|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
The video game industry is at the point Hollywood reached a few years ago: trawling old and forgotten series and repainting them for a new audience. Some such games take old series in bold new directions; others are upgrades to classics; others still are mere rehashes.
Strider 2, a Sony PlayStation game from Capcom, falls in that third category. The sequel is a quick and fun action jaunt, but doesn't offer any new features or lasting value.
The original Strider arcade game was released in 1989, and was later ported to the Sega Genesis. The PlayStation sequel includes the arcade version on its own disc — the one labelled "Strider 2". If you want to play the sequel, insert the disc "Strider".
Strider has appeared in other games, such as the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting games, also available for PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. Not part of the new Strider 2 pack are the action-adventure Nintendo game Strider, or the oft-lamented Genesis sequel Strider 2.
Both games are side-scrolling action titles, taking place in the near future. The protagonist is Strider Hiryu, a sword-wielding acrobatic nomad who's not about to let a corrupt government take over the world. Strider can jump, swing, climb, and slide with ease. Anybody familiar with one game will have no trouble picking up the other. Several bosses from the first Strider are back, such as the scalable dragon and the gravity disruptor.
The plot and characters are vaguely G.I. Joe-ish, but the game itself is more like an anime movie: fast-moving, hard to follow, lots of bad guys, and too short. Bosses appear with regularity; upon their defeat, Strider is automatically moved from one scene to the next, with no transition. Consequently, the game feels more like a series of vignettes than a coherent set of stages.
The graphics employ a few tricks, such as changing camera angles for scrolling around buildings. Strider's runs, tumbles, and flips look great, especially when he makes a jump by gripping a steel beam with his fingertips. Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, though often only the sprites' weapons, not their bodies, can harm Strider.
Even should Strider fall to enemy fire, infinite continues ensure he'll continue the good fight until the last enemy troop has fallen. Strider's special attack is a projectile that homes in on the enemy; add a rapid fire attack, and these guys don't stand a chance. This is a sharp and disappointing contrast to the original Strider's amazing challenge.
If it weren't for the hidden features, Strider 2 probably wouldn't be worth playing more than once. It's a fast-moving game that's over much too soon. But a second playable character and plenty of secret point bonuses scattered almost randomly throughout the levels give diehard gamers some incentive to play through at least twice.
Strider is a cool piece of history, a reminder of what really tough games used to be like. Strider 2 isn't as difficult, long-lasting, or revolutionary for its time, but is a neat facelift to a popular game, and getting two games for the price of one isn't bad.
This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Video Gaming Central (CompuServe), 22-Aug-00