Strider is an action platformer game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1989 and one of the main games in the Strider franchise. It was developed at the same time as the arcade version, designed by different teams as part of a three-way project alongside the Strider Hiryu manga. For unknown reasons, the NES Strider game was released only in the West and not in Japan.
The player assumes the role of Hiryu as he travels through seven different locations eliminating hordes of enemies while seeking for clues to accomplish his objectives. This game differs from the other classic games in the series in that there is quite a bit of exploration and backtracking to previously visited areas. The player progresses through the game by obtaining key items, allowing access to previously-inaccessible areas or unlocking new destinations for Hiryu to visit. Due to this, stages are expansive and filled with respawning enemies, traps, and dead ends. Text-based cutscenes advances the story, based off the Strider Hiryu manga's plot, in-between stages though with notable differences in a few of the characters' importance and fates, as well as a few extra side quests to extend game time and justify extra stages.
Two numbers in the top left corner of the screen represents Hiryu's Health and Energy respectively. In most games these two terms are used interchangeably. In this one, Health is how much damage Hiryu can withstand before dying, while Energy provides power for different Tricks Hiryu learns throughout the game. After fulfilling a stage's objective, Hiryu will level up. This increases both meters' maximum total, as well as unlocking some of the many Trick abilities. Unlike an RPG, the game's leveling system is predetermined with a level 10 cap, and not determined by enemies defeated or experience.
The Blue Dragon station serves as the game's stage select screen. There are three different options to use: Transfer, which sends Hiryu to the selected location among the various on the map; Analyze, which is used to read messages on various disks found throughout the game in order to further the plot and unlock new areas; and Password, which gives the player a password for the current progression. As an interesting bonus, after giving the password, the game shows a sort of "Next On" blurb detailing the story thus far. The game splits itself into 10 different chapters or "Scenes", each with its own title and summary, much like a TV series.
Since the game is designed with exploration in mind, it features tube-like transports spread throughout each stage, helping the player move along or backtrack to previous areas easily. The player can enter from either above or below, and be transported along its length to another part of the stage (or even another stage entirely). Not all tubes allow entry from both ends, and certain tubes are strategically placed to send the player back to earlier parts of the stage, usually the very beginning.
Unlike the arcade game's acrobatics, this game's animation is much more restricted. Hiryu is only capable of walking forward or backwards, plus a basic vertical jump. Hiryu's Cypher is his main offensive weapon, being able to either strike once in front of him or raise it above his head by holding up, allowing to stab upwards at enemies on higher grounds. Other abilities in Hiryu's arsenal include:
- Slide In - Hiryu's classic slide technique, though in this game he's unable to damage with it until he finds the Attack Boots. Hiryu learns this ability after his first level up.
- Acceleration Jump - When Hiryu runs down a slope, he speeds up. One can take advantage of this to jump farther. There are few parts on the game that allow the use of this ability.
- Triangle Jump - By jumping into a wall and then jumping in the opposite direction, Hiryu can perform a wall jump and reach places that are otherwise inaccessible. This technique is quite difficult to pull off in the game, and has become one of the game's main reasons for its infamous bad programming and unresponsive control.
- Plasma Arrow - An ability unlocked by a Scientist during Hiryu's visit to Japan. By holding up the Cypher for 3-5 seconds, then pressing the attack button, Hiryu unleashes a plasma projectile in front of him. The technique is strong and cost no energy, but takes so long to use it becomes quite useless, as few enemies stay quiet enough to allow the hit.
Tricks are special abilities Hiryu learns throughout the game, as he levels up. They are available in the menu screen upon hitting select. Each technique consumes a specific amount of energy when used.
Unlike the other games in the series, items in this one have a slightly more pivotal role, mostly thanks to the game's exploration nature. Backtracking onto previous stages (mostly Kazakh) in order to use a newly-found item or ability to get into new areas is common practice.
After having eliminated his own sister Mariya after she went mad, Hiryu decided to abandon the Striders organization and live peacefully in Mongolia. One day, Striders' Vice-Director Matic showed up, requesting that Hiryu return for one last mission. Hiryu's friend Kain had been captured by the enemy. Matic ordered Hiryu to find and eliminate him, and threatened to start slaughtering Mongolians if Hiryu refused. With no other choice, Hiryu agreed and returned to the Striders' base in the Blue Dragon space station.
