Snackbar Crew

Editor’s note: In a recent interview, Okamiden producer Motohide Eshiro hinted that Capcom would consider a sequel to controversial PS2 title God Hand if fans expressed enough interest. Unsurprisingly, that’s mobilized quite a few to express support for the idea. Richard Watts, creator of, makes the case for the sequel.

Do you remember God Hand? The game in which you could kick people so hard that they were launched into outer space? In which you could kick a demon in the testicles? Spank a girl to death with your bare hand?  Punch as quick as the Fist of the North Star? The game that was so difficult that you cried and cried, and your parents didn’t understand what had happened to you? If you don’t know this game, it’s time for you to learn about one of the finest games ever to have been made.  

Die-hard fans of God Hand should be very excited. Up until now, they were right to assume that there would never be a sequel to their favorite game. Released by Capcom in 2006, it would be the final game designed by Clover Studios. Clover then went on to become Platinum Games, and the rights to God Hand remained with Capcom. Five years later, we’ve barely heard a thing about the game. Up until now.

The original

God Hand, designed by Shinji Mikami, had a singular vision – to be a game for hardcore players. It took many elements from the old beat-’em-ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, taking standard enemy designs from the time (mohawk thugs, dominatrix women, skinny knife-wielders, fat bald men, etc.) and placing them into a modern game with a more complex fighting system. The game is as challenging as the old beat-’em-ups too, with enemies taking a serious beating before going down, and boss health bars seeming to go on forever. Comedy elements and fun references run throughout the game, including the moves that the main character, Gene, uses. From the Dragon Punch to the German Suplex, Gene represents a typical martial artist from anime and video game culture, yet remains unique because of his design and unusual combination of styles.

God Hand really stands out because of the combat system. Unlike Devil May Cry and its contemporaries, God Hand is about getting up-close and personal with the enemy, and using your bare hands to crack skulls. Rather than jumping clear of all danger, waiting for it to be safe then going back in, God Hand forces you to stay with the enemy at all times, and dodge their individual attacks. Unable to block, you have to react to everything the enemy does to avoid getting hit. This requires more skill, but is also more rewarding. By using Gene’s dodge moves, you really feel like you are in a fight, dodging each punch as it comes, rather than treating all moves the same.

When it comes to the beat-down, you have a customizable set of techniques which you can add to as you buy more moves during the game. At any time, you can have five custom moves and a combo loop made up of any moves you have bought. Choosing a different combination of moves greatly affects your strategy in the fight. There are guard breakers which cause a stun on an enemy should they block it, quick moves to intercept enemy attacks, moves that juggle, unblockables, moves with evasion properties and moves which knock enemies flying across the level. It’s up to you what you focus on.

Using your tools, once you smack enemies around enough times you can knock them senseless, so that they are dizzy. Once they are like this, you can activate a stun move – a set animation which causes Gene to pulverize them in a hilariously awesome way, such as knee them in the face a hundred times then DDT them into the ground, or get them in a submission hold and crank their neck over and over until it snaps. These are wonderfully satisfying payoffs to work toward, some of which call for the player to repeatedly press buttons – the quicker you pound, the faster Gene pounds their skull.

On top of these techniques, Gene also has the God Hand itself. This can either be activated to make you invincible and super quick for a few moments at a time, or you can use the Roulette moves, which are unblockable super moves which are powered by orbs that you pick around the levels.

To keep you on your toes, there is also a dynamic difficulty. There are four difficulties that the game can function at – 1, 2, 3 and “Die”.  Enemy AI is different on each difficulty, gradually getting quicker, blocking more intelligently, using more complex moves, attacking in formation rather than one at a time, and of course doing more damage to you. The game determines what difficulty it should be at.  To start with you begin on Level 1. If you get smacked around, it doesn’t rise from there, but if you avoid getting hit and start to defeat enemies with ease, it goes up. And it continues to go up and up until you reach a point where you do get beaten, at which point it will start to go down, and not progress further until you start to do better. This works fantastically, because if you’re having trouble getting used to the game, or come to a particularly challenging section, then you are given a break as the difficulty goes down. And on the other hand, if you’re finding it too easy, it gets harder to cater to your skills. Everybody wins! Not only this, but at the end of each mission, you’re given a set amount of money for each enemy defeated at each difficulty, so it’s an incentive to keep the game as hard as you can make it by successfully dodging attacks.

