Strider
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developers:
    • Capcom (ARC/X68/PS1)
    • Tiertex (CPC/ZX/IBM/AMI/ST/C64)
    • Sega (GEN/SMS)
    • Dice (TGCD)
  • Publishers:
    • Capcom (ARC/X68/PS1)
    • U.S. Gold (CPC/ZX/IBM/AMI/ST/C64)
    • US UK Sega (GEN/SMS)
    • Brazil Tec Toy (GEN/SMS)
    • NEC Interchannel (TGCD)
  • Released:
    ARC
    • JP March 1989
    • US UK January 1989
    CPC/ZX/IBM/AMI/ST
    • UK 1989
    GEN
    • JP 09/29/1990
    • US 1990
    • UK Brazil 1991
    C64
    • US UK 1990
    SMS
    • US UK 1991
    • Brazil 1993
    X68
    • JP 11/27/1992
    TGCD
    • JP 09/22/1994
    PS1
    • JP 02/24/2000
    • US 07/29/2000
    • UK 12/15/2000
Score: 80%

This review was published on 06/24/2017.

Strider, known in Japan as Strider Hiryu, is a side-scrolling platform video game originally developed and published by Capcom for the arcades. The arcade version was released in North America and Europe in January 1989 and Japan in March 1989. Due to the game's success in the arcades, it was ported to many home platforms shortly after its initial release. The Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64 versions of the game were developed by Tiertex and published by U.S. Gold in 1989 and 1990. Sega ported the game to its Sega Genesis and Sega Master System in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Capcom also ported the game to the X68000 in Japan on November 27, 1992. The PC Engine CD port was developed by Dice and published by NEC Interchannel in Japan on September 22, 1994. Another port of the game came packaged with Strider 2 for the Sony PlayStation in Japan on February 24, 2000, North America on July 29, 2000, and Europe on December 15, 2000. If you want to play Strider, you have plenty of options.

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Gaming essentially began in the arcades during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but around the mid-to-late 1980s, home consoles were starting to steal the spotlight. After all, being able to play video games from the comfort of your own home is an incredible convenience. To compete with the home console industry, many arcade game developers upped the technical prowess of their arcade machines, which allowed them to create games that were far more advanced than what was found on consoles. Capcom was one such developer. Utilizing their unique CPS-1 arcade hardware, Capcom was able to create some of the most technologically impressive games of the time. One of those games is Strider. Along with Ghosts 'n Goblins, Strider was one of Capcom's biggest hits before the company created the highly successful Street Fighter II. So did Strider deserve all the success and acclaim it garnered back in its heyday? The answer is yes.

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It's almost as if Capcom knew Strider was going to be a hit, because it was a massive project right from the start. In addition to the arcade game, Capcom simultaneously developed a totally different version of the game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite being an altogether different game, the NES version shared the same name as the arcade one. On top of the two games, Capcom also collaborated with a studio called Moto Kikaku to create a manga based on Strider. For the uninitiated, manga is basically the word for a Japanese comic book. The arcade game and manga didn't have much in common, but the plot of the NES game did tie in with it. That's in spite of the strange fact that the NES game never came out in Japan. Anyway, all of this marketing muscle ensured that Strider was going to get the attention it rightfully deserved.

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The storyline of Strider is set in the not-so-distant future of 2048, where the world is under the rule of a mysterious dictator known simply as the "Grandmaster." To break out of the shackles of this scary dystopia, an organization calling itself the "Striders" was formed. This organization employs highly trained ninja warriors that specialize in the usage of high-tech weaponry. Specifically, these ninjas wield Cyphers, weapons that are like a cross between tonfas and light sabers. Within the Strider organization is a talented man named Hiryu, the youngest Strider to ever reach the prestigious rank A. The Striders elected to send Hiryu to assassinate the Grandmaster, who bears a striking resemblance to Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Hiryu must undertake this deadly assassination mission completely by his lonesome, because that's just how it is in these fictional stories. Thus, the fate of the world rests on Hiryu's shoulders. It isn't Shakespeare, but it works.

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These graphics are fantastic today, but they were positively mind blowing back in 1989. Big backgrounds, fancy foregrounds, and spiffy sprites; the detail on everything is amazing. All of the art is blanketed in countless colors, making the environments and objects positively pop with their vibrancy. The backgrounds aren't completely static images, either. Just in the first stage, you'll notice plenty of glowing gadgets and doodads in the backgrounds, giving everything a futuristic look that's thematically appropriate for the game. The main character's animations are the main highlight, however. Hiryu moves with the grace of a swan, doing various majestic flips in the air whenever he jumps forward. This is all animated splendidly, which is a treat, because you're going to be seeing it a lot. The animations for other characters certainly aren't bad, either, but more attention was clearly given to Hiryu. This game's technical mastery also extends to the music and sound effects, which are all satisfyingly futuristic. On top of all that, there are cut scenes in between stages, and they're notable for having actual voice acting, with different languages for different characters. Voice acting was a big deal in 1989, as was this game.