Hiryu agrees to find and rescue Kain, but decides against killing him. As soon as Kain is rescued, Hiryu is made aware of a dangerous brainwashing machine known as the "ZAIN Project", being under development by a corporation known as simply "The Syndicate". Realizing that both Kain and his late sister were used as testing subjects for the machine's mind control, Hiryu swears to put a stop to the project and their creators.
- Strider Hiryu
- Kain - Special-A Class Strider and Hiryu's best friend since their time in the Striders' training program. Kain acts irrespectful, ignorant and playful during missions, but this is simply a façade hiding a competent and intelligent Strider whose skill level is on par with Hiryu's. Captured during a mission on the Kazakh Federation, Hiryu is forced out of retirement to locate him.
- Sheena - A-Class Strider and a close friend of both Hiryu and Kain, a very capable Strider who favors firearms over melee weapons. Hiryu asks Sheena to watch over the injured Kain, but Kain escapes her watch and Sheena rushes to find him, worried for his unhealed wounds.
- The Chief - The former Director of Striders, he has been forced into retirement by Matic and remains on his residence in Japan, under the watch of Matic's men. The old man is very fond of Hiryu, and provides vital information to him about the ZAIN Project.
- Faceas Clay - The corrupt director of The Syndicate, who develops the mind control weapon ZAIN in order to create an utopia with no war or conflicts for humanity, with him at the center.
- Matic - Vice-Director and current de-facto leader of the Striders, Matic is a cruel and cold-hearted man who only seeks to fulfill his ambitions of world domination. Hiryu discovers he's allied himself with Enterprise and the Kazakh government as a way to achieve his goals. Wields a western-styled long Cypher sword using a battoujutsu or quick-draw technique able to disarm Hiryu in a single strike.
Strider started life as part of a three-pronged collaboration between Capcom and artist circle Moto Kikaku, consisting of this game, the Strider Hiryu manga, and the original arcade game, all sharing the same name. The idea of working on a project with a company outside the world of gaming came from Akio Sakai, who back then recently joined Capcom as new head of development. Sakai was able to secure the deal with Moto Kikaku, seeing it as a test to running a seralized manga and game at the same time.
While the manga and arcade game were handled by Tatsumi Wada and Kouchi Yotsui repectively, the NES "consumer version" was given to Masahiko Kurokawa, who previously worked on the NES conversion of Commando and the NES original Higemaru Makaijima.
Initial meetings between the three heads of the project were carried on at the Shinjuku Hilton hotel, arranged by Capcom's president Kenzo Tsujimoto so they could iron out details of the setting and world view. After deciding on the common elements of the setting, Yotsui and Kurokawa returned to Osaka and worked together to flesh out the basic outline agreed upon in Shinjuku. As both men followed career in film, they took advantage of this and together developed a detailed background setting for the project, and eventually each one wrote their own script for it.
Despite the initial intent for each team to take the fully-formed concept and adapt it to their respective media, Kurokawa and Wada wound up working closely together, writing an involved and developed story that became the backstory for both the manga and the NES-developed game. Due to this proximity between both projects, it's hard to appreciate the game without having read the manga first, as it explains some important plotholes and shows which parts were created as filler for the game and which are actual storyboard points. While Yotsui was also approached, he turned it down and created his own version of the story, on the grounds he saw the three projects as a competition to see who could make the best product.
The Japanese Famicom version was originally announced in June 1988, when the manga was in the middle of its run. Initially reported for release the following October, it was later changed to December instead, following the release of the manga's tankôbon (collected edition). For unknown reasons, the game was further delayed to a 1989 release and eventually and silently cancelled for its Japanese release. A few promotional items were released before the game's cancellation, the most notable of which was Strider Hiryu: Original Music, a cassette released in 1988 as a promotional giveaway to the readers of Weekly Comic Comp (where the manga was serialized) which included themes to be featured in the Famicom game, as well as vocal versions of the opening and ending themes. Alleged white cart prototypes of the Famicom Strider have showed up several times in Japanese auction sites, and one was eventually dumped online in April 2014.
