An Unbiased Review of God Hand

Five things that sucked:

1. Voice Acting

Much of the dialogue was kind of clumsy, and this is coming from a guy who’s relatively accepting of crappy voice acting. Bear in mind, I’m not talking about the voices that are supposed to sound ridiculous.

2. The Demon Forms of Elvis, Shannon, and Belze

All true except Panel #4

In an otherwise “ball-bustingly hard game,” these three fights were a letdown. The bosses looked cool, but they were slow and easy to read. While I died 219 times in the game, fewer than 10 of those deaths came from these three battles combined.

3. Buying Upgrades of the Same Attack

I have no problem buying weak-looking attacks that actually cause tremendous damage. What offends me is the notion that a monetary transaction can somehow make the same exact attack twice as powerful. Money can’t buy power. Only training, preferably mountain training, can make your Mach Speed Jab stronger. I mean, what are we supposed to believe, that this is some sort of a magic technique shop or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

4. Some of the Credits Song lyrics don’t rhyme

But it’s still the most satisfying (and spoiler-free) credits sequence ever.

5. The Roulette Wheel

Why did the wheel have to move in only one direction? And why did it have to randomize the starting point? I picked unintended attacks way too often. One time I even picked Grovel. Onegaishimasu.

Five things that rocked:

1. Soundtrack

Masafumi Takada and Jun Fukuda from Grasshopper Manufacture composed the game’s soundtrack. The score contains many throwbacks to older video game music, and is heavily influenced by 1960’s and 1970’s theme songs and other genres, including techno, rave, rock and funk. Takada was told by Mikami that due to the game’s hardcore nature, the soundtrack should be composed to “relax things a little bit.” Wikipedia

The typical action game soundtrack says, “You’re fighting an epic battle to save humanity!” God Hand’s soundtrack says, “Go out there and kick some ass!” The first stage sets the tone of the game perfectly with Gene’s Rock-a-Bye, heard in this trailer:

Is that not the perfect casual ass-kicking track? They even found a way to work in timpanis, the best instrument ever.

2. Comedy

Finally, a game that lets me play out my fantasy of punching a gorilla. And just when you think the game can’t get any manlier:

“My dad was over and saw me playing this game at this exact point. I told him it was the manliest fucking game around, but he just looked at me like I was the biggest dissapointment in the world.” — Comment on the video (+58 rating)

In sum, this is a funny game.

3. Combat system

It’s brutal and ruthless. Its style is impetuous. Its defense is impregnable. It’s Alexander the Great.

4. Minimal Problem Solving

When I’m playing an action game, I want action. I don’t want to spend half of the game searching for orbs to stick into matching orb sockets to create a beam of light to shine through a gate that can be rotated with a lever to align it with two other rotatable gates to expose an elevator that takes you to the next level where you get to do the same problem-solving bullshit all over again.

5. Symmetric Opposition

A Ken to your Ryu. A Vergil to your Dante. A Seifer to your Squall. It goes without saying that the God Hand must fight an equal and opposite Devil Hand.

Five things I’m indifferent about:

1. The Casino

I played about 10 games of video poker, 10 games of blackjack, and never went back.

2. The Plot

God Hand was never designed to be a plot-intensive game. Still, between each stage, they could’ve done a little better than repeat some variation of:

Oilivia: Hey, Gene, go into town and beat people up.

Gene: Do I have to?

Olivia: Yes.

Gene: Ok.

3. The Challenges

I got annihilated each and every time without fail. I couldn’t even break the car.

4. Enemy Variety

The lack of enemy variety wasn’t nearly as bad as a lot of reviewers made it seem. At the very least, it wasn’t any worse than the enemy variety in God of War.

5. Random Demons

Any standard enemy can turn into random demon at any time. Since there are only a few enemies that are guaranteed to turn into demons, you have few opportunities to learn how to fight them. This spells certain death early in the game. Later on it becomes a fun challenge.

Final Score: +++

Next up: Metal Gear Solid 3

So far I’m about eight hours in. It’s been about 70% watching cut scenes, 20% crawling around like a pussy, and 10% getting creamed in gunfights because the only first person shooter I’ve ever played was Chex Quest.

As for my next RPG, out of respect for God Hand, I’ll be playing the other game Studio Clover produced just before dying out.

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