Gaming

We spoke to the Godzilla-obsessed developers of the co-op kaiju game Beat-‘Em-up, Dawn Of The Monsters

Image: Zander Cannon / 13AM Games

Do you hate kaiju? Yes! And so are we. If you ask us, Godzilla needs to be pushed down a notch or two and you didn’t. Well, now you can participate in the kaiju fighting game of your dreams in Dawn of the Monsters, the latest title from developers Runbow 13AM and publisher WayForward, who themselves created Contra 4 and River City Girls.

Dawn of the Monsters is a beat’em-up cooperative kaiju mode that you play like a kaiju for fighting other big monsters, and where you destroy a bunch of cities along the way, because that’s what kaiju do, baby.

We spoke with 13AM CEO and Game Creative Director Alex Rushdie about the game’s playable, custom kaiju, technical issues, and what to expect from DOTM ahead of its March 15, 2022 launch.


Nintendo Life: Many of our readers probably know you best from Runbow and Double Cross, but Dawn of the Monsters is something else entirely. Could you go back to the very beginning of development and talk about how the project came about?

Alex Rushdie (Creative Director): Well, back in 2016, we developed a prototype kaiju fighting game and gave it away to several publishers. We had some fantastic encounters, but in the end no one wanted to buy a fighting game because it’s a very competitive market. We shelved this idea, worked on Double Cross and released it in 2019.

There are many kaiju fighting games out there, but it never occurred to anyone to make a kaiju fighting game!

Once that was done, we needed a new project, so we took the concept of kaiju fighting games off the shelf and discussed it, ultimately deciding that it would be more interesting to make it a co-op game.

There are many kaiju fighting games out there, but it never occurred to anyone to make a kaiju fighting game! It seemed like a “chocolate and peanut butter” combination, and we knew it was a great idea, so we started developing it. Apparently the publishers agreed!

We went to E3 and showed the prototype to several publishers, including WayForward, who we were working with at the time. WayForward fell in love with her almost immediately, and soon after we worked together to complete the game!

Could you tell us a little more about your passion for kaiju monsters and their history, and why it was so important in development?

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I walked into Zellers (a now-defunct Canadian department store) and saw a dinosaur I didn’t recognize in the toy section. When I asked my nanny about this, she explained to me: “This is not a dinosaur, this is Godzilla. He’s big, he’s strong, he breathes radioactive breath, and he lives on monster island with other monsters like Rodan.” And for the dinosaur-obsessed kid, it actually turned my world upside down. She bought me my first Godzillawhich I still keep on my desktop) And the rest is history. I became obsessed with anything and everything, kaiju; Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, all that.

As a kid I watched Godzilla and Ultraman for the bright colors and cool creatures, as an adult I still enjoy stories about nuclear war, environmentalism and fear of the unknown.

I think the reason kaiju are so important to this project is the same reason I still love kaiju to this day. On the one hand, watching giant monsters fight and destroy cities is very interesting even for children. On the other hand, these films discuss rather ill-advised and intense concepts that underpin the human experience. Kaiju make it easy for us to talk about issues at the societal level – issues that all of humanity has to deal with.

So while I watched Godzilla and Ultraman as a kid for the bright colors and cool creatures, as an adult I still enjoy stories about nuclear war, environmental protection, fear of the unknown, and more. Godzilla character was literally born from a bomb and Godzilla the film was conceptually born from the fears that surfaced when using it in real life. This is the perfect combination of simple entertainment with a high concept that keeps the kaiju genre alive even more than 65 years after its birth!

Megadon Heavy

For those who are unfamiliar or may have only seen the earlier trailers, what can we expect in terms of gameplay in Dawn of the Monsters?

Dawn of the Monsters is a 2.5D side-scrolling beat’em-up game in the vein of classics like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, but with the depth of modern action games like Bayonetta and god of War.

It features over 35 missions, equippable DNA augmentations to improve your monsters’ abilities, a Platinum Games-inspired ranking system, fully dynamic destruction, 2-player co-op, Cataclysm massive attacks, and brutal finishing moves to replenish your health! The initial playthrough takes about 8-10 hours, and then you have a lot of opportunities to unlock by getting an S+ rank in each mission.

Can you tell us about the campaign structure and the four monsters that players can use?

