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You know, it’s intriguing how giant monsters have always enthralled
and captivated mankind’s imagination. Whether it be Smaug the Terrible, King
Kong, the Kraken, or Kaiju from Pacific
Rim, you would think that iconic beasts like these would be disliked and feared
for what they’re capable of doing, but they’re usually among the most memorable
and popular characters in the movies/books they belong to. Simply put, we think
they’re awesome – in the real sense of the word – because they produce “an
overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear” in us. Margaret Weis perfectly
captures what I’m trying to get across in her foreword to Doug Niles’ Dragons: The Myths, Legends, & Lore.
She gives her thoughts on why humans specifically love dragons, which would actually
be the most dangerous and frightening animals to us if they existed.
“Dragons have fascinated mankind for countless centuries and
will continue to enthrall us…humans are such puny creatures compared to
dragons, which can slay us with the single swipe of a claw or the whoosh of
their fiery breath. Yet we dare to be drawn to dragons, whether they are evil,
greedy monsters who hide in caves and guard their treasure or whether they are
friendly beings who permit us to fly on their backs. …No matter how close the
relationship with humans, dragons remain aloof and mysterious. We are awed in
their presence. And always a little afraid.”
You know this was the part of the movie you were most excited to see. Admit it.
It’s weird, right? Our natural curiosity and fascination
with powerful, imposing beings is extremely obvious and puzzling, and what
better time to see this on display than the recent advent of the Godzilla movie? This North American reboot
based on the classic Japanese movie franchise has been a roaring triumph thus
far, pulling in over $200 million worldwide at the time of this writing. After
all, Godzilla is the King of the Monsters, so this comes as no surprise since
he’s one of the most famous monsters in all of fiction. And wow, the new film lets
this behemoth live up to his reputation when he’s fully onscreen despite – in
my opinion – the uninteresting human characters (besides Bryan Cranston and Ken
Watanabe), forced emotional storytelling, and underutilized action. But the
point still stands: Godzilla is awesome to behold.
See what I mean?
What in the world does this have to do with video games?
After a long drought of no personal writing, I got thinking after
I viewed Godzilla last week, and then
it hit me. Who (or what) are the greatest “Godzillas” in games? In other words,
what video game enemies are daunting in size, seemingly unstoppable in power, and
memorable in their design and the challenges they pose? I took these things
into consideration and have formed a list of 10 outstanding examples that
embody those Godzilla-like attributes. Though for the sake of fairness, I’ve
only chosen colossal foes that I’ve personally encountered, so there will be a
few missing here that could be worthy contenders. Anyway, be sure to click on
each title below to see the enemies in action and consider yourself warned of
some spoilers from here on out.
All right, this lumbering introduction has delayed the
oncoming slew of monsters. Let the destruction commence!
Don't know if those rockets will help much, Samus.
10. Kraid – Super Metroid
Super Metroid is
the first game that made me really glad I had purchased a SNES to play classics
I missed out on. Besides niggling factors like the difficulty of executing the
wall jump and 2-3 unfair things that stumped me for far too long, everything
about this platformer that’s as old as I am is a masterpiece. The impeccable
platforming mechanics, beautiful and timeless pixelated graphics, clever level
design, and wonderful sense of progression give me the idea that I enjoyed it
as much as those who got to experience it in the 90s. And don’t get me started
on the boss battles! Antagonists like Ridley, Draygon, and Mother Brain afford
the most thrilling sequences the game has on offer, and although I wouldn’t say
he was my favorite boss, Kraid should not be dismissed in the slightest. He’s
one of Samus Aran’s largest enemies and quite the sight when you find his lair.
One of the most important members among the Space Pirates,
Kraid is a green reptilian with a rather rotund stomach that actually ejects
huge spikes. Possibly towering at 40-50 feet high (apparently his size varies
across the Metroid games), you can
only see a third of his body at ground level. With thorny projectiles and
fireballs in his arsenal, you’ll be jumping all over the place as you figure
out where his weakness is. He may not be that challenging to beat in the end, but
there’s no doubting that Kraid makes an impact with his surprisingly gargantuan
presence compared to the other Space Pirates.
See that cannon on the left side of the MAWLR? That thing literally scorches the entire battlefield.
