God Hand Sucks
Gamers are a superstitious and cowardly lot. They’re a group of greedy, needy, weak-willed cowards who demand entitlement and see a conspiracy around every corner. So when the well-respected gaming journalist website IGN refused to bow down to one of their sacred cows, they threw a fit the likes of which only gamers can make.
God Hand, a sniggering beat-em-up made in 2006 by Clover, the detritus of Capcom’s discarded and unwanted employees, is a frustrating exercise in tedium and attrition as you mash the continue button as frequently as you mash your punch button. It’s plagued with boring level layouts, copy-pasted hordes of enemies, hundreds of nearly-identical moves, dreary money-grinding to obtain those homogenous moves, and some of the most obnoxious MONKEY CHEESE RANDOM humor since Invader Zim.
You play as an (allegedly) wisecracking ripoff of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star as he punches gimps, dominatrices, and guys in gorilla costumes. So wacky! Its worshipers claim that God Hand offers an incredibly challenging experience that tests the player’s skill in a series of pugilistic gauntlets. “It’s hard, but fair,” they say, as if a legion of overpowered foes attacking from all directions is supposed to be fair. While playing the game I found myself constantly running away, letting the pack chase me while I got in a hit now and then until the herd thinned a little. The only skill that God Hand tested was my patience, and even that has its limits.
The much-lauded bosses are easy to beat, though. Though not quite as brainless as the counter-attacks in Arkham City, you can mash the right joystick in God Hand to avoid any attack from any enemy. And when you’re faced with a single enemy, it becomes trivially easy to defeat them. I don’t think I ever needed to use roulette or invincibility during a single boss fight in this game, at least not the bosses who fought solo. Compared to the parrying in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike or The Legend of Zelda: the Ocarina of Time, God Hand is a weak imitator that can’t run with the big boys. Even the final boss is a bore; his heavily-telegraphed attacks can be easily dodged and countered with your new game-breaking powerups. There is none of the exciting combat mentioned by the game’s devotees to be found.
The levels of God Hand are blank spaces, dull environments of brown buildings and stairs with the occasional cardboard box to avoid complete bareness. The (thankfully adjustable) camera will even clip through these boring surroundings to reveal the insides of the unfinished buildings, like some early 1990s mess of polygon. How did this get past the testing stage? Did Capcom’s bigshots look at this game’s glitchy, fragmented visuals and decide it was good enough to release to the public?
And did I mention the grinding before? To get the best versions of the duplicate moves, you have to go to the casino and play a roulette wheel to watch numbers go up. Why is this in a beat-em-up? I expect this kind of foolishness from Square-Enix, lovers of the pointless mini-game, but I had more faith in Capcom. And next to the casino and shop is an arena where you can fight some enemies who might actually challenge you, but in this case it still means mashing the thumbstick to dodge except the enemies kill you in three hits instead of five. If that is supposed to be a test of my skill and ingenuity, I’ll stick with the meatier Dynasty Warriors series, thanks. Koei can make a mean beat-em-up that really gets the blood pumping.
So how about God Hand’s aesthetics? The plot is deliberately stupid, but that doesn’t excuse it for being, you know, stupid. Poisonous Chihuahuas? Pimps with giant afros? Gay midget Power Rangers clones? This game uses every lame shortcut to “funny” it can think of in lieu of good comedy writing. There’s one scene where you save a guy’s life and he shows his gratitude by giving you an item and shoving his ass in the air, presumably in expectation for gay sex that never arrives. The Beavises who created and played this game undoubtedly find this to be the pinnacle of humor even as their DVR records the latest episode of the classic TV show Family Guy.
And similarly to Family Guy, God Hand has an unwarranted infatuation with tepid nostalgia; there are bleeps and bloops that try to make us pretend that video games haven’t advanced in complexity beyond those found in 1980 arcades, tired references to other games (one of the bosses is a fat Mexican version of Akuma from Street Fighter), and lots of puerile sexual content, which always excites morons. Unwilling to explore sexual themes in a mature manner like the newest Tomb Raider, God Hand instead gives us a cavalcade of rapists, clichéd bimbos, and other assorted morons instead of legitimate characterization. This game would have been more popular with 12-year-old brats had Capcom spent more than a button and a shoelace while marketing it.
BUT BUT BUT THE MUSIC! WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC!?!?!? When people talk about God Hand’s amazing soundtrack, they really only mean “Gene’s Rock-A-Bye” (stolen from the theme to Hawaii Five-0) because the rest of the songs are junk. You have a warbling, cacophonous Elvis impersonator belting out literal gibberish; several iterations of dreary, soulless techno; irritating whining; some boring “atmospheric” noodling. And the ending song, another ripoff (this one of the Mazinger Z theme), has more of the horrible “random” humor that saturates the whole stupid game. This is simply a poor soundtrack overall, and one containing a lot of plagiarism homages to superior works.
God Hand is a badly-made game full of poor design choices, blasé combat, schizophrenic challenge levels, and idiotic jokes. The fact that internet nerds keep clamoring for a sequel or for its main character to appear in other Capcom games is the greatest indictment against their good taste.