Reviewed by Michael LoCascio
Having made previous appearances in the arcade and on the
NES, Strider was released in 1990 for the Sega Genesis and
garnered a great deal of attention. A darling of video game
critics, it was tough to find a gaming magazine that didn't
dub Strider "Game of the Year", or bestow upon it some
other such honor. Indeed, the visuals in Strider were
absolutely mind-blowing. Never before (and probably never
after) had a game for the Genesis featured such stunning
graphics. Thankfully, Strider had some substance to back up
its visual flair.
Strider features a typical "save the Earth" type of plot.
A "Strider" is a specially trained warrior whose
responsibility it is to defend our planet. You assume the
role of Hiryu, a young, talented Strider, and your mission
is to defeat the maniacal Meio, who has some dastardly plans
in store for Earth. Equipped with a single weapon (which
somewhat resembles a light saber), you must traverse five
side-scrolling levels in an effort to annihilate Meio's
forces. The game takes place in a futuristic setting; you'll
undoubtedly be impressed by the advanced machinery that Meio
has at his disposal.
Strider is action-gaming at its finest. Most of the game
simply asks that you run, jump and slice up any robotic
menace that dares to even look at you funny. There's
actually more to the game play than those simple elements,
however. You must become proficient at Hiryu's many skills
to make it very far in this game. You can make use of a
special sliding technique to slip through cramped spaces or
demolish smaller enemies. Hiryu is also quite good at
scaling walls; jumping and grabbing on to ledges is one of
the more important techniques in the entire game, especially
considering how many tricky leaps you'll be forced to make
during your adventure.
With the numerous techniques that are at your disposal, it's
a good thing that the controls in Strider are pretty tight.
Making precise jumps can be a nuisance at times, but it's
nothing that a little practice and a lot of untimely deaths
won't eventually take care of. Hiryu immediately responds to
your every press of a button, making it easy and enjoyable
to slash your way through enemy lines.
Besides the abilities that Hiryu already possesses, there
are other methods of combating the enemy that you will
become familiar with as the game progresses. One of Hiryu's
greatest assets is the mechanical feline that joins him
every so often. This ferocious little kitten can be a great
aid in demolishing enemy attackers. There's also a robotic
bird that swoops in and helps Hiryu out; I prefer the cat,
but any way you look at it, it pays to have pets sometimes.
Strider may be a short game, but it's incredibly tough.
Hiryu can withstand only three hits from the enemy before he
bites the dust (your life meter can be enlarged by obtaining
the appropriate power-up icons). You'll often find yourself
surrounded by a number of enemies, not to mention the shots
that some of them may be firing at you. The three hits that
you're allowed can take place within a matter of seconds;
the game does allow you to pick up almost right where you
left off whenever you die, however.
Obviously, the most impressive aspect of Strider is its
supreme graphic quality. No where is this more apparent than
when you come face to face with some of the enormous robotic
bosses in the game (screen shots of these giants really blew
people away when this game was initially released). You'll
be forced to fight an eclectic band of villains in Strider;
boss characters range from a Russian strongman and a fierce
pirate to female gymnasts and a gigantic mechanical ape.
Following each level, a short intermission takes place in
which Hiryu typically exchanges words with the evildoer that
he has just defeated. These conversations set the stage for
the next level, and then its back to work.
As you can probably tell from some of the boss characters
that I mentioned, Strider can be a very odd game at times.
Things happen in this cart that you don't typically expect
to find in most hack-and-slash action games. There is
definitely a political element to this game (I'll let you
read between the lines and come to whatever conclusions that
you will concerning the games plot). But the mysterious side
of Strider encompasses everything from the serious
underlying political themes to the bizarre villains that you
must defeat. For instance, at the conclusion of the first
level you encounter a rather large group of politicians. Far
from your typical Bill Clinton type of leader, these guys
leap into the air and come together to form a huge robotic
centipede. Strange stuff.
The music is fairly atypical as well. There are certain
points at which the music doesn't seem to fit the action at
all. Then there are other instances in which the music
becomes fast and intense, seemingly in order to warn you of
the tough spots that lie ahead. In all cases, however, the
music is extremely listenable, and I'd even consider it to
be excellent at times.
Incidentally, while the NES version of Strider was different
from its Genesis counterpart in many ways, this cart
represents a perfect translation of the Strider action game
that appeared in arcades. It plays like a quarter-muncher
too; there are quite a few spots in the game that are
incredibly difficult to get through. Besides the fact that
the game can be insanely frustrating at times, it's still a
top-notch action title, one that has some historic
significance due to its amazing visuals.
One last note on this game: there is a well-known trick for
this title which involves powering up the game Altered
Beast, and then taking it out and replacing it with Strider
(without turning off the system). This interesting trick
granted players an unlimited supply of extra lives with
which to work with. To my knowledge this was the first (if
not only) instance where a trick could be performed in one
game by making use of an entirely different cartridge. Now
that I've mentioned the trick, however, I must also add:
don't use it! Beat the game fairly, it can be a very
Overall: 8 / 10