Strider made his leap into next-gen slashing his way to victory.
I’m always a bit over eager to take a look at old classic games making brand new returns in the modern age of gaming. Reboots, remakes, a whole dimension introduced, bring it on, because I feel some games shouldn’t be left in the forgotten realm, and quite frankly I can’t complain too much about these games that have risen from the grave over the last decade or so. Strider is a retelling of the original 2D arcade classic with quite a bit of fan service as it does use the older game as its pool source. However, while the original was very linear and focused on moving from point A to B, through some simple platforming sections and intense action segments. This game brings a sense of exploration to the franchise that hasn’t been seen since it’s NES counterpart. Now don’t take that wrong way, because Strider clings to its roots and never forgets to be the 2D action-fest those familiar with it have come to know.
Strider is heavily similar to the Metroid series as the player will guide Strider Hiryu through the city of Kazahk as he tries to find and kill Grandmaster Meio, whom happens to run the place with an iron fist. There really isn’t any backstory, and the actual story is delivered through dialog as Strider encounters bosses and possible allies.
Once the game really begins the player will notice that some sections are blocked off, and they will only be able to reach after a certain weapon has been found. I quickly took a liking to the exploration factor as I began to visit new areas or revisit older ones. The search almost allows rewards the player with something special, either health and energy upgrades, a new sword power up, or a secondary weapon power up; these additional weapons definitely enhance the game play and I can’t recall the action ever letting up or becoming too boring to continue further. Strider Hiryu does obtain some interesting abilities such as the double jump, air dash move, freeze sword, a projectile reflect, and other good things. The combat is fierce and fast against the grunts, and on the normal difficulty they really can wax you quick if you’re too reckless. Thankfully there are health power ups found so the game isn’t that unforgiving.
There are some obstacles through crushing pillars and laser fields, along with some platforming sections, yet these areas weren’t difficult at all but they still gave me a nice rush. The boss battles are plenty and although I don’t think they’re that difficult, I can imagine some folks having fits against some of them. Unfortunately, the gameplay does have its issues keeping Strider from being a bit better. For one, I liked the map which is indeed helpful, yet it doesn’t seem to let you know if you already ran through a certain area, and this is quite annoying since some areas really don’t look that different. Also, there is a difficulty spike late in the game with plenty of OP enemies along with gunners packing freeze guns that will stop you in your tracks. I found it quite disturbing that Strider obtains quite a few abilities, but he doesn’t ever learn how to block. I think a block and counter would have definitely balanced things a little more; but I can’t say that I was ever frustrated playing this.
Visually the game has some nice spots to it with each main location looking different from one another. There are quite a few homages to the original with beautiful huge buildings in the background and foreground, along with the laboratory section having some good lighting blanketed by an ominous blue palette. At the same time though many of the areas in the locations look too much the same which makes it very possible to revisit areas without trying to.
The boss battles are quite vibrant with various colors creating nice light shows and epic water effects. The sound effects indeed stand out with the clanking of Hiryu’s grappling hook digging into the foundation as he scales walls. The sword slicing and gun firing are done nicely as well; but I simply cannot stand the over repetitive soundtrack. The overall style of the game would have better benefitted from a highly amped BGM similar to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. This soundtrack feels way too tame for an action game that is simply screaming to bust loose.
I don’t download games often but I can’t consider this to be a waste of time. I finished it just a bit over 7 hours with a 94% rating in my first play through which I think is about right. There really isn’t enough gameplay or variety in the soundtrack to justify Strider being any longer than that. Overall, Double Helix and Capcom did the Strider name some justice, and its leaps above Strider 2 which was released back in 2000. The game was very well paced and the dialog sections provided just enough cool down after the intense action, plus the controls are easy to learn and quite responsive with the only problem being Hiryu feeling a bit too loose and slippery. Anyway, I definitely recommend this to those starving for something pure action oriented. The good far outweighs the bad.
The Good: Intense action that is very easy to get into, strong game play, doesn’t over stay welcome
The Bad: Backgrounds and stage design could have used more details and creativity, very weak soundtrack