God Hand is an interesting game. So interesting, in fact, that the word interesting is not nearly interesting enough to describe its intricacies. On the surface, God Hand seems like the average beat 'em up: countless enemies who more or less look the same and a character hell-bent on saving the day despite all odds. Average is a severe misconception.
Touting the over-the-top gameplay and bizarre humor, Capcom created a title in 2006 that is completely unashamed of itself. Playing this game is almost like watching a train wreck. No matter how hard they try, players will find themselves unable to stop playing it. Not that the game is inherently bad, far from it, but God Hand has a huge tendency to bring up mixed feelings about the game.
Mixed feelings that players will regularly experience at the same time. Should they laugh? Feel disgusted? Be angry? Be happy? Is this a terrible game or is it the best ever made? Even something that is usually as frustrating as dying has become almost amusing in God Hand. Normally, a death that would have one restart a level over almost completely from scratch (money is still retained from the point of death) would cause gamers to shake their fists with anger at their TVs. If anything, dying in God Hand strengthens one's resolve to get back into the fray and deliver a proper butt whooping. With the required unlimited continues, expect this to happen often - dying 14 times is still enough to warrant a very decent bonus reward at the end of each stage. Even the voice acting is so terrible that players will have mixed feelings. It is with these conflicting emotions that God Hand keeps players coming back for more.
Combat is just wacky. Gene, the main character, will regularly throw heavy boxes across expansive rooms at his enemies, unearth giant beach umbrellas to smack them around with, and send his hapless victims into the stars with well-placed kicks. Despite being quite the trained martial artist, Gene does not seem to adhere to any code of honor. He will hit enemies below the belt, stomp on them repeatedly while they are down, and throw barrels of explosives at them.
“Not fair!” Right? Wrong. Despite Gene's “godly” abilities, the man has a glass jaw. Depending on the difficulty level, it can only take two well-timed kicks from an enemy to floor Gene. As players fight their way through enemies, a meter begins filling up. As Gene dodges attacks and flawlessly follows up with his own, the game levels up. No, Gene doesn't get stronger; his enemies do. That's right, the game ups the ante and boy does it ever.
Starting out at level one, Gene can take quite a few blows and players never have to worry about enemies hitting them from behind. Players who have somehow managed to not be seriously hurt through level three reach their own personal hell as they hit level die. Literally, “level die.” See? Far from normal. In this nightmarish level, Gene's only method of bringing the meter back down (aside from taking a blow that will probably turn Gene into dust) is to utilize one of his roulette techniques: grovel. Yes, Gene begs his enemies to turn down the heat. Of course, the more enemies players defeat in level die, the more bonus money they'll receive at the end of the stage.
Now, if Gene's animated personality weren't enough for this game, players can expect to see fat martial arts masters named Elvis, poison Chihuahuas, and old men disturbingly clad in very revealing clothes dancing to equally disturbing music. Why? Only Capcom knows. In any other game, seeing one of these would be completely out of place. In God Hand, they all start to seem so appropriate.
Gene's personal theme is suspiciously similar to Hawaii Five-O's opening theme. Doubtful? Take a listen. Pretty darn close, right? While this may not be true for those first hearing this song out of the game's context, this rip-off is also pretty darn cool. It adds to God Hand's campiness and is a welcome addition to the game. Anywhere else, it would be considered almost blasphemous – like stealing Stevie Wonder's Superstition and throwing a rap on top of it. There are some things that people just shouldn't do, and then there's God Hand.
God Hand is currently available on Playstation Network for $9.99.