Its been pretty quiet on the Xbox One game store since the console’s release late last year. While the PS4 has had a steady flow of indie and arcade titles the Xbox One has had next to none. So when 80’s Capcom classic Strider appeared on my dashboard it was a no-brainer.
Strider, the 2D side scrolling ninja plat-former originally came out as an arcade game in 1989. It was an instant smash hit, eventually getting a release on the NES. Now, 20 odd years later it gets a shiny new remake and is spread across multiple platforms.
I don’t really remember much of the original, but the start screen for the 2014 edition is in a classic 90’s arcade style. From here we’re straight into the action. There is some story, it’s told through cut scenes that pop up through out the game but I couldn’t quite understand why I’m slashing robots to bits. Something to do with a cyborg cossack and a city on lockdown?
As with just about all 2D side scollers, you’re tasked with traversing the world taking out enemies along the way. Strider arms you with a cool ass sword that swipes and slashes leaving some nice looking visual effects. Enemies take several hits before going down but the speed at which you can attack is based on how quickly you can press the X button. Dashing across the screen, mashing the attack button and watching a bunch of robots explode is gleefully fun.
Controls feel responsive and precise. Allowing you to get in a few hits before side flipping out of danger or onto another target. There’s a wall climbing ability that means you can climb just about any wall or ceiling adding a little bit of strategy to some of the enemy encounters. Upgrades also give you some new tools to play with along the way.
Strider takes a lot of inspiration from another 2D classic, Castlevania. The game world is one big, connected city. As you progress through the game you will come across doors and areas that, until you get a required upgrade, will be inaccessible. This adds a great, extra level of exploration to the game. Hidden passages and doorways may lead to useful power ups or developer artwork. Either way, the added exploration is welcome in a game mainly focused on cutting robots in half.
Where the game loses some of its charm is when it comes to enemies. The generic robots from the start are here to stay. Other than swapping out an assault rifle for a shotty they’re all the same. You will occasionally come across larger, tougher enemies. These guys take a lot ot put down and are a real challange if they gang up on you. The boss battles are also another downside to the otherwise enjoyable slasher. These end of level baddies pack cheap and over powered weapons. I like having to work for a win but been attacked by two at once is no fun at all. After getting my ass whupped over and over by a boss with super cheap attacks it soon becomes a challenge to stay motivated.
If you’re looking for a challenging and retro style game its not a bad investment for £11.99. Die hard fans will love the HD graphics and nods to the original. For the new player, its an enjoyable, if frustrating title, thats worth a look.
Strider was reviewed on Xbox One. It is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 & PC.]