Gaming: Strider

Michelle is jumping up and down at this remake of Strider. Check out her review here.

There has been a resurgence in remakes of classic games the last couple of years and my inner child is jumping up and down with glee. Some have been better than others but it’s always a blast to see a game I loved in my youth updated with a fresh coat of paint. It’s a challenge for developers to revamp a retro game with modern attributes while still keeping all the elements intact that made it fun in the first place. Double Helix Games knocked it out of the park with their reimagining of the classic 2D side-scroller Strider and fans of the original games will definitely be satisfied.

The first thing you will notice upon booting up the game is the absolutely gorgeous 1080p graphics. They kept the side scrolling aspect of the gameplay but overhauled all the graphics with 3D models. Strider Hiryu looks like his incarnation in the Marvel vs Capcom series and you can unlock other outfits as you progress in the game. He still has his iconic red scarf (which now has a cool plasma effect) and every swing of his sword produces a light show courtesy of some sweet particle effects. The collectibles in the game look exactly like they did in the original game, pixels and all! Double Helix put in some remixed versions of music from previous games and several new tunes round out the soundtrack. The boss battle theme is particularly catchy and the stage music keeps the retro feel going.

While the graphics are great, I was disappointed by the limited variety of enemies.  You fight robots for 75% of the game and there are only a few types. They try to get around it by pallet-swapping and giving them different attacks but it gets old after a while. The bosses are inventive and each one has a completely different method of attack. It harkens back to old-school gameplay because they use pattern-based attacks that you have to memorize in order to beat them. I played on the Normal difficulty so I didn’t have too much trouble beating them but a couple did give me a run for my money.

Strider’s gameplay is lightning fast and runs at 60fps which makes everything look smooth and silky. It took a little getting used to at first because enemies come at you guns blazing and shooting what seems to be a million bullets at you but the learning curve is slight. Is it the fabled Sega Blast Processing at work? The world may never know. Strider himself has tight controls but I found his jumping to be a tad “floaty” which made some of the precise platforming sections a headache. It’s nothing game-breaking and every other aspect of his control is outstanding.  You get a plethora of moves throughout the game and each one is implemented well into the overall experience.

If you are familiar with the NES version of Strider you will remember the Metroidvania style of the levels and this new one borrows heavily from it. Each level is massive and has areas you can only access after obtaining certain upgrades. Strider has a hook that enables him to climb walls and ceilings and you can use this to traverse every nook and cranny of the levels. The map system is excellent and depicts where are the items are located so you don’t miss anything. Everything runs along at a steady pace and the game ushers you forward through a generally linear route. You can explore if you want to but it’s not necessary to progress the main storyline.

One major complaint I do have is this game’s subtitles. I can hear you asking “What can possibly be wrong with subtitles?!” Whenever a character is speaking a GIANT text box pops up at the bottom of the screen and takes up literally a quarter of the gaming area. You cannot turn this off and it frequently obscures Strider and the enemies you are trying to kill. It was aggravating as hell and I can’t believe this made it through play testing. Who thought this was a good idea?! Hopefully enough people complain and they make a patch that lets you turn them off.

Double Helix Games hasn’t had the best track record with games, in my opinion, but they did an outstanding job with this remake. I feel the pricing was a little steep at 14.99 but there is a lot of replay value and some challenges you can play after beating the main game.With the PS4 not having too many games out right now it’s a welcome addition to the roster and definitely worth picking up. 

-Review by Michelle Kisner