Here we are. Another long-awaited remake has finally arrived on our consoles. Strider, a CAPCOM title developed by Double Helix Games, is now available on the PSN of PlayStation 3 e PlayStation 4 and on Live Arcade by Xbox 360 ed Xbox One at the modest price of € 14,99. But first, let's do a double back flip with a twisted kick and shuriken throw, to swoop straight into the late 80's and early 90's, when Ninjas, fighting games and 2D scrolling action platforms were getting together. enjoying their golden age. Powerful, agile, fast, shady and lethal. So the Ninja were painted in our imagination and their videogame transpositions were just like that. Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi, Ninja Master, Kaze Kiri, Ninja Spirit, Ninja Warrior and Strider are just some of the most famous titles where we could play these skilled and deadly assassins. The CAPCOM of the time indulged itself with fighting and scrolling action platforms of all kinds and the products it created were often pearls destined to remain among the pages of the history of the video game. Captain Commando, Mega Man, The King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Bionic Commando, and Strider himself were all excellent video games. The latter shone with frenzy and speed of action. Hiryu, the legendary Ninja protagonist, moved with elegance, speed and sinuosity, between flips and slides, combining these fearsome skills with the use of a particular plasma sword capable of slicing poor enemies and with the use of a grappling hook useful for climbing on the various platforms. During the adventure it was also possible to collect different upgrades for the weapons at our disposal and, at the end of each stage, a clash with the inevitable boss awaited us. Obviously, as was usual for the time, the level of challenge that the title offered us was quite high and getting to the end of the game with the few continues available was a decidedly difficult undertaking that respected the rigorous mechanics of trial & error. Twenty-five years have passed since the first appearance of Strider and today, after a nice restyling, here we find it on the current consoles. It is therefore instinctive to wonder if Strider's mad rush can still capture us with all its ferocity.
Version tested: PlayStation 3
A ninja from the past
A slender, athletic physique, highlighted by a blue suit, capable of transmitting all the agility that such a body could be capable of. A red scarf around the neck, animated almost as if it were a burning flame. Hiryu is here in front of us, arms folded, waiting to unleash his trusty cypher. The impetuous race towards our goal begins! Right from the start the sense of deja vu will keep us company. The atmosphere that reigns in this cyber-decadent setting will make us fall in 1989, but only with the heart, because visually we are faced with a current production, much more futuristic. Hiryu is a Strider, a Ninja trained to defeat the despot and responsible for this dystopian future, Grandmaster Meio. Just the same bad guy we were dealing with in 1989 and who, as then, has a Russian accent (he just doesn't look like Gorbaciof). The gameplay remained basically the same. By tilting the analog stick forward we will start Hiryu's ferocious race, with the x we will jump and with square we will draw our plasma sword to slice the various enemies. Advancing at incredible speed we will have to avoid as much as possible the gunshots that will be fired at us and, with the use of our grappling hook, we will climb on the various platforms and surfaces present in the game levels. The work done by Double Helix Games is really good and longtime fans will find some of the gameplay they fell in love with back in 1989. If this is an excellent point in favor for old-time enthusiasts, on the other hand we will all too often find ourselves advancing by pressing square as mad and oblivious to the enemies that will appear in front of us, until we arrive, sometimes a bit too far fluency, to clashes with sub-bosses and real bosses. This gameplay flaw was in the past stemmed from a high difficulty. Today it is clear that we want to make the title attractive to as wide a user as possible and this, unfortunately, is translated with a level of challenge calibrated downwards, even at veteran difficulty. If enemies and sub-boss fights can be easily overcome by Hiryu, the actual Bosses will need a few more attempts. I commend the wanting to re-propose the long-standing boss fights that, despite the futuristic restyling, will lead us to relive the sensations of the time. Unfortunately for us the positive feelings end here, as the various bosses we will meet have been equipped with a few simple attack patterns and most of the time the clashes will be closed in a more chaotic and fleeting than technical way. If you are exulting at the very thought of facing Lago again, the mammoth robotic tyrannosaurus of the beautiful level set in the Amazon that we found in the original title, I immediately give you the bad news: the great absentee of this remake is precisely the level in question.
