Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hagane (SNES)

Jungle of Massacre

Today, I'll be talking about an SNES game that is actually really good, one that I played a few years ago. Unfortunately, almost no one else played it. Chances are, you've never heard of it. Hagane is, in a way, the spiritual successor to the old NES Ninja Gaiden games. It's the closest the SNES ever got to Ninja Gaiden 4 (or more likely, "Super Ninja Gaiden 4"). It's unfortunate that it didn't have the NG name to boost it to prominence.

The intro of the game is full of weirdness. This looks like the intro of a Romancing Saga game.

No, wait... now it looks like a Terminator game! Ye Gods!

Here is our hero, Hagane. He seems to be some sort of robot ninja. It's like Ryu Hayabusa got Lin Kuei'd. And if you get that reference... kudos.

One thing that impresses me right away is the variety of attacks you have available in this game. Here we see Hagane executing a stomp. He can also do backflips and various "stylish" attacks. This game was ahead of its time, for sure. At this point the only thing it seems to be remembered for is having a high difficulty.

Stage 1-4 is the first time I run into the vaunted difficulty of the game. This is a rail level, and the challenge is suddenly high. Luckily, this doesn't last too long.

After that hellish stage is the first boss. It isn't too bad, and after the stage that preceeded this, it's almost anticlimactic. Doesn't this game have unique visuals? It's rad.

Starring Lufia. Rated PG!

A mysterious figure appears and- WHOA THAT ATTACK LOOKS BADASS!

Another boss fight follows. This game has tons of boss fights, and they can get pretty strange.

A factory level follows, as our hero must dodge pistons. This place is more dangerous than Detroit.

Next up... a flying house ship, for lack of a better term. This game is a lot of fun to play, but it's clear how the difficulty could have turned people off.

Here's the big boss of the stage, En Mikoshi... who has an awesome name.

A pitched battle follows that kinda reminds me of the final fight of Mega Man X. I feel like the designers of this game cribbed from MMX and Ninja Gaiden quite a bit.

Another stage, another bad-ass and cool name.

The stage begins with our hero somersaulting through the sky, presumably violating the heavens as he goes.

Who's that jumpin' out the sky?

Another Mega Man X style boss that supplies you with hand-platforms so you can reach the head weak point. There really isn't a whole lot to say about this game, is there? Unlike many of the bad games I've written about that were endless sources of mockery material, this is one that isn't bad at all and worth a run through for Ninja Gaiden fans.

Another rail level! Kill it!

Our hero soars about the clouds, where a mighty penis-ship is spinning out of control.

Boss fight. Keep in mind that they're hovering through the clouds as I take this shot. This game is off the charts in Badass Quotient at times like this.

The boss transforms into some sort of sky wolf!

After the culmination of the sky battle, our hero lands in the jungle. Here, he battles that mystery samurai from earlier.

Just when you think it's safe, a ROCK SNAKE~! appears.

Yet another rail level, as Hagane takes to a mine cart.

The next Big Bad reminds me of the Son of Sun, of Chrono Trigger fame. This fight is one of the most difficult in the game, too.

Arriving in stage 5, the final stage, you must battle a procession of bosses. The first is this nefarious car, which I stomped into oblivion Mario-style.

Stage 5-5 is the last one, and the difficulty takes a turn towards ridiculousness here. There's a spike wall closing in from the left at all times... and I don't just mean closing in, I mean SPEEDING IN almost as fast as you can run away from it. Combine this with all the regular stage obstacles you have to deal with, and the stage is harsh.

The second to last boss is visually impressive. It fades in and out of the physical plane, meaning you can only damage it some of the time.

And now, the true final boss... is some kind of alien rocketship. It looks like a combination of a Metroid, Lavos, and a vagina.

This fight is a race, more or less. The rocket takes off and you have to sprint up a lengthy vertical hallway as fast as possible to catch up. If you make any mistakes, it'll outpace you to a degree that is impossible to recover from.

Catch up, and you get to commence assaulting a bunch of creepy built-in heads. This is the hardest part of an already hard game, to say the least. The best path to victory here is to get caught up early on before the boss gets too much distance.

Here we see the final victory, and it sure was hard-fought. Good, unique game.

After the credits, Hagane turns to stone. I have to say, I'm not entirely sure what inspired me to play this game to begin with, but it was worth the run. This is an overlooked classic of the 90's. Reminds me of Skyblazer, another overlooked classic that I might take a look at on here one of these days.

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