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Strider (Arcade)
Strider (NES)

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Strider Returns
Strider 2

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Run Saber
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Strider II / Strider Returns: Journey from Darkness - Genesis, Master System, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, Amiga (1992)

European Mega Drive Cover

European Amiga Cover

Even though this game was titled Strider II in Europe, it goes largely unacknowledged by Capcom, and US Gold published it on their own. It was developed by an European company named Tiertex, who already did the home computer versions of the first game. Unfortunately, like those ports, the game is pretty bad.

Starting with the graphics, the game just looks like a pile of mud. The graphical style is bland, the animation is choppy, and the enemy designs are lame. Placed right next to the Genesis port of the original Strider, this game looks miserable. What's worse is that the hero's awesome blue outfit is replaced by an unremarkable white gi. According to the manual in the North American Genesis version, the protagonist is not even Hiryu. Instead you are put in the role of Strider Hinjo, some random Strider assigned to rescue Princess Lexia, whoever that is. This lame, generic princess-saving plot hardly seems appropriate for a Strider gamae. At least good ol' Meio's the main villain again.

The music is extraordinarily bland and primitive sounding. For a game that came out around the middle of the Genesis' lifespan, it sounds like a first generation game for the system. Considering that the port of the original Strider came out two years before this and it is by far a much better sounding game, that doesn't speak well for this one. On top of that, the compositions aren't inspired or captivating at all. There are several speech samples at the end of each stage, undoubtedly an attempt to mimic the cutscenes from the arcade game. They're cheesy, but they're relatively clear for a Genesis title.

The game may be somewhat acceptable for people who have never played any other Strider title in their life, but those expecting gameplay comparable to the original goodness of the arcade will not only be severely letdown, they will forever rue Capcom for passing the licensing rights to Tiertex and U.S. Gold. It wouldn't be for a long six years that Capcom would save the series with their official take on Strider 2, but until then, this game practically obliterated the whole series.

Hinjo's cipher is powerful enough to chop through the enemies, sure, but the enemy placement just seems unfair at times. Not fifteen seconds pass before Hinjo is forced to climb trees with mechanical eagles floating above, and at that point an upwards attack really would come in handy. That never seemed necessary in the original Strider, but in this game, the enemies are cheap from the very beginning. Aside from the eagles that prove that winged enemies in 2D action games are a guarantee for frustration, there are these dangerous plants that are hard to see and spawn just next to Hinjo and explode, and stationary posts which launch so many bombs that the only way to avoid pain is to destroy them immediately... and this is just the first level. This isn't even taking in account the speed of the game - the tempo has been drastically toned down from its predecessor, partially due to all of the slowdown that occurs through the simplest of actions. The second level, featuring a maddening maze of purple lasers, is insane enough to drive a person to kill.

Strider Returns (Genesis)

Most of the enemies are lame-ass machines, and quite a few designs are direct sprite rips from the original game. The bosses are rather boring, too - at least everyone's favorite bounty hunter, Solo, is the end boss of stage 1, but he just isn't as cool as he could be. All the others are bland, uninspired mechanical thingies. The fact that life powerups are rather sparse, Hinjo can only take three hits, and there's a mere three continues to play this game, the difficulty is more than unreasonable. If anyone out there in the vast reaches of this humble planet has somehow tolerated the utter shittiness of this game and worked through its ridiculous cheapness, that person deserves a freaking medal.

Aside from the Genesis port, Strider Returns also got versions for the Sega Master System and Game Gear. Similarly, the controls are awful, the level design is pretty bad, and the graphics are mediocre. Hinjo can throw shurikens as well as slash his sword, but the game randomly picks which attacks it wants to execute. In addition to the console ports, Strider Returns also showed up on the all of the major European home computers of the time to inflict more pain. It wasn't ever released in Japan, so Strider's native land seems to have remained spared this travesty.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Tiertex

Publisher:

  • U.S. Gold

Genre:

Themes:


Strider Returns (Genesis)

Strider Returns (Genesis)

Strider Returns (Genesis)

Strider Returns (Genesis)

Strider Returns (Genesis)

Strider Returns (Genesis)


Strider 2 - Arcade, PlayStation (1998)

Japanese PlayStation Cover

American PlayStation Cover

After the awful Strider Returns pretty much obliterated the integrity of the franchise, Strider seemed long gone. Loyal Capcom fans who were once cheering for Hiryu moved on to Street Fighter as their number one game series from their number one company. After resurrecting the protagonist for the Marvel vs Capcom fighting game, the company realized his popularity, and decided to bring their futuristic ninja back to the video gaming world in full force. The result? Strider 2, one of the greatest action games ever conceived.

Yes, Strider Hiryu returns, looking even more badass than ever with his awesome long red scarf to compliment his dark blue ninja outfit. The story, it seems, is that Mr. Evil himself, Grandmaster Meio, has somehow returned from his grave and is now about to destroy the world. Not one to refuse the opportunity to slice an old enemy in half yet again, Hiryu takes off, cipher in hand, ready to do some serious damage. It's not much of a plot, but that hardly matters when the game itself is just so impressive. Still-shot cutscenes with excellent artwork help to augment the story, just like in the original game, but sadly, there aren't any voices to go along with these.

