Image courtesy of Passion Republic Games

GigaBash is a colossal kaiju clash paying homage to Godzilla and Ultraman

Mike Williams |
April 20, 2023
Passion Republic Games is a Malaysian based team of passionate creators bonded together with a decade’s experience in providing AAA quality assets for top developers and publishers worldwide through outsourcing services. We love games and how it unites a wide diversity of people towards a fun-filled gaming session. We believe through our journey in game development and sharing the knowledge gained from it, we can continuously spark inspiration and hope for greater community growth.
Two titanic figures tower over a surrounding city, smashing buildings, causing general mayhem, and showcasing a wide variety of colorful pyrotechnic abilities. That’s what the kaiju genre—”kaiju” being the Japanese word for "strange beasts"—is all about. These gods and monsters are stunning examples of Tokusatsu, the Japanese term for the live-action special effects that bring them to life. Fans have loved kaiju film classics like Godzilla, Ultraman, and Gamera for decades. 

When it came time for Malaysian game developer Passion Republic Games to make its debut game, the studio turned toward its love for kaiju. The result was GigaBash, a fighting game focused on kaiju tearing up each other and the city surrounding them. When GigaBash released in 2022, it was exactly what hardcore and casual kaiju fans were looking for. Ahead of release, GigaBash was the recipient of several awards, including Famitsu Indie Prize nominee and Dengeki Indie Prize winner at the 2019 Tokyo Game Show, and “Best In Play” winner at the 2022 Game Developers Conference.

Passion Republic Games also got the chance to work with Toho Co., Ltd, the studio behind the Godzilla franchise. Rounding out 2022, the team released the Godzilla 4 Kaiju Pack DLC, adding Godzilla, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, and Destoroyah as playable characters in GigaBash. We sat down with the studio to talk about creating GigaBash, getting the chance to work with Godzilla, and how an Epic MegaGrant helped them during development.
Not many Malaysian game studios are renowned internationally. How would you describe the state of Malaysian game development right now?

Mel Law, Game Co-Director:
The game dev industry is fairly young with a few successful mobile games already released. However, the console and PC games scene is still growing steadily. Currently in Malaysia and throughout South East Asia, there’s a handful of exciting games that are currently in the works, so do keep an eye out!

What does it feel like to represent Malaysian game development?

Mel:
To be honest, we didn’t set out to create a game as a way to represent Malaysia. Apart from making game assets and art, we’re actually fairly new to game development. We anticipated our game development journey to be more of an experimental learning process for our team, and didn’t put too much expectation on how people will view the final product. It wasn’t until we had the core game loop developed that we realized that the game had potential, so we continued to push from there. I’m glad that players enjoyed the game, and we are truly humbled that people viewed GigaBash as one of the spearheads of the Malaysian games industry.

Many members of Passion Republic Games have experience providing outsourcing services for AAA titles. How did that work prepare the team to create its own studio and game?

Mel:
Throughout the years, we had the great fortune of working with multiple AAA studios to create concept art, game assets, and animation. As every studio handles its project differently, we got the chance to pick up different methods and tools that best fit our team and scope. It really helped us to improve our workflow, as well as how we would manage and plan for art production.

What inspired the development of the team's first game, GigaBash?

Aiken Tow, Game Co-Director:
We were captivated by our childhood fantasy of becoming a giant monster and rampaging in a bustling city. We were inspired by classic Tokusatsu films such as Godzilla and various games from back in the days, such as War of Monsters and Power Stone. We love the chaotic joy that comes from senselessly beating each other up and wreaking utter mayhem. Those emotions are what we seek to recreate in our game.
In general, how did you approach designing your characters, both from an aesthetic and gameplay perspective?

Aiken:
Whether it’s aesthetics or gameplay, we always wanted to create as much variety as possible. Growing up, we were influenced by big names such as Ultraman, Godzilla, Pacific Rim, King Kong, and many more giant Kaijus or heroes. We thought it would be interesting to have these different archetypes of giant monsters and heroes fight each other in the same world.

When we start developing the characters, we’ll come up with some key characteristics such as body shape, unique ability, and fighting style. Once we lock down the outline, the art team will begin production. As for gameplay, we want every character to stand out with their own unique move set and play style. For example, Woolley is a grappler-type character whose abilities revolve around invading the enemy’s personal space; whereas Pipijuras is a zoning-type character who relies on firing projectiles to keep enemies away. Besides that, we like to pay homage to the big names that inspired our childhood. For instance, Gorogong was inspired by King Kong, Pipijuras was inspired by Baltan, and Gigaman was inspired by Ultraman, etc.
How do you approach balancing characters within the game?

Aiken:
We’ll first play around with various parameters such as attack speed, damage, range, coverage, etc, while also having a set of rules to standardize the character move sets. For example, if it’s a quick attack, the attack damage usually cannot be high. If the attack coverage is small, the damage will usually be slightly higher. However, we’ll sometimes break away from these rules to retain the uniqueness of each character and help them stand out from each other. 