The need for a sequel

So, why do we need a sequel to God Hand?  First of all, look at the competition. There still are no other games like this. In particular, the unique dodging system, the fully-customizable fighting style and the dynamic difficulty are just some of the things that other designers seem to have overlooked. Also, other modern fighting games worth talking about are high-flying action like Bayonetta. God Hand is a totally different genre, a much more hands-on experience, and there are no modern games of any quality in this genre.

Also, too many games are becoming simple, aimed at casual gamers, with nothing to really learn, nothing to work at. God Hand is a game in which you come away feeling like you have learned a martial art, a system by which you can overcome the odds. You can also play it again and again, trying different combinations, and trying to do better on each stage, learn new ways to deal with situations, push your reflexes to their absolute limit. Other games guide you so much, force you into a particular way to deal with the enemies, instead of giving you more tools than necessary and letting you decide what to do. A sequel to God Hand would address this, if the core elements of the game were preserved or built upon, we’d have something really special, something which hopefully would be noticed this time, and influence games to come.

What could Capcom do with God Hand 2?  First of all, they could expand on all the obvious elements:

  • Put in more moves to buy
  • Add new properties for moves, for instance, eye-poking, more taunt moves like slaps and comedy karate moves, and grab moves which could activate off normal strikes (such as a kick to the belly which turns into a Stone Cold Stunner on counter hit or on a stunned opponent)
  • Put in more options to use on a grounded enemy (as it is you can only stomp or use an axe kick, they could put in elbow drops, leg drops and so on)
  • Add some unique God Hand moves to be used once God Hand is activated
  • Make the stun moves customizable just like the other moves (so that you don’t have to see the same stun moves again and again) as well as allowing Gene to use unique stun moves on downed or juggled opponents allowing for more variety
  • Add in the possibility for double stun moves, (if there are two enemies stunned next to each other) for instance, banging their heads together, or doing a jumping splits kick
  • Add in some kind of counter system, where you would have the option to deflect individual attacks to follow up with your own special counter move, as well as the standard dodge system
  • Put in more species of demon, perhaps they could be related to the type of enemy that they spawned from, so you could have a fat demon, female demon, skinny demon and so on
  • Have more combo options, such as a modifier allowing you to have two combo lists which you could overlap and go between, rather than just having one combo set at a time
  • Add some kind of rating system to keep track of what you’ve achieved in each mission (this would also mean adding a new game type to allow you go back to each section to try to get maximum achievement)
  • Put in even more direct links to other Capcom games, have cameos by other characters, and use more moves and weapons from other games, get the most out of these kinds of references
  • Put in some more things to unlock, costumes, upgrades, and perhaps another character (Azel, or perhaps guests from other games) and other standard things such as unlockables for your PS3 or Xbox 360 (Avatar costumes and so on)

Secondly, they could expand on enemy interaction, have more attack patterns and mix-up combos from them to make it more of a challenge to choose the right dodge. Have enemies react differently depending on what’s going on—perhaps have enemies chicken out if their friends all just got wiped out, or have enemies become fatigued when their energy is low.  Enemies could react more strongly to being taunted, and their tactics could become different as a result. The enemies could have their own stun moves that they use on Gene when he gets stunned (as it is in the original, Gene gets stunned, but then they just punch him some more).  There could be more distinctive attacks from enemies which lead to Gene’s reaction to them.  These showed up from time to time in the original, like when a Demon tries to grab Gene from behind, you can press O to counter to have Gene perform an axe kick over his shoulder.  This could be expanded upon. For instance, some enemies could counter Gene’s attacks, so you’d have to react in time to stop them being successful, and return fire.

There could also be new classes of enemies, for variety in their attack patterns, and also as another way to reference games. There are so many characters in Capcom games that could either be used quite plainly, or referenced heavily due to their attacks and dialogue. 

The very nature of God Hand, its lack of seriousness and obvious nods to gaming, anime and wrestling, allows the designers to put in whoever they want, and also to send Gene wherever they want.  He could venture into worlds which belong to other characters, or have obvious references to other games. Imagine walking past the statue from Sagat’s stage in Street Fighter II. Or walking into the mansion from Resident Evil and beating down some zombie characters.  To expand on that particular idea, they could have some of the STARS members zombified, spouting their legendarily poor voice acting such as “Barry… where’s Barry?” and “I hope it isn’t Chris’s blood!” before getting their face kicked in by Gene. There’s an absolute gold mine waiting to be tapped and used in a game like this.

