I’m not a huge fan of Kaiju films. They are fun, but they are either too B-grade with the men in a rubber suit (original Tojo films or even the Sentai type films like Power Rangers), or too slick and full of CGI fights in the dark (the recent Hollywood films). Heck, I quite enjoyed the stupidity of the 1990s Godzilla starring Ferris. But when the opportunity to review Kaiju Wars from Foolish Mortals Games came around, I couldn’t say no. Trying to stop giant monsters on a turn-based battlefield was just too good a deal to pass up!
Kaiju Wars is not going to stress your modern gaming PC. The art style is certainly retro, with an almost VGA colour palette, aiming to look slightly better than late 1990s-pixel graphics. But that just adds to the charm – think of it as the video game equivalent of a man in a rubber suit. Between stages, the suitably cheesy monster movie story is conveyed via static talking head scenes. Characters are suitably over the top with the military commander being particularly memorable. Each chapter is accessed via a panel on a comic book page, adding to the cheese factor.
Each stage is presented in a simple board game style – no camera to move around, no zooming in on intricate details, and certainly no complex angles of attack or sightlines to consider that may be hidden by terrain or stage features. The camera angle at first seems an odd three-quarters perspective, but that makes sense once you realise that you are playing a board game with many of the mechanics automated.
Each stage starts with the map building out in front of your eyes. A warning alarm can be selected to see where the monster will spawn, usually the ocean, but if it is a tunnelling monster, it can appear from underground. The initial turn allows you to survey the map and prepare. Sometimes that means building bases, other times the bases are ready, and you can build units instead. That is if you start with enough cash.
Like any good turn-based game, it isn’t just about combat but also requires you to manage your resources in order to win. Resource generation is automated and, at the end of every turn, you generate cash depending on the number of buildings still standing. Losing too many buildings too early to the monster will see your resource generation rate plunge, bringing defeat ever closer.
In order to protect your buildings, you need to engage the monster. Some units will focus on damage, some do less damage in exchange for slowing the monster down, while others can do only a little of both but can deal out counter damage when attacked. Luckily, the types of units are not too varied – a ground missile attack unit and tanks on the ground, with a fast attack jet unit balanced by a bomber unit in the air. On top of that, some stages will add sci-fi weapons which are insanely powerful – but spawn after 3 to 5 turns as opposed to in 1 turn as with the military units.
Protecting buildings is key to resource generation, but stages can generally only be won by protecting your science advisor for as long as possible. Her lab research will generate breakthroughs, which are tied to the win condition. Luckily, she can be evacuated and moved to another lab. However, while in transit, no research happens so building the second lab in an easily accessible part of the map is key and requires careful planning.
Battle itself is simple, spawn units and send them into battle. The Kaiju will pretty much always attack your units before buildings and a crucial one-turn delay can make the difference in the end-game. Units must be in an adjacent square or, for some, no more than two away to attack. Generally, adjacent units will be destroyed on the monster’s turn, but some have enough armour to survive one attack.
Monsters aren’t one-note though. Some can attack non-adjacent units with a tail swipe, while others can tunnel under mountains enabling them to take shortcuts to buildings. They’re all wonderfully designed but during the opening chapters, you may get tired of seeing the same two repeatedly. Kaiju types vary as you make your way through the game so no need to panic (well actually do panic, your city is under attack by monsters after all!).
Kaiju Wars’ mechanics are very much based on tabletop board games, though without the granular control required of a tabletop game. Card draws are automated in most stages, such as the ones that give the monsters stat boosts. Some stages will draw three cards for you as the player, keeping things fresh as you are faced with a choice of increasing damage for a turn, accelerating research, or acquiring extra resources. This adds a simple yet important risk/reward mechanic to your decision making.
When you beat a level, you can see if you met all the stage scenarios and requirements to earn all available medals, giving you an incentive to replay some levels. On top of that, the online leader board gives you an idea of how efficient you are vs. the community. The highest I’ve ranked is fourth in a stage, winning within 6 turns. Those that reach the top of the pile generally win within 4 turns, though how is something I cannot fathom. When you are done with the main campaign, there are also other modes, such as challenge maps, to increase potential game time and they’re not lazy afterthoughts.
If there’s one weak element in this game, it’s that the maps are simple and not procedurally generated. Face defeat and you load right back into the same map. As such, repeat plays reduce the challenge as you quickly figure out the most efficient route to victory. An option for procedurally generated stages would add spice to the mix.
Overall, Kaiju Wars is a wonderfully fun homage to monster movies with its tongue firmly in its cheek that will challenge and delight the player in equal measure.
A review code for Kaiju Wars was provided to gameblur by the publisher.
Kaiju Wars (PC) ReviewKaiju Wars (PC) Review
Graphics8/10 Very Good
Sound8/10 Very Good
Ease of Play9/10 Amazing
- Cheesy homage to Tojo films
- You get to name the monsters!
- Stylish retro graphics
- Tiny install footprint!
- Procedurally generated maps could spice things up
- Only four types of Kaiju to defeat