Strider: Everything A Classic Revival Should Be

By Jack . March 1, 2014 . 9:30am

Revivals, reboots, reimaginings, whatever you want to call them, they make me nervous. Just like any medium with a series that gets a new entry long after its prime, a lot of video games tend to miss the point of their source material. I was especially worried when I heard that new Strider game was being handled by Double Helix, who I knew mainly for completely missing the point of Silent Hill some years back.

 

While I don’t mind the idea of a new team giving their take on something people love, at the very least they should also show enough respect for it to feel like it belongs in the series. In other words, if there’s going to be a new Strider game, it had better feel like one.

 

And fortunately, that’s exactly what it does.

 

Strider’s opening wastes no time as the titular ninja hurls himself directly into the outskirts of Kazakh, a city housing Hiryu’s assassination target: the evil Grandaster Meio. Strider Hiryu sprints at brisk pace with some swift sword strokes to match. Combat-wise things are very basic: mash the attack button and do your best to maneuver out of enemy fire.

 

One of the more unique things about playing as Strider Hiryu is that he’s very limber, being able to climb walls and do aerial flips as needed. The basic gameplay is deceptively simple, as what initially seems to be an arcade sidescroller like Hiryu’s previous games soon reveals itself to be much more.

 

After cutting through the enemies’ defenses, I discovered an upgrade that allowed Hiryu to plows through enemies and objects with a slide. Unlike most of its predecessors, which were pure side-scrolling action games, Strider dips into more obscure exploration elements like its NES uncle. There’s a huge map to traverse, filled with a plethora of upgrades to find. Grabbing new upgrades quickly became my favorite part of the game. Double jumps, air dashes, and flying energy birds are just a few of the toys you get, and they all add onto the base game in smart ways.

 

While there is exploration, it’s not quite in the same vein as games like Metroid. Areas often work like a one-way track, meaning that it’s always obvious where to go and the level design is basically pushing you towards the next area. You’re never going to get lost or have to find a hidden wall to proceed. That’s not to say there aren’t hidden items or optional paths, but they lean more towards coming back on your own time once you have the right upgrade. The linear nature initially seems odd for a game with an open map, but it adds an undeniably well done flow to the game.

 

The simplified exploration compliments the combat perfectly. Once I had established an arsenal of upgrades, I began to develop a myriad of strategies to clear rooms as fast as possible. This is where the game really feels open, more so than finding items on a map. Pasting the classic Strider formula onto a replayable, highly traversable map feels so natural that I can’t believe there aren’t more games like this. It’s a logical evolution of how Strider games have worked up to this point and it feels great to play.

 

Exploring all your options is especially interesting during the game’s numerous boss battles. Almost all of Hiryu’s rogue’s gallery show up, whether it’s giant flying dragons or the overly persistent bounty hunter Solo. Unlike the bulk of the game where the combat is short and sweet, bosses take a lot of damage. Due to their health, the bosses are both the most challenging part of Strider as well as the most rewarding.

 

Most fights are a delicate balance of dodging attacks and efficiently dealing damage when you have breathing room. Getting too greedy can get you killed, but being too cautious will draw out the fight excessively. There’s tons of a little tricks you can figure out by testing all of your options out, and perfecting your plan is the real draw to these encounters. The bosses are a close second to the upgrades as my favorite aspect of Strider, as they demonstrate just how well the game’s mechanics work even outside their natural environment of mowing down enemies.

 

Strider’s only real failings are in its story and presentation, not necessarily due to their quality but in how they affect the gameplay. I don’t think anyone was expecting to be blown away by the story, and the developers have taken full advantage of this by seemingly ripping lines straight from previous games and giving them full voice overs. “You’re going to fail Strider!” says the bad guy. “It is you who is going to fail,” Hiryu boldly proclaims.

 

The corny lines wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t plastered over the screen via huge text boxes, covering up vital parts of the game while I’m trying to play. Any charm a goofy exchange has quickly dissipates once it starts hiding the boss’s attacks. This isn’t a game about plot or dialogue, so it just baffles me that it would try to sabotage itself by shoving them in your face.

 

I’m also not a huge fan of the game’s art style. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad, in fact a lot the redesigns are interesting updates to Strider’s universe. My issue is that it just doesn’t look as vibrant as a Strider game should. Maybe it’s the color palette or lighting, but things don’t stand out very well, most importantly Hiryu himself. This only gets worse when the camera starts to zoom out and it gets bizarrely difficult to tell where Strider is, which can be catastrophic in dangerous situations.

