Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hagane Revisited - Give this game a shot

at 12:00 PM
Now that's a spicy ninja! Sometimes I kinda wanna die.
Let's play a quiz. Think of the first 2D ninja game that comes in your head. 123go. Use a pencil to fill the name into this blank _________. Now go buy a new monitor. Back? I bet the guy at the monitor exchange store said something along the lines of "hey guy, how come you scratched 'Ninja Gaiden' onto the screen? Sure it's a good game, but it's not THAT good." Or maybe he said "'Shinobi'? That sounds familiar. Some old video game, right?" If he said "What's a Strider?", what kind of twisted sicko are you? Go see a doctor, now. And if it was anything about Legend of the Mystical Ninja, well funnyman with a chip on your shoulder, how did you write a name that long without realizing what a mistake you were making?

Ah, comedy. Sometimes is brings us laughs, sometimes it ruins our internet blog articles. Same with Hagane, a mostly forgotten SNES sidescroller from Hudson Soft (if there's one thing Hudson knew by 1994, it's that they weren't gonna make a dime releasing games on their own console, the TG-16). Hagane's not half bad though. As a matter of fact, were it a bit more original I'd say it deserved to be listed with the rest of those games up there. Hagane combines the fast-paced action of Ninja Gaiden with the tactical enemies of Shinobi and the weapon variety of Irem's Ninja Spirit. It's gonna keep you holding right most of the time and demand a bit of memorization to keep moving, but it's nowhere near as unforgiving as Gaiden and more rewarding of strategic play.

One of my favorite things about Hagane is that once killed, enemies stay dead. That comes with a twist: unless you're a real speed demon, you can't just run past these guys and forget about them - they'll come after you with a vengeance. Not exactly an act of genius AI, but it makes each enemy a real threat. You'll regret not killing them.

Notice that sword swipe pattern on the left? Look familiar?
One of my least favorite things about Hagane, to keep with the 3rd-grade-book-report writing level I've established for this blog, is that it throws in a dash of platforming when you're least expecting it. I can't say how frequent this becomes because, truth time, I haven't finished it, but it only showed up once or twice in the first few levels. Hagane himself just isn't as agile as Ryu, even if he is more violent. He feels at home when on solid ground.

So, go try the game. This ain't no review site, make yer own damn decisions. I like it a lot and will be making an effort to finish it - a task kept feasible (even without save states) by infinite continues. I assure you that you can find it at your local online video game dispensary, at a price so low it MUST be illegal.

Here's a little bonus info for coming this far: Hagane was developed by Red Company (later Red Entertainment). You might not know these guys; the biggest splash they can claim is the Bonk series. They've been around for fucking ever though - since '85 and still going, putting out the occasional RPG you won't have heard of, such as the PSX's Thousand Arms and DS's Nostalgia. I know them from the greatest shmup of all time, Turbo CD's Lords of Thunder, and its predecessor, Gates of Thunderforce III. Check those out too - they're even on Virtual Console!

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