Hi all! Last week, we revisited a Sonic Team favorite.
This week, I'm replaying the last game developed by the insanely talented Clover Studio (Viewtiful Joe, Okami)
God Hand came out in 2006 and can be considered Clover's swan song. Led by Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) and Atsushi Inaba (Viewtiful Joe), the subsidiary of Capcom would eventually morph into Platinum Games, which I've covered time and time and time again.
In God Hand, you play as a dude named Gene. Gene has a "God Hand," that is, an arm capable of defeating demons. Said demons, mostly a group called "The Four Devas" who are trying to resurrect the Demon King Angra, are pursuing Gene and his companion Olivia to reclaim his God Hand. Madness and comedy ensues.
God Hand pulls no punches when you fire it up. There's a lot to take in. First and foremost, this game is hard. Like Dark Souls today, God Hand is only for those who both want and appreciate a challenge. A pure beat-em-up, Gene has only his fists as weapons (plus he can throw stuff) and he has no block move to speak of. You're only defensive maneuver is to flick the right joystick, causing Gene to quickly dodge. Literally the only way to defend is to time dodges against every single punch and kick your enemies throw.
Of course, Gene has plenty of offensive options as well. A unique customization system enables you to assign moves to any button you want, with Square being used for combos and X and Triangle to perform stronger finishers. A "God Roulette" lets you assign ultra-powerful moves you can perform using Roulette Orbs, which you gain from collecting Skull Cards...
The point is, yes, there's a lot going on, but it couldn't be simpler once you get going. Simple to understand, anyway. Like I said, God Hand can be damn hard. Just check out the game's "leveling" system.
As you deal damage, your level goes up. Starting at 1, it goes up to 3, and then it goes to "Die." But you don't get any stronger by leveling up-your enemies do. The better you are at God Hand, the tougher it gets. At the highest level, enemies no longer wait for you; they actively converge on your position. You quickly find yourself overwhelmed by powered up goons. Crazy.
But that's what God Hand's all about. It's about pushing you as far as you can go (and then some). It's sheer challenge, like Dark Souls or older, tougher games like Super Ghouls and Ghosts. The type of game that demands and rewards skill and perfection.
The story's entertaining too, in that wacky Capcom Japanese way. There's some stereotyping in the form of Gene, who's a wisecracking, vulgar guy, but a noble hero nonetheless. Think Devil May Cry's Dante, and you're halfway there. The rest of the game is a serious head trip. Lucha Libre gorillas, tiny Power Rangers, and a weird obsession with chihuahuas run the game, and some of it will make you chuckle if you're into this kind of insane humor (I am).
The graphics are perfectly serviceable, and about what you'd expect from a PS2 game from 2006. Characters are nice and large on-screen, and I love the art style due to it being very reminiscent of Fist of the North Star. Seriously, tell me Gene doesn't look like Kenshiro, at least a bit. There's a lot of insane, creative enemy designs abound.
The music's gotta be my favorite part of God Hand. Eschewing any particular theme, God Hand's soundtrack contains an eclectic mix of tunes, with my favorite probably being the surf-rock theme heard throughout a great deal of the game. It's inspired by the theme song to Hawaii 5-0. A show I don't really like or hate, but it's a cool song anyway. But there's not a lot of games out there where you can hear surf rock, metal, dance, electronic, etc. all in one single game. Here's a link to the soundtrack on YouTube:
Check out God Hand if you have the means. You can get it on PSN if memory serves, so you don't have to track it down or anything. Just be ready for a challenge.
Also, Clover went too soon.
And just wanted to say, I can't believe it's been almost a year since I started this weekly series. I had no idea where I was going with it, and I still have no clue now. Oh well, it's still fun!
Thanks for reading! Questions, comments, and future GOTW suggestions go in the usual spot. And Tweet me, if that sort of thing is really your bag, at @WingZero351
Next week-there's another game that uses "Godhand" as a character name. Also, there's some guest characters from some obscure RPG as well. A cult PS1 game takes center stage next week!