God Hand Reader Review
After completing fellow Capcom game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (which, incidentally, likes to "whip it good" as well - coincidence or not? The debate opens now) on the Nintendo DS, I sat down and got intimate with God Hand. I've seen mixed reviews on this title - which is effectively Clover Studios' swan song - with one review site loving it, and another hating its guts. I'm now quite happy to say that the latter group has been quite incorrect.
God Hand is awesome. It's not covered in awesome sauce, but it's good enough to deserve praise. Because with this game, Clover Studios made a hardcore gamer's dream come true. Mine, at least. Here are 10 reasons why you - the hardcore gaming enthusiast that you are - should own, play and thoroughly enjoy this game:
I love voice acting where the cast (whether they're competent or not) has to voice silly lines and inane dialogue. Think Resident Evil on the PlayStation (or more recently, the Nintendo DS). God Hand has this exquisite feature in spades, making the admittedly simple plot a hilarious experience to go through.
09. Gratuitous violence
You know something good is going to happen when the initial violence disclaimer depicts a hard kick in the groin accompanied by a TING!. While sounding funny, it also sets the tone for what you are about to experience: an epic slugfest where everything is allowed. You will dish out and receive pain in many extremely cool or diabolically painful ways. Sure, you're going to play the God Hand, but that doesn't mean you have to be benevolent in any way. Hand out pain en masse, and expect to hear that TING! quite a few times over the course of the game - and not just coming from the enemies' groins.
God Hand is abundant with humorous touches (albeit at an adult level, but hey, that's the target group, right?), which makes it an absolute blast to play. Hilarious fighting moves (whip it!), crazy dialogue and text, extremely funny characters, animations and scenes (which are fully motion captured, by the way) - I'm quite positive that everyone will laugh out loud at some high points of the game.
07. Custom Fighting
Some reviews compare this title to Final Fight in the sense that you have an attack combo and some special moves which are used to beat the game. In-game this is certainly true, but one should take note that the attack combo and special move set can be fully customised by selecting techniques from a list which becomes longer as you buy or accumulate new tricks. As there are 114 techniques and 29 special moves, this enables you to customise your fighter to a very high degree.
As you gain experience, you will be able to select the optimum setup for each enemy type and boss, thus taking it far beyond the Final Fight level. Furthermore, all the (extremely cool) special attacks can only be used a couple of times; you must use them sparingly or things might get very difficult later on. Quite a feat considering that the game offers unlimied continues!
Thus fighting in God Hand is not only awesome - it's quite tactical as well. If you want to survive this game to see the conclusion of the over-the-top story, it will soon become apparent that the action is far deeper than some will have you believe.
06. Graphics and Music
The background graphics have been kept sparse for a simple reason: to be able to churn out as many enemies who are after your blood as possible! The focus is clearly on the (spectacular) action and actually, that's what games should be about. I should add that at first, the plentiful background clipping disturbed me until I realised that this way, you always have a clear view on the action and no camera problems. Clipping is good in this type of game.
Enemies consist of a few basic types (thin and fast, large but slow, tall and evil, ...), available to both males and females. As the game progresses, they will wear increasingly outrageous costumes. They can pick up and carry weapons, wielding them to great effect. Bosses are many and varied. They tend to re-appear at least once, but this is well integrated into the story. Also, personally, I don't really mind neutralising these magnificent opponents several times just to return the favour to them. Enemy design is great - I thoroughly enjoyed going one-on-one or one-on-many with them.
Music, in this type of game (over-the-top whacky), is easy to get wrong. Often, it's much too over-the-top whacky, off-putting the experience. So I'm very happy to say that this isn't the case here. The musician(s) here succeeded in creating a fitting, imaginative soundtrack, which is worth listening to outside of the game. Most memorable are the boss tunes - you're going to love the Elvis and Shannon themes. Oh yeah, the sound effects: they do a great job of putting you in the middle of the extreme battle, so kudios to the audial department.
05. A Casino
Like Blackjack? Poker? Slots? Poison Chihuahua races? Fear not, for this game has them all. They fulfill the important role of netting you cash which can be used to buy upgrades and techniques for your fighter. They make the process a lot of fun, too. Each casino game has been executed to perfection, so get your gambling groove on (without the fear of losing any real money, yet with the incentive to gain funds to buy out the in-game shop).
04. Replay Value
The game is filled with little extras which keep you going after the main quest is finished. There's an arena with 50 fighting missions (can you clear them all for a bonus?), a new difficulty mode, and a few interesting surprises for those who desire to better their score at the various subgames and levels. Considering the challenge level of Normal mode, this should keep you busy for quite some time.
03. Adult Style
Often, adult games treat their players as kids, holding you by the hand, offering merely simplistic stories with mature, but not too offensive imagery. This game has a simplistic story, but all the rest is opposite to what I just said. You will be catapulted head on into a tough, unforgiving all rules allowed slugfest containing heaps of sexual undertones and related innuendo. Just how we like it. Furthermore, the game's a treat for old school players with many references to classic games. Even the music hints at the old era of 8-bit gaming, with decidedly funky 8-bit tunes enhancing the experience of the various casino and bonus games. Excellent stuff.
God Hand is tough as nails, even in Easy (which arguably is quite comparable to Normal). Think Ninja Gaiden, think Devil May Cry 3, that kind of tough. While forgiving at the first few enemies, you will very soon be forced to rethink your strategies or you'll be overwhelmed and neutralised in just a few hits. To make things worse, fighting well will increase the internal difficulty of the A.I. (from 1 to 2 to 3 to the aptly named DIE - in Hard, it stays at DIE permanently) which raises the bar to an extreme (but also improves enemy items and drops, and even triggers special battles). Hardcore players love this as it means that skilled play pays off and is the only way to see everything the game has to offer.
At the end of each mission, your performance is rated by some statistics. Might not sound all that much to you, but to me, this is superb as it means that I now have a good incentive to learn how to kick ass in this game. Very interesting goals will be to move through the game as quickly as possible while saving all the hostages without using continues and achieving a very high average internal difficulty level (Easy and Normal only). I love doing stuff like that, but only when the game is really, really good. Which is the case for this title, so expect some crazy YouTube videos from me in the future!
Go now, scoot. Obtain God Hand by any means possible and give it a whirl. I have no reason to believe that you will be disappointed.
9 / 10