In honor of the release of his newest movie, I started work on a list of the Best Godzilla Games for your amusement. Then I remembered that Godzilla games are terrible. Really terrible. The best of the bunch is probably the decade-old Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee--a sluggish, plodding fighter thats about as much fun as standing in the path of the Big Guys atomic breath.
But it got me to thinking: what about other Big Bads in games? Godzilla isnt the only monster in town--gaming history is rich with behemoths, titans, leviathan, and even a few colossi. And unlike Godzilla, those monsters have games that are actually fun to play.
Brumak (Gears of War)
Im pretty sure that the entire design process for Gears of War came down to six words: You know whatd be freaking sweet? Assault rifles with underslung chainsaws are pretty freaking sweet. Bola-grenades are pretty freaking sweet. What about a 15-meter tall cybernetic rancor with gatling guns on its arms? Yeah. Thats pretty freaking sweet.
The Brumak is the smallest monster on this list, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in ferocity. In addition to their natural strength, and armored hide, the Locust equipped their Brumaks with wrist-mounted chain guns and back-mounted rocket launchers. None too bright, Brumaks are apparently used by the Locust as futuristic beasts of war, with a driver directing the monster to attack its targets. Originally cut from the Xbox 360 version of Gears, the first Brumak battle was restored to the PC version, then reappeared throughout the rest of the series--culminating in Marcus and Dom riding one near the end of Gears 2. Pretty freaking sweet, eh?
Third Colossus (Shadow of the Colossus)
You had to have known this game was going to be here, as Shadow of the Colossus is probably game best known for fighting giants. The third Colossus--which fans have named Gaius--doesnt disappoint, towering over the player at nearly 50 meters tall. Though only the third largest Colossi, Gaius towers over the player, making it seem larger than it really is.
The fight with Gaius is almost certainly one of the best moments in the superlative game. Unlike most of the other Colossi, Gaius is shaped and proportioned as a human, rather than an animal, and attacks the player with the sword attached to its right arm. The force of the weapon hitting the earth is enough to send up fountains of dirt and dust. As though the gladiatorial overtones werent enough, the whole battle takes place in an enclosed arena overlooking a foggy lake. Of course, defeating Gaius means you still have 13 Colossi to go...
Leviathan (Resistance 2)
The Resistance franchise was, for all intents and purposes, Sonys response to Gears of War. Both franchises are centered around different takes on an alien invasion, and while Gears focuses on graphical oomph and popularized the now-omnipresent cover mechanic, Resistance offered a more cerebral, heartfelt story and interestingly unique weapons. Of course, Insomniac needed to come up with some answer for Gears Brumak for Resistance 2 and they gave us the Leviathan.
The Leviathan is essentially an enormous Brumak. Like the Brumak, Leviathan is an enormous bipedal humanoid with greyish-brown skin, a collection of bright yellow eyes, and a mouthful of jagged fangs. The biggest difference is the sheer size of the Leviathan--standing at least 100 meters tall, this thing makes a Brumak look like a baby.
Ares (God of War)
Ares is everything you could ever want in a God of War. Hes several hundred feet tall, is a master of all battle, and his hair is made of fire. How cool is that? Ares is, of course, the titular antagonist of Santa Monica Studios God of War, and hes just as deliciously vicious as you could ever wish. After promising to save Kratos and his Spartan army, Ares fuels Kratos bloodlust to the point where the Ghost of Sparta murders his own family. Unfortunately, Ares forgot he was dealing with the angriest man in the history, and the plan backfires when Athena gives Kratos his chance for revenge.
Athena points Kratos to Pandoras Box, in the hopes that the power within will be enough to defeat Ares. After a gruelling journey and a lot of crate-pushing, Kratos opens Pandoras Box and grows to match Ares in size. The whole fight is great, but the final stage demands particular attention--a brutal slugging match with both Ares and Kratos sharing a life bar. Its not a mechanic you see used often, but it really drove home the link between the old god of war and his replacement.