 

While the presentation can occasionally do more harm than good, it’s nothing game breaking. These were problems that I initially had with the game, but the more I played the less of an issue they became. It’s more a testament to the quality of the core game that I can notice things that would normally drive me insane and end up blissfully ignoring them.

 

It helps that Strider has some of the best pacing I’ve ever seen in a game. Bosses and upgrades are doled out so regularly that progress feels constant and natural. The only time I felt like stopping was near the end, when I purposely went off the main path looking for upgrades. It’s a game that’s at its best when it focuses on action complemented by light exploration, and honestly I think that’s how it should be.

 

Strider is everything the revival of a classic should be—it carries over all of the series’ best elements while reintroducing them in a polished and logical way. As soon as I finished the game, I was immediately compelled to start again on hard, and I can see myself coming back to it for a long time to come. There are some oversights as far as presentation goes, they’re more as growing pains than fatal flaws. One can now say for certain that Strider Hiryu is back, and I can only hope that, this time, he sticks around a little longer.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. It’s too bad that movement is locked to the analog sticks. After playing 2D games on pads all my life, not having the option just feels foreign.

 

2. While the actual plot is pretty barren, the world of Strider is surprisingly realized. Some of the collectibles you can grab contain profiles for enemies and background info on the story, and it was pretty fun to learn about stuff like Strider’s ridiculous scarf technology.

 

3. The most surprising characteristic of Strider Hiryu is that for a stoic ninja, he’s actually quite the trash talker. Sure he doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s always putting his enemies down and denouncing their evil ways.

 

4. The way mobility in ninja games has evolved is pretty fascinating. Many older games like original Shinobi or Strider games portrayed ninjas as power-walkers out for a morning jog around the neighborhood. While they eventually learned how to run, these days they’re even faster, sporting more ninja-like maneuvers with climbing mechanics that are actually intuitive! Some people point to smart phones or the Internet as evolutions of technology, but I think ninja game mechanics are the real landmark innovation.


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  • Jeremy Sumrak

    Love the game. Beat it once on Normal already and set to up the difficulty and continue Stridering.

  • Jeremy Sumrak

    Love the game. Finished it on Normal and prepared to up the difficulty and continue Stridering.

  • http://s1.zetaboards.com/Espada_of_Alexandria/index/ konpon568

    The game could use a little more color saturation, and less of those lens flare effects. It kinda felt like a J.J. Abrams film. Still, this is probably Double Helix doing something right for once. The entire game is great, and Strider Hiryu is back and better than ever! I just hope this success doesn’t go way over their heads.

    • Arcana Drill

      Shame that now that Double Helix begin to do things right they are bought by amazon. Wonder what will be their future now.

  • Luis Camargo

    My first play was on hard and I got almost everything. Loved the game, the played again on normal to get the platinum.

    I am sad now that Double Helix has been bought by Amazon, would love to see them make another Strider. Hopefully, Capcom will give this to another talented developer and we get more games like this.

  • Heartek

    Great game. Would have been perfect with a deeper intervention on visuals from capcom japan. Hate the Limbo-like silhouette platforms amd the Mortal Kombat-ish enemies. You can literally tell what came from japanese pencils and what didn’t

    • Lucky Dan

      Actually all the character designs came from the original artist who done Strider, so go figure, if you collected over half the artwork :)

  • Hagaren

    Cool game! Played it on hard and enjoyed it from start to finish! Looking forward to seeing more Strider in the future!

  • http://gamesero.wordpress.com/ Arla

    Glad to hear the exploration is not like Metroid. Not sure sure when I’ll pick this up, but I’ll get around to it. It looks decent enough. I’m still not a fan of the visuals though. It looks really plastic and plain.

  • hng qtr

    “movement is locked to the analog sticks”
    Dropped.

    Kidding, I will at least try it. But it really sounds like a stupid decision for a 2D game.

    • $1392518

      Its very similar to the argument for Dpad, Joystick, and Arcade Stick for high paced fighting games.

      Strider doesn’t use fighting game motions, but has the same speed and reactions of one. The joystick provides smoother transitions to other directions more so than the ps3/ps4 pad (>360pad for other reasons).

      Though I admit, the option to switch would have been ideal

      • http://nisekami.deviantart.com/ NiseKami

        Except that the D-Pad is more accurate; I can’t count how many times I think I’m holding right on the analog stick to be slashing diagonally down, or trying to crouch only to jump because a slight angle down is read as standing diagonal slash.

