Clover Studio, you will be sorely missed by those that enjoy innovative games, those that like new experiences in tired genres, and those that just want to have a good time. God Hand delivers on two of those three points, and, if developed by anybody else, would most likely have been just another three-dimensional brawler, but Clover managed to create a unique experience much more like that of old-school two-dimensional brawlers of ye olden days (Street of Rage 2, you are fondly remembered).
Gene, the game’s protagonist is… never mind. The story is bad. And unimportant. The graphics are bland, and the camera clips through walls on a nigh constant basis. None of that matters. Here’s what you need to know. You control Gene. Gene beats up on everything that moves until he stumbles upon a level boss at which point he beats the snot out of it. Then a new level starts and it happens all over again. And it works because the combat system is wonderfully deep and downright fun to play and watch. The soundtrack is catchy, too.
This game certainly isn’t for everybody. It’s for those of us that grew up saving a kidnapped girlfriend from a street gang, beating up transvestite prostitutes as a kangaroo, and rescuing the president from ninjas. Combat is where it’s at, and Gene can dish out quite a bit of punishment. Gene has access to one player-generated combo at a time that be changed on the fly from the pause menu. One’s a low number, but it works because it can be changed at any time. This makes the combat a little simpler, and when the screen is full of enemies it’s easier to remember to bash square than to hit square, square, triangle, circle, circle, L1. Power ups and new moves are earned as the game progresses, and it’s always fun to throw a new move into the combo and see how it works.
Gene controls well, and he has to in order to fight demons, insane clowns, and succubi all day long without dying. Gene’s movement is done primarily with the left analog stick. Tap a shoulder button for a quick 180 degree turn, while the right analog stick is used for dodging hits. You’ll need it, too. Gene can’t block, and the demons he’s fighting aren’t going to sit back and let Gene beat up on them without a fight.
What really pushes God Hand over the top, though, is the presentation and how fun it is. In other brawlers, you’re restricted to punching guys in the face or kicking them in the stomach. God Hand finally lets you kick that stupid demon that’s been giving you trouble right between the legs. It looks cool, we’ve all wanted to do it, and it gets the job done. God Hand takes us back to a time when it was enough to know that those guys over there need the stuffing beaten out of them. The cutscenes didn’t have to make sense; they were simply rewards for finishing a level, damn it! God Hand is brimming with the feeling of old-fashioned arcade entertainment. Give yourself a few minutes to adjust to the controls and you’ll find yourself having more fun than you probably ought to be. Thank you, Clover. You will be missed.