“God Is A Trickster” – Sakurai’s Famitsu Column, Vol. 174

God Hand

Sutamen here, with another translation of Sakurai’s Famitsu column. Before Platinum Games made Bayonetta, Clover Studio made God Hand, a stylish 3D brawler for the Playstation 2. In this column, Sakurai talks about his recent misfortunes, and his thoughts on the game. If you love video games and you’ve never played God Hand, then do yourself a favor and check it out!

Thanks to Soma, PushDustIn, Nocturnal, and Crane043 for translation/revision help. Please be careful, note the year this column was published, this is NOT a new translation.

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this postThis translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Famitsu. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. If you have any questions about this article, please contact the administrator

God Is A Trickster

Originally published in Famitsu Vol. 174, 27 October, 2006

When people think about The Busena Terrace**, the pleasant image of a resort hotel in Okinawa probably comes to mind, where the cobalt blue sea stretches out before your eyes, and guests gather at the pool to relax and have a good time.

TN** The Busena Terrace is a five star hotel in Okinawa, Japan.

The amenities are plentiful, and the employees provide immaculate service. Wonderful. So when I was there, why was I cooped up in my room playing Playstation 2? Playing God Hand, of all things?

*God Hand: A game by Shinji Mikami. Lots of violent action, but in a gag comedy way. On the other hand, the difficulty level is fairly high, and I’ve grown to like the game.

Recently, I’ve been unlucky. The other day I suffered a bad injury, and on top of that, dermatitis has returned to my leg. (In Japan, people don’t really get this disease, so there isn’t a way of dealing with it). After that, some intense exercise led to muscular pain that has continued for a week. These troubles have piled up, and I’m walking with a pitiful limp.

Even besides health-related issues… My car got a flat tire, so I had to get that replaced. At a store I forgot my card, so when I had to pay, it was embarrassing. My digital camera lens got a deep scratch. Furthermore, when I bought an iPod nano, they announced an impressive new model the very next day. I can’t believe it. I’ve never had such bad timing.

And after that string of defeats, something worse happened. I was thinking, “Since I’ll soon become even busier, this is my last chance to relax”, so I made plans to travel to Okinawa for a three day holiday in mid-September. I had my flight, my hotel, and my rental car booked for months in advance. But then… Typhoon Shanshan happened! The storm arrived at Okinawa at exactly the wrong time. Damn Shanshan.

Outside my hotel window was the very picture of a typhoon. Heavy rain. Stormy seas. Of course there was no way I could go outside and swim, so I stayed in and played God HandWhy had I brought the game with me? Well, when I go on trips I usually leave my game consoles at home, but I was worried that the typhoon might hit, so I slipped my Playstation 2 Slim in my bag just before heading out. Just this once, I wish it hadn’t come in handy.

God Hand is interesting. I like the The Ventures-style(?) music, and the slightly crude sense of humor, but most of all I like the well-crafted attack and defense system.

The Ventures: A 60’s rock band popular for their rapid-fire drum and guitar phrases. The music in God Hand doesn’t use that same rhythm, but the first level’s song has a similar atmosphere.

You can’t succeed by just mashing buttons — you have to set up combos and react to enemies, whether they’re hitting, guarding, staggered, or knocked down. It’s a very systematic game, which is rare these days.

Game designer Shinji Mikami, known for his work on the Resident Evil series, kindly sent me a copy, with a note saying, “This is a super masochist game”. There are some parts that are so hard, they made me think, “Mr. Mikami really is a sadist.”

However, if you try hard enough, you can get through it, even though it’s difficult. The game looks rough on the outside, but it was made with a lot of care. For example, when you continue after dying, the item settings adjust to be easier for the player**. Very clever. Anyway, I was really into it. I had plenty of time, unfortunately… Afterwards, I somehow got tired and then fell asleep.

TN** Although Sakurai says this, that’s not how the game actually works. Item drops within stages are random, so perhaps Sakurai got lucky after retrying a stage?

In the end, the strong winds and heavy rain continued to pummel the beach for all three days. I was looking forward to doing things like snorkeling, but I didn’t get to step foot in the ocean even once during my stay. Right now, I’m thinking about when I should undergo a purification ritual**…

TN** The original Japanese word used here, 祓い, is a Shinto ritual of purification — basically a ceremony for getting bad spirits away from you and warding off bad luck.



Looking Back on “God Is A Trickster”

Sakurai: We’ve talked about this event before, haven’t we…

Interviewer: At the time, your assistant advised me, “Mr. Sakurai is feeling down, so be tactful.” So, I recognized it must be a delicate subject. But, you seem to be in good spirits about the issue?

Sakurai: Yes. I can joke about it now (laughs).

Interviewer: You wrote about it even though you were feeling down — was this the only material you had?

Sakurai: I have other stuff! (Laughs) But, it’s ok to occasionally talk about something like this, right?

Interviewer: Mr. Sakurai, you certainly lead an entertaining life (laughs).

Sakurai: Indeed. I became good at sinking to the bottom of the hotel pool…

Interviewer: And you’re playing games again.

Sakurai: The “God” in the title of this column refers to both God Hand and the god of nature. Is it ok to joke around like this once in a while?

Interviewer: Yes, it’s fine. Also, you have my condolences  (laughs).


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