Never Played: GOD HAND
Capcom has been known to make Japanese arcade style takes on various genres over the years. In 2006 they produced God Hand in collaboration with Clover Studio, a 3rd person beat’ em up with heavy Japanese influence. Clover Studio made several great titles like Viewtiful Joe and Okami, before eventually migrating over to a new studio PlatinumGames. God Hand features Gene, a normal human martial artist who wields one of the “God Hands”, giving him supreme combat power and the ability to combat powerful demons. The game had no sequels, mediocre sales and decent reviews. I had never heard of God Hand until one of the hosts (I can’t remember who now, Daimon maybe?) of IGN’s former hit podcast GameScoop praised it as one of his favorite PS2 games (this was back when IGN was actually full of very informative and entertaining people). I saw it years later at a flea market and decided to add it to the collection. It has sat on the shelf until now though.
Holy shit is this game Japanese to the core. At first glance when gaining control of my character I expected it to be your typical action beat-em-up but I couldn’t be more wrong. First off the controls are quite different. One stick controls Gene’s movement but only in one axis of direction, not like other 3rd person games where your character has full 3D movement at all times. The other stick controls Gene’s combat movement, allowing him to duck, lean in, dodge attacks, prepare an uppercut or guardbreak. Normal buttons control your attacks, in combination with any direction or timing changes you made on the combat stick. The controls took an hour or so to truly get used to but once I did I found myself liking them very much and it was a fun style. Almost all of the combat in God Hand is hand to hand, with occasional use of special attacks or buffs. For instance after building up a meter you can go into God mode which basically just powers up the strength and speed of your punches, nothing exciting. What is really fun though are the special attacks. These special attacks range in function from single enemy focused, Area-of-Effect, linear attacks, stunning attacks, damaging attacks and more. You can use currency to buy more special attacks at the shop in between levels and set-up your arsenal however you desire. That’s one thing about God Hand worth mentioning, the currency. Its picked up by finding it in levels by smashing crates and debris or by defeating enemies. While doing so you will find other various things like tokens that grant you access to your special attacks, tokens that fill your God meter.
Having to pick up various tokens and power-ups adds to the arcade feel, along with the combat animations, the running score (which serves no actual purpose to gameplay) and the heavy handed Japanese humor which is most thoroughly displayed in the awful cutscenes and dialogue between Gene and his companion Olivia. The most Japanese styled part of the game is by far the plot line, which has you fighting off a group of demons who’re trying to resurrect the ancient demon Angra to gain control of the planet. If that isn’t straight out of a bad anime I don’t know what is.
Overall I actually did enjoy God Hand. The combat was different, the animations and style were fun for me as I do enjoy arcade feels to my light-hearted video games. God Hand‘s soundtrack, is great overall with a lot of Western themes added in with Japanese pop vibes, as a lot of God Hand‘s plot happens in an old Western looking setting. In an action game all that truly matters is the gameplay and that is where I really enjoyed God Hand. A clipping issue there or poor resolution here didn’t keep me from enjoying the game’s fun combat, quirky bosses and variety of power-up attacks. The average gamer may not like it, but I can see how a game like this could develop a cult following. Give God Hand a try if it sounds at all interesting to you.