Like the best games of the 1980s, the 2014 reboot of the seminal Capcom classic Strider wastes no time getting right down to business. Within seconds of booting it up, you're hang gliding right into the heart of Kazakh City and slashing cyborgs with the quickness of a ninja. Within minutes, you're grappling with a giant robot dragon thousands of feet in the air. Countless enemies fall to your blade as neon sparks rain from every surface, and from its opening moments to the final white-knuckle encounter, Strider makes itself known as the raddest game to come along in years.
First conceived as an arcade game in 1989, Strider is a Japanese anime brought to interactive life. You play as Hiryu, a member of the eponymous squad of super badass ninjas. His singular mission: to defeat Grandmaster Meio and his more-or-less Soviet-era super soldiers at all costs. Motives, character development, plot--all of these are thrown out the window, relegated to the instruction manual and various collectables strewn about Kazakh City. Strider has no time to concern itself with such ancillary things. Instead, Double Helix and Capcom wisely focus on what made the original so great: that is, putting you in the shoes of an unstoppable whirlwind of awesomeness. From Hiryu’s signature cartwheel jump, to the silvery crescent of his blade attacks, to the updated soundtrack and scanline-infused aesthetics, Strider is a love letter to the original arcade classic, amped up to eleven.
Simply remaking the arcade game wouldn’t do, though, as the experience would be over in a handful of minutes. Instead, this reboot is an exploration-based action-platformer, similar to Super Metroid or Shadow Complex. You’ll explore the nooks and crannies of this not-really-but-clearly-Communist metropolis, finding new weapons, power-ups, and hidden items as you go. Sword upgrades, throwable kunai, and a neon-purple cyber-panther are among some of weaponry you’ll discover on your mission, and they’re all a blast to use. It takes your entire repertoire to tackle the Grandmaster’s minions, as some foes are susceptible to certain attacks while impervious to others, making combat a constant moment-to-moment array of twitch reactions.