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Godzilla returned to theaters this year for the umpteenth time with Godzilla vs. Kong, and after 67 years of cinematic dominance, the King of the Monsters is still an incredibly popular figure in pop culture.
That being said, Godzilla’s board game resume isn’t nearly as impressive. In fact, it’s mostly the pits. Surprisingly, making a good board game about monsters fighting each other is harder than you’d think. (Only two come to mind — King of Tokyo and Smash City — and sadly, neither features cinema’s most iconic city-smashing monster.)
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that this dilemma might’ve just been solved by a very unlikely source, a company more famous for their collectible figurines than their games: Funko.
In today’s blog post, we’re reviewing a Godzilla game that finally got it right, as we explore Godzilla: Tokyo Clash.
Not only do you have four famous film kaiju (aka monsters) to choose from — Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Megalon — but the game board is different every time you play, thanks to the tile design that allows for numerous different arrangements.
Each of the monsters has a special ability unique to that monster, as well as a deck of action cards that are specifically designed for your monster. Whoever is playing as Godzilla will have different moves, tactics, and attacks than the person playing as Mothra, King Ghidorah, or Megalon, and this adds further replay value to the game.
Plus you randomly choose two ways that the city tries to fight back against the monsters, adding further variety to the wrinkles that color the game play on multiple playthroughs.
You have an energy bar, which is used to control how much you attack the vehicles, buildings, and other kaiju around you. So, in addition to planning for the moves other players make — as well as the moving vehicles on the game board — you also have to manage your attacks based on your available energy.
Smashing buildings and vehicles gives you energy, which you can use to attack the other monsters on the board. Successful attacks give you trophies, which count toward your overall Dominance point total. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
That’s right! Every player stays active for the whole game — unlike many other monster-fighting games, where players can be eliminated and then you just sit around and watch the rest of the game.
The art is gorgeous, evoking a vibrant style inspired by classic Godzilla movie posters (and don’t worry, the instructions are in English). The miniatures are marvelously detailed, and the game is loaded in references to the films. You don’t have to know them to play the game, but for diehard Godzilla fans like myself, it’s vindication after years of mediocre kaiju-themed games.
And the game is very reasonably priced, considering the quality of the miniatures, the game board tiles, and the overall art. This ticks a lot of boxes for both board game fans and Godzilla enthusiasts.
That being said, the game does have some downsides. The two-player version is far less engaging than the three- or four-player versions, because your tactics are so limited by just throwing vehicles back and forth at each other and smashing buildings. The strategic moves and planning are deeper and far more enjoyable with more targets, threats, and things to consider.
It might sound silly, but in this game about monsters smashing things, it’s simply more fun when there are other people smashing stuff too.
Also, I’m not a huge fan of the Dominance system, since it’s a little distracting to have two sets of numbers to keep track of — the energy and the victory points — but I confess I can’t think of another mechanic that would still allow all of the players to keep playing.
All in all, I was very impressed by this game. It’s easy to pick up, fun to master, and offers a ton of variety for new and experienced players. Plus there’s a surprising amount of tactical puzzling involved, which elevates the game beyond a simple you-go-then-I-go mentality.
This game is a win.
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