There were some mistakes made in the first game that also need to be addressed. The biggest error, I feel, was the lack of a tutorial or explanation of the system. Although there were tutorial icons around the first mission, they were not clearly labeled as such, and you didn’t actually have a practice area to begin with. I think that, before the game begins, you should be put through a tutorial to explain how everything works: dodges, guard stuns, full stuns, stun moves, default moves and setting techniques. Since the system is deep and unique, I feel that the developers should take the time to explain what’s on offer, and how to get by without getting your head kicked in.

Capcom has the ability to do something really special. God Hand might not have been a great success, but that wasn’t due to the game. It was a masterpiece which has not been rivaled.  Perhaps it was not marketed so well, and maybe the infamous IGN review hurt the sales too.  But that can be used to their advantage now. Capcom can seize that negative publicity, and launch God Hand 2 as the game which was misunderstood, which was too godly, even for reviewers – a game that was ahead of its time. I think there are many gamers out there who know about God Hand because of the IGN review and because of fans’ reactions to it. Yet they are hardly likely to go back to their PS2 to check out a game from five years ago. If God Hand were available on the current generation of consoles, either as a sequel or as a revamped version of the original, it would allow new players an easy way to access the brilliance of the game, and realize what they missed out on.

Agree with Richard? Join his Facebook group, share this YouTube video, fill out this survey or email [email protected] and let Capcom know. Disagree? Comment and let us know that too.


December 23, 2005

[heading]Kat Ingersoll[/heading]

Better late than never, as the old adage goes. That’s the phrase that went through my mind as I first explored the world of [i]Nintendogs[/i].

[i]Nintendogs[/i], which was released about nine months after the DS, makes you the proud owner of a virtual Tomagotchi-like puppy. You train, feed, bathe, groom, walk and play with it. You even have to scoop its poop, lest you earn the wrath of fellow in-game trainers.

This is the first offering from Nintendo that truly utilizes all of the DS’s unique features. You use your stylus to pet and groom your puppy. The microphone makes use of voice recognition technology to teach your puppy to respond to its name and voice commands. You even use both screens, watching your puppies play while you monkey with menus.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The puppies primarily reside in your “room,” which is a place for them to run around in when you’re not looking. The background has small touches that fit the environment. (Such as ming vases and deer scares for the tatami room.) The puppy breeds are also beautifully detailed from curly, frizzy tails for the shiba inus to curly ears for the cavaliers to the facial markings for the huskies. There are a few cropping issues that always seems to plague Nintendo, most notably when your large-hat-wearing puppies roll over and the hat seems to disappear into the floor.

Soundwise, [i]Nintendogs[/i] does not disappoint. Each aspect of the game has a corresponding soundtrack that is pleasing to the ears, yet doesn’t distract from gameplay. Also, each breed has a distinctive bark, though it is disconcerting to hear my big, bad, wolf-blooded huskie have a more yappy bark than my sweet, loving lab. The only drawback to the sound is that you’ll probably get rapidly tired of hearing the same background music as you put your puppy through its paces.

The real meat and potatoes of this game is raising and playing with your puppy, the majority of which is done with the stylus. The touchscreen and game are responsive to the stylus and the microphone is pretty sensitive to your voice commands. (You probably want to turn your mic down because it’s that sensitive.) To list all the features and things you can do with this game would make this review pretty long. However, the game is pretty intuitive. The only real drawback is that you may find the voice training to be very irritating, especially if you tend to speak with a “mush mouth.” However, if you remember to speak clearly and enunciate so the puppy can distinguish your commands from each other — instead of yelling “stupid mutt” at the screen — you’ll probably won’t have too much of a problem.

The one thing that hurts this game is that the novelty wears off quickly. Nintendo attempts to mollify this by stuffing this game with unlockables such as different breeds, new rooms, puppy accessories, music, and toys. Some you unlock by accumulating trainer points via winning competitions and caring for your puppy. Some you pick up while walking it. Some of the rarer ones are cute enough to make playing the game worthwhile. All these unlockables affect your puppies in different ways and it’s fun to see how.