        • $1392518

          Can’t argue with that. The analog stick on the Ps4 for strider diagonal input is janky. I oddly found vita remote play to far better in that aspect.

          Feels like instead of 45° for all directional inputs, its 15° for each of the cardinal directions and 30° for the oridinal inputs.

        • Lucky Dan

          The d-pad is used for selecting the cyphers to open specific doors, doing that on the analog stick would be bloody murder unless you want to press start every fucking second to select the particular ray like in super metroid XD.

          • http://nisekami.deviantart.com/ NiseKami

            I don’t know about that haha, I think it’d fit easier since switching requires up, down, left, right and not up-right, down-left, etc.

    • vault2049

      Bah, they will most likely release a patch addressing this later.

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      Analog-only drove me nuts for like the first half of the game but you do eventually get used to it. It helps that there’s nothing in the game too demanding of precision when it comes to maneuvering around except a few optional collectibles. One room in particular has like 3 concept art collectibles strewn across some of the most elaborate platforming sections of the game. I was definitely wishing I could just use a damn dpad for that, haha.

    • RunningWild1984

      Could just get the PC version I imagine and use whatever you want to play it.

  • Fen Y

    As much as I tend to disagree with the hyping on siliconera, this time it seems quite right. Yeah, this is one fine remake.

    Only way for the remake to be better would be if it was more like a proper Metroid, but well, can’t have it all.

  • Demeanor

    Might get this for my ps4, never played the original Strider.

  • http://www.facebook.com/segasaturnsnk SegaSaturnSNK

    Great game and absolutely worth the 15 dollars. Amazing fun game. Got it on the PS4, I need to get back on it and do some trophy cleaning. So far the best downloadable game this year.

  • Arcana Drill

    This look really nice for $15 title, as a fan of side scroller games i’ll definitively grab this when i have the chance.

  • wyrdwad

    Basically just echoing what everyone else has said in the comments so far (and what Jack said in the review itself!), but this is one fine game. I really, REALLY enjoyed it, and will replay it sometime soon for sure. I think the star of the show for me was the excellent level design, which made exploring an absolute blast — even when things were relatively linear, there was still ample opportunity to wander off the beaten path for upgrades and unlockables if you cared to. And when the game opened up at the end, allowing you to backtrack and collect anything you missed, I felt like a kid in a candy store being able to use the crazy abilities I’d amassed throughout the game to make short work of sections that took me forever to get through originally.

    Nods to the old Strider games were also appreciated, and I was really glad to hear two tracks from NES Strider get really fantastic arrangements (pretty much for the first time, as far as I can tell!). Seems like Strider fans often shun the NES version, but that was one of my favorite NES games growing up, so the added nostalgia burst from the music was greatly appreciated.

    The music is overall really good and makes for great listening on its own, and it provided excellent background ambiance in-game, but I will say it’s probably also one of my few complaints ABOUT the game — given how old-school everything else was in design, I found it kind of disappointing that the music wasn’t treated similarly. Instead of each area having a distinct theme song like in most old-school games, it almost seemed like music would play whenever it wanted. Stage themes were later reused as boss themes, and oftentimes one stage theme would begin after another had ended. There was no sense of “identity” to the music — no real way to associate any one particular track with any one particular scene (except in a few cases later on). I would’ve really liked there to be unique tracks for every area and either one unique boss theme, or individual boss themes for every boss.

    But maybe I’m just being greedy because I want to hear more Strider music than the 45 or so minutes that they composed. ;) There are still so many untapped retro tracks in need of arrangement (the jungle theme from arcade Strider, or the Red Dragon theme or title theme from NES Strider!), and so many new tracks begging to be birthed… guess you Double Helix guys will just have to include those in Strider 2, which you’re TOTALLY GOING TO BE MAKING (Amazon or no), riiiiiight? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/puchixseda puchinri

    I’ve been partially following this, because I never got to play the games but always liked the character and wanted to give the series a shot. Hearing how good this version reassures me that it’s worth a try~.

  • ThatGuy3190_7

    How long is this game? Lately, I’ve been encountering games that looks great but can be beaten in less than 4 hours.

    • Suzaku

      Depends on difficulty level, your skill level, and whether you want to speedrun it (2-4 hours) or go for 100% completion (6-15 hours).