9. MAWLR – Killzone 3
During the latter part of Killzone 3, Guerilla Games wants to make a lasting impression with
their mastery over graphics, environmental scope, and art direction. Besides
the excellent gunplay and thrilling missions, these things are what the
developer is known for, and it delivers with an entire 30-minute level devoted
to defeating one of the biggest sci-fi land vehicles I have laid eyes on: the
This Helghast war machine may not be living, but there’s no
way I couldn’t include it here. It’s like someone took all the weaponry from a
Star Destroyer, put it all together, and made it mobile with legs. In addition
to appearing to be taller than Godzilla, the MAWLR can withstand excessive damage
for an extremely prolonged period of time, is said to be able to travel over any
terrain at any angle, and has a host of artillery ranging from machine gun
turrets and mortars to an arc cannon that can take down ships the size of Darth
Vader’s Executor. What’s incredible is that you eventually take down this AT-AT
on steroids (had enough Star Wars
references?), and the entire battle spent executing this is phenomenal to watch
unfold. You feel like you’re up against the impossible when you slowly shoot
down its artillery…that is, until you fly around it in an aircraft with a
Gatling gun and see the MAWLR fall apart as its cooling systems and whatnot
explode like fireworks. This is how you do a giant boss in a first-person
"Darkness conquers all worlds!"
8. Darkside – Kingdom Hearts 1
Ah, Kingdom Hearts.
It’s a magnificent action RPG series with intense gameplay, beautifully
realized characters, and one of my favorite overarching stories in video game
history. The games are also well known for their incredibly tough bosses, such
as Sephiroth, Ansem, or The Phantom. So, when it comes to giant bosses, there
are notable ones like the Ice Titan and Hydra in KH2, Dragon Maleficent and
Chernabog in KH1, and so forth. I heavily considered choosing enemies like
these for this spot, but had to go with only one: Darkside from KH1.
“But that was an easy fight!” you may be saying right now.
Of course! The aforementioned bosses are far more fun and challenging to
exchange blows with, but I have a reason for going with this brooding, silent
foe. Besides being one of the biggest Heartless in KH1, he’s also one of the
first enemies you confront, which is why he has earned his place here. Back in
2006, I remember the game’s introduction as I selected the Sword and sacrificed
the Staff to determine Sora’s stats, fought off a few small Heartless, and
navigated across all of the lovely stained glass platforms. I felt strangely laidback
while playing through this, but the feeling ceased when I saw Darkside rise
from the last platform via a pool of darkness. With his dead eyes, tendril-like
fingers, and pitch-black body, I honestly was a little scared to confront him,
especially since he caught me off guard. While other encounters with this eerie
Heartless over the other games have been more challenging and impressive, I’ll
never forget the first one.
Mario, you're awfully close to getting burned to a crisp.
7. Bowser – Super Mario Galaxy
Bowser could fit in swimmingly with the Power Rangers’ vast
array of bizarre nemeses. Why? They
abide by the same philosophy: whenever you’ve exhausted all of your plans and
options to destroy the heroes, you get huge and wreak havoc. For most Mario games, that’s exactly what Bowser
does nearly every time. Nintendo even made a game called Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story where you play as the villain
in his gigantic form! But when it comes to facing him as the hero, there are
standout battles in titles like New Super
Mario Bros. Wii, Yoshi’s Island,
and even Super Smash Bros. Melee
(where you can fight Giga Bowser). Even though all of these are great in their
own ways, I’m going with the Bowser boss fights in Super Mario Galaxy 2.
At multiple points throughout the story, you’ll encounter Bowser
– who has grown several stories high with a Power Star – sitting on a castle-like
throne, mocking you in your futile quest to stop his master plan. Then, an interesting
series of conflicts ensue where you’re forced to reside on a tiny planet that
Bowser hovers around and assaults with meteors, fire breath, and punches. These
battles increase in longevity and difficulty each time, culminating into a
prolonged, epic finale that tests your reflexes, gets your heart pumping, and
let’s you take Bowser back down a notch.
Well, hello there, nightmare fuel!
6. Leviathan – Resistance 2
I thought it was weird to see Insomniac Games try their hand
at creating a gritty, sci-fi series about an alien apocalypse. It didn’t seem
like their style, but – despite the mediocre storylines and unmemorable
characters – I really enjoyed the gunplay, art direction, and universe of the Resistance trilogy. I just liked the
idea of playing as a human super soldier that has the power of the Chimera; the
games made me feel like a juggernaut that couldn’t die, but this wasn’t always
true. One level in Resistance 2 takes
place in Chicago, which has some genuine jump scares and great level design
through and through. However, one thing stands out in that mission as one of
the greatest parts of the game. For the first 20 minutes, you feel tremors that
rock the city and catch tiny glimpses of a mysterious Chimera that looks as
tall as the buildings around you. Although I knew what was coming, I still
wasn’t prepared for the reveal of the Leviathan.
