I was sure I would have done a post about God Hand at some point, but I can't find it. Maybe I was waiting until I beat it. Since I don't see that happening any time soon, the wait is over.
God Hand (on the PS2) is a beat 'em up, plain and simple. There are a few mini-games, like blackjack and betting on chihuahua races, but those are just ways to get more money so you can buy more power ups or new, devastating attacks. The rest of it is sending Gene around each level to beat up every hostile weirdo he sees, before they do the same to him.
Since many of these weirdos are possessed (or empowered) by demons, this can be quite a challenge for an ordinary human, as Gene learned when his right arm was lopped off for trying to rescue some poor schmoe. Fortunately, Gene crossed paths with Olivia, the last member of a group of people tasked with protecting the God Hands. She attached one (it's not just a hand, it's an entire arm) in place of his missing limb, and now they travel together. She's usually forces Gene to get involved, either by kicking him out a hotel window into the middle of a fight, or by threatening to take back the God Hand - with a hatchet.
There are around 100 different regular attacks you can purchase for Gene to use, though you can only assign about 10 of them to button commands at a time. There are Orbs you can purchase or find, and these let Gene perform big attacks. Some are for one target, others for a group, some long range, some short. Again, you can decide which ones will be in the "roulette" when you decide to use the orbs, so if one isn't suiting your fancy (I eventually dumped Mule Kick because I got tired of an attack that was useless if unleashed against a female opponent), you can swap it out once you find enough other techniques. I'm fond of Kung Fu Samba myself.
In addition to your health bar, there's a second bar representing an energy gauge for the God Hand. When it turns from purple to orange, you can activate the God Hand and go to town. It only lasts for a limited time, and refills as you land strikes, so I try and save it for boss fights, or desperate situations. My strategy usually involves throwing anything I can first, then hammering away with any blunt instruments that are handy. After that it becomes strike, retreat (when they block), counter (when they start to attack), repeat. It's a little tricky fighting lots of opponents at once (I was hung up awhile at an 8-on-1 battle which included a boss character along with the usual goons), but it mostly works. When I can keep my reflexes up.
In spite of all the stuff about demons, and people getting arms lopped off, the game doesn't really take itself seriously. They have Daran Norris, who voiced Spottswoode on Team America: World Police as the voice of the Belze, the leader of the demons. Maybe it's just me, but that makes it a little hard to take that guy seriously as a threat. Plus Shannon's attack that turns Gene into a chihuahua, and then there's Elvis. Not Elvis Presley, but a fat stereotype Mexican guy who smokes cigars and keeps calling Gene "cabron", but mostly "pendejo".
Then there's the lower level bosses like the gorilla luchador, the dwarf Power Rangers, the demon rock band, or Tiger Joe, the man dressed like a rugby player with an eye patch. And the cannon fodder of amazons in spiked bikinis, samurais, fembots, and all sorts of people who must have been on loan from Road Warrior. The Road Warrior guys are fond of proclaiming "I'm Alexander the Great!" right after punching me in the face. Which, hey, whatever amps you up for a fight, I guess. Tiger Joe likes to describe his style as "impetuous", usually after kicking Gene in the face five times.
The game's a bit sexist. The guys dress strangely, but outside of what I think were 2 fellows dressed as Vegas showgirls*, they're mostly covered up. The women not so much. Also, if Gene can land enough strikes on one enemy without getting hit in response, said enemy will get dazed. Gene's then free to assault them with rapid pressing of the circle button. On some foes that means pummeling them with fists or feet in rapid succession. For others, it means repeated knees to the face. For all the female characters? Spanking, the finale of which sends the enemy flying across the room to either hit a wall or skid along the ground. It doesn't do less damage, but it's a little awkward to be playing a game that encourages such activity. I'd really rather just punch the crazy Amazon repeatedly, OK?
Most of the violence is like that. Cartoonish. Contrary to the image I included above, you don't see blood, the enemies and Gene don't show visible signs they're getting beat up as fights progress. I don't know that I'd quite equate it to an '80s cartoon like G.I. Joe, since the cut scenes do show enemies dying, being incinerated, whatever, but the actually gameplay doesn't go the Mortal Kombat "cheap gore" route.
* They seemed like guys, considering their flat chests, and the game doesn't skimp on cleavage typically, but the Mule Kick was useless, so perhaps they were just very muscular women.