Hey all, sorry I haven’t updated the blog in a long time, but there has been a VERY good reason: Dawn of the Monsters is finally out on all platforms! You can pick it up on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Google Stadia now!
But since the game is out and Easter is behind us, I thought I’d write a special blog post for you all. You see, Dawn of the Monsters is absolutely loaded with Easter eggs, references, and homages. Our keen-eyed fans have been able to unearth a lot of them, but they haven’t uncovered even close to everything. So I figured I’d dig deep and share a few with you all. I won’t be cataloguing every wink and nod in the game— just the ones I personally really enjoy or may have gone unnoticed by most.
Before we begin, I will say that we are heading somewhat into SPOILER TERRITORY. Not anything I think will ruin your experience with the game, but I know some people are sensitive about this stuff! So if you want your experience of Dawn of the Monsters unsullied and unspoiled, come back after you’ve played the game. If you’ve already beaten it, read on!
What’s in a name?
If you want a deep dive on the Nephilim naming conventions and secrets, I recommend you check out Unai’s in-depth article on the subject. While that article covers the monsters well, there are a few other names worth calling out.
Among the human cast, Eiji Murasame is not only a nod to Eiji Tsuburaya (special effects director behind Godzilla, Ultraman, etc) but also an influence on his super hero name. “Aegis Prime” is pronounced “ayy-jiss Prime” instead of “ee-jiss Prime” just like the human character, as Eiji would have come up with his own superhero moniker. Eiji is also pronounced the exact same as “A.G.” the acronym for Astro/Atomic Guy from King of the Monsters!
Jamila Senai is a simple allusion to the Ultraman kaiju Jamila, who featured in episode 23 of the original 1966 series and is the favourite episode of Hiroko Sakurai, who played Fuji in the series.
The Sunrise is the satellite headquarters that DAWN operates out of, which is not only a way to connect it to the organization, but also a nod to Sunrise animation studio. Sunrise is known primarily for their work on the Mobile Suit Gundam television series but they also produced the first ever animated Ultraman series with 1979’s The Ultraman.
Each playable character in Dawn of the Monsters has a selection of colour palettes you can equip to customize your kaiju. There are quite a few selections to choose from, but keen-eyed viewers noticed a few recognizable skins among them. I’ve seen people online do a pretty good job identifying them but I figured I’d create an exhaustive visual compendium here and list them all out left to right, top to bottom. They are: RX-78-2 Gundam, Kebako (Cat Girl Without Salad), Perfect Cell (Dragon Ball Z), Eva Unit 01 (Evangelion), RaCaseal (PSO), Megaman X, Samus Aran (Metroid), Mazinger Z, Metabee (Medabots), Kamen Rider, Wolverine, The Guyver, Spiderman, Alien Dada (Ultraman), Green Ranger (Power Rangers/Super Sentai), Ultraman, Alien Baltan (Ultraman), Herculeskabuterimon (Digimon), Ebirah (Godzilla), Deadly Mantis, Them!, Gamera, Arctic Blast Megadon, Godzilla, Charizard (Pokemon), Godzilla (1954).
Kiwa and Kohara are twins, not dissimilar to the Shobijin who operate as priestesses to Mothra. They are also both psychic, and can communicate with Megadon and Ganira. This not only something that appears in the Godzilla series (with Miki Saegusa) and the Gamera series (Asagi, Ayane) but I wanted them to be part of the story considering how prominent children have been in kaiju media all the way from Ultra Q to Pokemon to Kaijumax!
Sofia Cruces, the resident Nephilim expert wears a magatama around her neck. The magatama is a comma-shaped bead that are part of Japan’s prehistory. Over many years they have garnered a somewhat mythical status in popular culture due to their mysterious nature (like Stonehenge, for example). Two key examples of this in kaiju media are their appearance in Ultra Q The Movie and the 1990s Gamera Trilogy.
However, a smaller detail in her character design is her headband, which is styled after the three horns on Megadon’s head! She’s a “kaiju groupie” similar to Newton Geiszler from Pacific Rim so we wanted to show that in her design.
Speaking of Sofia, if you take a close look at the Archives background in conversations or as you read the archives in the game, you should notice a few winks and nods to famous kaiju media! First off, in the back of the room you will notice two posters. One is a Megadon poster of the in-universe docudrama based on the monster’s emergence from Mt Aso (there’s some deep DotM lore for ya). The other is an anatomical illustration of a mysterious Nephilim- clearly inspired by Shoji Ohtomo’s kaiju anatomical drawings.
