Smite them fools!
I think we can all say that we will miss Clover Studios. Although they really only brought us Okami, the game was so damn awesome that, upon its release, everyone stood up and took notice, only to sit down to 5+ hour sittings with the game that would later win multiple GOTY awards.
Well, their last game ever may not have been such a great commercial success, but it certainly is 'ending on a high note'.
Then again, when you get to stomp midget Power Rangers into the ground, it's not going to be anything but a high note, huh? Welcome to God Hand!
The plot of God Hand is simple. You play as Gene, a guy who got in the wrong place at the wrong time. After saving a girl called Olivia from a trio of thugs, you get your right arm cut off. You wake up some time later to find that Olivia has given you the God Hand (which is an entire arm, don't get me started), and now she is getting you to use this new appendage to lay some holy smack-down on thugs, dominatrixs and demons.
Sounds easy? Well, forget about that. This game is hard. Really hard. Fortunately, the game knows just how hard it is, in that checkpoints are both plentiful and close together, so that upon your inevitable death you don't start off too far back from where you were. Unfortunately, you restart the area completely, meaning all enemies come back as well. Levels are also rated not on the time you completed them, but how many continues you use.
The game also takes further measures to ramp up the difficulty, in spite of this frequent checkpoint-ness. By defeating enemies, you fill an unnamed gauge on your HUD. By filling it all the way, you increase the enemy difficulty noticeably. There are 4 levels to this gauge: 1, 2, 3 and Die, each adding more to the enemy AI. On level 1, you'll find it easy to lay the smack-down on most enemies, while on Die you'll struggle even to land a lot of your blows.
And you have a lot of blows to land, too. God Hand has over 100 individual moves that you can bind to your 4, 5 or 6-blow Square combo, your Triangle or X buttons, or to Down and Square, Down and Triangle or Down and X. The moves vary from basic punches, kicks, Roundhouses (for the Norris fans), Guard-Breakers, Godly attacks (that you unlock by completing the story), sweeping kicks, rapid punches and so much more. This means that you can play the same level over and over using various styles. Do you want to go for the 'up-close-and-punchy' rapid style, the 'keep-em-at-bay' style that sends enemies flying across the arena, the 'I-can-take-you-all-on' sweeping attacks to clear out multiple enemies, or the 'You-die-first' hammering blows to take 'em out one-by-one? Or, you could combine them to make your own style. You could even set it so that you Guard Break first off, and then hammer them with a volley of fists whilst their defences are down. (Now would probably be a good time to mention that when an enemy gets their guard shattered, they are in a weakened state and take more damage than usual from attacks)
Man, who knew that customising beat-downs would be so awesome?
That's not the only way you have of dispensing beat-downs, though. Your God Hand has two innate abilities in itself. The first is the Roulette Wheel. By tapping R1 when you have a Roulette Orb (You always have at least 1 when you use a continue, if you didn't have any when you activated the checkpoint.), you open up the Roulette Wheel. Once active, you have a limited amount of time to select the move from the wheel provided, and once chosen, Gene will perform that move. Moves on the Roulette Wheel do lots more damage than regular attacks, but, due to their dependence on Roulette Orbs, can only be done a limited amount of times before you need to restock. Moves on the Roulette Wheel consist of (but are not limited to) the Head Slicer, which sends a blade of energy right for the enemies neck, the Dragon Kick, which sends the affected enemy (or enemies, if you get them close enough) into orbit, complete with anime-style flash of light.
For humour value, you can't go past the 'Ball Buster', which is Gene spinning around, and delivering a sly kick to the crotch. Naturally, women are not affected by it. If it hits a valid target though, their face goes a dark shade of blue, which adds to the comedy.
The second God Hand ability is that, when you have your 'heat' bar filled (It works like your standard tension bar in brawling games), you can unleash the God Hands power, and you move faster than normal, hit harder than normal and are invincible. It's actually rather funny to interrupt a bosses victory 'taunt' over a connected attack with a flurry of rapid punches and kicks that staggers them enough for you to use the Circle-sensitive move (which you can do when they are stunned, and depends on the enemy. Tall guys get the Cobra Twist, fatties get their face kneed repeatedly, and women get spanked clear across the arena.)
Not that this game needs any help in the comedy department, that is. From your first encounter with a 'Poison Chihuahua' , to when the martial arts apprentice claims to be 'kicking your ass', only to be repeatedly kicked head-first into the wall by you. The bosses are the main source of the comedy, though. From the fat, cigar-smoking Mexican Elvis, to the demon masochist chick Shannon who will repeatedly turn you into a Chihuahua, to the drummer who wears his cymbals as if they were a man-bra, each boss has their own unique personality that you'll be smirking at when they're not beating you senseless (or you're beating them senseless).
The controls for God Hand are grand, with the right analogue stick used not for the camera, but to duck, sidestep and cartwheel out of the way of attacks, depending on which way it is pressed. With the customisable button setups, you never really use the move you don't like, more you use the move that you realise is the wrong move for this situation, a split-second after you make it.
As for the music, well its top-freaking-notch. Honestly, the ending song alone deserves to stand up there with 'Still Alive'. I've got the first levels song stuck in my head, and I love it!
But, as great as the game might be, God Hand is not without its flaws. For one, the camera is rather annoying, being fixed behind you for most of the game, the exception being during Roulette Wheel moves. For another, the enemy types get repeated a fair bit, but to its credit this is all to help the player memorise, avoid and counter enemy attack patterns, which is a plus given how hard this game is.
All in all, in regards to this game, you have to ask yourself one question:
Do you want to beat up those midget Power Rangers? If so, then get God Hand. Now, if you excuse me, the game is calling out to me right now.