(MD / Mega Drive)

Strider (MD / Mega Drive)

Game Review

Strider Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

From Russia with love

When you consider that he hasn’t starred in his own game since 2000, Strider Hiryu’s popularity in Capcom fan circles is impressive, which is largely down to the high regard in which players hold his 1989 coin-op début. Powered by Capcom’s CPS hardware, Strider was an arcade action platformer that redefined the genre; the lead character was so nimble and acrobatic that the mere act of jumping from platform to platform felt exhilarating in itself. Unsurprisingly, Strider found a receptive audience in the arcades and was converted to almost every home computer platform of the period, including the Genesis.

Because Capcom was yet to officially sign up as a third party developer for the Genesis back in 1990, this 16-bit port was handled by SEGA itself. The result remains mesmerising; it manages to capture all of the excitement, scale and grandeur of the coin-op, and arguably manages to improve the already sumptuous visuals in places.

Set against the backdrop of a near-future Russian Empire, Strider still succeeds in dazzling you with its diverse range of locations and set pieces. From the opening stage’s cityscape to the dinosaur-infested Amazon Basin, no two levels are the same thematically or aesthetically.

Some of the most detailed enemy sprites ever seen on SEGA's 16-bit machine are introduced for just a few seconds before being dispatched by your character’s deadly plasma blade, and are never seen again. To some developers, such use of graphical assets would be considered insanely wasteful, but there’s so much content crammed into this title that there’s always a fresh new foe to contend with. Few platform titles of this type can boast such an incredible degree of variety, and it keeps you glued to the screen, keen to discover what surprises the next stage will bring.

Of course, it helps that the gameplay is also astonishingly slick. The main character controls like a dream and has all the agility you’d expect from a well-drilled futuristic ninja. Every single movement is coolly exaggerated, from Strider’s iconic mid-air somersault to his deadly sliding tackle. It’s also possible to cling to walls and ceilings thanks to Strider’s grappling claw, allowing you to negotiate your way around each level with cat-like grace. With the addition of razor-sharp responsiveness, the game’s control system simply dazzles. Even by today’s standards, few video game protagonists feel as enjoyable to command as Strider Hiryu.

SEGA did a fantastic job of bringing a cutting-edge arcade game to domestic hardware, but this facsimile isn’t entirely perfect. When the screen is packed with enemies — especially large ones, like the famous mecha-gorilla on level two — sprite flicker is rife. Almost every single level suffers from this issue to some degree, and while it doesn’t impede your enjoyment in any way, it does take some of the shine off what is otherwise a superlative conversion.

It’s a matter of conjecture, but many feel that SEGA's Strider sprite is actually better-looking and more detailed than the one found in the original arcade machine. Despite the high standard of SEGA's work, corners still had to be cut to bring the game to the domestic market. The game’s brilliantly atmospheric cut-scenes lack the delightfully mad digitised speech of the coin-op, and are undoubtedly poorer because of this. You'll also notice that some levels look a little less imposing on the Genesis than they did in the arcade edition. Such shortcomings are to be expected when the disparity in power between the Capcom’s CPS system and the Genesis are taken into account, however.


With its gorgeous visuals, excellent music and surprisingly stern challenge, Strider’s magic hasn’t diminished one jot, despite the passage of over two decades. It’s a feast for the eyes, and the responsive and acrobatic main character controls with amazing grace and fluidity — only the unofficial sequel, Cannon Dancer, comes anywhere close to attaining the same balletic brilliance.

Although many will argue that the availability of the arcade edition on collections for the PS2 and PSP renders the port redundant, this is one of those rare cases where a conversion actually adds something to the original. SEGA’s talent is evident from the moment the title screen appears, and this effortlessly ranks as one of the Japanese veteran’s finest conversion jobs — ironic, when you consider that it’s another company’s game.

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User Comments (42)



Dazza said:

Great review @Damo. I remember importing the JPN version of this back in the days, great times. You're right that the graphics were that little bit better than the arcade, yeah there was some sprite flicker at times but nothing that took away from the game too much. At the time it felt as good as having the arcade in your home, it played like a dream.

Along with Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Golden Axe this was one of my favourite Sega conversions of its time. Of course I loved ESWAT too, but that was nothing like the arcade! hehe

It's crazy to think that we've had to wait over 5 years for Sega/Capcom to get their act together to release Strider on the Virtual Console, madness!



Gameday said:

From Gameday With Love ;p
Cant complain on a Classic. Score is well deserved indeed.



DarkEdi said:

I hope next week we can have more VC games. I downloaded it fast so Nintendo can see the VC has a lot of support if they bring us more games.

(i´m worried if later we can transfer all games and saves to Wii U)



MakeMyBiscuit said:

I also agree. Great review and respect given to a great game. I highly recommend it. It is actually one of the games that made me go out and pick up another Sega Genesis. I could not wait for it on VC. If I did not have it already for the Genesis, I would pick it up in a heart beat. I just might pick it up anyways to support the VC and to be able to play it on my main TV.



blackknight77 said:

I actually think the music in this port is much better than the arcade soundtrack. I also have a soft nostoaligic spot for the NES version. I hope it gets a VC release since its a completely different game.

