Saturday, August 1, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Strider

Is it too late to save up to $10 ?

For all the world I would swear up and down the guy on the box is wearing a fluffy white cowboy hat.

Anywho you are Hiryu, a "Strider."  The Strider's are an elite team of spies/assassins/heroes who protect the world from low orbit in a ship much like the Justice League's lookout tower.  Whenever there's trouble that needs taking care of, the Strider's are there.  As the game opens, you find out you're friend and fellow operative/Strider Kain has been captured.  Vice Director Matic orders you to locate and kill Kain before he can spill the beans about the Striders.  Will you be able to follow through with your orders?  Or is something more than just a captured comrade going on?  It's up to you to search the globe for your comrades, clues, and apparently, a nice set of boots in Capcom's adventure platformer Strider.

Okay, time to fess up.  I'm pretty sure I used my copy of Nintendo Power to plow through this game when I rented it back in the day, and now that I actually have a copy thanks to a member of the Denver Retro Gamers I fully intend to NOT look up a walkthru video or map or hint guide online.  But back in the day I only had a few days to play and beat a game and since I was a kid, playing through a game and getting the job done--so to speak--meant that whatever was at your disposal for beating the game was fair game.  After all, it was three or four bucks to rent a game for the weekend and that was big money to a kid.

Now that I'm playing the game "for realsies" how tough is it?  Does it hold up to my memories of being a fun, but nevertheless hard experience?  (Hey, I was a kid, and strategy guides tell you how to play but don't actually play the game for you.)

Music and Sound

"Title Theme"

The title music starts with a slower, melancholy tune and it does a great job of selling you on the tone of the game.  Of course, the level tracks all have a nice fast paced rhythm appropriate for an action game.  But when it wants you to take the game seriously it does the right thing and changes the whole tone of the music.  I appreciate it when a game does that, and I loved when it happened back in the day.  Instead of just filler action paced tracks, the music takes time to slow down and have us focus on the story It reminds me of Ninja Gaiden that way.

Every time you slash your way through an enemy soldier or robot, the accompanying explosion noises are both satisfying and confusing.  Are the bad guys stuff with C4 that they detonate like bombs when hit?  Any way, the noise your sword makes (yes, you brought a knife to a gun fight) not only has a satisfying metallic sound as you slash, but the scraping sound it makes as you hit something is highly satisfying as well.

Graphics and Style

Time to dispense some justice, strider style.
With a nice mix of bright colors in sparse patches (such as hair or sword glistens) and metallic gray around the structures, the overall look and feel of the sprites both works well and is pleasant to view.  It doesn't try to mimic the arcade look and feel too closely, and it actually benefits from that.  Rather than just a Run n' Gun (or Run n' Slash in this case) Strider takes on the look and feel of a game that has a bit of depth.  The lightening effects through the first stage bring an ominous touch, and there's hardly any slow down or flicker on screen when there's multiple enemies and effects.

Something about military games from Capcom make them have a similar feel. Not that this is a complaint really, but that back in the day, such distinctions could help you spot the company's product a mile away.  I still like that about these games.


 Unlike the arcade action platformer which the game is based on, Strider for the NES shares more in common with Capcom's port of Bionic Commando, and I love the game for it.   You fight and search through different areas of the map in order to gain disks which hold clues to progress the story.  Sometimes you have backtrack, but never does it really get tedious as can happen in more modern games like the GTA series which can sometimes feel like you have to quite literally travel by foot across the entire state of California just to do one thing.  I like that you have to work to open up new areas, but that it's not to such a degree as to be frustrating.  That said, it's nice there's a password feature because even now, a couple of hours combing the same areas and trying to trigger the right event can start to get a little wearisome.

Final Thoughts

I'm glad I have the chance to play this game again, and beat it the hard, the way it was meant to be beaten.  No Walkthru, no passcodes except those I earn myself, and no game genie.  I really do want to get this done right this time.  It was a great game back in the day and still is now.  It's still really satisfying to chop through enemies with your sword and send them flying back to explode as if they were packed to the gills with TNT.  Even though it's hard trying to figure out where to go at times, I still get a kick out of watching the little blip that represents the Strider Hiryu leaving the space ship to go to a new area.   And hey, who couldn't like the fact you have to collect floppy disks in order to advance?

With the charm of old school Capcom music and graphics, it's nice to finally call Strider my own.  I have to go now, somebody misplaced their boots in China and it might take a little while to find them?

China, has just become the world's largest sofa cushion...

*Note:  I posted this a day late due to the passing of Roddy Piper, I wrote a brief tribute to him: OVER HERE

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