God Hand was the last game made by the now defunct Clover Studio, and directed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. It is a 3D brawler, taking inspiration from games like Streets of Rage and Final Fight from the 16-bit era, that was released in late 2006. God Hand successfully blends a deep and rewarding fighting system into a punk setting similar to Mad Max and Fist of the North Star. It is also known for its humorous and sometimes nonsensical story and eclectic, off-beat soundtrack.
God Hand was released as a downloadable game for the PlayStation Network US on October 4, 2011.
Long ago, a prideful angel was cast out of heaven and became Angra, the Demon King. Seeking to take his anger out on humanity, Angra lead an army from Hell against the mortal world until being stopped by a man who was said to have the power of God in his arms. Countless years after being exiled back to Hell, Angra once again plots to invade the mortal realm.
You play the role of Gene, a rough but justice-focused street brawler. The game starts out with Gene and his traveling partner Olivia, a beautiful, kind girl who loves to give Gene a hard time, walking into a rather old-west looking town full of nasty thugs. In the past Gene had lost his arm when he stepped in to save Olivia from a couple of men, and Olivia, the last descendant in a family who was tasked to protect the arms of the man who defeated Angra, bestowed the last God Hand in her possession to him. Throughout the game, Gene encounters many different fighters and demons that he must defeat to save the world from Angra's return. Despite its premise, God Hand rarely takes itself seriously, opting for comedy over drama during most cutscenes.
God Hand is a brawler that draws much of its inspiration from games of the same genre from the 16 bit era, while still putting its own unique twist on the genre. You can assign any combination of the game's 100 fighting moves into a four attack combo (though it eventually can become a string of five or six attacks with upgrades); mashing the square button fires off these attacks in the order assigned. While seemingly simplistic, the player must consider the speed, fluidity, power, number of hits, and other special benefits of attacks such as the ability to launch an opponent or fill the Tension Gauge. X, Triangle, Down + X, Down + Triangle and Down + Square can also be assigned their own singular attacks, though those attacks cannot be strung together like a combo.
Rather than be able to block, the player is only able to dodge or evade enemy attacks. The right joystick on the dual shock controller is dedicated only to evading, with up doing a quick duck, left and right sidestepping, and back doing a back-flip. Dodges can also be used to cancel out of attack animations, which is useful for moves with long recovery time. Unlike Gene, the enemies are able to block attacks. Enemies can start to block during the player's combo, requiring the player to either wait for the enemy to stop blocking or use a move that breaks their guard. When an enemy's guard is broken, they are thrown into their broken guard animation, allowing the player several hits before the enemy is able to guard again. If the player hits a guarding enemy enough times in a row, they will immediately break through Gene's combo with a counter-attack, often launching into a combo of their own.
With every unblocked attack the player lands on an enemy, that enemy comes closer to becoming dizzy. Once dizzied, the player is able to either land a certain number of hits or use an action command by pressing Circle next to the enemy before he or she becomes un-dizzied, though a dizzy enemy will also become un-dizzied if the player waits to attack them for long enough. The action command Gene does depends on the type of enemy he is attacking, and does more damage based on how many times the player can hit any of the face buttons within a period of time.
The God Hand acts as a kind of limit break in which Gene becomes invincible for a short time while also delivering blows at above normal speed and strength. The God Hand can be unleashed once the player builds up their Tension Gauge high enough, which is done mainly by landing blows or action commands, taunting enemies, and dodging attacks with the right stick. The player also has a roulette wheel consisting of several special moves (referred to as Roulette Moves) the player can choose from. Some moves can either damage or dizzy your opponent, while others will refill either your Health or your Tension Gauge. Each Roulette Move takes a different number of Roulette Orbs to perform, the power or usefulness of a move determining how many Roulette Orbs it takes. Roulette Moves can take up to three Orbs to use, and the player starts the game with the ability to hold two, eventually being able to buy upgrade to hold up to five Roulette Orbs at once.
