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- Strider -




Strider by Mr. Morden

Hiryu... Strider Hiryu. Not licensed to do anything really, just save the world... with a sword.. um... spiky hair... an attitude and along the way kill lots and lots of evil people... and.. er.. animals... is that legal? Oh, they're evil too? That's okay then.. no where did I put my purple pyjamas?
No, this isn't the tag/promo line from an upcoming Japanime flick, (be honest, if it was you'd be interested right?!), but my way of introducing you to the world of Strider, a personal fave game of mine, which I have chosen to be my first entry into the realm of reviewing for JoseQ! So, if you think Capcom are only good for one thing, that being a certain not so popular fighting game... (I'm joking okay! Trust me before you begin the deluge of abuse!), ...then read on.
Way back in 1989, a platform game unlike any other appeared ever so quietly within the London arcade scene; that game was Strider. But what made it unlike any other platform game of the time, I hear you cry. Well, because as far as I know, (please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!), it was the first platform game to introduce a truly versatile lead game character and game world; and to this day, it has not been replicated or copied in any form and so can still stand proud above all games of it's genre and grin a wicked, knowing grin. Because it has been there, done that and done it well.
In the game, you take control of a young man named Strider Hiryu, whom, for reasons unknown, has taken it upon himself to rid the world of an evil emperor intent on destroying everything that exists under the guise of the "old gods." Armed with his trusty laser sword, (a nastier version of a light sabre methinks), he sets out to save the world that we know and love... maybe. And so the game begins...
Swooping in on his super high tech hand glider, he drops to earth and then you become Strider, the man of the purple pyjamas. And so, you walk forward, a heavily fur coated bad guy approaches, you press fire, there's a brief flash of white, a lovely metal screeching sound, and the bad guy is cut in two. So far.. so what? Okay, then.. some more bad guys appear and now you jump, but not just any old jump, you somersault towards you enemies,(with all the grace of a WELL animated sprite), laser blade slicing air, anything and anybody standing too close. And so comes your first leap across a chasm. Can he make it, or will it end with pavement poisoning? Oh well, only one way to find out. So you leap, and when you think all is lost, he grabs the ledge with his climbing claws, and just hangs there, by one arm, probably saying something smug to himself like... "... I am Kaiser Soze..." or then again maybe not. So, enough with the dramatic writing, where am I really going with this? Well, simply, in a 2D world like Strider's, you will never come across another character quite like him. He can jump, and I mean JUMP; somersault left right, slide attack his enemies, hang from ledges, scale walls, slopes, hang from and traverse ceilings even! All this without breaking out in a sweat. But it's the environments that really set this game apart from many others. In all locations, your skill of controlling Strider will be tested to the limit. From the opening city scene to the Siberian Wilderness and Amazon stages, there are always areas to prove your worth at handling such a character. Whether it be scaling a Russian temple while being assaulted from all sides by malicious robots; basking in the somewhat cinematic glory of running down the steepest snowy mountain side you've seen, mines exploding mere inches behind you, suddenly running out of road and making a huge jump across the chasm to safety; to leaping from great Amazon tree branches,(that swing and bend like crazy), only to find yourself riding the back of a huge dinosaur, leaping from one to the next, trying to avoid becoming lunch for the deadly flying pirhanas that infest the murky river below, (PHEW!), Strider has it all.
Enemies are fairly varied and colourful ranging from soldiers with guns to huge bi-pedal robots spewing laser fire and grenades in your general direction in a not too friendly manner. Each stage has the standard soldiers, but also carries with it a unique enemy to that location; for example, leaping wolves kick off the Siberian level, while the cries of Amazon warrior women accompany their assault on you when they swing through the trees on vines while throwing their strange boomerangs and axes in manner that suggests more than wanting to give you a clean shave. But what about the Bosses and powerups? Ooh.. the Bosses....,
Well, prepare yourself, you've never seen boss characters like this! The first half level boss is an Arnie wannabe cyborg, with a serious dislike for you. Not so, interesting.. but the boss further on most definitely is. How surprised would you be if you walked into a hall, and all the people present suddenly leapt into the air to form a huge deadly cyborg centipede/caterpillar type thing, with a cannon for a head, each person making one complete segment and wielding a huge hammer and sickle with which to make Strider Hiryu dog food (with added calcium)? Yeah, okay, I'd probably have suffered a heart attack too, but this is what happens in Strider, there's always something unexpected and somewhat original around the corner. To use a cliché, just when you think you've seen it all, you realise you haven't... not by a long shot. Did I mention the levels that alternate between you walking on the floor and the ceiling, or the huge chamber within which gravity suddenly becomes your worst enemy, or the... Nah, I'll leave you to find out for yourself.
As for the powerups, well, every so often at certain points during a stage, strange flying droids appear carrying a white canister with them. Destroy the droid - release the canister. Simple. You could find one of a many things, ranging from health, an extra notch on your total energy bar, a lengthier sword, (though it's only useful for a about one hundred uses), or a little robot friend to help you out. These guys come in three forms: a baby version of the bi-pedal robot mentioned above, which leap and fly around giving invaluable assistance; an eagle which swoops around the screen destroying any flying enemies; and a huge robot panther that leaps about the screen much like Strider himself, destroying all insundry. And believe me, you'll need their help, but get hit once, and they'll disappear, probably in thinking that you're gonna die, and they're not gonna get paid.
All I can say is that for a platformer, this game is clever, very clever. Design wise, it simply stands out without even trying. It has some beautifully realised , quite cinematic set pieces, (for the time), and somehow manages to convey a game with real intention. Yes, it can seem quite difficult, but persevere, if only to see how so many varied elements can connect so well in one neat, self contained world. I absolutely played this to death when it appeared on my Megadrive/Genesis, to the point where I could get through the game with only losing one single point of health on the hardest level setting. Psychosis? What are you trying to say? I love this game, and I hope that somehow with this review, I may tempt you into succumbing to the game of Strider. Definitely one of Capcom's finest platform achievements.
(PLEASE NOTE: A.. ahem.. sequel appeared on the home computer scene a few years later and... erm... that's about all I'll say about that. Okay then, one word? Travesty!)

Runs with no faults on all systems, Superb!
Reviewed and captured on Callus V0.42
Play Control
Replay Value

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