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      I finished it in about 5 1/2 hours (according to the in-game counter, no idea if that counts how often I paused to look at the map or whatever) my first time through on normal. Then I played through again on hard and got like 97.7% complete or something in 8-9 hours.

      It can definitely be beaten in less than 4 hours though, there’s even an achievement for it. You’d have to be really trying for it, however(i.e. skipping a lot of the upgrades, optimizing enemy kills, knowing where to go). It’s not a super long game, but I think it’s very replayable for what that’s worth to you. Strider games have always been pretty short due to their nature as arcade action games(although exploration-heavy games like Metroid can be beaten pretty quick too!) so it’s really just following in the footsteps of that.

      • ThatGuy3190_7

        I usually play video games for about 2-3 hours in a day 3 days out of a week. Even then, I tend to savor it as much as possible. But with a gamplay length as that, surely the game isn’t more than $9.99?

        • leeorv

          It’s 15$, which I find to be the right price for it compared to the amount of content it offers

        • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

          Yeah it’s $15, which seems to have become the standard for “bigger” downloadable titles. I think it’s fair, but if you’re worried about length then I’m sure it will be on sale eventually. Capcom is pretty good about discounts.

          • ThatGuy3190_7

            Thanks. Call me behind in the times, but a game that can be completed in less than 8 hours for the price of $15 is not really getting one’s money worth.

          • wyrdwad

            Unless you’re super-fast or completely uninterested in finding 100% of items, I honestly don’t think you’ll be done with this game in less than 10 hours. There’s plenty of content and tons of replay value here.

    • wyrdwad

      I finished it in 11 hours and 30 minutes with 100% item collection. Even without bothering to collect 100% of items, though, it still would’ve probably taken me 8-10 hours, since I tend to “savor” Metroidvanias. ;)

  • Valtiel Ikari

    well, seems like everybody can repent, even double Helix.
    Double Helix, I apologise from my doubts (even thought they where understandable afther what you did to SH), you guys have defenetly got better and learned!

  • maelxich

    I guess I am going to be the odd man out huh? I really found this game to be quite average, it was way to easy they really should have made hard normal mode and balance the rest of the modes from there, the game was far to short and the exploration did not add to much, The bosses were very easy and really disappointed me, I disliked striders redesign, The skills felt pointless beyond slide, counter and charge, The explosions and particles effects make the game look cool but it was still more of a chore then anything,

    All in all the game was better then most reboots but a mediocre game at best, with nothing to make it stand out beside it being a strider reboot. The game could have been a lot better if they actually made it challenging and gave me a reason to have all these skills that I barley ever used.

    • wyrdwad

      I think it may have been meant largely for us older gamers (without the reflexes of you young’ns), because for me, Normal mode was extremely challenging, and I *had* to use every single move in my arsenal just to survive. In fact, I really liked how well-integrated the moves were with the combat, and how well-placed the enemies were, forcing you to constantly switch plasma types or perfect a certain ability in order to get through an area without dying.

      It’s funny, though, as you’re not the first person I’ve heard say the game is too easy, and that just really baffles me. Because honestly, I think this is the hardest Strider game out there (the old games were all significantly easier, especially the NES title) and it’s also way harder than most other Metroidvanias (Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are both fantastic, genre-defining games, but neither one was ever particularly challenging), La-Mulana notwithstanding.

      Guess it’s just different strokes for different folks, but I definitely found Strider to be a pretty perfect challenge for me on Normal (so much so that I will probably never play it on Hard, as I believe it would likely be too frustrating for me), and I felt the exploration elements made all the difference in the world.

      • Lucky Dan

        Wyrdwad, malexich is a guy is probably some unknown reviewer site that picks normal instead of hard and complains the game is too easy.

        In hard you had to lock certain enemies in place and use your specials in a time consuming matter since the enemies can essentailly one shot you if you don’t counter them well, you will learn that quite quickly with the mei-oh guards and even the stupid brain walkers which shoot out frozen missiles.

        I wouldn’t take too much notice on malexich though, he picks normal and complains its too easy I bet if he picked hard he would be on this site claiming absolute bullshit that the enemies can take over half your health at max if you don’t counter well.

        • wyrdwad

          He’s not the first person I’ve heard say the game is too easy on Normal, though — that seems to be a common complaint, especially among hardcore gamers (the sorts of people who regularly play Ys games on Nightmare). So it’s probably a valid complaint… if you’re a hardcore gamer.