One of God Hand's most unique features is its dynamic difficulty system. Depending on how well or poorly the player is doing, the game will adjust how tough the enemies are, adjusting things like how much health they have, how much damage they deal, how long it takes to dizzy them, and if they're able to be launched or not with launching moves. With every successful attack or dodge the Difficulty Gauge is filled, and with each time the player is hit the Gauge drops. If the Gauge completely fills, the player levels up to the next difficulty, and if the gauge empties the player drops a level. The game has four levels, 1, 2, 3 and Die, which is counted as Level 5 on the results screen and is a significant increase over Level 3. In addition to the difficulty raising, players earn more money on higher difficulties. When starting a new game, players also select a difficulty that affects the dynamic difficulty system. On Easy the game is limited to levels 1 and 2, Normal gives players access to the entire difficulty scale, and on Hard players are constantly stuck on Level Die.
Between stages, players are able to visit a hub world that consists of a shop, a casino, an arena, and a portal to the next stage. The shop is where you buy upgrades, roulette moves, and fighting moves with money earned from playing the game. The casino has a handful of standard casino games; blackjack, poker, and of course, slot machines. The arena allows you to practice your combos on a living dummy, and will even allow you to use attacks available in the shop that you haven't purchased. Players can also participate in challenges for extra cash at the arena, though some of these challenges are more difficult than anything encountered in the main game.
Gene is the 23 year-old main protagonist and savior by accident. He is cocky, a brash show-off, and a loser. The story begins when Gene finds Olivia being attacked by a group of thugs and attempts to rescue the damsel in distress. He succeeds but it costs him his entire right arm. Olivia shows her gratitude by replacing his missing limb with the almighty God Hand that her ancestor had preserved for centuries.
With a group of devils wanting the powerful god arm, Gene has no choice but to eliminate these undead creatures as soon as possible. Plus, he has a score to settle for ripping his arm off.
Olivia is a nineteen year old beauty who is a descendant of a family that protected the God Hands for centuries, until demons hunting for the arms wiped out most of the family. As the sole survivor, she fled with one of the God Hands, allowing fate to carry her to a small town where she crosses path with Gene and entrusts the God Hand to him.
She may look like your typical damsel in distress but Olivia is one tough cookie. In fact, she's the only person that Gene is afraid of, for she secretly wields an axe...
The Four Devas
Belze Elvis Shannon
The Evil Trio
Mr. Gold and Mr. Silver
The Mad Midget Five
Ravel and Debussy
The soundtrack was composed by Masafumi Takada and Jun Fukuda, the famed musicians from Grasshopper Manufacture who also did the soundtracks for Killer7, No More Heroes and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. It features a wide versatility of musical style ranging from surf rock to techno to metal to pop. The soundtrack, entitled God Tracks!, consists of 23 tracks and it was only released in the Japanese version of the game. The vocals of the credits song was performed by Kebin Smith of Panda, No Panda.
- Gene's Rock-a-bye
- Smoking Roll
- Nippy Dog
- It's A Smile World
- Rainy Rose
- Top of The Humans
- Yet... Oh See Mind
- Devil May Sly
- Old Hand
- The Gang of Venice
- Bald Mountain
- Battery Size AA
- Floating Fort
- Unnavigable Sea
- Sunset Heroes
- Battery Size D
- Please Mr. SENSEI
- Too Hot!!!
- Forgotten Song
- Higher Than Heaven
- Anthem of Satan
- Handsome Dynamite
- The Horror
Official Guide Book
There are no God Hand official guide books from Prima Games or Brady Games. There is an official guide book by Capcom and like the soundtrack, it was only released in Japan on October 7, 2006. It is a 128-page colored guidebook filled with images, tips, maps and strategies.
Despite being made by the critically lauded Clover Studio, God Hand was not as well received as the other games like Viewtiful Joe and Okami. It received mixed to positive reviews from many websites and magazines. God Hand mostly received praise for its unique combat system, humorous storyline, and great use of utilizing classic beat-em up style in 3D. However, the game was criticized for its frustrating difficulty, awkward camera angle, uninspiring graphics and mediocre level design. The most harsh criticism came from IGN who gave God Hand a 3/10 rating. It has a 73 rating on Metacritic, and it's been listed in various Top 100 PlayStation 2 games by many gaming websites (including IGN, ironically).
