Reviews: Godhand

"A different take"

...Or that's what IGN called it anyway. Here's my two cents:

First, the graphics and level design, since it's complained about very often. Even by PS2 standards, the graphics aren't great, and many levels are not so much repetitive as they are dull and uninteresting visually. However, this does not detract from the extremely fun and effective combat system; mostly because you're focused on beating up a variety of quirky thugs and not the landscape. The visuals aren't great, but they don't spoil the game if you just look past them, which is pretty easy with the fast-paced action God Hand offers.

Following onto my second point, the combat system is probably God Hand's greatest merit. Gene's moves are entirely customisable which gives you a huge amount of freedom on how to take down enemies and bosses. There is always a wide variety of moves to choose from at the store, but Gene also comes with several "free" moves that are useful throughout the entire game. This gives a total of 11 actions to choose from (punch, kick etc.) at any one time. The system also largely works defensively, giving you three different dodges you must use effectively in order to survive. Roulette moves, though rare, decimate your enemies in a very cool fashion; ditto for the God Hand itself. Combined, combat becomes varied, thrilling and enjoyably challenging.

Other major aspects of gameplay don't shine as much, but still aren't bad overall. If you die, you won't get as large a bonus at the end of the stage, BUT you keep all the money you've collected thus far which often outweighs the bonus. However, this is often irrelevant since you can keep save-reloading your trips to the casino, giving you virtually unlimited money. Movement might be a pain at first, but after some getting used to it becomes entirely possible to manage. The Fighting Ring is also a great addition for trying out new moves, earning money and challenging yourself.

Lastly, the difficulty. The level system helps you quite a bit since you lose levels faster than you gain them, meaning that the game will always lean more towards "easy" than "hard". The enemies may seem a bit cheap, especially in groups, but the game is quite beatable at low levels. Learn the controls (especially dodges) and you'll do fine.

Overall, an enjoyable, challenging yet rewarding game.

Wasted Potential

First, my credentials: I beat every Battletoads game there is. I am no stranger to pain, and that statement allows me to preemptively dismiss anyone who may accuse me of just complaining that the game is "too hard".

God Hand could have been a contender. I bought it after seeing clips from the game, expecting it to be a hilarious, over-the-top beat-down I was craving.

Instead... I got what is best described as pie covered in sewage. And I beat it strictly out of idiotic gamer pride, but I did not enjoy it. Now, that's not to say that God Hand doesn't have redeeming qualities. There are salvageable bits of unspoiled pie, but it's overall inedible. God Hand bombed for good reason.

The Good Bits

Where God Hand shines is in its boss battles, especially the ones against Elvis. Taunting someone who can obviously beat you into the ground is rewarding in a "Devil May Cry" way, as is mocking them with Gene's dodging tactics. Sure, if they hit you it's going to hurt like crazy BUT that's what makes it thrilling. The rip-off of the Hawaii Five-O's theme song really works and it was a great move to make it play during the God Hand invincibility. Add a useful taunt and ability to generally act like an arrogant jerk ("Nyah-nyah, you can't hit me I'm dodging!") during fights works beautifully, and the Roulette Moves are lots of fun.

The Bad Bits & Sewage

The regular enemies also are far too defensive, and while their blocks can be exploited the fact that they can leap out of a combo just bogs down the combat. Never mind the fact that the tank controls are bloody awful, making it impossible to quickly turn to face threats or even move about the level. The really fun elements of the game - roulette - are too sparse to use. Several levels/bosses are drawn out to the point of being a chore. (Final boss, could you mix it up a little at least?) Speaking of chores, move selection needs an overhaul.

Lazy (or cut-short) development features prominently in the randomization of power-ups and demons, and jerk-ass design appears in the casino (prize tickets). The replay mode is a joke, and the store doesn't allow even a basic health-restoring purchase in-between levels.


Overall, what should have been a fun, over-the-top beat-em up is just a bad game stuck in the 80's.