On the latest episode of the BT Podcast I rustled some jimmies with my opinions on Clover’s God Hand. That kind of reaction is understandable. Nearly everything Shinji Mikami touches is beloved, from mainstream successes like Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, to more niche projects like Vanquish and Shadows of the Damned. God Hand is no different. Whatever problems I may have with its visuals, characters, camera, pacing, and tone, it is impossible to deny that it combines challenging gameplay and absurd comedy in a unique and unforgettable way.
Oh, and the music is bonkers too.
You may not realize what kind of game God Hand is at first. It starts off with very little fanfare, as the protagonist Gene is dropped into a dusty town to beat up thugs with little context. The story clearly takes its cues from Fist of the North Star, but the title’s own goofy identity remains in the background until the boss fights become the main focus. That’s when Elvis takes the stage.
It is difficult to articulate the lunacy of these bouts in any coherent way. The gaming community has already immortalized the most popular reaction as an internet meme, so echoing that sentiment is unnecessary. However, there is still plenty of room to highlight the great work of composer Masafumi Takada. His contributions to the God Hand score are some of his best work, which is saying a lot for the guy who brought us the sounds of No More Heroes and Killer7.
It is these boss themes that best express the deranged humor that gives the game its following. Whether you’re stomping on tiny super sentai parodies or being beaten to death by a man in a gorilla costume, the music is always there to perfectly accent the joke. The Elvis Presley mumblings on “Smoking Roll” and the circus feel of “Top of the Humans” may be may personal favorites, but every recurring boss character has their own stylistic motif that carries over between encounters.
Of course, nothing compares to the song from the ending credits. Nearly every line is quotable. The guitar work is spot-on. The vocals are hilarious. It’s especially satisfying if you have even the slightest idea what it is referencing. I may consider large portions of the game to be a slog, but it’s all worth it once you get to the end.
You can watch our very own Lotus Prince play through the entirety of God Hand right here.
Music Mondays is a weekly column by Austin Yorski and Robert Heck dedicated to discussing the most interesting audio experiences in electronic interactive media. Tune in every week for more original game soundtracks that you need to hear. Feel free to disagree with, add to, or question everything. I welcome your feedback.