About the Game:
Strider is one of those games that I remember fairly well from my childhood, but can’t remember actually playing. I’ve always had an interest in the series, and actually really enjoyed the PS4 version when I got it as a PS+ freebie. As an early Capcom platformer, and as what was considered to be the best port of the arcade game at the time, I was really excited to jump in to this one!
I’ll cut to the chase: Strider is disappointing.
I wanted, so badly, to love this game. The gameplay footage looked fun, I have faith in Capcom, it’s a game about a ninja… everything should have been great, but it just wasn’t. The controls are straightforward, with A and C as the jump buttons and B to attack. Down + A/C caused Strider to slide across the ground and attack enemies… usually… except it only worked about 75% of the time. Your jumps could only be aimed straight up or directly forward, with no midair control meaning absolutely no precision jumping. Jumping into the ceiling or wall would cause Strider to latch on, unless it didn’t, and there was always a bit of unresponsiveness to your jumnps, often leading you to walk right off ledges!
The one thing the game got right was the slashing mechanic, as Strider could attack forward and backwards, in mid-jump, and as fast as you could mash the B button. Of course, this itself led to some minor problems, as any strong enemy could be quickly dispatched by mashing quickly enough. It’s also unfortunate that you can’t aim your attacks up or down, leading to some awkward positioning to hit certain enemies. That particular problem was exacerbated by the extremely inconsistent slide mechanics…
Also present are what I can only assume are either bugs or terrible game design. The beginning of Stage 2 (pictured above) has a door that comes down to block your path which you must quickly slide under. Failure to slide fast enough, and your only option is to die and restart the stage, because that door will not re-open… You’ll often die for what seems to be absolutely no reason, though this could just as easily be blamed on the game’s very questionable hit detection. Throw in some glitchy instances of clipping through platforms, vanishing power-ups and framerate issues and you have, well, this game!
Take everything above and what you have is a fast paced ninja action game with a lot of good ideas and a couple flashes of brilliance that should be a blast to play, but ends up being too frustrating and difficult (for the wrong reasons) to actually be enjoyable.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
For such an early game the graphics are fairly decent, as far as sprites and effects go. The presentation issues are more technically related with the aforementioned lag, as well as plenty of flicker and clipping. Unfortunately, when you take all those technical issues and apply them to a game that’s already inherently difficult, it can cause some major issues. Bullets can turn invisible, you’ll walk into enemies you think you’re attacking, and often you’ll die having no idea what onscreen object actually dealt the killing blow!
Music isn’t even worth mentioning aside from “it’s there”. It’s boring and quiet and ultimately adds nothing to the atmosphere. Sound effects, on the other hand, actually do enough to DETRACT from gameplay! There is absolutely no audible notification for item pickups, taking damage, dealing damage, or any other important mechanic. This would lead to confusion, and I’d often wonder if I had just picked up a drone power-up, or if I’m now being chased by a drone! I could have been playing Strider on mute and not have lost anything in the experience…
Fun & Relevance:
Like I said earlier, when Strider for the Genesis hit the scene it was the absolute best way to experience the game outside of the arcade, acting much like Golden Axe II at the time. That’s all well and good back in 1989, but going back and playing this game for what it is today is just a huge letdown. I tried really hard to enjoy this one, even going back and turning down the difficulty just so I could see more of it, but ultimately it just fell flat for me.
It’s another example of me feeling like I’m fighting against the engine more than the enemies…