Like the first game, Hiryu has to brave himself through five stages to get right to kicking Meio's ass. Unlike the first game, Hiryu can actually choose from the first four and pick which order he wants to infiltrate them. These stages include a futuristic cityscape, a technologically advanced castle, an icy outpost where evil experiments happen, and the reprise of the flying battleship Balrog. After beating them, the Strider has to return to the reconstructed Third Moon and eliminate the Grandmaster and any other evils that he may find.

Japanese Arcade Flyer

In 1998, polygons were still a relatively new thing in the video game world, but Capcom used them to their greatest extent to create some gorgeous objects and landscapes. The quirky thing about the graphics is that the characters themselves are not constructed of polygons, but are rather two-dimensional sprites. Seeing 2D characters against 3D backgrounds is a very peculiar sight, to say the least, but the unique style that this art method creates really works in the game's favor. This is a little hard to accurately detail. In a sense, it really is a 2.5D game. Hiryu can only move left, right, up, and down like a typical side-scrolling platformer, but the scenery actually revolves around him so gameplay can stay 2D. For example, when climbing to the top of a spire in stage 2, Hiryu sees a cannon in the background that he needs to destroy, but instead of traveling into the background directly, the entire screen turns so Hiryu can face the cannon on the same plane. It may take a little while for gamers to get used to this, but thankfully, it allows the game to keep its very unique and beautiful graphics while keeping the gameplay strictly 2D.

The sprites contain good animation that would not look out of place in a Japanese anime. Hiryu walks with dignity, runs with determination, and slashes with fury. Solo returns, and looks even more badass than ever, what with his giant energy rings that he flings at you. The Grandmaster's face can't be seen, and he just looks like the perfect anime villain. However, the really big bosses are made of polygons, and they look pretty good for 1998. The animation can be a bit wonky at times, but that mechanical hydra in the Herzog Schlange fight is just freaking gorgeous. The bosses are even more exciting than they were in the original Strider, although the final battle is just too freaking cheap for words.

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

It's hard to describe the style of the music, but it's quality can be summed up in two words: "Damn good." Each BGM is extremely appropriate for its corresponding stage, especially the incredible music of the city stage, which captures the feel of a nighttime city under siege. The opening music to the castle stage is ominous yet dramatic, and the tune that plays while Hiryu is flying around the Balrog's airspace sounds perfect for such aerodynamic action. As for the sound effects, they are very well done, with all sorts of Japanese voices from numerous characters. They're not drowned out by the repeated slashes of Hiryu's cipher this time around.

The gameplay is extremely fast-paced, and Hiryu slashes immediately upon a press of the attack button. He runs with a double-tap of the control pad, can double-jump to reach new heights, climb walls as he did in the first game, and he even has a multi-slash attack that he can perform in midair. Besides the Attack and Jump commands, there is also a Slide and Boost button. Obviously, the Slide button allows Hiryu to perform a low dashing slide that he can combine with slashes to quickly decimate enemies. The slide maneuver is not as useful as it could be, though. When things get iffy, pressing the Boost button causes homing energy blasts to fly out of Hiryu's weapon that can obliterate surrounding enemies in a matter of seconds. That's good, as the screen is often filled with several enemies to dispatch. Other times, the challenge comes from some tricky jumping, obstacle dodging, or boss fighting. Each stage has at least three mid-bosses to get through before the end boss, and many of them provide a great challenge. Especially fun is level four's ending battle against Admiral Wilhelm, an experienced swordfighter who challenges you while on an escape ship speeding away from a burning Balrog! There's just something awesome about a one-on-one duel taking place on a remote ship floating several miles above the Earth's atmosphere. Amazing.

At times, these battles can be just a little bit too challenging, and Hiryu isn't endowed with a high number of bars in his life meter. The fast pace of the action can be overwhelming, and as a result, it's easy to get obliterated in a matter of seconds in some of the game's rougher situations. However, it's possible to continue infinitely in the same place where Hiryu died. Since this was an arcade game, this made sense in order to keep the players pumping in quarters, but it was never rebalanced for the PlayStation home conversion. This makes it a bit too easy to get through the game, but on the other hand, it may just be a tad too painful to beat the game without having to use a single continue. So the biggest problem of Strider 2 is the difficulty balance; too easy for casual players, too difficult for veteran arcade enthusiasts.

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

That's really the only big flaw, though. The rest of the game just rules. It's good to see that Hiryu is alive and well (despite Tiertex's "sincerest" efforts to pass off "Player 1 Hinjo" as a badass hero) and greater than ever.

The PlayStation port of Strider 2 is highly recommended. The title is misleading, as not only does it have the new game, but it also contains a bonus disc with a perfect (except for long load times) port of the original arcade Strider. Also, there are a few bonuses for Strider 2, such as an extra jungle level (unlockable if played with a memory card with a saved file of the original Strider on it) with a crapload of bosses to beat in a tunnel section, and the ability (unlockable after beating the game once) to play as Hiryu's rival, Strider Hien! Hien does not have a conventional slashing cipher, but two homing ciphers which he throws out at enemies that do all the killing for him! He cannot use Boosts, but why would he have to with the homing ciphers? It's considerably easier to beat the game with Hien, and also quite fun. The Japanese version - in both the arcade and home versions - had fully voiced dialogue and narration. Unfortunately, Capcom never bothered to dub the game, so they just cut all of it out in the English PlayStation release.

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)

Strider 2 (PlayStation)


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Strider (Arcade)
Strider (NES)

Page 2:
Strider Returns
Strider 2

Page 3:
Run Saber
Osman

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