While some games try to be cinematic, artful, or respectable, God Hand aims for excess. The cacophony that blares from this brawler sounds like an arcade full of Street Fighter 2 machines amplified through Spinal Tap's sound system. The game doles out more comedic pimp slaps, spankings, and knees to the nuts than an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos, and punctuates it all with laugh tracks and cartoon sound effects.
The story follows Gene, a punchy, duster-sporting tough who, conveniently, has a deity's arm strapped where his mortal limb used to be. Inexplicably, Gene winds up in a Western ghost town, where he begins to dispense Old Testament justice to the local demons, thugs and weirdoes. And that's all the thought that God Hand's story merits, because the plot is one long, joyful non-sequitur goof. As if making a Kill Bill for the console set, the game's designers shook three decades of crap-game detritus into a boxing ring and let the fists fly. God Hand would be manna from heaven if the actual gameplay was as freewheeling and fun as its universe. Alas, Gene handles like a Yugo in quicksand. And his boxing moves take a saint's patience to master. Total sucker punch.
Beyond the game: God Hand is the final game from now-defunct Clover Studios, the team that crafted the critically acclaimed watercolor beauty Okami. Way to go out on a lowbrow note, guys.
Worth playing for: Oh, the people you'll punch. If you've ever wanted to throw down with a gorilla in a Mexican wrestler's mask, a pair of effeminate twins who look like Dennis Rodman in Brazilian carnival regalia, or a pole-dancing demon with a magic wand that turns you into a poisonous Chihuahua, this game is for you.
Frustration sets in when: This gauntlet of pain starts off punishing and gets harder from there. Unless you're some kind of Tekken wizard, expect God Hand to give your skills a wedgie.
Final judgment: Playing this flawed, oddball offering is like flushing your neurotransmitters with Red Bull–painful, mind-expanding, and occasionally laughter-inducing.