Capcom revamps the Strider franchise with a brand new update of the classic franchise. Strider Hiryu is back to take down the fascist Emperor Meio, and he'll let nothing stand in his way. Jeffrey Harris checks in with his official review of Strider.
At long last, the Strider franchise makes a long awaited return for the current generation of gamers. The 1980ís arcade original was revolutionary for its time, and there were numerous home console ports, some of which were quite different, such as the NES version. It wasn't until I believe the SEGA Genesis that we saw a home console version that more greatly resembled the impressive graphics, animation, and unique style of the arcade version. The main character of the franchise, Hiryu, first appeared as a Japanese manga character created by Moto Kikaku. This is not a sequel, but essentially a reboot of the original arcade game. Hiryu is an elite member of master ninjas called the Striders. Heís sent to the fascist Kazakh City in order to take out their nefarious leader, Grandmaster Meio.
The story here is pretty straightforward. What the NES game lacked in graphics and animation it made up for in its more involved and complex storyline involving Hiryu and his organization. This isn't as involved of a story for Hiryu. Basically, Hiryu is an uber-awesome assassin warrior. Heís sent in to take down Emperor Meio. Meioís underlings get in Hiryuís way and try to stop him. You take them down. Wash, rinse, repeat. The game does have animated cutscenes and spoken dialogue, which are nice. The villains are a little goofy and over the top (the Pooh sisters are back). I would've liked to learn more about Hiryu here, but that being said, his mystique and persona are part of his appeal. The game is a classic action adventure side-scroller throwback, a type of gameplay I love. Double Helix has mostly done a very good job in providing an experience that is fast, fluid, and fun. Hiryu is once again armed with his trusty climbing sickles, which give you the ability to stick, scale, and climb to just about any vertical or horizontal surface of whatever environment you are in. The climbing mechanics work very well for the game. The jump controls are a little frustrating at times, especially when you have to deal with some rather janky obstacles. The combat, though, for this game is a great. The unlocking of Striderís more advanced abilities, such as his robot hawk and panther helpers, as you progress through the game is a lot of fun. The action and pacing of the game is reminiscent of the SNES Megan Man X titles, which were among some of my favorites. Hiryu starts with his cypher blade, but as you infiltrate deeper into Kazakh City, you can unlock upgrades for the cypher, kunai daggers, improved jumping abilities, and ranged attacks. These abilities can be used to further explore and unlock hidden areas to previous environments you have gone through.
The environments and level designs as well as how they mix with the gameplay are highly reminiscent of Shadow Complex. While itís a 2D action game, the levels are fully computer generated and designed in 3D. The backgrounds are nicely animated for the most part, and at times there are some interesting things going on in the background between fleeing bystanders, hapless guards, or even light rail trains blasting through the screen. The drawback to the level design is that sometimes objects in the foreground like pillars or walls actually block and obscure the gameplay. This was a pain when an enemy or your character are stuck behind or blocked by a foreground object. This comes off like a cheap, poorly thought out design element. The neat thing about Kazakh city is that itís one giant map. You can return to explore previous levels and areas, not unlike classic Metroid. Itís basically like having an open world sandbox, except in a 2D game setting since there is no level select. The world and design style of the game is really sleek, high tech, and anime-esque. Striderís updated design looks impressive. The bosses and returning characters like Solo and the gorilla robot Mecha Pon also have some unique, interesting, revamped designs.
Like the classic Strider game, the first major boss battle is a snake-like ouroboros robot, which was a blast to play through. Some of the other later boss fights, such as Solo, were actually quite challenging. And while some of the boss fights were quite hard, it was good to realize this wasn't a game you could just breeze right through. The game has has a very traditional soundtrack as well. The music soundtrack reuses a lot of the iconic themes from the original classic game, and itís great to hear them again. The classic themes have been remixed with this interesting kind of new techno-electronic/orchestra style that sounds awesome.
Thereís not a huge amount of extra content and replay value. But for the price of a $15 downloadable title, it gives you a nicely sized campaign, some unlockables and customizable costume options, and also two additional challenge modes: Survival and Beacon Run. Survival is basically a combat arena mode, and Beacon Run is a timed race course stage. Both will measure your scores on global leader boards. Something else like a battle mode against another player or a co-op Survival Mode would've been neat. All in all, itís not a bad amount of content for the value.
Some fun, classic traditional action adventure, throwback gameplay, which is very fast and fluid.
Playing as Strider Hiryu is more fun than ever.
The classic Strider game themes are back.
Kazakh City is one massive, almost open world map.
Some great and challenging boss fights.
The environments and stages couldíve been designed somewhat better.
The storyline is a little on the dull side compared to the classic NES version.
Load times are rather cumbersome, and the game has had some freezing instances as well.
Strider is a nice update of the franchise for the modern era. Itís far from a groundbreaking game, but as a $15 downloadable title, itís fun throwback to traditional action games of the 1980ís and 90ís.
Strider has a nice, new fresh coat of paint. The design, aesthetics, and character models are look really cool and impressive.
Some of the mechanics are a little rough, but overall the gameplay is really fun, fast, and fluid. The overall combat plays very well.
The soundtrack is an awesome, nostalgic throwback that uses remixed classic Strider tunes.
There are some decent unlockable and customization options to play around with and some challenge modes, but it's pretty decent for a $15 value for a downloadable title.
This is far from a groundbreaking game, but parts of Strider are actually quite challenging. With the action, combat, and pacing, this was an overall fun game to play.