Colossus XIII (Shadow of the Colossus)
That's right, two enemies from the same game--deal with it! But, seriously, in a game filled with truly immense creatures, special mention has to go to the largest: Colossus XIII, popularly known as Phalanx. If I can make a confession: this is my favorite boss fight of all time, for two reasons. First, its a completely thrilling action sequence, requiring the player to chase the colossus on horseback before leaping onto its wings and climbing its body. Its unlike anything I've played before or since, and its a perfect culmination of everything you've learned in Shadow of the Colossus.
My second reason for loving this boss battle is that its just so damn sad. An immense flying serpent, Phalanx circles above an open desert unable or unwilling to attack the player even in self-defense. When Wander is actively stabbing the creature, it will merely burrow into the sands of its desert home before bursting out of the ground to resume circling. When you kill the creature, you have to watch as this oddly beautiful creature crashes to the ground, writhing in pain, and one cant help but wonder if maybe the quest you set out upon isn't as noble as you first believed.
Sin (Final Fantasy X)
Of all the monsters on this list, Sin is probably the closest weve come to a traditional kaiju. In the best Kaiju movies, the monsters serve as allegories for actual disasters--its no secret that Godzilla himself is an allegory for the atomic bomb--and Sin is no exception. It isnt a weapon, like the Brumak or Leviathan, nor is it contained within a battlefield--Sin cant be contained. It appears over the horizon, lays waste to all before it, and then departs, leaving any survivors to try and pick up the pieces of their lives. Sin is a force of nature. It is, quite literally, the wrath of God.
In Spira, the world of Final Fantasy X, Sin is a divine punishment--a weapon created by Yevon (essentially God) to punish those who go violate Yevons prohibitions against technological advancement. Of course, Sin destroys those who fervently obey the Teachings of Yevon as well, making Sin a powerful representation of Death, and a manifestation of the question Why do bad things happen to good people.
Jubileus, The Creator (Bayonetta)
If the fight against Sin pits the player against Gods wrath, then Bayonetta takes it one step further: you fight against God herself. Its no secret that Bayonetta draws upon old Christian theology for inspiration--especially Dantes Divine Comedy, so its only fitting that the final boss battle involves the Creator.
If youre going to fight God, youd better settle in for the long haul--the fight has five different stages, each requiring a different strategy. First, youll need to wear her down a bit while avoiding her titanic fists, lava traps, frozen boulders, and huge tornados. Then youll return to deep space--oh, did I mention this whole fight takes place outside the solar system?--and punch her so hard her soul flies into the sun. With me so far? Good, because the last stage is a time-attack level where you have to dismantle Jubileuss lifeless body like the car in Street Fighter 2 without burning up during atmospheric re-entry as you plummet back to Earth. The whole battle is preposterous, bewildering, and kind of amazing--just like Bayonetta herself.
Anything in Asuras Wrath
Asuras Wrath isnt a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination--one might be better off thinking of it as an interactive episode of DragonBall Z--but one really must applaud the way CyberConnect2 decided to set aside standard gameplay tropes in order to showcase battles of nearly impossible spectacle. Every fight in Asuras Wrath is the biggest, most ludicrous thing youve ever seen.
In what other game could you fight an immense, fire-breathing worm implanted in the side of a planet? Thats what I thought. Of course, youll also face off against your share of gods and Asuras Wrath certainly doesnt disappoint--the enemies in Asuras Wrath are galactic in scope, easily dwarfing whole planets. Some players might not like the QTE-focused gameplay, but nobody could deny the sheer scale of Asuras Wrath.
More is More
This list could keep going, as gaming has no shortage of huge baddies to fight--but this list should be enough to get your brains turning, and I havent even gotten to the giant robots Did your favorite titan get passed over? Let us know in the comments!
Need to read something about monsters a bit more your size? Check out 8 reasons why Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire's remakes might be the best yet, or our list of the Weirdest things we've ever found in video game toilets!