Strider (Genesis) review
"As darkness falls across the land, a figure moves through the shadows. This mysterious person is armed with his trusty katana, a seemingly endless supply of shurikens, and the combat prowess of a hardened warrior. His purpose is simple: stealthily kill the target and escape unnoticed. As the nameless man creeps up through the gloomy night, his prey doesn’t even realize the danger looming ever so closer. It doesn’t really matter, anyway; the target will be dead in mere seconds once the veiled kil..."
As darkness falls across the land, a figure moves through the shadows. This mysterious person is armed with his trusty katana, a seemingly endless supply of shurikens, and the combat prowess of a hardened warrior. His purpose is simple: stealthily kill the target and escape unnoticed. As the nameless man creeps up through the gloomy night, his prey doesn’t even realize the danger looming ever so closer. It doesn’t really matter, anyway; the target will be dead in mere seconds once the veiled killer has decides to strike. Sleek and agile, the cold-blooded murderer makes no sign of his presence. Instead, he gathers a handful of shurikens, shifts into his attack stance, and lets his flying deathtraps do their dirty work. The target’s body is immediately riddled with metallic death; the bladed stars rip holes into the man’s flesh and send blood spurting in all directions. Casually, the killer steps forward, swings his katana, and lops the man’s head off in a single stroke. As his victim’s head rolls down the pavement, the assassin melts back into the shadows, content with a mission accomplished.
Such a scene is what makes ninjas so alluring. The combination of lethal combat abilities, superhuman agility, and incredible stealth make these mysterious characters all the more appealing. However, Strider Hiryu doesn’t seem to understand that last aspect of work as a ninja. As the young hero of Strider, he doesn’t abide by the same kinds of techniques that made Joe Mushashi and Ryu Hayabusa famous in their respective games. Instead of using stealth to outwit his adversaries, Hiryu likes to take on his opponents as openly as possible. It’s not like he has much of a choice, though; it’s the year 2048, and some generic evil alien mastermind called Grandmaster Meio is poised to enslave all of Earth. Since all the armies and technology of mankind apparently aren’t enough to defeat this extraterrestrial threat, Hiryu has taken it upon himself to save the world. After years of training as one of the elite Strider ninjas, this little upstart thinks he can actually kick evil’s ass single-handedly…If he could just figure out where he’s going. It’s up to you to assist Hiryu as he slices and dices through evil and wanders the world in his search of mankind’s salvation.
Okay. You’ve got an idealistic would-be ninja going on a one-man crusade against a space alien with enough power to enslave all of Earth. Evidently, the Strider discipline of ninja arts doesn’t include any kind of stealth whatsoever; Hiryu will begin his quest by hang-gliding onto the roof of some building in Moscow and promptly slaughtering anything that gets close enough to him. He doesn’t particularly fearsome, either. Instead of wearing the usual ninja garb and veil, our hero bursts upon the scene in a lavender jumpsuit, slightly developed biceps, and a not-so stylish mullet. Instead of sneaking around shadows and creeping up on his foes, Hiryu will plow directly into the enemy forces; his training allows him to do cartwheels in midair and perform a rolling kick that can somehow slice an enemy in half with his foot. But if more traditional ninja tactics are more of your style, our hero comes packing a katana to dish out some bloody punishment. This nifty little weapon isn’t made of steel, but of lasers. Apparently, the Striders have gone the way of the Jedi.
Hiryu’s cache of futuristic gadgets also includes a hook that can latch onto almost any platform in the game. Instead of jumping high enough to plant his feet firmly on a higher ledge, our hero can grab onto a ledge and haul himself up. If he has to navigate a slanted roof or curved surface, he can stick himself to the wall and crawl up or down accordingly. Combined with the fast-paced combat, this method of platforming makes the gameplay far more challenging. The game doesn’t spare any enemies, either; you’ll get assaulted by gangs of knife-wielding cyborgs, blasted by a barrage of cannon fire, and even get *****-slapped by a few stereotypical Amazonian women. In order to balance out the struggle against this never-ending slew of foes, Hiryu will be able to pick up and recruit a few backup weapons strewn throughout the levels. Some of these gadgets will fly straight into an enemy to destroy them, while others will fire off lasers and bullets to get the job done. Regardless of how you choose to approach the enemy, the battles will be brief, bloody, and intense.
You’ll get to savor every moment of it, too. Though Strider was released early in the Sega Genesis’ lifespan, it features a wonderfully polished presentation that few action games could muster later on. Despite his goofy costume, Hiryu is depicted with a wide variety of fluid attack animations and fast swordplay. When you attack, all you’ll see is a brief flash of light and an enemy suddenly falling to pieces. You’ll be able to make out the nuts and bolts on your mechanized foes, hear the clash of lasers meeting metal, and see dozens of bodies get ripped in half in mere seconds. At the beginning of the game, you’ll get to traverse Moscow’s skyscrapers, which come complete with flashing lights and curved domes. As the game wears on, you’ll have to wander through a endless tundra filled with deadly wolves, navigate through a space station with zero gravity rooms, explore a jungle while being hunted by scantily clad warrior women and piranhas, jump among a squadron of helicopters as they ascend through the clouds, and even destroy a flying fortress one oversized cannon at a time. The only thing truly bad about this game comes with the voice acting; you’ll have to endure some thankfully brief cutscenes in between each level, in which the villains will spout some horribly garbled Japanese with poorly translated English texts.
Such a drawback (hopefully) won’t deter you from enjoying this game. Strider is one of the prime examples of how to do an action and platformer game. Despite coming out in the early years of the Genesis, this game boasts a high level of quality that few games on the system have been able to match. It has a decent hero with a somewhat laughable story, solid combat mechanics, and enough fast-paced platforming action to keep you challenged and entertained. The use of the sword, hook, and secondary weapons makes for some intense fighting. Everything is portrayed with the best graphics that the Genesis could offer at that time, and few titles could rival its beauty. While other games languish in mediocrity, Strider is one of the few games that can truly stand the test of time.
Community review by disco (February 18, 2007)
Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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