The English version of Strider was first publicly announced during the January 1989 Winter CES convention held at Las Vegas, around two months before the release of the arcade version, with later magazine previews claiming an April release date, three months earlier than the game's final release in July. Based off the known Japanese prototype, the final released version appears to have received a general code cleanup to correct performance and graphic/palette bugs, as well as a number of edits to enemy sprites and locations, stage layout and item placement. Most notably change is seen in how they handle dialogue: The Famicom version shows text vertically at the side of the screen; whereas the English version transitions into a black screen to show its text.
In spite of those corrections, however, the English version is still plagued by glitches and bugs, being well-known for poor programming and a rushed translation. Where it suffers the most is in the collision detection and control scheme. The collision detection makes avoiding enemy fire tricky, whereas the controls are stiff and sometimes unresponsive; certain actions (most memorably the Triangle Jump) are an arduous chore. It's translation is noticeable rushed and typos, oddly-phrased sentences, and mistranslations abound. Cutscenes are often hard to understand and leave the player at a loss.
The NES version of Strider has been almost entirely overshadowed by its graphically-superior arcade counterpart, and is most often simply ignored as a legitimate entry in the series despite being an entirely different game from the CPS-1 original in every aspect. When it came out however, the game was generally well received by critics despite its aforementioned glitches and bugs. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a 72/100, stating that while it wasn't "as good as the arcade", its "graphic and play" were good and it had complex maps and items to find. The epic fantasy-based magazine Dragon gave it a 4 out of 5 stars, praising its graphics, story and sound as excellent, and noting the game's lack of difficulty as its only drawback. VideoGames & Computer Entertainment's Howard Well cited the game as "one of the best run-of-the-mill, side-view action-adventure games to come out for the NES", praising its graphics, music and well-paced action and stating that, while its concept and scenario had been "well overdone and heard before", it was a very refreshing game that reminded him of the first time he played Super Mario Bros.
- The game was included in Capcom Classics Mini Mix for the Game Boy Advance.
Box Art Edit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tane, Kiyofume (February 2009). "The Father of Strider Who Made the Game World Explode: Kouichi Yotsui Discography". Gameside (16). Translated by Gaijin Punch for Gamengai. Retrieved from Archive.org. Accessed November 7, 2016.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Scion; Dire 51 (24 April 2010). "Interview with Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui". LSCM 4.0. Translated by Gaijin Punch. Accessed 24 Oct 2010.
- ↑ Jones, Darran (24 Apr 2010). "The Making of... Strider". Retro Gamer (76). pp. 48-53.
- ↑ Robson, Daniel (October 2014). "The Making of...Strider". Edge (271). Pg. 96-99.
- ↑ Szczepaniak, John (January 10, 2016) "Interview with Roy Ozaki and Kouichi Yotsui". Hardcore Gaming 101 official YouTube page. Accessed May 23, 2016.
- ↑ "Strider Hiryu Japanese Magazine Scans". Famicom Tsûshin, June 1988 issue.
- ↑ "Strider Hiryu Japanese Magazine Scans". Strider Hiryu Promotional ad.
- ↑ "Strider Hiryu Japanese TV Advert". Retrieved from Archive.org. Accessed 21 Nov 2010.
- ↑ "Strider Hiryu Japanese Magazine Scans". Marukatsu Famicom, October 1988 issue.
- ↑ "Strider Hiryu Japanese Magazine Scans". Famicom Tsûshin, January 1989 issue.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Kouji-S. "The Phantom 'Strider Hiryu' Theme Song" (Japanese). Retrieved from Archive.org. Accessed November 21, 2010.
- ↑ Mike. "All Fingers Point To Zain Mind Control Weapon As Culprit For $3307 Unreleased Strider Famicom Prototype". nintendoplayer.com. Retrieved July 31, 2013
- ↑ Staff (May 1989). "Short ProShots" (English). GamePro (01). Pg. 47
- ↑ Staff (May 1989). "Next Wave" (English). Electronic Gaming Monthly (01). Pg. 8
- ↑ Nintendo. Complete Old Games List (Press Release). nintendo.com. Accessed from archive.org. Retrieved July 31, 2013
- ↑ Hartley, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (November 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (51). Pg 53
- ↑ Well, Howard H. (December 1989). "Strider". VideoGames & Computer Entertainment (11). Pg. 72, 76