Monday 15 July 2019

Strider (Sega Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Sega R&D2
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1990

Strider is an action game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1989.

As a defender of justice named Hiryu, your mission is to battle through five stages to stop the evil Grand Master Meio from taking over the world. Your main attack is a sword, but Hiryu can also slide into enemies, or power-up with robot allies that help you in battle. The best way to describe Strider's gameplay would be stiff and its main issue regards the jumping mechanics, as once you've committed to leaping through the air there's no way to adjust your flight; this leads to many unfair hits where enemies suddenly appear from off-screen while you're in mid-air. The action also demands complete perfection and the only way to succeed is through trial-and-error rather than pure skill. There's also frequent and random pauses in the action while the next part of the level loads, as well as a ton of slowdown during boss fights. The main highlight is the level variety which includes jungle and city rooftop stages, while adding environmental factors such as lightning and shifting gravity into the mix. There's also some awesome set-pieces (e.g. jumping between helicopters while battling in the sky), as well as cut-scenes to tie the story together. Another key feature is the multiple bosses you'll face in each stage, as many times you'll think the level is over, only for it to continue onward into another epic battle! The sprites are impressively large (especially the bosses), the animation is detailed and the backgrounds have a ton of layers to give the stages added depth. The music is atmospheric, but weirdly there's only minimal SFX which makes it difficult to tell if you're actually inflicting damage during a boss fight.

Strider has the flashy visuals and intriguing level design, but things start to fall apart once you delve into the gameplay department. Forced trial-and-error can be forgiven if your character is given the right tools for the job, but despite his acrobatic move-set your control over Hiryu is extremely rigid, in turn, dampening most of the fun.

Random trivia: An 8-bit Sega Master System port was released in 1991.

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