Ninja Gaiden was a pretty good game. It was self explanatory, made good use of two buttons, and on top of that was really hard. I beat it awhile ago in an effort to prove my dominance over a long past younger me that was unable to cope with Ninja Gaiden’s unforgiving and often frustrating difficulty. Despite being difficult, Ninja Gaiden was simple.

Go towards the right

Watch out for your enemies

Use your sub-weapons

Don’t even think about being the individual that rails on me for not using seasonal themes or a juxtaposition of two events. I will cut you. In the spring. The point stands that Ninja Gaiden’s entire instruction set fits comfortably in haiku form. It’s simple and fits well within its limitations, making it a pretty entertaining bit of 8-bit expression.

Hagane is not Ninja Gaiden, though it certainly aspires to be. There is a ninja, and there are enemies, and you still need to walk right. The simplicity that made Ninja Gaiden a good game is conspicuously absent here, the designers seeming drunk on the possibility of having 8 whole extra bits to play with. The design is maximalist, with a tendency toward the addition of features for the sake of features. One sub-weapon? Let’s not make the player choose. Let’s include 6 sub-weapons, all of which drop in abundance and most of which are not much more useful than no subweapons at all. A spare button? Why not a screet clearing attack or a series of flips that function as questionably useful dodges?

The X button will hereafter be referred to as "action button" pursuant to section B of paragraph 4.
The X button will hereafter be referred to as "action button" pursuant to section B of paragraph 4.

Go right.

There are enemies.

Use subweapons*

Use L and R to dodge**

Use A for a screen-clearing attack.

If hit 3 times, you die.

Hardly poetry.

*Of which there are 4 or more, all of which are dropped frequently and must be switched between using the Y button. Sub-weapon is somewhat of a misnomer as the sub-weapon selected replaces the generic attack.

**This dodge is no faster than movement but it IS a cool ninja flip. Press the attack button while flipping forward to execute the DRAGON RUSH technique, wherein Hagane will dash forward, attack, and return to his original position. Yeah I don’t know why either.