Rejuvenate the game with ancient tricks
To fade these smudges we will find a new exoskeleton on which the entire adventure of our ruthless Strider will rest. The eighties saw the birth of another great saga: Metroid. The peculiarity of the titles of this now very famous series was that of exploration. Gamers from all over the world had to explore the various game maps far and wide to be able to find certain upgrades, often mandatory to advance in the game. The sense of immersion that this type of gameplay gave the gamer was something unique, sensational and never experienced before. It was as if a pleasant synergy was established between gamer and videogame capable of making us estranged even more from the real world. Given the enormous success of this scaffolding, another epic saga took its cue and the so-called "metroidvania" were born. To create this Strider, Double Helix Games drew heavily on this video game genre. In fact, in Strider it will be possible to get hold of numerous upgrades. They range from canonical energy and health upgrades, to the acquisition of different types of cypher and techniques for Hiryu useful both to kill enemies and to continue in the game. Furthermore, in line with what happened in the Eighty-nine Strider, here too we will be accompanied by a robot that will come in handy during the clashes. Its name is Option and after having recovered the various enhancements dedicated to it, we can activate it by pressing L1 plus a key between circle, square and triangle. To go and retrieve all these upgrades we will have to thoroughly explore all the game areas, just like according to the script of any self-respecting metroidvania. Even this aspect, however, while bringing new life to the title, has been simplified thanks to the possibility of using a map where everything will be reported immediately. A strategy that certainly entices those who may not be familiar with this genre to play, but that penalizes precisely that feeling of immersion and involvement that the exploration of the unknown can give us.
To counterbalance this small flaw, however, we find an excellent game progression with upgrades distributed throughout our adventure in a very intelligent way and that will rarely make the inevitable backtracking typical of this videogame genre boring. Strider, thanks to the use of this metroidvania scaffolding, manages to acquire a new lifeblood that definitely goes well with its two-dimensional sliding action DNA. If gamers a little more attached to tradition are still worrying about the level of difficulty set further down, I advise you not to do it. The structure of the original Strider was definitely more arcade and went well with a challenging level of challenge. In this case, however, the new metroidvania structure and a longevity much higher than in the past, about six hours without completing it one hundred percent, would have made too high a level of difficulty frustrating and not fun. Perhaps, with a more strategic use of the checkpoints scattered around the various areas, sections with a higher level of challenge could have been inserted. However, it is undoubted how with admirable mastery Double Helix Games has been able to keep the feeling of the game with its past really high, not only thanks to the familiar frenetic combat system, but also thanks to a level design clearly inspired by the original Strider. In addition to the intelligent structuring of the various areas that make up the entire game map, therefore, the fun platforming sections should also be praised. The balance of difficulty in these sections is also excellent, tasty and never frustrating. This is due to a well thought-out level design which, although not showing daring and innovative technicalities, finds its strength in the simplicity of well-established schemes over time, within this videogame genre. The surprises for retrogamers are certainly not over and I guarantee you that in many sections of the game you will find yourself experiencing the emotions of twenty years ago.