Unlockables aside, those that are easily bored will probably set this game aside when the eventual flood of games comes during Christmas. However, [i]Nintendogs[/i] is fun for anyone that’s easily amused or often finds themselves with time to kill. It’s like owning a real dog, but without the smell. (And I’m sure Nintendo will correct that oversight in [i]Nintendogs 2[/i])

[heading]Michelle Morrell[/heading]

I myself think this game is awesome, and makes it worth owning a DS for it. I do have a few gripes though, which is troublesome, since outside of these complaints, the game is excellent. It utilizes many great features of the DS, but even so, I could not ignore these faults.

I think the first problem I had was doing contests. Every time I wanted to do a contest I had to continually click through the dialogue. Once you’ve read it, you don’t have any reason to read it again. Why waste the time to keep tapping on the screen to make the conversation end when you should just be able to start the contest and go at it?

The other problem I had with the game was the inability to check all the animals into the doggie hotel. Sometimes real life would get in the way, and I wasn’t able to play the game every day. Because of this, I wish that I could have kept all of my animals in a doggie hotel instead of having to leave one at the house. Sometimes I can’t get to the game for a few days, and I don’t want to have to worry about the dog running away.

Outside of those two faults, I thought it was a great game, and I really have a hard time going more in depth since most of the points have already been covered.


[i]Nintendogs[/i] is not a great game. It’s not quite a good game, either. I wouldn’t even call it an average game.

This is because it’s barely a “game” at all. Much like other virtual pet-sims, or other “sandbox” games like [i]SimCity[/i] (or, indeed, [i]Animal Crossing[/i]), there isn’t much of a *point* to it. You feed, play with, and otherwise care for your digital dogs, training them to do well in the three contests, so you can earn money to upgrade your place… and that’s about it. No ultimate goal, no adversaries, not even any sort of head-to-head competition. It’s just you and your pup(s), simulating real life as best as the DS can, and occasionally meeting up with friends to show off your pets.

And for its part, the DS serves admirably. The voice recognition via the built-in mic (while admittedly spotty at times; I have some issues with siblants not being picked up, making commands like “sit” dicey) brings the level of interaction to a level previously only attainable via niche titles and specialized peripherals — like the Dramcast’s [i]Seaman[/i] or (and this is a stretch), [i]Hey You! Pikachu![/i] for the N64. The stylus interface isn’t quite as revolutionary when you consider the various applications of the PC mouse over the last decade or two, but still a huge step for handheld gaming.

But there are some basic flaws with the program that prevents it from being all it could be. You can’t have more than one supply out at once, so once you get beyond your first adoptee, you end up with your dogs fighting over the toys; even though you’ll probably wind up with a half-dozen tennis balls in your inventory, you can’t actually *use* any more than one. While watching three pixel pups trample over each other trying to get to a jerky treat is amusing, it is a strike against the “realism” — in the real world, dog owners can fling out more than one treat at a time. You can’t “dress up” your pup in more than one accessory (which spans everything from collars and bows to hats and sunglasses), which is a bit of a shame.

There are several nice designs available for upgrading your otherwise sparse living environments, but it’s all just so much wallpaper. The actual at-home play area is a circular space, often bounded by invisible walls, in which your pack of domesticated wolf cubs is confined. My current home is the “Seaside”: graphically, it’s a nice beach, complete with wide expanses of sand and surf; in reality, it’s an invisible kennel fifteen feet in diameter with no access to the water, pier, or even any simulated sand for digging.

I could go on. But nitpicking like that is what kills the magic of [i]Nintendogs[/i]. All [i]Nintendogs[/i] asks from you is about an hour or so (possibly less) of your time a day. Give them food and water, bathe them when it looks like they need it, and have some fun. If you want to get competitive and strive for championship-quality performances, that’s your option, but it’s hardly necessary. [i]Nintendogs[/i] is a great consolation prize for anyone who can’t (or possibly shouldn’t) own an real dog: it doesn’t take up any space, it doesn’t get sick, it doesn’t cost you anything more than the initial $30 (more if you don’t already own a DS) and electricity… and they’ll never die — in any real, emotional way.