Its also nice to see the original VC- Reviews team step up to do this review.



Ryno said:

Awesome game and nice review. Anybody crazy enough to not know about this game has no excuse now!

@Heavy_Barrel: I would be really surprised to see NES Strider released. I am playing that right now and Matic keeps kicking my tail. That game will get ripped by today's audience.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@Heavy_Barrel: I loved the NES game back in the day. I never could beat the final boss though, as he keeps grabbing you sword and tossing it. I thought that one was already released on the VC?



blackknight77 said:

NES Strider is on the Capcom Classics Mini Mix for the GBA. I like the game and I'm sure it would be poorly recieved today, but I could care less how the internet percieves the game. It should still be on the Virtual Console if people want it then they will buy it. If they don't like it then they are not forced to buy it.
But its nice to finally see the Genesis version of Strider released.



longtimegamer said:

Are there saves on this..other than the suspend feature? Also, this version hasn't been out on any compilation?



Dazza said:

@longtimegamer No there are no saving points in Strider, as with most Mega Drive action titles. They are not really needed anyway, if you have the skillz you can complete this in one sitting anyway. To my knowledge the MD/Genesis port hasn't ever been made available on a compilation, don't quote me on that thou



shonenjump86 said:

When I played Capcom Classic Collection vol 2 a few years back, I enjoyed playing Knights of the Round, Mega Twins, Eco Fighter, Captain Commando and a few others, but Strider was a game I just could not get into. After reading this review I kinda wanna give it another shot. Hmm...



Shotgunryugan said:

I'm definitely buying this one,when i get the chance,since i've never played Strider outside of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Great Review!



StarBoy91 said:

Great review, Damo
Strider is a fun ninja game, and a great-looking and -controlling one, too



FluttershyGuy said:

Playing this piece of Retro Gold makes me want Strider 3 worse than ever. GET CRACKING, CAPCOM!!! NAOOOOOOOOOO! I guess I'll have to go back to my good-old Strider 2 game that's on Strider disc (and vice versa) in the mean time.

An interesting difference I notice here from the arcade version: Enemies actually try to AVOID your cypher, as opposed to suicidally walking right into it.



driversold said:

Nice to see the VC is still breathing (barely). Whatever happened to the release date of Double Dragon 2? Anyone know?



Urbanhispanic said:

I gotta agree with #8; since the Genesis version is now available, Capcom should release the NES version. A lot of people didn't like it but a lot of people loved it at the same time. Get to it Capcom and don't forget to release Mega Man 6, Mega Man x2 and Mega Man X3!



chiptoon said:

My girlfriend surprised me with a old gamebox arcade machine for my birthday, and Strider is one of the very many games on it. It's amazing, mad digitised speech and all.



GreenInferno said:

Don't you think the game is a bit stiff in the control? I did. And it suffers from unfairness because things happen off-screen and you cannot react fast enough to them.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I think the Arcade version is enough for me. But i'd be interested in Cannon Dancer / Osman and the NES game.



Ren said:

This is great news to me, this was one of my faves in the arcade.
While the graphics may be as good or "better" the arcade version was still far superior (much better animations, and none of that dopey sega music. The arcade really boomed with cool sound effects and music).
To be fair, though, it flickered and slowed down some even in the arcade (weirdly). Still I can't wait to play this again, certainly this is worth it and much more satisfying than the trash heap that was the NES game. Coming from this the NES thing was a big letdown. I was strictly Nintendo in that era so I only played the real one in arcades.



brooks83 said:

Gonna download this in the next few days to show Nintendo there is still interest in VC games.



WaveBoy said:

Definitly on the to 'PlayList'!
Here's hoping for Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps. But whatever, i can buy those bad boys on my new Genny!



NeoShinobi said:

Well, I already have the Sega cart so I won't be downloading this. Nice to finally see it up here though.
Now all we need is the NES version.



SNK said:

why the hell are they bringing the inferior Megadrive version out when they could Bring the Original Arcade Version instead,it just doesnt make any sence at all?



WolfRamHeart said:

I think that SEGA did an great job of porting this game to their home console. It holds up really well after all these years. Yes the arcade version is the definitive version but quite a few people, including myself, have very fond memories of playing this on their Mega Drive/Genesis growing up. I suppose it is a matter of perspective as to which version is best but I for one appreciate finally being able to play this on my Nintendo Wii system. Great review Damien!



Pj1 said:

I don't care for wii-ware but I'm pleased to be seeing some decent games for VC coming through....



Virus said:

Hmm...I personally feel a severe contempt toward this game. I bought it in response to all the good reviews it received, but I was horrifically disappointed. I'm certain I'm an outlier and that most people will enjoy this game, but I thought the controls were absolutely terrible. With fixed jumps, slow movement, and restricted attack ability, I couldn't bring myself to enjoy the game, no matter how varied the environments were. I can't understand how the reviewer liked the controls, but again, from the sounds of it, my mentality may be a little skewed. Regardless, I will add my negative opinion to the sea of praise.

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