It was around the time when I was idly looking over the taunt animations of GigaBash’s cast and noticed that Rawa’s had a reference to Godzilla’s victory dance from 1965’s Invasion of Astro Monster that I realized, “Yeah, they made this game for me.”
GigaBash is a four-player monster brawler where you pick from a cast of nine varied and wholly original yet fondly nostalgic titans and go to town on the… town, and each other, of course. Developed by the very aptly-named Passion Republic Games, GigaBash oozes passion for the tokusatsu genre, AKA those Japanese science fiction productions with a heavy focus on practical effects, such as Godzilla, Kamen Rider or what became known to the west as Power Rangers. Not since Hollywood’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters featured King Ghidorah’s silly clicking roar from the original Toho movies have I gotten the same vibe of a creative team that was truly in love with their rubber suit monsters and super robots.
That being said, you need to have a great game to back up that passion, and GigaBash mostly hits the right spots, though it does have some misses here and there that stood out to me.
While there are plenty of minigame types that offer their own twists, the basic gameplay of Gigabash boils down to picking your titan, and then driving the other three titans in the match into the dirt through whatever means necessary. That could mean heaving buildings at them, tossing them into the many hazards present on a stage, or beating them down with a simple but effective control scheme.
Let’s talk a little more about the controls. You only have two attack buttons: basic attack, and special attack, with the basic attack changing depending on your titan’s current action. A neutral state lets you pull off a basic attack combo, holding it down makes for a charged attack, being in midair makes for an air attack, blocking has its own counterattack, and so does attacking mid-dash. Specials, however, don’t follow the same rules. There’s a special attack, a charged special attack, and a special that can be done while blocking (usually an anti-air), but jumping and dashing do not. While understandably, adding jumping and dashing specials would be extra work for the developers in all sorts of ways, this still felt a little unintuitive. It took a few matches where I would see my character using the same special attack in midair as it had on the ground before it really settled in for me which moves modified special attacks and which didn’t.
Once I got over that, though, I did find pleasantly varied and highly enjoyable playstyles in the cast despite the small number of moves per character. The Ultraman homage, Gigaman, had fast attacks and multihit combos that let him put pressure on the enemy, Skorak the snail Titan could throw around its skull shell to act as a weapon or hide in it to poison enemies, and super robot Thundatross clumsily lugged his massive lightning sword around and dealt slow, predictable, but wide-reaching and devastating hits.
Combine these moves with stage hazards, objectives such as Giga-Energy that allow your Titan to transform into a super mode, devastating ultimates, and a truly impressive array of minigame modes, and you have the makings of a fantastic party game. At certain times I felt like the sound design and general feedback for landing attacks could use a little more oomph (I especially had trouble telling immediately if Gorogong’s basic attack combo was landing on my target when things got hectic onscreen). The campaign mode is shorter than what most gamers may expect nowadays, but I would file these complaints away as minor nitpicks.
If there is anything I think truly holds the game back, it would be the lack of people to play it with. GigaBash is one of those games best played on a couch with buddies, and due to my unfortunate circumstances of being a working adult in the middle of a pandemic, three titan friends were nowhere to be found, and online did not help much in that regard with its still-humble playerbase.
So it is my hope that this review can convince some of you to give GigaBash a try with your friends. It’s a fun casual fighting game that’s easy to learn and captures the spirit of a proper kaiju fighter in a way I haven’t seen since Atari stopped making Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters and its sequel games. In this age when every game seems to be demanding as much of your time as humanly possible, a casual couch game like this can be a precious thing indeed.