          But I am not. I suck at games. So for me, the challenge in Strider on Normal is awesome. ;)

          • Lucky Dan

            You can’t really whinge on difficulty until you played it on hard. It’s like me playing Transformers: Fall on Cybertron on Normal and saying it’s too easy cause I didn’t even die once bar stupid hole in the ground tactics.

            Or even Muramasa saying it’s too easy on Normal, of course it is !!! If normal was too hard how many people would be buying it?

          • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

            Well, I do think there’s value on judging a game by its “default” difficulty. Like you said, that’s what most people buying it are probably gonna play, and that’s what I based most of my article on. That said, I think Strider was fairly challenging, and I’m no video game rookie. Definitely not overly tough, but I died a few times during bosses for sure. It’s appropriately balanced even on normal, I’d say.

    • Guest

      you so sound like a reviewer who plays everything on normal and say “its so easy” instead of picking hard but then someone of your calibur complains if selecting a mode a bit more harder on the get go is a mometeum task for you.

    • Lucky Dan

      Before you complain come back after you beaten the game on hard boy

      • Strid

        He said, “they should have made hard normal mode…” Which to me means he beat the game on hard and thought it was easy enough to be normal mode. I agree with him in that aspect. While the game is quite fun, it is not very difficult, even on hard.

        • Lucky Dan

          You were forced to use your cyphers on certain enemies and use your skills on hard, sure it wasn’t hard but you had to implement everything and it was still a challenge though not impossible but if you didn’t use option A to block missile you get stunned, if you didn’t freeze mei-oh guards otherwise the aerial combatants will kill you, etc etc, on hard those mei-oh guards are quite difficult to kill, since they teleport at every instance of a hit.

          His comment never mentioned any of this, nor did he said he never got caught out which is ridiculous he obviously played on normal and just having a good ol whinge.

          • Strid

            It’s of my opinion that you should have to use all the tools of the trade in normal, not hard. I thought hard was a good normal, but definitely too easy to be hard. Too each their own though — either way, it’s a fun game that is worth playing.

    • https://twitter.com/DocFishz Jack

      I think there’s kind of a misconception where if a game is hard then that makes it a better game. I don’t think that’s always the case, and actually most “hard” games are not good simply because they are hard. Games that are considered hard like Souls series or Mega Man are great because they have solid mechanics and design that can both require and encourage you to use everything you have to your fullest.

      While Strider doesn’t FORCE you to use all of your options, I think it’s for sure encouraged. Clearing out rooms/beating bosses as efficiently as possible became a natural goal that pushed me to want to figure out how to best use all of the upgrades. In that sense, I think Strider is very well designed. If you’re just slashing at things the whole game without taking advantage of all your tools then you certainly have more patience than I do, haha.

  • Frank Bautista

    Very awesome game. Yeah, for all the horrible, HORRIBLE moves Capcom’s been making in the recent years, DuckTales Remastered and THIS are actually some of the GOOD things they let happen. Capcom, give this kind of love and attention to your other neglected franchises. Might help if you get another studio to help you develop it!!

  • Demonspartanx20

    now imo all we need is a really good megaman game!

  • colorblindnightmare

    This game does SO much well and so little wrong. My only gripes were the lack of distinct tracks for each section and the map was just above yakuza level. Everything else waa great and I have more faith in DH now. Almost perfect title for less than $20!

  • MoriyaMug

    Good things about Strider:
    1. Tight controls.
    2. Fun to explore.
    3. Flawless 60fps w/no slowdown (at least, on PS4).

    Bad Things:
    1. Enemies are severely lacking in variety (almost entirely soldiers and flying drones, “variety” coming in the form of different guns they’re wielding).
    2. Boss fights are mostly uninspired exercises in pattern memorization.
    3. Music lacks flair and fades into the background.
    4. The aesthetic is pretty monotone throughout the game, leading most areas to look like most other areas.
    5. Pathfinding can be a major chore, due to the separate areas not being organically linked to one another. Metroid and Castlevania, this ain’t. Each transition point takes you to a separate area (separated by a loading screen), with no frame of reference to show where you might be going before you go through.
    6. Anemic and uninteresting unlockables (palette swaps, enemy info, concept art, and a handful of arena/race.challenges).
    7. No plot. At all. Seriously, Strider 2 was War and Peace in comparison. This is a massive missed opportunity to build on the lore of the series and give Hiryu an actual personality. Sadly, nothing of the sort is anywhere to be found.
    8. Perfunctory and brief ending. It literally consists of one near-static image, credits and another near-static image, followed by a results screen.
    9. Beating the final boss deletes your save file, or at least, you can’t resume your game again.
    10. No New Game+ option (a major faux pas, in my book).

