Arcade Game Review: Strider (Capcom, 1989)

Strider
by Capcom

Re-releases : Amiga, Commodore 64, Genesis, PC, Sega Master System, TurboDuo CD, Sony Playstation (packaged with Strider 2), Atari ST, X68000, ZX Spectrum. Also ported to the NES in heavily modified form. Also available in Capcom Classics Collection Remixed (PSP) and Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 (PS2 and Xbox).

Strider is a beautiful game – it’s too bad so many people didn’t ever get to see most of it due to the artificial inflation of the difficulty.

So the game stars some sort of futuristic ninja named Strider Hiryu, and apparently some cyber-criminal organization does not want him to leave Eurasia alive. Strider responds to this by visiting their bases, one after the other, and blowing them all up. Strider’s main weapon is a “plasma sword” that has a huge arc, and he can also pick up some robot helpers along the way such as a dog, a falcon and little spherical bots that circle around him in a shield-like manner.

The game is sadistically difficult, so much so that it becomes a barrier to enjoyment. There’s two main things that cause this – the first is that the levels are laid out in such a way that you basically have to know in advance what is coming next to avoid being hit, and the other is that Strider has a huge but very stiff jump from which he cannot change direction once in mid-air. It becomes very easy to accidentally jump yourself into trouble that you cannot see from off-screen and have no way to put the brakes on, which leads to a lot of the consternation in this one.

Sometimes a game that relies on memorization of the levels can be OK, but in an arcade title that charges 25 cents a pop it is more than a bit sleazy. And it’s a shame, because the game really has great character design, huge enemies for it’s time and colorful backgrounds with good lighting effects. They did port it to the Sega Genesis, but it lost a lot of the graphical flare unfortunately.