On the desk in the foreground you will notice two books on a table, one with Ganira on the cover. These are inspired by the famous “Kaiju Gaho” and “Sekai no Kaiju” books from the 60s and 70s in Japan.
The easter eggs dont stop in the digital world and extend to the physical as well! Thanks to the Limited Run Games physical edition of the game (sadly sold out now, sorry!) we have more to pour over.
First there is Matt Frank’s kaiju anatomical drawings of Megadon and Tempest Galahad, another nod to Shoji Ohtomo. Next there are the trading cards, styled after the 90s trendmaster Godzilla and vintage Power Rangers trading cards. The album cover includes a little nod to Godzilla 2014 and the mini-figures are inspired by kaiju candy toys.
The biggest item included is, naturally, the box! The shock box is styled after an old VHS big box release with wear, tear, and rental stickers. And the art itself is from famed artist Yuji Kaida.
Fans of our previous games, Runbow and Double Cross, might notice some familiar faces in Dawn of the Monsters.
A Bowhemoth movie poster shows up in Tokyo and a Runbow arcade cabinet appears in the barracks.
Zahra appears to have hopped into this dimension for a brief fashion career thanks to a billboard in Brazil, and… is that a R.I.F.T. badge in Regina Elleheim’s box? (and a Gorgo comic, for that matter?)
The opening cutscene for the game shows Eiji Murasame on a talk show with a man who looks suspiciously like David Letterman while he holds a small figure of himself in the exact scale and style of Bandai’s famous Ultra Hero Series of toys.
In the next shot we see Jamila standing in the palm of Tempest Galahad, not dissimilar to how Daisaku Kusama would stand in the palm of Giant Robo!
Once Megadon and Ganira appear, we see photographs of the when they attacked humanity. Megadon can be seen breathing fire and fighting jets in a nod to one of my favourite movie posters of all time: Gappa, the Triphibian Monster (1967). Ganira can be seen terrorizing a ship on a stormy night, like fellow amphibian kaiju Gaira does in War of the Gargantuas (1966).
Each world is filled with billboards, signs and landmarks that are intended to connect with the place of origin, but there are quite a few designed to click with kaiju fans first and foremost! I’ll go through my favourites here.
In Toronto there is a sign that says “Zillers”– a nod to Canadian department store Zellers crossed with the “-zilla” suffix. This is specifically because the first time I ever encountered Godzilla was at Zellers in my home town.
Early in the first mission is a billboard for Dawn of the Monsters itself, styled exactly like the Super Famicom cover for King of the Monsters.
In Tokyo you can see a sign for “Mazenda” as if it was a car brand- but it’s actually the name of one of the villain’s of Chojuu Sentai Liveman. In a similar fashion, you can find a billboard for “Academia Island” proclaiming you can get a “1,000-point brain!!”- the exact school our heroes (and villains) attended in Liveman.
The billboard with “Takahashi Seijin” is an homage to “Takahashi Meijin,” a former executive at Hudson Soft. Most famously known for his skill in playing classic Hudson games like Star Soldier and his ability to press a button 16 times in one second. He eventually got his own video game series with “Takahashi Meijin’s Big Adventure” being the first in the series (known as Adventure Island in English). By changing his name from “Meijin” to “Seijin” he changes from “master” to “alien,” like an alien invader in the Ultra series. You’ll also see Runbow’s kaiju menace the Bowhemoth show up in tokyo as well.
Last is a sign that says “Uptown Seven” combining the stylings of Ultraseven with the famed comedy duo Downtown.
And of course, most important is the inclusion of the classic “SPAGETTY” sign from Ultraman X.
And with that, I’ll end this article. Honestly there are way, way more references to kaiju, tokusatsu, and all manner of pop culture throughout the game so if you enjoyed these, I encourage you to scour the game for even more!
I would like to also announce that I will be at G-Fest this year giving a panel on Kaiju Video Games, a panel with Steve Roberts on Dawn of the Monsters (with cool behind the scenes info), and a panel with Kevin Derendorf of Master Patrol on obscure and surprising kaiju toys! I hope to see you there!
Until next time!