Platform: Reviewed on Xbox One (available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows)
Developer: Double Helix
Release date: February 18, 2014
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: A reboot of a classic that many have missed, but should check out.
I never had the opportunity to play the original Strider, that’s mostly because I wasn’t born when it was released, so playing the new 2014 Strider was almost like being introduced to a long-lost family member, one that my older siblings would mention every now and then, and tell me how great they were, but never got the chance to spend some time with them myself.
Now that Strider is back though, we’re catching up for lost time.
The Strider organisation has sent their best assassin Strider Hiryu to kill Grandmaster Meio in Kazakh City. Meio has built a robotic dictatorship in the capital, with each robotic solider spouting propaganda and political doctrine as you separate their head from their servos.
There is a large focus on speed in Strider, leader boards and achievements are focused around moving as fast as you can, constantly moving, constantly fighting. Even the level design allows for fast platforming, or long stretches of free space to allow Strider to run at full sprint and attack enemies as you move. The camera has a dynamic with the flow of the level, it will move with Strider, getting up-close into the action when it can, and keeping action tight, but also moving to allow a range of movement and a sense of fluidity.
The game plays in 2D, but is presented in a 2.5D plane. The backgrounds are presented in fantastic, detailed full 3D, I struggle to remember the last time I played a 2.5D game that had such polish when it comes to the background aesthetics.
Strider is a game that allows you to sink into a rhythm, when you get into “the zone” and find you’re pulling off lightning fast moves and filling the screen with light and dismembered robots. Some games do this easier than others, Strider makes it very easy to let you feel like a bad-ass.
That feeling seeps into the graphic styling of the game. There’s an over the top colour and lighting palette emitting from Strider himself which adds a stark contrast to the dreary tech-heavy, grey metropolis that you will be fighting through. Attacks and strikes flash with neon colour, characters have anime style portraits and all present themselves with “over-the-top” conviction in the dialogue. The whole style gives Strider a “Saturday morning cartoon” feeling, a cartoon I definitely wish I was brought up with!
The retro style is especially prominent when it comes to boss battles. Each new boss is introduced with a stylish title slide and you’re quickly thrown into combat, and a fight involving pattern memorisations and exploiting weak spots when your often giant enemies present them.
Skills are slowly fed to you at a pace that allows you to familiarise yourself with it, and be able to use it to make your way into that next area that was previously locked to you. Just as you get a hankering for something new, the game will present you something, without feeling overwhelmed with combos and level layouts to remember.
When new abilities are introduced, you are often presented with a “puzzle” to fully familiarise yourself with them. Puzzle may be a generous term, but the game does a good job in presenting you obstacles to overcome further, than just the hordes of enemies in your way. For example, when you find the “down strike” ability, you will have a series of vents to smash vertically through using your ability.
Filling up your meter will allow you to unleash a frenzied ninja mode, allowing you to deal double damage with lightning speed. It only lasts briefly, but a true ninja will be able to clear the screen with blade in hand.
As you progress through the game “options” become available, these activated abilities can be triggered to assist you in battle. A robotic eagle soaring from the sky and through the chests of your enemies is a pretty large advantage, and when it isn’t helping you in battle you can use it to travel from planes within the levels. A prime example of how new abilities allow you to progress.
Strider is the re-imagining of an old school classic, and whilst I don’t have the hands on experience from the original, I can tell you that playing through Strider gave me a lot of nostalgia for old school games, whilst still presenting the polish and developed gameplay of current generation titles.
Cyber Ninja Hero
- Fast, fluid and exciting.
- Bright foreground visuals in a detailed environment.
- Amazing boss battles.
Broken Robot Zero
- Peaks and troughs of difficulty.
- Finicky wall climbing.
Strider has a PEGI 12 rating, the action is no more than what you’d find watching your Saturday morning action cartoons, so let the little ninjas play I say.