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Strider Review

Posted by Peter Nickless On Wednesday 2 April 2014Comments Off

Available on XBO, PS4, PC, 360 and PS3 l Published by Capcom l Developed by Double Helix Games l Classified M l Supports 1 player

REVIEW IN BRIEF > Less a remake than a re-imagining, Strider shows that old arcade games can live again. Double Helix manages to get the fast paced gameplay right, but the strange mix of easy and difficult sections does create some severe frustration along the way. Unfortunately, the repetitive gameplay runs out of steam before the final tricky foe.

REVIEW IN FULL > The arcade version of Strider has long been a favourite of mine. It was unique for its time, with its multi-scrolling mayhem, badass sword moves and epic boss battles (giant mecha-ape!). It was also very hard. It’s surprising, considering the widespread love for this game, that has taken so long for a remake to arrive. Double Helix Games, also responsible for the recent Killer Instinct game, has finally given fans what they asked for.

The new Strider gets so many things right from the start. The main character, Hiryu, looks great and he runs around like he means it. He jumps, flips, climbs and wields his sword like a maniac, ensuring that no enemy is safe, not even Grandmaster Meio who is determined to spread his rule throughout the world. Look, none of this really matters. Strider has next to no plot and silly cut-scenes but what does have is action, action, ACTION!

Strider has next to no plot but what does have is action, action, ACTION!

I really like the look of this game and the level design emphasises the speed and agility of Hiryu, letting him climb walls, run over rooftops and slide under obstacles. The 2D playable area is cleverly enhanced with 3D backgrounds and the distance between Hiryu and the camera varies during play. The ‘Metroid’ level design again dominates a combat-platform game with many areas of the map unavailable until extra weapons and attacks are opened up later in the game. It certainly seems jarring that, apart from the boss fights and the occasional shield enemy, these attacks are often used for opening doors.

The unlockable powers are hidden around the map, making exploration a necessity. The main abilities are earned from boss fights and are known as ‘options’. There are fire and cold attacks and special attacks including a ghostly panther and kunai throws.  Mostly, the joy of combat centres on the excellent sword (cypher) attacks and the fast double-jump acrobatics of Hiryu.

Boss fights appear thick and fast and certainly make up for the bland nature of the regular enemies.

Boss fights appear thick and fast and certainly make up for the bland nature of the regular enemies. These encounters range from the straightforward to the very challenging, with some taking several attempts to pass. Each boss has its own variety of attacks and vulnerabilities. It is infuriating that each time you re-attempt a boss battle, you have to watch the inane pre-fight banter again. It cannot be skipped even though it matters not a whit to the storyline.

The initial fun of flinging Hiryu around the environment starts to wane in the second half of the game, with a few timed sections only serving to highlight the lack of variety further. Regular enemies vary slightly from section to section, requiring a minimal change in tactics.  There are plenty of health boxes littered around the map so death comes more from boss fights. When the campaign is done, the Survival and Beacon Run modes provide a further test.

I like this game overall, but it does feel like just another solid combat heavy platformer rather than a necessary update of the Strider formula. Bionic Commando: Rearmed is a much better remake, and if I’m looking to play something original, I prefer the challenging and dynamic Outland.

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