The year is 1976. Jimmy Carter is running for President, the orbiter Viking 2 has landed on Mars, and you’ve just gone to your local theater to see Paul Leder’s A*P*E. In the film, you watched as a ginormous gorilla terrorized South Korea. Buildings fell, villages were destroyed, and it took the military entirely too long to bring the beast down. You think to yourself, “I really enjoyed that ridiculously campy movie, but honestly, I feel like maybe I could have done a better job handling the situation than any of those incompetent characters.” Then, after some contemplation, you may think, “I also wish the visuals were a little less ‘guy-in-suit’ and a little more ‘chaotic pop art.” Well, flash forward about forty-six years and both of your dreams have come true in the form of Foolish Mortals’ monstrously fun new strategy game Kaiju Wars.
In Kaiju Wars, you are the Mayor of a fictional city under siege by rampaging Kaiju giants. You have a military advisor, prone to aggressive actions and filled with tactical knowledge, and a scientific advisor, whose level head and peaceful tendencies help you minimize damage and keep citizens alive. The ultimate goal of each level is to use both your military weaponry and the power of science to stop the Kaiju before it tears down a laboratory with the scientist in it. You can defeat the monster outright, gunning up or bombing down enough to scare the beast away, or you can play defense, using obstacles and emergency evacuations to fend the monster off until a scientific breakthrough can win the day. The player accomplishes this by strategically placing airfields, army bases, and new labs around the given map, choosing what to deploy from a variety of different aircrafts, motor vehicles, and experimental projects. These can then be moved and fired in a turn-based format opposing the Kaiju, whose repetitive patterns make it mostly pretty easy to ascertain their next move. Clicking on the boxes of either advisor gives you helpful tips, each in their own special way.
This is the base concept, but the game does a great job of switching it up occasionally to keep things interesting. For example, some levels leave you with only a single advisor, while others leave you without any of your typical equipment. This forces the player to change tactics and adapt, using prior knowledge and skills to beat stages in creative new ways. This may sound like it could get stressful or monotonous, but it’s actually pretty engaging. The game is easy enough that it doesn’t cross the line into Dark Souls territory, while still giving enough of a challenge that you may have to give some levels more than one try. It’s the perfect mix to keep you entertained and coming back for more. Also, it makes the game playable for a wider audience. The habitual strategy gamer can always up the difficulty if they’d like, and the casual time-killer can still have a blast without overstressing.
When people consider playing strategy-based games, it’s often accompanied by the fear of boredom. Where mainstream beat-’em-ups and platformers have a reputation for colorful levels and action-packed adventures, the term “strategy” makes the majority of potential players think solitaire or Risk. Too much thought, not enough release. Yet with Kaiju Wars, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The game is just as frantic and full of life as any good action-based monster story should be, and even better, it manages to pull this energy off without compromising the required mind-aerobics of the strategic category. To liven things up even more, an additional boost of adrenaline comes from the sub-genre space the gameplay occupies. Although marketed as turn-based strategy, it truthfully plays as more of a tower defense. This gives each mission an added sense of urgency and heightens the pace with which you play. The simple mechanics also ensure no turn takes too long, as there are only so may moves one can make per round.
Above all else, however, is the aesthetic with which the developers have chosen to display their work. As soon as the player gets to the home screen, they’ll know they’re in for a good time. Presented as something of a war room, the interactive main menu allows you to select objects that either lead you to something useful or are just sort of fun to mess around with. The campaign is shown through the turning pages of a comic book, the exit sign by the door is actually how you leave the game, little toy soldiers fire on a plastic turtle, and the aforementioned movie A*P*E is actually playing on screens in the background! Small details, like the fact each movie clip comes with a link to the full movie on other sites, radiate the passion that was so obviously held for the project by all it’s behind-the-scenes team. Another place to visit in the room would be the map, which activates another game mode and allows you to design custom stages to challenge yourself and other gamers.
The bright pop-art used through every aspect of Kaiju Wars injects the game with an energetic, vibrant feeling. Even when you lose a turn and are forced to watch the Kaiju swipe at buildings or emerge from the ground, part of you will be excited just to see the neat little animation that you know will play before it. Foolish Mortals has a great sense of humor as well, giving players the ability to name everything in the game, including Kaiju and their own honorific, however they please. They even incorporate exciting surprises into the gameplay, with a particular standout being the fighter jet that transforms into a robot. Basically, Kaiju Wars is everything you could ask for from a modern tower defense. Engrossing, hilarious, and non-stop fun for everyone.