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Strider

Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Double Helix Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer (2D)/ Classic/Retro

Graphics & Sound:

Itís not that we havenít enjoyed a few of the more radical interpretations of classic arcade hits, but itís nice to see that Strider was brought back more or less intact. Obvious upgrades to the graphics are in evidence, and the influence of Shadow Complex is apparent right from the beginning. Strider is still very futuristic looking, perhaps even more than the original, thanks to the smoothed edges, muted colors, and textures possible with today's advanced graphics.

Between the music, dialogue, and cut-scenes Strider manages to build lots of excitement through each level. Frantic action is accompanied by shouts from enemies aware of your position, and sounds in your environment during battle and exploration make exploring the world of Strider absorbing and sure to raise your pulse. The lighting effects are especially nice, associated with everything from sparks as you make contact with certain surfaces, to light trails your weapon leaves behind as it slices enemies in half. Thereís no denying this is Strider at its core, but the look and feel of everything got a major update.


Gameplay:

The Strider team had to be looking at other side-scrolling action games for inspiration on this update while trying to stay true to the original. Fans will be glad to know that when you watch the credits roll, youíll definitely feel as if youíve played Strider Redux, rather than just some new arcade action game. The blend of fighting, acrobatics, and exploration makes for a really great experience, and the story continuity from the original is still in place. Youíll make your way through a series of levels opposed by increasingly more challenging enemies, and with your journey punctuated by boss battles that will thoroughly test your abilities.

Gathering strength and abilities comes through a combination of linear gameplay and some time spent exploring off the beaten path. A mini-map that stays visible helps you identify hotspots and even potential areas for deeper exploration, but enemies do respawn as you move from area to area, making it painful to do much back-tracking. Most unlockable content is mostly surrounding the making of the game and the history of Strider, rather than items that boost your characterís abilities. This again affects how many folks will want to go back through for 100% completion. Best advice we can offer is just to explore each area thoroughly; unless youíre trying for some speed-run record, it isnít too hard to ferret out those hidden items.


Difficulty:

The gist of Strider is that it doesnít treat players like babies, but it also lets you get away with plenty of button-mashing. Boss characters are the rare exception to the rule, but those especially have patterns that help you take them out if youíre patient. Patience is definitely a virtue in this game, because youíre constantly outnumbered and outgunned. Thereís no real stealth involved, but positioning yourself strategically on the screen and knowing which attacks will be most effective against which enemies is key. Some enemies with shields simply canít be engaged without powering up your attack, and learning the correct sequence of buttons to push takes some time. Also knowing enemy attack patterns and weak spots is a must if you donít like replaying large sections of each level. Checkpoints arenít as common as weíd like, but thatís the old-school arcade DNA coming through. Progress is saved in large blocks, so the best way to play is to commit to a power run through at least one level at a time, if your time is short. Strider isnít a game of epic length, but thereís plenty packed in here to make it worth your time and money.

Game Mechanics:

The controls are arcade-simple, meaning that youíll rarely need to know more than a couple of attack options combined with the jump button to succeed. There are certain special moves youíll learn that are a requirement, as we mentioned earlier with the powered-up attack. Other moves require a bit of special timing to pull off successfully, and this is where Strider gets interesting. Simplicity was the thing that made classic action games enjoyable, the fact that they never tried to throw a million button combinations at you. The complexity came from using a series of simple moves in ways that perfectly matched the challenge you were facing.

Thereís a lot of this going on in Strider, and youíll find the controls are the piece you master quickly while youíre still putting together everything else. It was a quick and colorful ride, and one that we legitimately enjoyed. Sure, thereís little narrative depth or truly original content here, but itís a damn fun game that should make every fan of the original happy. When we think about what it means to dust off a classic, not screwing up the original formula is top priority. Not only does Strider succeed in this respect, it uses just enough whiz-bang graphics and overall style to actually upgrade the experience we thought was just perfect, back when we also thought popping our collars and pegging our jeans was the epitome of high style.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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