God Hand’s wild sense of humor, surf rock soundtrack, and pure focus on ridiculous martial arts brawls makes this simple action game fun and challenging.
In the grand tradition of other beat-’em-ups, there’s not a whole lot of backstory to God Hand–only the thinnest semblance of a plot to set you up so you can knock ’em down. The title of the game refers to Gene’s right arm (not just his hand!), which apparently possesses stupendous power…though Gene’s other arm and both his legs are pretty tough, too. All sorts of other fighters, including a trio of scheming demons, want this power, and Gene’s got a score to settle with them anyway, so battle ensues
The game unfolds as a series of many brief levels, comprising over half a dozen different stages, each of which are sandwiched between brief, often-amusing cinematic cutscenes. Each stage has its own look, catchy music, and unique enemies, but the stages still are all roughly the same–the level design in God Hand is simply there to put you up against one roomful of enemies after another. There are no puzzles to solve, no bottomless pits to jump over, and barely any other obstacles to watch out for besides all the bad guys.
God Hand is difficult because Gene will often be pitted against several foes who hit hard and fast, and while they can block many of Gene’s attacks, all he can do is dodge and backflip to avoid theirs. These evasive maneuvers are performed using the right analog stick, and since they grant Gene a moment of invincibility, they’re essential to surviving encounters against most foes. As you might expect, Gene’s various attacks range from very quick jabs to slow and powerful punches and kicks that can send your foes flying.
He’s also got moves that will stagger a blocking opponent so you can keep punching away. Smack a foe enough times, and he’ll be dizzy, at which point you can unleash some sort of enemy-specific special move, like a suplex, or repeated knee strikes to the face followed by a good old-fashioned DDT. And if an enemy is down but not out, go ahead and stomp him over and over till he stops moving.
Once in a while, Gene also gets to use a variety of extremely powerful moves that can deal huge damage to a single foe or seriously injure a bunch of enemies at once. There’s a large variety of these and some of them are hysterical, but chances are you’ll find a few you like and stick to them. Once you gather enough energy from fighting, you can also awaken Gene’s god hand at the touch of a button, which makes you invincible and capable of doing much harm…which often leads to dizzying the opponent, and so you rinse and repeat. The game forces you to constantly be doling out attacks when you’re not feverishly trying to evade your enemies, and you need to keep an eye on your onscreen radar lest some foes creep up and attack from the sides or from behind. All this gives God Hand a manic pace, yet the game rewards skillful and precise actions, which should make fans of fighting games feel right at home.