Godzilla: Tokyo Clash is a legit kaiju beat-em-up. I don’t know about you, but my first encounter was the excretable 90s Godzilla, in which Matthew Broderick ran around while Jamariquoi played..? Let’s be honest – this movie was responsible for turning a lot of people off the franchise. It wasn’t until years later that I actually went back and, at film school, I was cajoled into doing a deep dive into the series.
Godzilla is a magnificent cultural phenomenon. Since his first appearance as a lumbering, genuinely terrifying metaphor for the nuclear threat, the thunder lizard has made a staggering number of appearances. He’s spent decades facing off against a litany of other Kaiju; monsters like Rodin, Mothra, or Megalon.
He even appeared in a brilliant Godzilla film made by none other than Hideaki Anno (the mind behind Evangelion), the critically acclaimed Shin Godzilla.
Tokyo Clash manages to capture the energy of the entire genre effortlessly. The game takes place as 2-4 players choose a kaiju, and then enter Tokyo, not stopping until the air runs out. Oh, right: the Oxygen Destroyer is a device designed to suck the air out of Tokyo, meaning that whoever has the most points when said air runs out, wins. What do you do until then?
Tokyo Clash is a playground for mayhem. The city is made up of hexagonal tiles and gets bigger the more kaiju there are, but the city is also peppered with things to throw… or get thrown into. Skyscrapers, radar dishes, bunkers, houses. Hell, even tanks and trains move around each round. I started getting fit recently and was astounded by the gob-smacking obviousness of how exercise works: if you want to be able to do stuff, you gotta have energy. By this logic, Tokyo Clash is a game about fuelling up to do cool shit.
Smash a house? Two energy.
A skyscraper? Four energy.
A radar dish? Two energy, plus you get to check out the top of an opponent’s deck.
You then spend that energy, one card at a time, in a dynamic monster tet-a-tet. You’re rampaging around, hurling things and shooting pylons of energy out of mouths the size of football stadiums, but because of how energy expenditure works, you’re trying to juggle resources and power use cleverly. And because you can only (generally) do one thing at a time before the next monster responds, it begins to feel like you’re exchanging blows in an honest-to-god monster mash.
I’ve talked before about how much I love games that deftly introduce new gamers to complex concepts. Here, each Kaiju has a truly unique prebuilt deck, complete with powers and enhancements, the latter of which can be kept in play as passive abilities. By the end of a single game, a casual player will have essentially figured out how Magic: the Gathering works, but they won’t have noticed, because they’ll have been moving miniatures around a poppy, colourful board the entire time.
In short, this game is a brilliant gateway drug.
The only real downside? I don’t know if the developers will bring out any expansions, which is a shame – adding more Kaiju (or even characters like Ultraman) would ensure a never-ending gaming experience.
As it stands, the four kaiju included are great, but four isn’t enough. The appeal of Kaiju films is a stupidly wild roster of characters, and a kaiju quartet will eventually lose its appeal.
Or maybe it won’t!
Maybe I’m being greedy. And if I am, it’s because this brilliant little title really scratches an itch for me.
Regardless, Tokyo Clash kicks arse. Get on it.