Coming in at 300 feet high, this mutated, grotesque Chimera
is the nightmare version of Godzilla. Although he’s more of a means to show off
the visual splendor and scope of Resistance
2 than an actual boss, the Leviathan is still terrifying since it swipes
you up several times to eat you, which can be prevented by applying some RPGs
to its beautiful face. Although I would have liked a mission devoted to running
away from and trying to kill this behemoth in a long struggle, the Leviathan is
nevertheless an absolute must to mention.
And you thought the Necromorphs on the USG Ishimura were bad...
5. The Hive Mind – Dead Space
It has come to this. After fighting through a spaceship from
hell, discovering the horrors of an insane religious cult, and encountering the
worst creatures the universe can muster, Isaac Clarke is ready to end everything
involving Necromorphs and the Marker. However, hope seems lost when he meets
with betrayal in the closing moments of the game, but the perpetrator is
stopped short as a massive tentacle crushes and throws this person’s body away
from the only spaceship Isaac can escape in. Whatever killed the traitor, you
know it has been controlling the Necromorphs and maintaining their existence,
and it lies before you in a bottomless pit where more tentacles begin to rise
from. Suddenly, a hulking mass of alien flesh careens from the darkness,
towering at what must be hundreds of feet. This is The Hive Mind, and with an
appearance like this, the name is more than fitting.
Dead Space is,
without a doubt, one of my favorite survival-horror games next to titles like Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil 4, and Alan Wake. The sound design is among the
best produced in the game industry, the weighty gameplay is deeply satisfying,
and the atmosphere and enemies never fail to impress due to the creepy,
spine-chilling vibes they give off. I could go on singing the praises of the
game, but why choose The Hive Mind? Of course, it would make more sense to
choose the final boss in Dead Space 3 since
it’s an enemy that’s nearly planet-sized. However, I think The Hive Mind is a
more memorable and taxing enemy. You have to run around avoiding its tentacles,
deal with annoying Necromorphs that spawn around you, and locate its
hard-to-shoot weaknesses. The thing even picks up and clutches you upside down,
which you must then find a way to escape from with your trusty Plasma Cutter.
Put all of this together and you have an exhilarating, climactic end to Dead Space where the stakes are set high
and feel like it.
You want to know the scary stuff here? That thing is actually very far away, and those are buildings on its back.
4. Sin – Final Fantasy X
I won’t reveal what or who Sin is in Final Fantasy X since it’s a significant spoiler, but I’ll say that
the story behind the monster gives poignancy and weight to one of the final and
most incredible battles of the game. The wonderfully deep characters you come
to love and beautiful world of Spira hinge on the outcome here, so it’s only appropriate
that Sin – one of the main villains and source of so much death – is the size
of multiple aircraft carriers.
It’s a leathery, whale-like creature that could be compared
to the Biblical Leviathan…well, except that Sin’s much larger and floats in the
sky. When you’re fighting it alongside two other party members with the
excellent turn-based battle system, everyone’s on an airship that flies beside
it, so there’s an atypical twist with this particular battle in that Sin moves
to the left, right, and front of the airship. This opens up for minor yet
interesting dynamics in the strategies needed to slay the beast, and while
you’re carefully choosing moves and hoping that Sin won’t KO your party, you
can’t help but marvel at how empowering and important this numinous confrontation
feels. You’re taking on a giant, god-like deity that embodies the immensity and
eeriness of sin itself. How’s that for a Godzilla-like impression?
3. The Guardian – Darksiders
Vigil Games didn’t get the credit it deserved for the Darksiders games. They do have Legend of Zelda and God of War as obvious game design influences, but these work so
well in Darksiders (especially with
the compelling RPG elements in the sequel) and make it a unique series in my
eyes. In addition, the aesthetical design, art style, and stories are
breathtaking, combining to create a fantastical world with entertaining
characters and beautiful locations (all inspired by the Biblical end times with
a focus on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). The first game was great, but
the second one nearly improves upon it in every single area with greater side content,
more fluid combat, and so forth. Therefore, it’s not hard to guess that the
bosses are even better this time, which is especially evident in the brawl
against The Guardian.
