Kaiju Wars - Key Art

Review

Kaiju Wars Review

April 28, 2022

By: William Worrall

 
 

Kaiju have always been a bit of a niche thing outside of Japan. Back in the 90s, it was pretty tough to find releases of old Japanese monster movies outside of bootleg VHS tapes and the occasional release from smaller companies licensing the rights from Toho. These days, it’s a bit easier to be a kaiju fan, and that includes the games too. Kaiju Wars is a kaiju-based strategy title that is a little bit Toho monster movies, a little bit Advance Wars, and a lot of a bit about parodying most of the things that inspired it. 

Kaiju Wars comes to us from Foolish Mortals Games, a small team with a few games under their belt from back in 2017. In the game, you control the new mayor of a post-apocalyptic dystopian nation. As you’re settling into your new role, a giant monster attacks the army base that you’re visiting. Taking up command of the armed forces, it’s up to you to ward off the giant monsters that besiege you or at least last long enough for some boffin somewhere to do a science about it. 

 

The moment-to-moment gameplay has a fair amount in common with the Advance Wars series. You have different units and buildings under your control and you spend resources to produce new units from the buildings. Each turn you move your units to either attack the enemy or to get into a better defensive position based on terrain and special abilities. Of course, in this case, the grid is isometric, rather than the semi-top-down perspective used by the aforementioned title. 

Kaiju Wars - Main Menu
A lot of the little details really help the game to stick out. 

Another big difference is the giant monsters that are all inspired by different kaiju archetypes. There’s the giant ape monster with a weird mohawk thing going on, a giant furry lizard that breaths lasers, and the flaming bird that keeps blowing up anything near it. As you go through the game, different kaiju with different abilities are introduced. At the start, you’re basically using a handful of different unit types, but as things go on, you unlock super-secret science weapons, upgraded units, and a whole slew of extra bonuses on each turn. 

 
 

If that makes it sound like you’re op as hell in Kaiju Wars, then you might want to brace yourself, as this game is not without its challenge. While it’s pretty tame at the start, within the first act of the campaign things start getting out of hand quickly. Each turn, an adverse effect is applied by the random draw of a card, and you also have the special powers of the monster to deal with. Then there's the fact that as buildings get destroyed throughout each mission, the number of resources you get to work with each round keeps going down. 

You'll be presented with some insanely taxing situations by the time you hit the midway point of the first act. I swear, the first time that I nearly had the giant monkey dead and the card that heals it for 8 damage popped up I almost threw my monitor out of the window. It’s not helped by the fact that at the time I had been in that mission for a solid 20 minutes, and no amount of beautifully animated attack scenes or ability animations was enough to make me want to dive straight back in again once the mission failed at the final hurdle. 

 
 
Kaiju wars - Monster Battle
I don't want to admit how long it took me to "get" this level...that damn monkey. 

Your primary method of winning against these horrific monsters is to outthink them. While these monsters are incredibly powerful (seriously, destroying everything right next to them each round is a bit much), they’re also extremely predictable. They’ll always go for the nearest building in sight, assuming that they’re not currently chasing down something specific. You can use this predictability to your advantage, putting powerful defensive units between the monster and the targets that you’re trying to protect. Learning the way these monsters work is a pretty steep learning curve, but it’s certainly not insurmountable. 

This is probably a good time to mention Kaiju Wars’ art style: it’s stunning. Everything is done in pixel art, bar the main menu which requires its own paragraph in a moment. The monsters move around the grid with a fair amount of frames in their animation, and the style looks both unique and interesting. There are also animations that happen during attacks, as well as those linked to special abilities. Each of these animations really characterizes the monsters, and it’s just fun watching them tear stuff up. Obviously, once you’ve seen them 40 times, they’re probably going to be less attractive, but you can save yourself some time by turning the animations off in the menu. 

Speaking of menus, the first thing you’ll probably notice when booting the game is the main menu. Rather than just a list of options for you to pick from, you’re booted straight into a faux command center taken straight out of some military movie. From here, you can interact with the security screens, dossiers, and files on your desk, or various other exciting knickknacks to select menu options. There are also several pointless little animations that serve no purpose other than being a bit of a giggle like something from Humongous Entertainment adventure games. It’s a nice little bit of extra detail that helps the game to stand out a fair amount. 

Kaiju Wars - Named
It's a nice touch that you can name the kaiju whatever you want. You could make this into the 'Rampage' remake we all deserve. 

Kaiju Wars is packed with extra stuff too. Not only is there the main campaign that will run you upwards of 15 hours depending on your personal skill level, but there’s also the addition of daily challenges to keep you occupied when you’re done playing the regular levels. Even better, there’s a map creator that you can use to come up with your own scenarios, and you know that this is going to be used to great effect. This certainly feels like the sort of game that will benefit from user-generated content. After all, who is more diehard than kaiju-movie fans? 

 
 

On the note of user-made content, I really have my fingers crossed that the developers will allow mod support. Kaiju Wars currently features 5 kaiju, and while that’s plenty to be getting on with, it would be great to see Steam Workshop allow people to add in any number of awesome or silly monsters for you to fight. Hell, I can easily see actual kaiju being thrown in here, like Godzilla or Mothra, although the tongue-in-cheek style may not be what the rubber-suited rascals are used to.

Kaiju Wars Review | Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, Kaiju Wars is a stunning game. While the difficulty spike is a little unforgiving, it’s rare to see a game that manages to pull off decent strategic gameplay, give it a unique twist involving predictable pathing, and yet make it look as stylish as anything else you’ll find on Steam. Add in the extra modes, the decent campaign length, and all of the additional care and attention that has gone into the game and you’ve got yourself an experience that kaiju and strategy fans will probably be playing for years to come. 


Techraptor covered Kaiju Wars on PC via Steam with a code provided by the decvelopers.

Review Summary

Review Summary

9.0
An excellent game for strategy fans who love Godzilla movies. Even without that, the game has so much care and attention put into that it's hard to put it down.

Pros

  • Great animation
  • Plenty of content to enjoy
  • Funny dialogue and characters
  • Unique main menu with easter eggs

Cons

  • Difficult curve can be a bit aggressive
Will wearing an Odd Future shirt.
Staff Writer

I'm Will and I'm a UK-based writer who went to film school before realizing writing was more fun than film-making. I've written for a number of gaming sites over the past few years of my writing career, including Cliqist, Gaming Respawn, and TechRaptor. I also produce videos for my own channel (Mupple) as well as Cliqists popular YouTube channel. I've covered industry events such as EGX and am hoping to break into narrative game writing in the future.