Even with a laundry list of Godzilla games, there is only one quintessential giant monster video game and that's Rampage. Midway's classic is admittedly fondly remembered because at its time, it was the only city smasher out there. That doesn't eliminate the need for a remake, and Total Destruction is a fine way to bring the series back.
Developed by Pipeworks Software, the same team that gave us the superb Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee and disappointing Godzilla: Save the Earth, this is the right development squad to handle an updated Rampage. Unlike the three previous remakes in the 32-bit era, Destruction finally plants the series in 3-D, at least partially. In order to keep this in the firm gameplay mechanics of the series, the slight movement is heavily restricted.
Each stage, set of course in famous cities around the world, has a small plane of 3-D movement to play with. This allows for a little bit of depth, but certainly not what we've come to expect. You can't wrap around a building and begin smashing the backside. Smashing is done from the sides or the front, keeping the crushing on 2-D plane like it always has.
All the 3-D movement does is cause problems. Figuring out where a helicopter is in relation to your monster is impossible. Given how much damage they can dish out, it's a critical and punishing flaw. Jumping is awkward and never accurate. Hitting multiple buildings at once, a franchise staple, is hard and unnecisarily complicated. Even though backgrounds are littered with fully rendered buildings, you can't walk back to them. You're completely restricted to the block the stage is placed on. Also, while levels claim to be Chicago or Paris, good luck looking for landmarks to take out.
To be fair, most of the restrictions have a purpose. For the sake of simplicity, keeping the monsters confined to a single city block is in all actuality a smart design move. Multi-player would be nearly impossible to do with free movement while keeping this a Rampage title. Opening the stages to full exploration would also require a deeper set of controls to spin the monsters around buildings.
Inside these brief blocks are tons of power-ups and hidden critters to unlock. Total Destruction finally breaks the series free of its miniscule roster selection. 30 monsters make up a wild roster of beasts and mutations. You simply haven't lived until you've witnessed a giant aardvark eat a lawyer. Along with hilarious (though gratingly repetitive in the later stages of the game) quotes, Total Destruction never intends to be anything more than goofy fun for short burst play.
While the control problems squeeze in to ruin some of the fun, objectives nearly kill it. Each stage presents a new set of goals usually revolving around eating or destroying a set number of objects. When the set number of objects barely even appears, especially in the mess of shattering glass and gunfire, some of the basic challenges prove to be nearly impossible. Unlocking monsters is also blind luck as you find a capsule inside a destroyed building almost at random (it all depends on what monster you have).
Rampage was never meant to be strategic or thought provoking though (and you can play the original and World Tour on this disc without having to unlock them to prove it). It breaks a critical standard design point by not even allowing the player a way to move out of the way of firepower, and yet it endears to the point that we're on a second completely new remake. It's infinitely more fun with two players, let alone the four this Gamecube version supports, and while this is an uneven $20 budget, you knew from the moment it was announced whether or not you were going to love it. Chances are, if you grew up with George, Lizzie, and Ralph, none of the flaws matter.
(*** out of *****)