The game follows the DAWN (Worldwide Defense Alliance Network) as they recruit a team of four giants to defeat the evil Nephilim that threaten the planet. These:

  • Megadon – The fierce dinosaur of the group, he is a great all-rounder and can channel the magma flowing through his body, spew fire, and create volcanic explosions with his fists. He can set enemies on fire with his “burn” disease.
  • Ganira – A giant crustacean, she is unique in that she can summon a minion monster to fight alongside her. Great for beginners, she can extend her crab pincers to pull enemies towards her and slow enemies down with her “impregnate” ability.
  • Aegis Prime – A giant Ultraman-themed hero, Aegis is the fastest character and a great choice if you want to perform extended juggling combos. He can break the opponent’s defenses with his corrode affliction.
  • Storm Galahad – A giant mech with a massive cannon, Tempest is ranged oriented and has a unique “recharge” ability that enhances it. She can stun enemies with her “shock” affliction.
The gang is here!
The gang is here!

The campaign takes place in four different locations (Toronto, Foz do Iguacu, Cairo, and Tokyo) and each location has a set of missions that you must complete before you can move on to the next one. At the end of each mission, you are ranked by your combat performance (think Bayonetta), and this rating determines the quality of the DNA add-ons you can choose from in the loot screen. You then return to the command center, where you can equip, sell or drop upgrades, buy cosmetic upgrades, health and rage upgrades, browse archives, or listen to conversations going on at DAWN HQ.

You stressed that it was a collaborative project involving many artists; Can you tell us more about this?

The idea behind this game was to create the perfect kaiju game and so we really didn’t want it to look like a parody or fake. We wanted it to pass the “sniff test” for giant monster movie fans, and for that, we wanted to bring in some of the best kaiju talent to show how serious we are about this project.

We wanted it to pass the “smell test” for giant monster movie fans.

So, back in 2019, I actually visited Japan and talked to a few artists, and then thanks to friendships and connections in the kaiju community, I was able to talk even more. Ultimately, everyone was excited about the project and excited to be a part of it.

Kaiju design by Shinji Nishikawa
Kaiju design by Shinji Nishikawa

We managed to get Shinji Nishikawa (designer of several Godzilla movies and latest Gridman anime) to create a boss for us. We have Yuji Kaida (famous illustrator who worked on Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, gundam and even famous games like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, kidnapper, and Strider) to create a huge poster that adorns the box of the Limited Run Games Collector’s Edition. We have Matt Frank (who worked on Godzilla, transformersas well as Ultraman comics) to create a mini-boss for the game.

We have attracted many people involved in many ways! Some of them we turned to just because I’m a big fan of them, like Zander Cannon (who created the incredible Kaijumax comic book series by Oni Press). The game is a true celebration of this classic genre, so I’m thrilled to have creators from all over the world joining us.

Considering large scale actions, destructible environments, etc., was there a technical problem with the optimization for Switch?

The game is built almost entirely in full 3D, with dynamic lighting and dynamic destruction. This was very important to us because breaking buildings in a kaiju game was supposed to be great!

There were, of course, difficulties! Despite being styled like a graphic novel or manga, the game is built almost entirely in full 3D, with dynamic lighting and dynamic destruction. This was very important to us because breaking buildings in a kaiju game was supposed to be great!

However, having dynamic lights, lots of 3D models, multiple characters, etc. can be quite tedious on any console.

After VERY hard work from our team, we have achieved something really great and I think Switch fans will be pleased. I’m really glad we didn’t have to sacrifice resolution, so the game looks as crisp on the Switch as it does on any other platform at full 1080p on the dock and 720p on the portable. It looks very smooth on the Switch screen!

Storm and Megadon

Besides big monsters on a portable screen, what are the pros of playing Dawn of the Monsters on Switch?

To be honest, and I may be biased here, the game just feels “at home” on the Nintendo Switch. We’re historically a Nintendo-focused developer, and the Switch version has always been our focus at 13AM Games. I feel like Nintendo fans appreciate 2D (or in this case 2.5D) and couch co-op play just as much as we do, and we even designed the campaign to play it in 5-10 minute mission-based chunks, with portable mind game.

Do you have a final message for our readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview, and thank you for your interest! It really means a lot to our team, especially after working on this game during a global pandemic and finally being able to share it with the world.

We are incredibly proud of what the Limited Run Games team has come up with for our physical editions and the Collector’s Edition even comes with a download code so you don’t have to wait to start playing.

Please see our Web siteFollow us at Twitterjoin our Discordand share your impressions with us when the game comes out!


Thanks to 13AM, WayForward and Alex Rushdy for their time! Dawn of the Monsters will be available for Nintendo Switch on March 15, 2022.




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