On that note, however, there is one aspect of owning a real dog that is sadly simulated in [i]Nintendogs[/i] as well. Often times, once the shine and excitement of owning a new puppy has worn off, interest starts to fade. Before long, the dog has become a burden on its young owners. Not to the point of outright neglect (usually), but no longer special either. Once you grow tired/frustrated with the competitions and lost interest in unlocking breeds and items, [i]Nintendogs[/i] regrettably reaches that same level. Whether or not you feel guilty about treating [i]Nintendogs[/i] like a chore is really the defining experience of the pack: if you do, then maybe [i]Nintendogs[/i] achieved it’s goal after all.

It made you fall in love with puppy-shaped pixels. You wouldn’t be alone.


It appears that this will be the most difficult review I’ve had to do. After all, look at everything that I have to follow? Geez. Don’t leave a guy anything to work with here. 😉

Most of the main points have already been brought up, but there are a few things I would like to reiterate. [i]Nintendogs[/i] is fun. [i]Nintendogs[/i] is unique. [i]Nintendogs[/i] is one of the few games to fully utilize all of the capabilities of the Nintendo DS. Those are major reasons why I enjoyed [i]Nintendogs[/i].

I think perhaps the biggest problem with this game is longevity. Sure, as mentioned, there are plenty of unlockables. The thing is though, I can only do so many contests and take the dog on so many walks before I start to get bored. I played [i]Nintendogs[/i] for about a month straight, but I literally haven’t touched it in about four or five days.

As mentioned (yet again) the nicest and most aggravating thing about the game is the doggie hotel. You can keep up to five dogs there. The problem though is that you can’t keep them all there, so if you don’t play for a great length of time, there’s a chance your puppy could run away (or so the other trainers in the game warn me).

In relation to that, there were times where it really did feel like it was a chore to play the game. It felt like I was playing only because I had to, and not so much because I wanted to.

Of course, here I go blabbing about the problems with the game, but I suppose the better a game is, the more critical you are bound to be. In the end, I think [i]Nintendogs[/i] is a great game, and the beauty of it is that it targets a wide audience. You’re just as likely to find an eight year old boy playing this as you would be to find his mother playing it when he’s not. It’s a great game that aims at the widest demographic possible. That is why there has been such success with [i]Nintendogs[/i].

Kat’s already mentioned it, but [i]Nintendogs[/i] truly is a case of “better late than never.” This was the system selling title that Nintendo needing for the DS to be widely accepted by as many people as possible.

If you have not played [i]Nintendogs[/i] yet, you should at least give it a shot. Perhaps borrow it from a friend or something. Overall though, I am not disappointed. I played this game every day for a month and really enjoyed it. In my opinion, I got my money’s worth.

Halo 2

December 3, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft][author]Pickle[/author]The anticipation for what some prematurely called “The Greatest Game of All Time” was at an all-time high prior to November 9th. Midnight struck, and [i]Halo 2[/i] was launched in the record books. You cannot deny the appeal of [i]Halo 2[/i], with the first title being an extremely solid first-person shooter. A sequel only meant innovation and tweaking, all of which leads to a better game. Not to mention the implementation of Xbox Live so you can hook up online and play with some of your good buddies.

The end result is an extremely solid game-yet a game, in my opinion, that did not live up to its tumultuous hype. The fact of the matter remains that [i]Halo 2[/i] is a well done first-person shooter game, if that’s your bag. If not, you will find another first-person shooter with a semi-interesting story mode. This game is a lot of things to a lot of people; it very much caters to the tastes of the genre fans and multiplayer junkies. I found the game lacking in originality-if you’ve played Halo 1 and enjoyed it, you will love [i]Halo 2[/i]. This is a very hard review for me to write. It is an extremely solid game, but it is one that doesn’t cater to my tastes or keep my attention. I am so in the minority, however, that you probably think I am smoking something strange.

[floatright][/floatright]This is a group review, so I can be pretty general about it and chances are high that you already have this game and have played it. [i]Halo 2[/i] has reached phenomenon status unlike anything ever released, so we are here basically giving our takes on it. I know the crew loves it and defends it with stalwart dedication when I run my “overrated” jabs at [i]Halo 2[/i]. In all honesty, however, there is nothing overrated about it (I love raising a fuss), I do admit. [i]Halo 2[/i] delivers on every single aspect of video games above and sometimes beyond expectations and standards of video games-but not mine, though. Breaking down each part of the game would be redundant, as words like “brilliant” and even a few “perfects” come to mind, with its only downside being what I consider to be a drawn-out single-player story mode. I am confident that most everyone will enjoy playing [i]Halo 2[/i] in many aspects. I, however, won’t. I am sorry. Why do I apologize? I have no idea. I just feel the need.

