By James Daly
Styled in the same vain as the original Strider that debuted throughout various video game arcades back in 1989, Capcom’s new Strider is a faithful reimagining that holds much of the nostalgic charm that keeps the appeal of traditional side-scrolling combat games alive today.
The Xbox One version of Strider is essentially a reboot of the franchise, so new gamers wont feel disadvantaged, whereas existing fans of the series will enjoy noting that this game is based on the aforementioned original arcade version of Strider. The game is also reminiscent of the NES version of the original game, as well as Strider 2. It even incorporates elements of the when the main character appeared in other games, along with some connections to the official manga.
The story unfolds in a sort of dystopian future and you assume the role of Strider Hiryu, an elite assassin sent by the radically named Strider Corporation to Kazakh City in order to kill arch-nemesis and all-round meanie Grandmaster Meio. The game takes place in a Communist Russia-esque metropolis, made more apparent by the less than subtle accent used by one of the chief villains. The whole thing smells of a cheese so fine you’d think Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean-Claude Van Damme star as Strider Hiryu’s sidekick, and that’s exactly what the game developers were aiming for so I have to say they’ve achieved it wonderfully.
The gameplay is simple with basic controller commands that make combat intuitive, which perfectly suits the genre that Strider happily subscribes to. As the story progresses, more functions and attacks are unlocked to deal with the increasing number, and difficulty, of hostiles that all add up to give the game a welcome depth. This game isn’t an IQ test, and it doesn’t really break any ground, but it’s not supposed to, and to look at Strider that way would detract from the aim of the game.
Thanks to the vibrantly coloured backdrops expertly crafted for each level, and the host of assorted enemies waiting to be fought, the gameplay in Strider doesn’t ever get boring. The levels are fun to explore and retrace, often with a maze-like feel that encourages players to utilize the environments for effective combat. Even seeking out all of the collectibles doesn’t lose its sense of enjoyment, and collectibles have never really been my thing. I tend to feel as though games should replace collectibles with small insults to the player so developers can just admit they’re trying to upset people, but Strider is one of the few exceptions where the collectibles feel genuinely obtainable.
Overall, Strider is an enjoyably addictive “Metroidvania” type of game with a great pedigree. It offers user-friendly combat, rich visuals and hours of replayability. Combining HD graphics with classic retro gaming style, Strider successfully stands out as a great contemporary example of this genre, and I recommend you play it immediately.