Hagane: The Final Conflict is one of the rarest games that I own. It’s rare because it never had a commercial release and was primarily a Blockbuster Rental Exclusive. While I never rented it, I did play it years ago on an emulator. But it wasn’t until the end of my medical school training that I decided to treat myself and finally pick up this gem. It was worth the price of admission; this game has it all – robots, ninjas, awesome gameplay, and is one of the most challenging games I have played.
In terms of story – its a bit convoluted but doesn’t really detract from the game. You take on the role of Hagane – a ninja who’s job it is to protect the Holly Grail! As expected – the Grail is stolen and everyone including you are killed by a rivalling ninja clan. You brain somehow survives and is placed in a robot ninja frame so that you can continue your task of protecting the Holly Grail – which has the power to destroy the world!
In terms of gameplay – this is an action platform game in its truest sense. You take control of Hagane and employ his nearly endless amount of ninjitsu tricks and weapons to dispatch enemies and progress thought levels. Hagane can use numerous weapons such as his katana, kunai (i.e.,throwing daggers), grenades, special screen-clearing bomb, and a grapple hook. Hagane can also employ a large number of techniques with different button combinations that allow him to do dragon kicks, dragon punches, drop kicks, and even somersaults to bounce up walls. The sheer variety of ways to dispatch enemies adds to the fun factor, but there is certainly a learning curve to figure out when which weapon are most effective.
In terms of difficulty, the game is exceptionally hard – but for the most part it was a fair challenge and the longer that I played, the better that I got. There were a few exceptions though that I found a bit cheap – for instance, there are some levels where the levels scroll horizontally very quickly and it is very difficult to determine when to jump and where to land because it moves so quickly. Apart from these sections the game was challenging in a good way.
There are 5 overarching levels – each of which are broken up into different sub-sections. For instance – in the first major level – you start in a cityscape, move into a sewer system, and eventually end up jumping between buildings. The game also has numerous mini-bosses sprinkled throughout the levels and generally ends with a major boss fight at the end of each of the five levels.
In terms of music, the game employs some interesting sounds to produce a futuristic-sounding soundtrack. I was not blown away but it, but it certainly fit the anesthetic of the game. The sound effects were great and made attacking enemies feel really satisfying. In terms of graphics – this might be one of the best looking SNES games to ever get released. The backdrops are detailed, the sprites look fantastic, and game is able to utilize all these in interesting ways to showcase many different types of futuristic-looking environments. There are often lots of different special effects occurring on-screen and the game is still able to keep up and stay fluid.
In summary, Hagane: The Final Conflict is an awesome action-platforming game that has a steep leaning curve that generally gets more fun the more you play it. There are a few annoying spots in the game – but that shouldn’t prevent you from giving this game a try. The real question is whether the game is worth the price of admission (currently costing around $800 on eBay now). The answer is: probably not – but if you are serious collector – they’re are games worth way more than this that are way less fun. Take that for what it is! Overall, I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10