Modern look with a retro soul '
In 1989 Strider narrated the events of a distant future and the settings that we found ourselves facing wisely mixed natural elements with other futuristic ones, giving a look to the title suitable for the disastrous future that the marginal plot described. At first glance this new Strider will have changed considerably, but the dark atmosphere of a decadent future has been wisely and skillfully preserved by Double Helix. The scenarios in which we will run brandishing our cypher like obsessions will be many, but all united by metallic shades of the Shadow Complex, in total contrast with fluorescent lights and acid colors. The original dystopian scenario painted here wisely mixes elements of all kinds and therefore manages to convince us, also visually transmitting the feeling of being in front of the dark scenarios shaped according to the will of Grandmaster Meio. Really good the realization of the backgrounds thanks to a simple but effective parallax effect, which gives a good depth to the scenarios, and to really impactful constructions both for size and for the colors, which wisely combine the use of strong and metallic colors in contrast with pastel shades. The environments that we will explore will be multiple and well brushed. We will pass from the gray and metallic outskirts of Kazakh City, to the city, where the bright and golden minarets will take us back to the first level of the old Strider, to the sewers, where the sewage dyed with a strong acid green will create a strong contrast with the metal buildings, we will enter the dark alleys, illuminated by neon lights, of the slums of Kazakh City, we will pass through a temple immersed in the vivid orange of the lava, in the blue and icy sectors used for scientific research until we find ourselves jumping from platform to platform above the sunset skies of the city, to finally arrive at the Meio Tower. Graphically, therefore, we are faced with a varied setting, proposed to us with an original look that, in addition to capturing us for colors and atmosphere, will also amaze us for the verticalization that the scenarios have maintained compared to the original. To add to the good visual sector, we will also find the effects of the explosions of ice and fire and dust, made in Cel Shading, the convincing effects of the light trails of cypher and kunai, accompanied by an evident blur, and the gaudy particle explosions of some elements that make up the settings. Plus, the on-screen action runs smoothly and quickly, keeping the game's frenzy almost always high. Hiryu's moves are an obvious homage to the 1989 Strider. His angry run remained intact, as did his agility. In fact, among the first upgrades that we will recover there will be the useful and legendary slip, proposed to us as it was in the past. The animation of jumping with the spectacular wheel in the air has also been faithfully maintained. Controlling Hiryu will be very pleasant thanks to the precision of the controls, the fluidity of his movements and a frame rate that will show some indecision in very rare and very excited moments of play. Too bad, however, that the attack strategies with which we can get rid of our enemies will be very few for an experienced Ninja like Hiryu. Perhaps this would have wished for more tactical options to take out the bad guys in the game in style. Taking a cue from other conceptually similar digital delvery titles, such as the excellent Mark of the Ninja and The Dishwasher Revenge, the combat system would certainly have benefited. By equipping Hiryu with more true ninja gadgets and multiple attack strategies, he would surely come out with a fresher, stronger and technically more suited personality for our age. Furthermore, the addition of a fast and dynamic combo system would certainly have agreed to the frenzy of the title, making the game truly unmissable even for today's gamers. Ultimately Strider turns out to be a curated remake and despite a few smudges here and there, Double Helix Games has managed to find the right combination of past and present, making the title attractive both for old-time aficionados and for modern gamers. Moving on to the sound, as for DuckTales, we will also find here the original remastered soundtrack, but this time not with the class that characterized the masterful orchestral re-proposition of the title of Uncle Scrooge.Verdict 7.5 / 10 Strider the slicer Comment We liked Strider. Rearguard purists will be able to turn up their noses at the loss of a part of the strong arcade component that characterized the Strider that raged in arcades around the world from 1989 onwards and shortly after on home consoles of the time. However, the metroidvania structure, simple and well thought out by the guys of Double Helix, goes well with this Strider, making it more modern, but leaving it faithful to its origins thanks also to the characteristic and intact fast and frenetic style of action. Furthermore, the numerous references to the past that we will find in the game can only make many old school gamers happy. Too bad only for the absence of the level set in the Amazon. The biggest flaws of the title reside in the slightly subdued boss fights and in the combo system that, with more dedication and care from the developers, would surely have made this Strider an even fresher, enjoyable and unmissable remake for all fans of sliding action platformer and metroidvania genres. The advice, especially for the most tenacious supporters of the old school, can only be to buy it. You may find that not everything new represents evil. Pros and cons ✓ Smooth and fast
✓ Clever metroidvania structure that fits the title perfectly
✓ Atmosphere well preserved from the original x Uninspired soundtrack
x Limited Combat System
x Little boss fight tactics