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You control Strider Hiryu as he goes for a quick stride. Due to their simplicity, it'll only take a few seconds to get used to the controls. Basically, Hiryu can walk, jump, duck, and take a swing with his weapon. What's notable here is how responsive Hiryu's attacks are, pretty much occurring as soon as you touch the button. Plus, the sheer speed at which he's able to swing his weapon is insane. Hiryu is also capable of attacking at virtually any time; while walking, ducking, and jumping. Somehow, he's even able to attack while doing flips in the air and sliding on the ground. Speaking of, he can slide across the ground if you press the jump button while ducking. Not only is this handy to dodge enemy attacks, but it can hurt enemies, too, provided Hiryu's foot collides with one. As if all that weren't enough, Hiryu can use his ninja skills to effortlessly climb walls and ceilings. This is all fairly intuitive, and the game overall controls buttery smooth.

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Like many classic arcade games, Hiryu can get power-ups to help him out on his mission. They're usually found in breakable canisters carried around by little robots that fly around. The most basic power-ups are health refills and health extensions. Normally, Hiryu starts out with only three points of health, but in addition to refilling it, he can extend it up to a maximum of five points via power-ups. You do lose all of these health extensions upon dying, though, so this is something you'll likely always be searching for. Another handy power-up temporarily extends the range of Hiryu's attack, allowing him to hit things from farther away. There's also a power-up that grants him temporary invulnerability, in addition to giving him clones that mirror his movements. All of this stuff is pretty standard fare, but there are some other power-ups that are far less standard.

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The most interesting power-ups available are the ones that give Hiryu robotic assistants. Most of these robots follow Hiryu around while attacking nearby enemies, making them rather useful. The first one is a tiny saucer that flies around and shoots energy rings at foes. Hiryu is able to have up to two of these little guys. Another potential pal is a robotic saber-toothed tiger that lunges at opponents. There's also a robotic hawk, but it's considerably less useful as it abandons Hiryu shortly after being summoned. With the exception of the robotic hawk, robots are bound to Hiryu's current health point or points. For example, if Hiryu gets a small robotic pal when he only has two health points, the robot will be attached to his second health point. This means that he'll lose the robot if he loses his second health point. Also, while the small robots take one health point each, the mechanical tiger takes two. As a result of that, it's best to get robots when low on health. It's a pretty neat system, though a bit convoluted.

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There are five stages and they're all packed with enough action to make anyone's head spin. Hiryu will travel to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakh, the Siberian wilderness, an aerial battleship, the Amazonian Jungle, and the Grandmaster's lair itself. Along the way, Hiryu will be ripping countless foes to shreds, like Soviet soldiers, female martial artists, Amazons, wolves, dinosaurs, giant robotic apes, and much more. Some of the bosses are fairly nifty, like this floating robot centipede that Hiryu can climb on as it bends its body in the air. While the stages focus more on clashing with enemies, they still do a good job of forcing Hiryu to use his climbing abilities to get around. There are also some cool ideas, like a dark area that gets lit up every so often by shocks of electricity that you need to avoid, a section where you climb up a shrinking shaft that squishes you if you don't get out in time, a bit with reversed gravity, and an area with wiggly vines you can launch off of. Everything is thrown at you at a lightning fast pace, never allowing you to get bored.

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As is usually the case with arcade games, the best version is the original. However, the Genesis port is the most popular and successful version of the game. It makes sense, because aside from some minor differences, it's a surprisingly faithful recreation of the arcade original. The X68 and PlayStation versions are also nearly arcade perfect. The PC Engine CD version requires the Arcade Card expansion, and is unique in that it has some extra cut scenes, an entirely new stage, and a remixed soundtrack using Red Book audio. It doesn't look or play as good as the arcade original or Genesis port, but this version is worth checking out at least once for the extras it has. Things start to go downhill from there, however. The Amiga, IBM, and Atari ST versions aren't horrible, but they're a significant enough downgrade to not be worth the trouble. Don't even think about trying the Master System, CPC, ZX Spectrum, or Commodore 64 versions, because they're nearly unplayable.

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Amazing graphics, good music, highly responsive controls, and fun stages; Strider is just plain good. Repeatedly swiping Hiryu's weapon is extremely satisfying, especially when it results in the deaths of millions. Climbing walls, ceilings, and various inclines is also equally satisfying. Strider is, however, insidiously difficult, especially towards the end. You'll need to have a powerful stride in order to beat Strider. It's worth it, though.

Word Count: 1,810

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