Strider was always a favorite of mine, dating back from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Arcade, Sega Genesis days and PlayStation 2, with the exception of Strider 2. No, not this Strider 2, this Strider 2 aka Strider Returns, a non-Capcom Strider…. man that game was so bad, but anyway. So I was pretty excited when Capcom and Double Helix announced that they were going to create a new game in the Strider series.
Systems: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: February 18, 2014 for PS3 & PS4. February 18, 2014 for PC, Xbox 360 & Xbox One.
Developer: Double Helix
*Reviewed on the PC version of the game and final code*
First and foremost this is not a remake of the original Strider but a completely new adventure that infuses elements from games such as Castlevania and Metriod (Hence the game being labeled as a Metroidvania game) and as such certain areas will require some back tracking if you want to find and explore every bit of the game. The combat is fast paced and fun with plenty of enemies and bosses to slay, all which have their own charm though their attack patterns are very easy to pick out.
Thankfully the game adds more control freedom to the character this time around as you are able to aim your attacks in multiple directions using the analog pad, useful for snagging that out of place health kit or enemy. They’ve even given Hiryu several additional attack moves such as a down-ward thrust that allows you to take out both enemies and floors below you, a charged up Cypher which is handy for breaking down shielded enemies and adds an attack bonus to your normal attacks. Even Strider Hiryu’s trademarked jump makes a return intact with no changes what so ever. I will add however that there is an issue on the PC side of things and while the game does support gamepads, it only natively supports either PC controllers (Logitech, Matcatz) or Xbox 360 controllers. If you plan on using either a Playstation 3 or 4 controler with an emulation app like Xbox360ce or Motionjoy then be warned it may not work as there have been numerous reports of it not working with the title.
Graphically the game looks beautiful, the art direction gives of a futurist vibe while the game moves along at a smooth 60 frames per second on the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, however only at 30 frames per second on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. While the game is bright and has a cartoon-ish look to it, it doesn’t take away anything from the game and I’m sure that you’ll stop from time to time to notice the detail that was put into the game. Luckily I purchased the game on PC and got to enjoy the 60 FPS along side my 2560×1440 resolution and damn does it look good (Not that I’m bragging).
On the music front those who have played the Strider games of old’e will be right at home as there are plenty of remixes of classic Strider tracks as well as new ones. As an added bonus those who preordered the game on Steam were treated to a digital release of the soundtrack which contains 20 tracks that includes 7 remixed versions of music from the past. Sadly the only other way to access the Strider soundtrack was to purchase the Limited Edition of Strider dubbed the “Strider Hiryu Special-A Class Limited Edition” which is only for the PlayStation 3 and a Japanese only release but does include a 3 disc release of the soundtrack among other things. So if that sounds like something you may want, you better get to importing.
While many fans of the series were unsure if Double Helix could do the Strider name justice, it’s reassuring to see that not only did they do the game justice but this is perhaps the best version of Strider to date, easily trumping it’s past iterations. If there are any negative things to say about the game is that it’s too short. Many gamers will finish the game well within 3-4 hours if they’re going for a straight finish, though if you’re one to unlock every secret and achievement then you can easily double that. Sadly once the game is beaten there is no new game+ mode, which isn’t a huge issue but it’s one of those nice to have things. Currently there isn’t any news about any upcoming DLC and with the acquisition of Double Helix by Amazon not much is known about the status of anything going.
Even still for $14.99 you can’t go wrong especially in an age where even $60 dollar games are just as short, Strider heralds back to the hey days of the side scrolling platformers and makes for an enjoyable experience for both new-comers and veterans alike. You can’t go wrong either way.
To those looking forward to getting the PC version of the game, there are two issues to be aware of other than the controller emulation issue that I mentioned above. The first is there is no way to map the buttons in-game which is totally unacceptable but at the same time we need to realize that this is a port of the PlayStation 4 & Xbox One versions. Though it is possible to bind the controls by editing the binds_pc.cfg file. The other is that this is a DirectX 11 title, meaning if you want this for the PC and you are either running a 32-bit OS and / or your video card doesn’t support DirectX 11 then you’re better off getting this for the consoles as this won’t run for you. Please keep this in mind since trying to get your money back on a digital only release isn’t going to be easy or fun.
Hopefully this isn’t the last that we’ll see of Strider Hiryu and we’ll get another update of the classical Capcom ninja and sooner than later.