    I will say, though, I had more fun replaying it than I did the first time around, but that’s primarily to being more familiar with the layout of the maps.

    • Göran Isacson

      This comment is good comment, informative and well described. While I can’t say that enemy variety was THAT big a deal back in the original Strider, the bosses being all about patterns and clunky pathfinding makes me raise my eyebrows. I am all about that boss game, and if the boss game is weak I don’t know if I’d be interested in the game.

      • wyrdwad

        I disagree with that complaint, actually — the bosses in Strider remind me of the bosses in Ys (specificially, Felghana-era Ys), where yes, they are all old-school and centered around pattern recognition, but as a result, they’re much more interesting to fight than a lot of modern bosses in games, since they DO a lot more.

        I find boss battles that are mere wars of attrition to be kind of boring, whereas in Strider, I found the bosses genuinely quite interesting — the first major boss, for example, has you climbing the sides of a giant flying mech-dragon while dodging electricity. After you’ve struck it once, it dives downward, sending you back to its tail and forcing you to fight the wind to get back to its head as waves of guided missiles, gun turrets and dudes with guns riding in on gliders try to stop you. It’s all very cinematic and epic and satisfying — and while yes, it all comes down to recognizing and exploiting patterns to find openings, that’s sort of like being unable to see the forest through the trees, since it’s BECAUSE it’s constructed that way that it’s able to function as such a complex and interesting set piece.

        Also, I disagree with MoriyaMug’s complaints about there being “no story,” and I think it has a lot to do with one of his other complaints, the “anemic and uninteresting unlockables.” Basically, the unlockables ARE the story — like an old-school game, the game itself is all about gameplay, with very little interrupting the flow of the action. If you want to know more about what’s going on, you need to collect all the unlockables and read the optional story blurbs that they open. Doing so reveals a lot about the game world and its characters, and while it’s still not an OUTSTANDING story, it doesn’t really have to be — it gives you just enough information to put everything in context, and leaves the rest for you to figure out.

        And I ALSO disagree with this: “Each transition point takes you to a separate area (separated by a loading screen), with no frame of reference to show where you might be going before you go through.”

        Each transition point is labeled with an icon representing the area to which you’re about to be taken. And if that’s not enough, you can pull up the world map and see EXACTLY where you’re going.

        …Honestly, I think most of MoriyaMug’s complaints are less game flaws and more personal dislikes on his part. The visuals, for example, are muted, but each area definitely looks VERY distinct — fire caverns built around ancient ruins look very little like Monument Square in Kazakh City, which looks very little like the military prison or the laboratory. The color palette is definitely pretty reserved, but this is an analogue for communist Russia, so I think that’s intentional.

        I’d say give the demo of this a try, as I very strongly disagree with almost all of the negatives MoriyaMug noted. Honestly, while I can’t say I like this game better than Super Metroid, I will absolutely say I like it better than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and I also feel it’s far superior to any previous Strider outing.

        • Göran Isacson

          And this I like even more! Maybe I should have pointed that out: I like the comment be cause it’s very clear what the commenter disagrees with, so it’s easy to create a discussion around it.

          I really find your comments on the visuals interesting: perhaps the difference lies more in the architecture and modelling of background buildings, rather than color schemes. Perhaps strong coloration is more important or appealing to Moriya than architectural design? A lot of interesting things can be read from someone depending on what they find interesting and what not. And perhaps his point on transition is that (I haven’t played the game so I’m just spitballing here) the area transitions don’t “fade” into the new area: it’s just like going straight from “industrial complex” to “mountainside”, rather than going into a snowy part OF the industrial complex that indicates that there’s a mountainous environment next to it?

          Boss battles I can’t really coment on because in my opinion, SO much of a boss battle is seeing it in action. I can be bored by a very cinematic boss fight, as the one you describe, if the gameplay and challenge it presents isn’t really engaging. Say, the collosal enemies from Lords of Shadow (no idea if you’ve played that though). These enemies are all fought in the same way, the ques the game gives you that helps you understand WHEN you can jump between preordained “grab on here”-points are very weak and often confused me, and it’s generally very cool-looking but simple and unengaging to PLAY. It’s just a series of button presses, jump here. Jump here. Jump here. Looks cool, but very repetitive and dull to play, very little challenge and replay value in it. You can watch a cutscene of the boss fight and get the exact same value.

