Strider is a bag of goodies created from pieces of the great action/adventure games of the 80s & 90s.The Double Helix studio takes a cue from the Xbox 360’s Shadow Complex & makes a metroidvania-style remix of the classic Strider arcade and NES games in 2.5D fashion. After many failed attempts to make a good sequel, does this reboot finally measure up to the ultra high standards set by the original? The answer is a sword-slinging, wall clinging, slide-kicking, & cartwheel jumping YES!
Strider | Introduction & Familiarity
The original arcade version of Strider, as well as a NES version, were both developed at the same time by different teams at Capcom. The arcade version was a linear platforming hack ‘n slash game, while the NES version injected some Metroid-style exploration elements where you needed to find certain items to access later parts of the game. Being a fan of both versions, I was shocked after playing this for the first thirty minutes and seeing a very deep, fast paced action game in a very cool futuristic environment that would take at least several hours to complete. Strider Hiryu, the main character, seems to have picked up a few new techniques from places like the Marvel Vs Capcom series, and this game is better for throwing them into the mix.
Strider | Game Play Video
Here is some game play highlighting the magnetic cypher in Strider.
Controls in Strider are responsive and technical. What I liked about playing the Sega Genesis version was maximizing the controls to have a near perfect play through. This game ups the ante with additional needed skill to finish it. Out of the gate, it demands you to use a lot of various techniques to do so.
The control scheme starts off quite simple. It feels like the original arcade game. However, it quickly becomes advanced and more fun. You can slash your sword in multiple directions. Techniques are slowly unveiled to you through unlocking them via boss battles and exploration. You will be reminded of maneuvers needed to get past certain parts of the game with onscreen prompts. They are sometimes very welcome considering the short in-game descriptions of the skills may not convey everything you need to know.
Strider Hiryu’s plasma sword is called a cypher. Every attack is augmented by the four different plasma types you will discover. Red plasma is reflective, you will be able to knock back laser beams like they are baseballs & throw kunai (shurikin) that bounce off walls. There is a nuclear looking orange-red plasma which denotes explosive. When you tag opponents with these attacks, they catch fire and their shields get destroyed. Blue plasma adds freezing qualities to your strikes. Lastly, purple plasma allows you to launch magnetic boomerang style attacks from your cypher.
Your attack arsenal includes a charged strike where you hold down the attack button for double range & double damage. This strike will destroy most of the shields you will see in the game and is needed to open some doors by hitting the mushroom shaped kiosk in front of them. Then you have the Plasma Catapult, which is an air dash that can be done any time in any direction. It later adds a plasma dependent attack to it. When you perform the Plasma Catapult, you hold down the button to initiate your aim. If you are midair, you start to float until you release the button. Then you have your other stealthy abilities: shurikin, a sliding attack that phases through enemies, double jump, a downward diving attack, and climbing abilities. Then there are the “options”, which are carried over from the arcade game. They do damage and allow you to traverse the map at certain locations.
You have a life bar that doesn’t heal on its own, and then an energy bar that does. There are a lot of locations where you can press a button to heal, and through out the map there are small green healing items that disappear forever once collected. It makes sense when you get further into the game because you need them less as you power up. This also makes boss battles in locked arenas very difficult.
All of these stylistic choices with your meters and moves give the game a Super Metroid flavor. You can back track the game if you are a completionist, using your enhanced abilities to reach new locations and get all the items. Having played Shadow Complex, and worked towards the 2 hour completionist achievement on the 360 (which itself is an homage to Super Metroid), I was sad to find out there is no “new game +” mode to carry over your collectibles or abuse your discovered abilities to run through the game quickly. This is bittersweet, because they did have the foresight to add time trials, called Beacon Runs, and a survival mode to the game where you compete on leaderboards for the best time.
Strider | Review
At $14.99 for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, & PS4, Strider is a steal. Hiryu is everything that made a ninja cool back in the 80s. He is efficient, fast, stealthy and highly skillful. This makes for fun game play that keeps getting better as you go. There are some bad points to the game that come with the good, however. Back tracking can become dull, and with back tracking you are visiting the same areas over and over again, so the scenery doesn’t change much. As you have probably realized, the story elements of this game haven’t been brought up until now. While the voice acting is good, the visual to the story is kind of odd. The story, in general, feels like a slightly better version of what you got from the combined 2 minutes of cut scenes back in 1989. Skipping the cut scenes is the best part of the story in all of these games. Unfortunate, but the emphasis is on the badass action–which is what Strider is all about.
Strider | Suggestions & Recommendations
Similar enjoyable experiences include: Shadow Complex for Xbox 360, Strider on Sega Genesis (this version is also available via Nintendo’s Virtual Console for the wii), Strider for NES, Strider 2 for PSX (which also contains the original arcade version), the Metroid series, specifically Super Metroid, & the Castlevania series. Let’s even throw the Mega Man series into the mix.
Avoid these at all costs: Any Strider game, most notably Journey Into Darkness: Strider Returns, by U.S. Gold.
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