So there’s a new Strider game, in 2014. Lets repeat that, a new STRIDER in 2014. Furthermore it features 2D gameplay that is a perfect homage to the series. Who would have thunk it? Strider up to this year had been a Capcom character who had gone the way of Megaman lately, showing up only in cameos or as a fan service toon in Capcom’s fighting games. This long dormant platformer/action series has produced some amazing games over the years with an emphasis on fluid gameplay and difficulty. This new Strider double downs on everything the series is known for and so far is my favorite game I’ve played in 2014.
This game is so damn fluid and controls so incredibly well. It’s one of those games were you’ll continually impress yourself how well you execute your plan of attack and you’ll feel like a badass doing it. As the game goes on you’ll continue to unlock more abilities and more weapons until you’re pretty much a killing machine. Strider Hiryu’s plasma sword can slash in any direction at any time and that, along with the combination of wall clinging, double jumping, and air dashing and you’re pretty much able to warp around the screen at will while slashing through hordes of robots at the same time. You also get some flavor weapons along the way, long time favorites of the series, Option A, B, and C. These are Strider’s robotic companions that absolutely wreck enemies when combo’d with your 4 different plasma sword types.
The studio behind the game is Double Helix, the same guys who recently made the new Killer Instinct which was also surprisingly well made and fun to play. Sadly these guys were just bought up by Amazon so who knows what thats about but its probably a bad sign. The game is just dripping with style. The environments look like something right out of 1984. Everything is metal or concrete. You’ll explore a sprawling interconnected world with hidden secretes sprinkled throughout. As you progress, the abilities you unlock will allow you to explore more areas and find more secrets and upgrades. The boss fights in the game are well designed and a nice break from the platforming. Most of boss fights really focus on the combat aspect with your mobility primarily used us a way to avoid damage. Which brings me to one interesting point about the game, for the most part you’re always taking a little damage here and there. It’s kind of a weird dynamic where you are pushing yourself to go fast and hard destroying everything in sight while also risking your health in the process. Luckily there are ample opportunities to restore your health with slashable health globes in the environmental as well as recovering a bit of health for every enemy you defeat. This allows for a delicate balance where you can gain life by risking life and makes for some tense situations when you pushing Strider to the edge of his killing potential.
The way you move around in this game is really the other highlight. Pretty much if you can see it you can get to it. Any wall is climbable and the any ceiling can be hooked into and traversed as well. Once you unlock the double jump and plasma catapult (this game’s version of an air dash) you’ll often find yourself doing tricky moves like double jumping at the last moment to get to the other side of a pillar hanging from the ceiling and then plasma catapulting back up to grip the wall on the opposite side. Probably somewhere in the middle of all that you were releasing a charge slash to take out a flying enemy robot patrol. This is really the crux of the gameplay. Enemies at all angles, dodging projectiles constantly, timing attacks and managing your special attacks all in an incredibly satisfying manor. You just don’t really get games like this anymore and for 14.99 I clocked about five and a half hours on Normal mode so value wise I thought it was spot on. I want to go back and play it on Hard right now, thats how much I loved it.
If I have any complaints I thought the music was a little weak, but the rest of the sound makes up for it with disturbing robot gurgles, the sound of plasma blades slicing through metal and the some fun voiceover work from the game’s bosses. The story is campy and very Japanese but its Strider’s story and it fits the game perfect. Once you get to the end you’ll be treated with the most Japanese of all Japanese bosses and if you dig that type of thing, you’ll be delighted. Please try this game out, its the best of the dying (dead?) genre, its Bionic Command Reboot but better and you’ll feel like a ninja playing this game, thats worth the price of admission alone, No?