RETRO REBOOT | Strider (Sega Mega Drive)

While Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, and Golden Ax dominated the advertising at the time, Strider was the first game I ever played on the Sega Genesis. Our household was very Nintendo-centric, so it took going to my cousin's pad. With his athleticism, the blinding speed of his Cypher blade, and the mechanized enemies, this game really stood out to me. Aspects of it don't hold up quite well, but it's still an experience.

Developed in 1989 by Capcom for arcades and later seeing home ports on several home computers, Sega Master System, and the Genesis, Strider was a very different action platformer for its time. Elements from its climbing mechanics and stage design can be felt in the NES action game, Street Fighter 2010. You cling to walls and attack in a similar fashion, but Strider has more diverse power-ups.

Taking control of Hiryu, a Super A Ranked member of a group of high-tech ninjas known as "Striders", he begins his mission of taking down the menacing organization of the "Grandmaster", who rules over the dystopian world of 2048. I loved during the 90's when video games, movies, and television shows picked an arbitrary date that feels so far off, most of us may never experience it. Well, we may not have the floating cities, but we're nailing the dystopian part. Just bring on the cyber ninjas and I can die happy.

I did not have a chance to play the original arcade version of Strider growing up, but after getting my hands on Capcom Collections and experiencing it, the Sega Genesis port of the game is VERY close to its coin-op father. A lot of his attacks, enhancements, and the stages are near beat-for-beat.

Gameplay-wise, there is little to say about it, but it isn't without its unique traits that ended up being quite influential. Strider is quite the fast-paced action slasher where you can dash, slide, and climb around obstacles and striking enemies from various vantage points with his slick-ass blade. You can achieve a longer cartwheel jump from running down slopes and using momentum to your advantage. Hiryu's three gadgets (or "options) can be earned to help defeat enemies, like a robo-hawk (Robo-Hawk), a metal sabre-tooth tiger (Tetrapodal Robo-Panther), two little mushroom-shaped patrol droids (Dipodal Saucer), his basic attack can be extended for 100 slashes. The challenge can be daunting, it makes sense why this probably was quite the coin muncher. It's not too complicated to get the hang of how to maneuver about, Hiryu's moves are sweet, it's very Ninja Gaiden-esque.

The graphics are pretty close to the arcade, with perhaps some frames of animation missing. Despite that, not much in the way of slowdown, and the graphical clipping is minimal. There's noticeably more pixelation and the colors are a tiny bit washed out, but otherwise a very good representation on the 16-bit beast.

With Strider Hiryu's design, a lot of his mechanical-based enemies, and the neo-futuristic setting, a lot of this really had a late 80's action anime vibe going for it. Hell, it would've made for an awesome 4 episode OAV back in the day, but it did get a cool promotional six chapter manga in Japan to push the narrative, provided by Moto Kikaku, a manga studio owned by Hiroshi Motomiya (Salary Man Kintaro). They also produce manga for other Capcom video game properties like Destiny of an Emperor and Dynasty Wars.

As far as difficult Capcom games go, Strider is respectable. There's only five stages, and as long as you can find decent health upgrades, it's quite manageable. Thank the stars it doesn't have the obtuse difficulty of Ghosts N' Goblins or Bionic Commando.  

It really is too bad that the populace only cares about Strider when he's in a Capcom Vs fighter, where his kit translates quite well. His solo games are straightforward, but pretty sweet. Beyond that, he's regulated to being a rather niche character outside of fighting games. But if you want some early 90's slice-n-dice'n, this is a good play.

 

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