Hagane (SNES) Review

The videogame market of 199X was riddled with games featuring ninjas and robots, and while it might be tempting to give Hudson Soft a lot of credit for making a game where you play as a robotic ninja, it really wasn’t that great of an idea, but rather it would have been incredibly boneheaded to make anything but.

One of the pitfalls of having a protagonist of this pedigree is that, based on conventional videogame logic, a ninja robot should be able to dispatch his opponents in a plethora of (preferably radical) ways. Thus, the gamer’s first challenge in Hagane will be figuring out how to keep all these abilities in check. Cloven-hoofed detractors of this great game claim that while some of Hagane’s moves are cool to watch, they’re relatively useless when it comes to practical concerns such as not dying. And indeed it must be acknowledged that, as in reality, most obstacles can be overcome by rapid sword slashes and relentless volleys of ninja-stars. Still, these seemingly extraneous bits of ninja trickery make repeating levels infinitely more entertaining, since they allow the crafty player to add a splash of style and finesse worthy of a badass ninja-bot.

Of course, mastering the levels, and figuring out how to effectively use these showy attacks, is a feat that will require time, patience and, more than anything else, being damn good at videogames. The developers give you a heaping helping of powerful abilities, all of which are available from the get-go, but beyond that they don’t give you a damn thing. Not an inch. Beating the first level (which consists of several, wildly different segments) is a first pump type of moment. And no sooner have you completed the final few S’s of “yessssssss” than you find yourself locked in another boss fight.

Indeed, this game is only for those who can accept the possibility that they may never see the ending. In that respect I see Hagane as sort of a spiritual successor to Battletoads. While I’ve only seen one (incredibly cool) vehicle segment so far, nearly every stage I’ve played has brought something new to the table. And while Hagane’s challenges aren’t as uniformly brilliant and elegant (nor are they as difficult and rote) as that other classic, it certainly deserves more recognition as one of the best action games on the Super Nintendo.

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on October 13, 2008.

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