|Source // Wikipedia|
I own but have never played the 2014 remake of Strider. I've seen it, as well as the 1989 arcade original, but haven't played either. I haven't schwinged Strider Hiryu's sword like a maniac, I haven't scaled the walls and flipped over platforms, I haven't slid under stage hazards.
What am I missing out on, I wonder? Perhaps a strange choice of words, considering I've seen them both in action, but I've forgotten much of what I've seen.
If Strider is good enough for a remake, then I better play Strider.
The first port of call was the Sega Mega Drive port, regarded as one of the closest ports to the arcade version you could play, certainly in the early 1990s. What struck me first wasn't how big and detailed the sprites were, or the quality of the voice acting (brief though it may be), but how slow our hero Hiryu moves.
To say he is the youngest ever Super A Ranked member of the Strider's (so I read...), I was expecting something more like a nippy lil ninja that moves as fast as his blade does - which is only seen in a blur of light, decimating whatever is in its path. Instead, I got a bit of a lanky lumbering fella who summersaults and slides in slow motion, which is a shame because Strider seems to be all about the movement.
If it's a surface, Hiryu can walk on it, slide down it, jump across it, climb up it, hang from it, and it's all as simple as moving the d-pad. A generous jump and a responsive attack button complete the controls, allowing players to just go through the stages and have fun being a bad ass (albeit slow) ninja from the distant future - 2048 AD (if I don't finish this list by then, please send help).
Enemies are varied and robotic, but I had trouble working out what I was looking at half the time because you also have robots that can assist you, including a sabre-toothed robo tiger. That one, admittedly, is easy to see amongst other enemies, but the mushroom droid things do tend to get a few slashes from my sword before I realise what they are.
The first miniboss doesn't appear to make a whole lot of sense, but then video games, am I right? The first boss certainly doesn't make sense, but that's what's great about Strider.
|Source // Giant Bomb|
The first boss happens to be a centipede mech armed with a hammer and sickle, and comprised of a bunch of soldiers or something just sat waiting for you to arrive. As soon as you turn up, they jump into this monstrosity and lunge for you.
The start of the second level is just as 'whuah?!' inducing as the end of the first, as a giant robo gorilla boss is basically your opening challenge. The idea was to mix things up with the level structure in order to pull in more and more players, none of whom would know what was coming next until they kept putting in money into the machine to find out.
Not to spoil it too much, but 'next' would include sections of the game where gravity switches back and forth and stages have to be navigated while hanging from ceilings or upside down on floors. It doesn't quite make sense when written down like that, but Strider really does show off what it can do, and what you as the player can do within these varied environments.
Being an arcade game of the late 1980s, I have little hope of success with Strider. For me, it moves too slow and yet still I can't react quick enough to events. I've watched it, as usual, and I know that it is well worth a go, but I think I must have been given a false impression of it by the remake.
Sure enough, firing it up, the Strider from just a few years ago is a swish little 2.5D affair which sees you move at a much slicker, more manageable pace. Enemies are satisfyingly despatched and the animation is true to the arcade original of decades past (with some alterations, of course).
I shouldn't compare the two, though, because, despite the name they share, they're quite different. I still failed early on - what else do you expect? - but I can see myself finding a bit of time for the remake.
The original, well, it sure has its moments and deserves its place on the 1001 list, but I can't see myself schwinging through it for much longer.
The arcade game was part of a three-piece project that included a manga and a home console version, not for the Sega Mega Drive, but the NES, which follows a different story for players to fight through.
Strider, developed by Capcom, first released in 1989.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1989 (TheInnocentSinful)