Developer: Pipeworks Publisher: Rogue Play Platforms: iOS, Android
Let’s get something straight: the King of Monsters does not match-3. The embodiment of mankind’s scientific arrogance will, however, allow you to perform matches on his behalf in Godzilla – Smash3, most likely because the end result of said matches is the kind of destruction he’s been accustomed to since the Toho days. This unlikely pairing of giant monster and familiar genre turns out to be a good fit, but only because the developers kept the awesome power of Godzilla front and center.
As the pun of a title implies, this is, in fact, a match-3 game at heart. The core gameplay mechanic requires you to connect strings of like symbols by tracing lines of them (adjacent or diagonally) on a 6-by-7 grid. Blue, yellow and orange symbols represent Godzilla’s light, medium and heavy attacks, respectively. Red symbols allow Big G to heal, while silver ones charge a meter that allows him to release a blast of his fiery radioactive breath that incinerates whatever it hits.
The first set of levels sees Godzilla rising from the ocean and making a beeline for his favorite historical stomping ground, Tokyo. The pesky humans have a problem with this for some reason and try stopping him with planes, rocket launchers, boats and assorted military hardware. Buildings get in his way too, but all they can really do is stand there and wait for him to smash them into rubble. It’s more of a passive resistance.
As Godzilla, you always go first (because who’s going to argue with you?), while enemies have timers that count down until they attack. On most stages, you’ll be faced with several waves of foes to defeat without letting the big monster get down to zero health. As you advance, the game throws more curves at you. Some levels have time limits, forcing you to make matches as quickly as possible. Others are the exact opposite, limiting your total number of matches and requiring careful thought before you make every move. And just like many other match-3 games, new and different kinds of symbols are introduced that can either help or hinder.
Along with meeting the goal of each level, it’s also a good idea to score as many points as possible, generally by stringing together long matches and combos. High scores can earn up to three stars per level, allowing you to unlock new areas after each boss fight (which I won’t talk about in case you haven’t seen the new movie yet). Stars also help Godzilla progress, as you’ll have the option to power up his offense, defense or breath weapon capabilities every so often.
And if you fail a level? Well, not only will Godzilla be disappointed in you, but you’ll have to use a life to continue or retry that stage. There’s also an option to continue by paying 99 cents — what I affectionately refer to as the Candy Crush stratagem — but otherwise the game is free-to-play and monetizes itself mostly by offering in-app purchases of power-ups. You can receive free boosts every so often by connecting your Facebook account if you’re so inclined.
Even though the action is necessarily limited to only a portion of your touchscreen most of the time by the playing field, the graphics and sound are on point and worthy of the game’s reptilian star. Godzilla bits, slashes and tail swipes with the proper fury, and if you have any love at all for giant monster movies, you’ll no doubt enjoy the times in-between encounters when he simply stomps his way to his next target. The famous roar doesn’t turn up all that often but doesn’t disappoint when it does.
While acknowledging that some gamers are going to want a more action-packed alternative than this, Godzilla – Smash 3 is still a mighty fine way to get your Godzilla fix even if it resides firmly in a genre that’s seemingly been done to death. I have a feeling even Godzilla himself would approve, assuming someone builds him a 200-foot tall touchscreen to play on.
+ An unusual idea for a Godzilla game, but it works
+ Gameplay twists come at regular intervals to keep things interesting
+ Excellent graphics and plenty of stuff getting smashed
- Paying to continue is never fun
= Can anyone fit another match-3 game into their rotation?