These are just the basics of balancing our character. Balancing is actually a long process and it usually takes a few months for us to iron things out. We’ll involve different people to playtest the new characters as soon as they are playable. We’ll observe how the players interact with the move sets, and see if the skills are too weak or too strong. We’ll then tweak it over time and find a fun balance for the game.
GigaBash is inspired by Japanese franchises like Ultraman and Godzilla, which usually feature giant kaiju towering over a city. How does it feel to get a chance to work with classic Godzilla kaiju like Godzilla, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, and Destoroyah within the recently released Godzilla 4 Kaiju Pack DLC?

Aiken:
Honestly, as an indie game startup, we never thought that we could have the chance to collaborate with an IP like Godzilla. As you can see, most of our characters are actually an homage to classic Tokusatsu characters. So it’s a great honor for us to be given enough creative freedom to design the move sets and develop the mechanics for each of them. We’re also super grateful when the fans reacted positively and gave us a lot of encouragement when we released the Godzilla DLC teaser video. We really want to thank the Toho team for giving us this wonderful opportunity and patience throughout the entire development. It’s definitely a dream come true for us!
Each of the Godzilla kaiju seem to be pulled from different historical eras of the franchise. Why were these specific characters chosen for the DLC?

Aiken:
Our goal was to create a diverse roster of characters for the players to enjoy, we wanted variety not just by archetype, but also by their ability. That’s why we chose these Toho characters from different eras (Showa - Gigan, Heisei - Godzilla & Destoroyah, Millennium - Mechagodzilla).

For Godzilla, we felt that the Heisei Godzilla is the ideal choice to be in GigaBash because we thought his Burning Godzilla form is the perfect fit to be used as his S-Class form.

For Destoroyah, we chose him as it was the ultimate rival of Burning Godzilla as seen in the Heisei era’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. It has an intimidating design that really stands out from our gameplay view. But I think most importantly, our teammates like this character very much. 

As for Gigan and Mechagodzilla, we chose them because they have the potential to provide new and refreshing character archetypes to GigaBash. Gigan serves as the high agility slice-and-dice character archetype, using its sharp claws and buzzsaw on its belly to dice up its prey. Mechagodzilla has a wide arsenal of ranged weapons, such as the Absolute Zero Maser Cannon, Homing Missile, Railguns, and more! It’s something that no other GigaBash character has.
Can you elaborate on the process of adapting these iconic characters to GigaBash's art style?

Aiken:
As for the character design, we wanted the characters to remain as authentic to the films as possible. We tried our best to preserve the original design as much as possible, everything from body proportion to the material and texture of the skin. However, the overall color tone of GigaBash is more vibrant and bright. We had to tweak their color skins to make them pop in-game, as well as cater to nighttime maps.

When we were prototyping the characters, we realized that only having the default skin for the characters made it difficult for players to recognize themselves when other players were playing as the same character.

We also learned that Godzilla never jumps in the movies, but jumping is an essential mechanic in GigaBash for roaming around and evading attacks.

After a few rounds of discussions with Toho, they gave us the green light to make Godzilla jump and perform all the aerial attacks currently in-game, as well as grant us the liberty to create four additional Skins for each character.

Are there any other collaborations the team would love to bring to GigaBash?

Aiken:
We would definitely love to bring more classic monsters and heroes to GigaBash from works such as Ultraman, King Kong, Pacific Rim, etc. However, our current goal is to focus on porting to Nintendo Switch and Xbox. Therefore, we don’t have enough capacity to develop new character DLCs at the moment. But, I believe we’ll continue to look for opportunities to expand our character roster once we successfully bring GigaBash to Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
The Godzilla DLC comes alongside the release of Patch 1.1, which includes the new endless Onslaught mode, Arcade Mode, and cross-platform matchmaking. Is there one feature of the patch that you'd really like to highlight?

Aiken:
I’d definitely recommend the new Onslaught Mode. It’s the only mode where players can play solo or co-op with another friend to battle against endless waves of enemies. You will acquire buffs as you progress and even be rewarded with unique skins that can only be unlocked when you clear a certain wave number.

What was it like to receive an Epic MegaGrant and how has that helped the studio's ongoing work?

Sern Ng, Founder:
As GigaBash is our very first IP, we’re very grateful to receive such a great recognition and acknowledgement. It really gave us the motivation to push past the uncertainties and keep driving towards a greater future.
What made Unreal Engine the right choice for GigaBash's development?

Mel:
We’ve used Unreal Engine for some of our outsourcing projects before and our team is more familiar with it, especially since it supports Physical Based Rendering workflow. Plus, our game demands high graphical fidelity which is one of Unreal Engine’s greatest strengths.

Were there any particular Unreal Engine tools or features that were especially helpful towards the development of the game?

Mel:
The Blueprint system was a real timesaver when we were prototyping the gameplay loop. It allowed us to quickly iterate the game and focus on finding the fun in our game without compiling a new build. GigaBash also utilizes the Epic Online Services (EOS) subsystem for our online matchmaking capabilities. It’s a really useful feature for implementing cross-platform play.

Thank you for your time. Where can people learn more about GigaBash?

For the latest news, updates and announcements, please follow us @GigaBashGame on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. We are also on YouTube @PassionRepublicGames.

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