Capcom has so many classic franchises, so one of the first things we had to ask Capcom producers James Vance and Andrew Szymanski was, "Why is this the time for Strider to return?" Apparently it was about finally figuring out how to make the gameplay work in a modern context. “By blending the high-speed combat that Strider is known for with a more open exploration, that was finally when it clicked. Like, "Oh, now I get it,” says Szymanski. “Not every IP would work but Strider does… plus there’s been consistent feedback from fans that this is a character they want to see again.”
But don’t consider this a reboot of the franchise or even Strider 3, it’s a retelling of the core Strider story. “All the Strider games have a common theme. There’s the big baddie grandmaster Meio, and the Strider organization sends in Hiryu, their top guy, to assassinate him. That’s the set-up for the first and second game and there’s no real continuity. So for us [this new game] is a retelling of that, you know, those same events, in a new form.” Of course many younger fans probably only know Strider from crossovers like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and these games have “kept the fire burning,” as Andrew put it.
With so many different ideas of Strider--Arcade, Genesis, NES, and PSOne titles included--how do the devs choose which games to represent? Andrew explained to us that “It comes down to the familiar elements and the new things we want to do… We were figuring out how to take this fast-paced combat and traversal from the arcade games and bring that into something won’t be over in 30 minutes.” The push for a fleshed out experience is why the devs went with a new game over a simple HD remake. They felt the Strider of today could work better with a Metroidvania style over its arcade roots.
The game’s been in development for some time, and Capcom has been working on it with Double Helix, the team also behind the recently announced Killer Instinct reboot. “Double Helix has done a great job over the past couple years really trying to change their operating stance into the kind of studio they want to be.” Andrew continued, ”I have a lot of respect for them wanting to be a high quality studio… And a key element is their ability to work closely with our Osaka studio, who’s doing a lot of the character designs and consulting on game design. Those guys in Osaka worked on classic side-scrollers for Genesis and SNES, so they get what makes Strider really fun.”
Most importantly to our old school sensibilities, will the game be as difficult as we remember and will it have the same sci-fi weirdness? While Andrew confirmed multiple difficulty levels to hopefully entertain new players and the hardcore, James Vance talked about the game’s weirder elements. “At the end of the demo there’s a giant dragon that appears that’s kind of an homage to the Oroboros character from the first Strider. We want to pay reference to these iconic characters from past versions of the game, not that all the bosses are throwbacks. As the lead artist put it, Strider has this style that borders on quirkiness, but somehow it stays cool. It’s an amorphous concept, but I think the game pulls it off real well.”
You can look for the game on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC early next year.