Japanese developers Capcom, makers of Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe, return to one of their gaming staples with crazy beat-‘em-up God Hand. God Hand presents a unique world in which you can spank beautiful demons, become transformed into a chihuahua and beat up the “Power Rangers”; while this world isn’t revolutionary, it certainly is different.

The plot, which runs secondary to the action, the comedy and the T&A, revolves around the lead character, Gene, saving the typical damsel in distress from two thugs. Said thugs turn out to be demons, which slice off his hand, as demons do, and leave him for dead.

Somehow he ends up with a new hand – the God Hand – and, well you can guess the rest. The story, which is very reminiscent of games like Serious Sam or TimeSplitters, tends to just slow things down and doesn’t really serve any purpose except to get you to the next action scene. It does show that the developers aren’t really expecting the audience to take the game immensely seriously, but rather as a fun and accessible title.

You begin the adventure in a western setting but the game will take you across numerous bizarre stages and worlds along the way, from a Lovecraftian circus to a manic pirate ship encounter of the first kind. Each stage is peppered with little crates to smash or use as weapons (spare a thought for the poor carpenters, leaving their crates in the abandoned mine only for some “hero” to come and smash them up looking for treats).

Enemies and music vary with the theme of the world and show a nice individual touch to otherwise straightforward phases. The enemies show some good AI as they attack in waves and players are forced to dodge and change angles constantly to stay alive. The inevitable boss appears and various insane, in more ways than one, battles take place.

Despite the derivate nature of the stages, God Hand presents enough interesting and challenging aspects to warrant the interest of gamers. First and foremost is the customisation of your fighting style. As Gene progresses through the game, various techniques and attacks are found or become available for purchase at the in-game store. It is these techniques that allow the gamer to truly master the God Hand. Players can sacrifice speed for power or a go for a combination of the two. With over 100 different techniques, the selection seems endless.

The shoulder buttons are used to trigger the God Hand and roulette modes. When in God Hand mode Gene is invincible, invulnerable and unstoppable for a short period of time. Recharging the God Hand is a simple enough task, batter your enemies enough and the gauge will fill on its own.

Roulette mode slows time to a crawl and allows the selection of uber-attacks, powerful moves that do various amounts of critical damage.

The in-game store also provides a place to buy additional roulette powers or slots. While the repetitive nature of the fighting may get monotonous at times, the customisable attacks and gradual expansion of movies mean that your character is constantly evolving.

Graphically the game is a slightly ugly duckling when placed against the beautiful Cinderella that is the Devil May Cry series or Okami. Some nice transparency and dust effects gloss up the otherwise plain backgrounds that the characters fight on.

The lack of a controllable camera does mean that the walls, floors and ceiling can occasionally clip you out of the game completely, leading to a somewhat awkward control set within the smaller, contained stages. That being said the characters feel solid and the action, while frenetic, is never bogged or slowed down by any undermining graphical flaws.

God Hand is another solid entry by Capcom into their enormous beat-‘em-up catalogue. While not quite reaching the levels attained by legends like Okami or Devil May Cry, God Hand is something altogether different. A wicked sense of humour, a nonsensical storyline and huge depth in the fighting system make the game stand apart from most of the games available on the PlayStation 2.