Saturday, October 11, 2014

He Slices, He Dices! The Ballad of Strider 2

I'm gonna take a break from Oktober-Fist... you know, soak my bruised fists in Epsom salt for a little while, and talk about an unrelated game I picked up for my Vita. Strider 2 was recently released on the PSN download service, some fourteen years after its debut on the PSOne, and as a Capcom fan from way back, I just had to have a copy for myself. The game's gotten a mixed response from Strider fans, and it's not hard to understand why, but let's discuss the good news first.

A knight on a robot horse? Sure, why not?
(image from
And here's your headline, ladies and gentlemen... Strider 2 is a welcome return to Capcom's CPS1 days, with a dash of modern technology to make it go down smoothly for players raised on polygons. Futuristic ninja Hiryu and his many foes are hand-drawn, but the backgrounds are three dimensional, adding cinematic flair to the manic gameplay. Like the original Strider, it's got a barely coherent action film vibe, with Hiryu scaling German castles, charging down booby-trapped hills, and slicing through massive enemies which burst into a shower of blue coins. It rarely makes sense, but man is it ever stylish!

Strider 2 includes an arcade-perfect port of the first game, a blessing for long-time fans who won't be happy with the ways the sequel differs from the original. The first Strider was a viciously tough platformer which demanded precision and sharp reflexes from players. If you could beat the game, especially on the Sega Genesis where continues were meted out as generously as orphanage gruel in a Dickens novel, you were worthy of all the praise your friends could muster. 

Which disc plays Strider 2? The answer
may surprise you!
(image from JustGoVintage)
By contrast, the only skill you need to beat Strider 2 is the ability to press the Start button in twenty seconds. It's a classic button-mashing arcade experience, giving the player a generous life bar and all the continues they can eat. If Hiryu falls off a cliff, he's returned to solid ground with a little less health. If he dies in a spastic crescent-shaped explosion, he can return with no lost ground and no penalty aside from an unflattering grade at the end of the stage. It's easy, is what I'm saying. Easy and mindless, in the same way that Final Fight and Metal Slug were. Foes blindly run toward you, and you cut them to ribbons. Occasionally, you bound over chasms that would have presented a challenge to Hiryu in 1989, but are no threat now that he can double jump.

I actually dig this style of gameplay, and have been too busy soaking in the sights and sounds to complain that Strider 2 is being spoon-fed to me. I'm fighting the Ton Pooh triplets in rush hour hover-traffic! I'm hacking up parka-clad thugs as penguins merrily march past me! I'm picking up barrels and cows and the stars of long-forgotten Capcom games for points! I'm having absolutely no difficulty doing any of these things, and I don't care! However, you might want to reconsider buying Strider 2 if a silly little thing like challenge means something to you.


  1. You know, I'm not sure I even knew this game existed until now. Regardless, it certainly looks nice. I may have to try it out soon, even though this genre never has been my cup of tea...

    1. Well, if you're worried about the difficulty, don't, because there isn't any.