[author]Pretzel[/author]As many of you know, I along with many others on this site am one of [i]Halo 2[/i]’s biggest fans. I was very happy to see hundreds of people standing in line to get a copy at midnight. I must say that playing the multiplayer is quite impressive in some areas, but lacking in others. Playing among friends and setting up custom games are very entertaining for hours on end. Features like selecting party leaders to host are very efficient just in case someone’s connection just can’t hold up. Another feature is the matchmaking system while playing on your own. The days of playing against someone who is supremely better than you are over. There is an even playing field across the board in matchmaking. The downside to matchmaking is the lack of gameplay variety. After one match is over, it automatically sends you back to look for another match. This can get very annoying at times if you want to play continuously. Another downside is the lack of slayer matches and map selections. There is just not enough slayer matches for bigger party duels, and the map rotations are not very balanced.

[floatleft][/floatleft]The soundtrack to [i]Halo 2[/i] is just beautiful. With the original chanting theme song and other orchestral music, the soundtrack is up to par with some of the best movie scores, especially with the new addition to the story. Playing as the Covenant is a very unique aspect to the story of [i]Halo 2[/i]. Playing as both the Master Chief and an Elite really keep the gamer entertained on both sides of the games.

After the hype and wait, [i]Halo 2[/i] is an excellent game with countless new features and unique gameplay that make it one the best FPS games today.

[author]Snowcone[/author]I tried my hardest to avoid pre-release information on [i]Halo 2[/i] and to fend off the ever-present hype machine that has long since become a standard part of big-name releases. It wasn’t until the very end that I gave in and really got excited. [i]Halo 2[/i] is obviously the sequel to the wildly popular Xbox launch title from Microsoft and Bungie. Three years after its initial release, people were still playing it. That all changed on November 9th. The release of [i]Halo 2[/i] marked the largest video game release that I can remember. The release was celebrated with thousands of midnight openings across the country, with hundreds of people standing in line at each location, and well over one million preorders. I may have done a good job fending off the hype, but it was apparent that the hype had gotten to a few people.

[i]Halo 2[/i] is here with a slight graphical upgrade and a huge one in terms of gameplay. The graphics look cleaner and have a higher level of detail. They certainly make the original game look like something of a joke. My one complaint was that at certain times, and even in cut scenes when the models were loading, you would see the stages of the loading process. First, the polygons would appear and then the different textures would be applied. Bungie addressed this issue and mentioned that it was merely a side effect of using the game engine for cut scenes.

The storyline of [i]Halo 2[/i] has caused quite a controversy. Many people were hailing it as brilliant, while others simply uttered, “It stinks.” Personally, I found the switch to a Covenant perspective refreshing and very cool. Along with this comes the need for Covenants to speak English, which I felt humanized them a little too much. After that point, I almost felt bad for busting an Elite in the face with my rifle. In the end, I believe that most people will be satisfied.

[floatright][/floatright]The Multiplayer and Live areas are where this game really shines. In system link, you can now sport 16 Xboxes and 16 players giving each person a full-screen view of the action. Sadly, there is no Co-op over system link. [i]Halo 2[/i] takes advantage of a lot of the new Live 3.0 features such as Clans. The array of game types and options on Live is almost daunting and sure to provide even the pickiest player with a large enough variety to keep them busy for hours. Bungie was also gracious enough to put one of the most in-depth stats tracking portals online. You can view regular and clan matches, see the stats for each player in that game, and see an interactive map of where everyone was killed and by whom. It is definitely a very impressive site and makes sharing your nice kills that much cooler.

All in all, [i]Halo 2[/i] really delivered what was expected. The audio and videophiles will be glad to know that it supports 480p as well as in game DD5.1 audio. Despite the fact that [i]Halo 2[/i] is one of the best games of the year, it really hasn’t grabbed me quite like the original did due to all the new games and hardware that have come out recently. With that in mind, I think anyone with an Xbox should definitely make this an addition to their gaming library.