          Now, the battle you describe includes minions attempting to stop you and environmental obstacles, so it seems like there’s still some actual GAME to the boss battle so I’m gonna say I’d probably enjoy it. But still: big battles can still be quite dull and repetitive, if they’re not handled well.

          • wyrdwad

            I’m certainly not going to say EVERY boss battle is handled well, but I think the majority are — and those that aren’t, I feel, fail not because of their pattern-based gameplay but because it’s far too easy to ignore said patterns and just bum-rush the boss to death. The best bosses in video games, IMHO, are those that simply cannot be defeated until you’ve learned their moves and figured out how to counteract them — they’re just as much puzzle as they are reflex. And that, I feel, describes the vast majority of Strider’s bosses.

            I can link you videos of some of my favorite boss battles in action, if you’d like — but I assume you’d prefer to experience them for yourself. And besides, videos aren’t really the same as actually playing them. ;)

            Regarding the transition points, it’s exactly as you say — there aren’t any real transitional rooms between areas at all. Instead, the game opted for more of a Metroid or Symphony of the Night approach, with short, identical-looking corridors connecting each area, the only distinguishing feature from one to the next being the icon indicating what area you’re about to enter.

            I kind of like this, though, as it makes the delineation between areas explicitly clear — when you enter one of these corridors, you always know you’re about to transition to another setting altogether. And because the transitions all occur indoors, through sealed corridors, it never feels awkward to exit into something totally different — it’s as if you just went through an airlock to a new land.

            Transitions could potentially have been handled better, admittedly, but I have no real issue with the approach Double Helix took. It’s not particularly “elegant,” but again, given the game’s setting, it feels quite apropos. With how militarized Kazakh City is, well-secured airlocks connecting the military complex to the central tower, or Monument Square to the peasant work area, seems totally believable and logical. It helps add to the overall oppressive atmosphere the game seeks to create.

          • MoriyaMug

            Never mind wyrdwad. He and I disagree on virtually everything. ;)

          • MoriyaMug

            And definitely try the demo. It’s not a BAD game, by any stretch of the imagination. I was just hoping for something more than simple arcade-style gameplay. As it stands, the Strider series (other than the NES game) has really never progressed past the original arcade title, outside of gameplay enhancements. I don’t mind story given in snippets, like in Metroid Prime, but the big difference there is that MP’s world is one focused on atmospheric isolation. The datastores you scan uncover a “what happened here” sort of story, which works well for that game. In Strider, you just get a handful of tidbits about Striders that tried and failed before (along with palette swaps as “costume changes”), in spite of a fair amount of dialogue in the game that never actually covers any story ground. None of the enemies have any backstory that can’t be summed up in five words or fewer. Ie. Solo: bounty hunter. As I said, not game-breaking, but a waste of an opportunity.

            The problem with the aesthetic (and I know I’m not the only one to note this) is that it’s ALL post-industrial buildings. None of the variety seen in previous games. You’re always in a run-down city or underground complex. There are a couple of spots (most significantly, the creepy insect-infested area) that look distinctly different from the rest, but for the most part, they do look very similar. And the icon indicating what the next area is a poor substitute for an organic connection between areas. The problem lies in the fact that you can see a transition point at the edge of a map, but there’s no way to know, without passing through (and undergoing several seconds of load screen), what point in another map you’re going to wind up at. This gives the world a sense of being more a series of disjointed subsections, rather than a cohesive whole.

            The issue is exacerbated by the fact that some areas have an odd, two-tiered setup, where you can use the Eagle Flight power to transition between them at specific points.

            It’s not absolutely terrible, and I’ve seen worse, but it could have been done much better and would have greatly improved the game.

          • Göran Isacson

            aaah, so it is a case of “samey” looking environments. I suppose that if it takes place in one single city it can be justified with a “it’s meant to look samey”, but just because something is justified doesn’t mean it isn’t drab. I also figured it was a case of “disjointed subsections”: I’ve a feeling they wanted to play it a bit safe with the gameplay, what with being a relatively unproven studio who possibly didn’t have the budget or the knowhow to churn out a organic environment or do something more with the gameplay other than “go with what works”. I guess a positive spin could be that it’s “good looking for a budget title”, or something like that.

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