Strider review

  • Fast-paced, over-the-top action
  • Flawlessly captures the essence of the Strider series
  • Tons of hidden secrets
  • Confusing map layout
  • Barebones plot

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.

But these implements of destruction aren’t merely for slicing up fools--they also unlock gates that would otherwise block your progress. What starts as a fairly linear journey quickly opens up as you constantly find new weapons and abilities, and wandering off the beaten path will reward you with even more goodies to unlock--including extra modes to play outside of the main game. And while the in-game map can be confusing to read until you get used to it, it merely highlights the numerous layers and sections you’ll explore in Strider’s varied locales.

Unlike the games that it emulates, Strider minimizes necessary backtracking unless you actually want to go back and scour through previously explored locations. The threadbare narrative along with Hiryu’s dogged pursuit of his mission provide a constant forward momentum, and his quest for justice will take you to secret laboratories, a massive flying warship, and derelict slums alike. Kazakh City is a neon-soaked dystopia; a hacky Russian accent booms across these slick yet sterile environs, their copious secrets beckoning you to disregard your mission and explore. Hiryu’s quest may send him off on a few wild goose chases as he hunts for the necessary items he needs to progress, but the four or so hours it takes to finish rarely feel like padding.

Not since Bionic Commando: Rearmed has a reboot of a classic game made the leap to the current generation so well. Like the futuristic ninjas that share its namesake, Strider makes the daunting task of singlehandedly taking down a despotic tyrant effortlessly cool. And did I mention you get a cyber-panther?

More Info

Release date: Feb 19 2014 - Xbox 360
Feb 18 2014 - PS3
Feb 19 2014 - PC, Xbox One
Feb 18 2014 - PS4 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Blood

A slick pastiche of ‘80s retro cool and modern gameplay, Strider is both faithful to its source material and still capable of finding its own identity. It’s basically the raddest Saturday-morning cartoon you’ll ever play.

This game was reviewed on PS4.

David Roberts

David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his fiancee and two kids. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.

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  • DirkSteele1 - February 19, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Awesome. I still play the original on my Megadrive so rather pleased this is a bit special.
  • mafyooz - February 18, 2014 11:58 p.m.

    Strider was one of my favourite games in its day so really glad to hear the reboot is looking pretty damn cool. I just hope the politburo/centipede boss is still in there somewhere :)
  • David_Roberts - February 20, 2014 7:34 a.m.

    The ouroboros? It's the first boss you fight. :D
  • shawksta - February 18, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Awesome to see Strider back in glory, good job Double Helix
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 8:48 a.m.

    This makes me really happy! I have always been a fan of the concept of Strider, but my experiences with the old games were mixed at best. I played the NES version when I was too young to understand it, (I don't think I ever got past the first level.) and I played Strider 2 only once, thinking it was neat but too short and too easy, never bothering to properly play it in harder difficulties. This might be the first one I'll be able to enjoy properly, so it's music to my ears that it didn't disappoint ^^ Also, I have to say, I was dead wrong about Double Helix. Back when both this and KI was announced, I re-jugded them for their past track record and didn't put any faith on them. Seems they have proven me completely wrong though, and I'm more than happy to eat my words.
  • shawksta - February 18, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Its great too as Double Helix brought back 2 old nostalgic games and brought them back in style. Its just a shame now that Amazon bought Double Helix, and for what it seems to be for their supposed console, for sure they will most likely stay on their surprising record of making great games we can start giving faith for on whatever they are put to make, but at what cost? Killer Instinct is supposed to be a long term game, by contract they are supposed to finish what they started and thats fixing bugs and releasing Fulgor to finish off season 1. But its been reported that Season 2 will be handled by a different studio entirely, which is doing nothing but making people feel uncertain and shaky. Double Helix managed to make a nostalgic fighter, back with new mechanics and amazing balancing and whatever studio is given season 2, its not gonna be easy, we dont even know if Double Helix is allowed to give them the assets they even used. We can only hope it stays well, otherwise Double Helix made an amazing game along with an amazing return for Strider.
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    Agreed, pretty much complements my thoughts posted above. It's a shame Double Helix was janked before completing KI and maybe having a crack at a sequel for this Strider game. Maybe in two years this move wouldn't have been as jarring, but as it stands, it does feel that way. Ball's on your court Amazon, prove my fears wrong.
  • Redeater - February 18, 2014 5:43 p.m.

    Being wrong can sometimes be one of the best things ever. There is rarely a better feeling than going to a movie you are certain is going to be awful, and it ends up surprising you with how good it was. This DH situation gives me hope for The Order It's always interesting to see traditionally mediocre studios shine when given the opportunity.
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 6:41 p.m.

    Er... How is Ready at Dawn in any way mediocre? I mean, it's not a big studio and this is indeed their first non-spin off project, but Daxter was a pretty solid platformer, and both PSP God of War games were pretty good games, played as good as a console GoW game and were two of the best looking PSP games out there. Compare that to Double Helix's previous track record of mostly licensed dribble... Again, how is it in any way similar or fair?
  • Swedish_Chef - February 18, 2014 3:17 a.m.

    A 9?!? With this and Killer Instinct under their belts I think I can safely say Double Helix has saved my childhood.
  • BlueBoboDoo100 - February 18, 2014 12:47 a.m.

    How much does it cost?
  • Swedish_Chef - February 18, 2014 3:15 a.m.

    About 15 bucks.