In the 2014 Strider reeboot, Strider Hiryu, an assassin for the Strider corporation is sent into Kazakh City to kill the arch-villain Grandmaster Meio. As you hang glide into the city, you can see just how much thought went into recreating concepts from the past games. From the architecture in the levels, to backgrounds, sound effects, and Strider Hiryu himself, the developers at Double Helix did a great job paying homage to the series. Everything down to the smallest details like Composer Michael John Mollo using stripped down tracks from the original games to create the game’s soundtrack. Strider takes what has come before it and recreates the world in a modern light that on many levels works very well.
Strider Hiryu is a “Super A” agent who receives orders from the Strider corporation to kill Grandmaster Meio. Meio is the dictator of the world and just in general a really bad dude. He is a super villain with an army of mercenaries and killer robots as well as other pretty sweet mechanized bosses. The story and its development are pretty much standard for any old school or retro style game; very light on the details. Really, it’s just: here’s a bad guy now fight through his waves of minions, medium difficulty enemies, and bosses. What’s not to love?
When you get down to the mechanics Strider is a 2D action platformer with an upgrade system. You start out with his patented Cypher (or sweet sword with a swoosh coming off of it). You quickly begin to upgrade your abilities with moves like the Slide Assault which allows you to do a ground attack and to access new areas through floor grates. You get several more mobility upgrades as well as boosts to your Cypher as you progress through the game. These cypher upgrades allow you to access areas you couldn’t before much like other games of this genre (think Metroid). This system keeps the game fresh and kept me looking for areas I hadn’t been able to access before. The gameplay is essentially a linear go from point A to point B which is marked on your map.
Marking goals on your map kills some of the discovery for me and allows gamers to be slightly more passive in their exploration of the world. That’s not to say that this world isn’t fun to run around and discover; it is and the ability to double jump, boost dash, and climb on the walls make moving from one area to the next very enjoyable. The boss battles are really fun and get extremely challenging by the end. These challenging sections are very reminiscent of Strider’s retro predecessor. The difficulty really seems to spike to the point that certain areas seem unbeatable, requiring many frustrating attempts.
As mentioned above the soundtrack, is so wonderfully executed by Michael John Mollo. I found at times audio could be a little on the quiet side, but it is all around amazing and the sound effects are dead on. With every swing of the Cypher you hear the metallic slice. It is satisfying to finish off an enemy and watch them go up in a puff of smoke.
Strider is a fast-paced action platformer with seamless combat, tight platforming mechanics and challenging bosses. As a reboot Strider is a strong proof of concept. This game looks very good overall and the sound design is strong, but the environments feel very repetitive and stale. Games from this genre, like Super Metroid, had separate areas but it felt more cohesive. When you navigated the map you could move from area to another seamlessly. With updates to the map design and more varied environments this game could be amazing.
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