Attention! Potential Spoilers for God Hand, Killer 7, Resident Evil 4 and Okami.
God Hand is a game that wrecks havoc on the form that it a part of. Rather than find itself with a MacGuffin storyline that touts itself as Shakespeare, the game lampoons those that would attempt to create such a thing. The ultimate effect of the game sheds new light on the developmental style of the late Clover studio and creates a firm reason why people should mourn their passing.
Okami attempted through its gameplay and story to offer a new perspective(if not overall new definition) of what a "hero" in a videogame should be. This is certainly not the case with God Hand. Functionally, when looking at the overall body of work presented by Clover, one can start to see an argumentative approach through their games. Gene, the protagonist in God Hand, has all the stereotypical traits that one would come to expect from a "hero" in a game("Though outspoken and a constant complainer, he has a keen sense of justice. He likes to imagine that he has a gentler, kinder side despite his rough, macho exterior."[Instruction booklet description]). God Hand came out a mere month after Okami and so I think it little of an issue in contrasting their depiction of "heroism". In Okami we are granted a brief look at the divine, a hero that is truly good and needed within the context of their own world. Gene reflects apathy towards doing good deeds—the unlikely hero if you will—and does not seem overly concerned with the suffering of others. Ultimately, by presenting these two games so close together, the game asks us the question about which path(storytelling or otherwise) we would like to go down. Following Gene's path leads through a great wasteland with mild diversions along the way whereas Okami showcases a rich landscape planted with aesthetic vision. Clover offers the option as to which road shall be taken—the road of new thought and heroism or that which involves devils wearing sunglasses.
The game so easily mimics the standard conventions that have become set within our mind about games that it is acceptable. Clover Studio, in a broader sense, is about challenging the preconceived notions about what is required by a game(context or otherwise). It is not that they challenge the idea that games can be art—their work with Killer 7 and Okami surely put that complaint to rest—it is rather that Clover argues for a removal of seriousness from those games that do not warrant it. If humor was not within the game's(God Hand's) cinematics would anyone care about them after their viewing? If design time were not wasted on unproductive storylines, what new developments might occur within the form? Focusing on stories that amount to nothing is a grim vestige of past mistakes and outmoded design decisions. Clover recognizes this, and their point is made well within the context of the game's narrative and their larger body of work.
One of the more curious additions within God Hand and, more firmly, within Capcom's recent body of work, is Azel the demon. As has been noted on Wikipedia, he bears a striking resemblance to Leon Kennedy from the Resident Evil series(specifically, for this discussion, Resident Evil 4). Shinji Mikami, the director of both games, is perhaps asking us to consider the fourth game in a new light. After all, granted his work on God Hand, it is clear that he understands what a stupid game consists of. I think it likely that by linking these two games through that character, he is showing how games that are intentioanlly stupid are allowable. MacGuffin concepts are in both, but are truly not to be taken seriously.
Again, as said above, Capcom's recent body of work shows two paths that might be taken in game design. Gene is trapped on one road that leads to a set destination wherein everything, including villain motives and such, are set in the stars. Okami, by contrast, places itself in a new land full of different and unique ideas(aesthetic or otherwise). Then, given that, the question is posed: which type of game do gamers want?
I wrote the above a few weeks ago in the downtime between my Economics class. Sadly, I should probably rework sections but I do not have the time due to other factors. Somehow I do not think it is good as it could be, but it is a functional(I should hope so anyways) first draft. However, despite that, I thought it best to post here rather than on a nebulous blog that nobody would read.
Paint Roller, you are the meanest art student I have ever met.