Not many people were aware of God Hand when it first came out because it was released in 2006, the same year the next-gen consoles were hitting the market. The director, Shinji Mikami, believed that the other reason it didn't sell well was because he had too much creative freedom.
"I've released a lot of titles before and I feel that, perhaps specifically with regard to God Hand I was given too much freedom to make that game just as I liked. It didn't sell too well." -Shinji Mikami
On April 27th, 2011, Capcom producer Motohide Eshiro said in an Edge interview that the company is considering of doing a God Hand sequel in the near future.
"I personally am quite the fan of God Hand. I thought it had really dynamic gameplay of focusing not on blocking but on constantly dodging and moving. It was really fun and refreshing, and it would be great to see that turned into a series."
- Motohide Eshiro
However, Eshiro added that it can only be made possible if there is a fan demand, and encouraged fans to speak up about it.
"Look up Capcom’s address online right now and send us some letters and see what happens. It gets a lot easier to push an idea through management if it looks like we have a lot of support for it!"
A survey was conducted by God Hand fan site called Kung Pao Fu where fans can submit their ideas to Capcom from there.
Shinji Mikami said to CVG in July 2012 that he'd love to make a sequel but the IP is currently owned by Capcom.
Trivia and References
- The chihuahuas in the Chihuahua Races are all named after various pop culture references and video game in-jokes.
- Fission Mailed is a reference to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty when Arsenal Gear's AI is messing with the player and shows a fake game over screen.
- 49 Cent is a reference to rapper 50 Cent.
- Burrito Libre parodies the Jack Black lucha libre film Nacho Libre.
- Lucky Clover is named after the company that developed this game. This pup also has extremely high chances of winning the races and can be used to gain money if one has the patience.
- Mikami's Head is a rather sly reference to Shinji Mikami saying he'd rather decapitate himself than ever port Resident Evil 4 to the PlayStation 2. This did happen eventually, despite Mikami's protests. To date, he has not decapitated himself yet.
- General Lee is the name of the Charger driven by the Dukes of Hazard.
- Viewtiful Pup is a reference to Viewtiful Joe , also developed by Clover Studios.
- 37 In a Row is... you know what? Just watch the movie Clerks.
- More Cowbell is what Christopher Walken needed prescribed in a famous Saturday Night Live sketch.
- Dirty Sanchez is a reference to a particularly distasteful sexual maneuver.
- Salty Dog means an experienced sailor.
- The Mad Midget Five are a reference to both the Power Rangers franchise and the Japanese Super Sentai it's based on, but also are modeled after Viewtiful Joe (including relative stature).
- The music when fighting Azel is called "Devil May Sly," a reference to Devil May Cry.
- After defeating Shannon outside a theme park she escapes on a bus that appears out of nowhere, much as Ayame Blackburne did after your first fight with her (also outside an amusement park) in Killer7.
- The third area in Stage 2 is titled "Giant Enemy Crane", a reference to the Genji: Days of the Blade presentation at Sony's E3 2006 press conference.
- Level 5's eighth area, called "It's a Trap!!" is a reference to the inexplicably popular outburst from Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
- Every scene with the demon Elvis contains some reference to the famous rock and roller of the same name.
- The many male grunts in God Hand taunt Gene with lines such as, "I'm brutal and ruthless," "My style is impetuous," "My defenses are impregnable," "I'm Alexander the Great," and "You're not Alexander." These quotes are directly lifted or slightly paraphrased from a brief interview with Mike Tyson immediately after his first round knockout of Lou Savarese in 2000, as Tyson taunted the then-current heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.
- The casino is called "Barely Regal," doubling both as a description of the casino's royal theme and a joke about the Japanese language's lack of differentiation between L and R.
- The Chihuahua Curry upgrade from the Japanese version was changed to Puppy Pizza for the American version, possibly because the former sounds like it actually contains dog, though possibly also just being an example of Americanization.
- In Stage 1-3 - A Poison Chihuahua, a building named Rord's Pub in the Japanese version was changed to the Beating a Dead Horse Pub in the American version, an in-joke by the localization team about the developers already making a joke about the Japanese language not differentiating between L and R.