This guy is a massive construct (basically a living rock
monster) that heavily reminds me of a certain colossi at the bottom of this
list. Wielding a hefty hammer and a bomb launcher, Death – your character –
must ride on his horse Despair to avoid being crushed. It all takes place in a
huge, green valley surrounded by mountains, making the landscape a strangely
beautiful place to fight the Guardian. What’s even more exciting is that you
must frantically climb up the boss’ body in various ways until you’ve found his
weaknesses, which will allow you to slowly take this titan down by detaching his
arms. Overall, it’s an incredibly well done boss fight that makes Death live up
to his name even more.
Megatron has got some decent backup, if you ask me.
2. Trypticon – Transformers: War
Actually, War for
Cybertron is another underdog game that didn’t receive the attention it
should have gotten, and I’m just a casual fan of Transformers. But for some reason, I’ve always held to the idea
that this franchise could spawn an excellent game if a developer really
understood and had a passion for it. Thankfully, High Moon Studios filled this
role in 2010. With an excellent retelling of the origin story of the war
between the Autobots and Decepticons, an excellent balance between vehicular
and third-person shooting gameplay, captivating environments that portray a
living world of metal and steel, and a surprisingly great multiplayer component,
I’d easily give War for Cybertron a
9/10 for what it accomplished (and its 2012 sequel, too).
The ending for the Autobot campaign is centered on
destroying a Decepticon spaceship that’s tearing apart the Arc, another
spaceship the Autobots are trying to use to escape Megatron’s brutality. The
second-to-last mission sees you commandeering an aerial Autobot to destroy the
enemy ship from the inside, and when all is said and done, you realize with
horror that this is no spaceship. It’s a Decepticon, and his name is Trypticon.
You thought Grimlock was big? Trypticon is basically the
Transformer version of Godzilla (with a huge tail and reptilian-like features)
and is debatably twice his size. Armed with razor sharp teeth and impenetrable
armor, the only way the Autobots can stop this foe is to take out the multitude
of rocket launchers and machine gun turrets that are part of his body. At first
you fight him as he falls through the atmosphere of Cybertron, but then you
face him as Optimus Prime on the surface. Both encounters left my mouth hanging
open with the last, grand 30 minutes of War
The day is calm, the world seems at a standstill, and swords are in hand. Let the dual begin.
1. Gaius - Shadow of the
Does this come as a surprise? A game that’s all about
killing 16 different colossi? Ha, I’ll assume it isn’t, but – while this is an
obvious go-to game – the list wouldn’t be complete without a “Godzilla” from Shadow of the Colossus. The game itself
has a touching and mind-boggling story, gorgeous vistas, a wonderful orchestral
soundtrack, and memorable gameplay that test your wit and patience when you
climb the colossuses’ bodies to discover their vulnerable points. With these
enemies greatly ranging in physical attributes and behavior (like so), no confrontation is alike, which is
why I had a hard time choosing only one. Phalan, Basaran, and Argus are a few
standouts, but I’m going to go with a fan favorite that many gamers point out:
Like the Guardian in Darksiders
II in some respects, this lanky yet immensely tall enemy uses a stone sword
to engage in combat, which only a few Colossi will do. His nickname is also not
official, but the meaning behind it is nevertheless fitting. It’s derived from
the Greek word Gaia, which means “earth,” and the Latin counterpart is
Terrestris Veritas, which translates to “earthly truth.”
Being one of the few Colossi that has a humanoid form, Gaius
made me feel like I was fighting an ancient swordsman trapped in a stone
vessel. On top of this, the conflict takes place on a humongous, circular
platform built high above a lake, allowing you to look at ancient structures
and over hundreds of miles of valleys and mountains in the distance. It was
like being in a gladiator fight for the ages; seeing Gaius rise from his
crumpled state made drawing my sword from its sheath all the more epic, and
when the orchestra came in as I charged forward, I got chills and involuntarily
said, “Wow,” or something along those lines. It made me glad that Bluepoint
Games ported the game to the PS3 for those that missed out on this PS2
masterpiece, which I’ll remember for years to come.
We've reached the "tail end" of my article...sorry. I'll see myself out now.
Here is where the rampage of monsters has finally ceased.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you enjoyed what
I’ve put together here. What was your favorite part? Do you agree with many of
my choices, or would you completely rearrange and adjust the list? What are the
“Godzillas” in video games you remember the most and why? There are definitely
a couple more I’ve either experienced myself or seen others play, so I’m
curious to see if anyone points them out in the comments section below. Let me