God Hand – Not as Viewtiful as I thought
God Hand was easily my most unfamiliar game since the Cartridge Club’s inception, and I had no idea what to expect. Up until then, I at least had some idea of what each “Game of the Month” was about. This time, I was truly blind.
An action beat ’em up from Clover Studios and published by Capcom sounded incredibly promising. Being such a big fan of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, having Shinji Mikami’s name on it couldn’t hurt either. And I ‘do’ enjoy sitting back on the couch for a B-movie marathon. All the ingredients were superb. But if TMNT has taught us anything, it’s that some ingredients, while delightful on their own, simply don’t always work together on a pizza. Sorry Mikey!
“…there was just something missing in the details”
This 3D, button-mashing brawler follows the story of Gene, a martial artist turned God Hand, in his quest to defeat the demon, Angra. With the help of his sassy companion Olivia, they traverse a bizarre world; one which, in my opinion, seems bland and uninspired. The levels were certainly large enough, and the interactive elements of breaking furniture and finding coinage is a nice touch, but there was just something missing in the details. The repeating corridors and carbon-copy rooms, when mixed with the overabundance of screen tearing, left me imagining scenarios in my head of what could have happened. Did the development team run out of time? Did Clover Studios lack the toolset to achieve their endeavors? Was it a junior group that was put on this project? Or perhaps this is the exact aesthetic that they were targeting, and my feeble senses are just not able to comprehend? Whatever the case, it just left me wanting more.
“Fast-paced, ass-slapping, face-stomping, DragonBall Z punching action”
Now graphical integrity aside, this game does shine in other areas – particularly the combat. As a beat ’em up, I suppose that’s important. God Hand utilizes a complex combo system which offers fantastic customizability for any playstyle. Fast-paced, ass-slapping, face-stomping, DragonBall Z punching action – or slower but more powerful herculean uppercuts and roundhouse kicks that send enemies flying through buildings. All of these filling a combined arsenal of over 100 techniques to mix and match at your leisure. Fighting a quick demon with long reach? Use a Pimp Hand, Mach Jab, Godly Chop combo with ample guard breakers thrown in. Battling a methodical enemy who only opens itself for damage once a millenia? Better make that hit count with a slow but powerful Granny Smacker, President Punch or the tried and true Haymaker of God. Struggling with a difficult boss? Use some of those tokens you’ve picked up throughout the level and whip out the Roulette wheel for some incredibly powerful attacks. Unleashing a flurry of combos that you’ve customized yourself is wildly satisfying, but its something that requires a lot of trial and error, thus a lot of invested time.
“The ‘twang and jazz’ feel was unique and welcomed…at first”
So let’s wrap this one up with the audio; a feature I’d imagine is incredibly polarizing. I for one wasn’t much of a fan of most of it. The ‘twang and jazz’ feel was unique and welcomed at first – but it got old…fast. And with a game whose difficulty is right up there with Ninja Gaiden; the amount of track resets is like a q-tip being shoved too far in your ear….over and over and over. There are a few interesting tracks though that have stuck with me; particularly Smoking Roll. The Elvis-esque tune is used in the boss fight where you battle….well, Elvis.
“Mexican-wrestling gorillas, poisonous chihuahuas, and midget power rangers”
Did the game warrant its abysmal score of 3 out of 10, courtesy of IGN? Despite my critiques – I’d say “no”. God Hand sets the groundwork early on that it’s a game with a heft of tongue-and-cheek campiness, and SHOULD NOT be taken seriously. Mood is a huge part of the experience – and if you end up forgetting, the Mexican-wrestling gorillas, poisonous chihuahuas, and midget power rangers will keep you in check. If you’re looking for something with a more grounded tone though – then you’ll likely have a similar experience as me.
Overall, extremely happy to have completed this game and experienced it for me – despite my final thoughts. The Cartridge Club has been an incredible way for me to try out games that would have otherwise sat on my shelf collecting dust, and good or bad – I had a blast chatting about it with everyone during out playthrough back in Season 3. Have you guys played this game? If so, what’d you think? Was the minimalist approach to everything outside of gameplay something that worked for you? Should I be giving this another try with a now-clear understanding of what to expect? Be sure to let me know all this and more over on the Cartridge Club forums!