard to see why the series lasted only a mere nine issues, as the episodic set-up and gimmicky stories were wearing thin by the end of the run. However, by collecting the comic’s entirety into a singular volume, the format has inadvertently created an enjoyable, self-contained novella that begins and ends satisfactorily without overstaying its welcome.

An entertaining 4 out of 5.