A new Strider game! I never thought I’d see the day when this classic 1989 side-scrolling acrobatic ninja would return with cypher sword in hand. It seems that Double Helix are continuing their successful trend of rebooting classic IPs, most notably their stellar recreation of Killer Instinct released late last year. My question is: can Double Helix strike gold twice remaking another classic franchise title with the “one man ninja army” hacking machine?
In my opinion, Strider has a great template to work with. Blistering fast gameplay, racing over platforms and slashing countless enemy robots; all set within a futuristic industrial world. Taking that concept, it’s now been reimagined with new special abilities and clever robotic enemies. It also borrows level designs from the successful “Shadow Complex”, but stays true to the original with an effective control system. The blend of old school mechanics and modern innovation unquestionably sounds like the winning combo for an interesting action title.
The core narrative of this Strider reboot is an ageless tale of good versus evil; set in the distant future you play as Hiryu, the youngest graduate of the Strider Program. The ninja hero accepts his first mission to descend into the city of Kazakh in order to bring an end to the evil warlord known as Grandmaster Meio, and to halt his destructive regime. The narrative is thin and doesn’t provide any backstory, however, I would like to believe that this decision was made as a way to pay homage to games of old such as Doom, for example, where the action is the story.
The level design in Strider is both simple and minimal, which isn’t a bad thing as it creates a vast field of space for movement. Minimising the elements and creating wider spaces gives the player ample room to run and leap at furious speeds whilst slashing enemies swiftly. Levels are constructed and layered perfectly for quick progression, and there is rarely a moment where you stay in a single area for very long. The game doesn’t begin with a tutorial or a button layout because the gameplay is very straightforward. You start with two sword slashing styles and jump, the controls are responsive and easy to grasp, plus button bashing is encouraged, which is always great!
The platforming component of the game is well constructed, and the ability to climb all walls and ledges gives the player freedom to move. The balance of combat, speed, leaping, and exploration is all well executed, providing the player with an exceptional playing field which is tailor-fitted for any trained ninja. There are many secret areas to explore, and as such, there are collectables such as life upgrades and unlockables. However, what’s most helpful are the new special moves you can gain as the enemies and bosses become harder to dethrone.
The character design for Hiryu is brilliant, in as much that he looks and fits the role of an aggressive, yet swift ninja. Hiryu especially looks fantastic backed onto the grey cyber-city environment, to which he really stands out with his scarf trailing behind him. Enemy bosses between stages are a refreshing break from the generic-looking robots and orbiting drones. The bosses all carry their own distinctive appearances, ranging from enormous robosapien-styled robots to acrobatic geisha assassins, thus creating a different combat experience with every battle.
The graphics and environments in Strider are slick, portraying a neo-soviet Russia inspired theme throughout the game. With the lack of story; the backdrops make up for it with well-crafted locations that tell a story without words of a cold industrial metropolis ruled by army forces and a power hungry warlord. A fine feature I found was the subtle lighting and colour effects that hint to you whether an attack was effective or not. Brief button prompts are also there to remind you of breakable platforms and ledges you can drop into; I feel these prompts were necessary and designed correctly without being over-the-top. Being that the level design is immense and multi-levelled for a platformer, the corner map and metre gauge is a great tool to show your progress and character location, which is a much better idea than the annoying strobing arrow that was displayed in Strider’s debut title.
In my opinion, the soundtrack accompanying the game is a fine tribute to the original as the music combines modernised sci-fi themes with retro inspired riffs. My favourite tune in the game is when you gain a new ability; represented with a screaming heroic guitar. I found this would pump me up and also provide a sense of achievement! One down note in the audio presentation, which also adds a layer of cheesiness is the voice acting. Most of the speech and dialogue is dreadfully uninspired and doesn’t add much intrigue to the overall story.
Strider is an entertaining thrill-ride that plays much like a rollercoaster, and will likely appeal to any fan of action platforming genre. Boasting gameplay reminiscent of classic 2D side-scrollers with the added modern snapshot of a space-age presentation; it makes for a good mash-up of ideas that older fans will want to revisit while being approachable enough for new players to enjoy. It may have a few minor flaw, but overall, it’s a simple but exciting game to pick up and takes no-time to master. Assuming the role of an agile ninja has never played this well!
Note: This article was based on the Xbox One version of the game, and provided to us by Capcom Co. Ltd for review .