Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Strider

Retro Game of the Day! Strider

Strider by Capcom, available on the Sega Genesis. Among other places- this appeared in arcades in 1989 on their CPS-1 board, and showed up a year later to clean house on the Sega Genesis. A Nintendo port turned up as well, though as it is a completely different "roughly based on the arcade" type of game, we are going to completely ignore it today. Sorry, suckers!

But that's alright, because the Genesis/Arcade version seems to be everyone's favorite Strider anyway. And there's been a bit of bizarre history with this brand, lemme tell ya.

I remember first seeing this unusal action title in an arcade far from my house as a kid, then seeing it show up in the pages of my favorite game mag "from the folks who brought you the beloved Ghouls 'n Ghosts, we give you Strider!" This was a call to arms! The pics looked kind of crazy and described the hero who could jump everywhere like this crazy killer acrobat. It sounded like exactly the type of game one would buy a Genesis for. Also, this was to be the console's first 8-Megabit cartridge, everything else to that point was half that size (and the largest NES games were 3 Meg, and even that was very unusual). You knew this was gonna be good.

And it was! Strider was good, weird fun - a very colorful world, lots of interesting characters, a bizarre and unclear story. All you needed to know was "keep jumping, keep slashing, don't get killed and you are all set." The further you got into the game, the weirder it got (robot gorilla, steep hill descent, amazon chicks and dinosaurs, this game had it all)

But you wanna know what else this game had? LOTS of BUGS! Yeah, not like "the game would crash and kill you" bugs, but the thing would stutter all over the place, like it was just barely able to keep processing what was going on at any given moment. Shoddy processing was not unusual back in the day, lots of games had too much going on-screen to the point where things would slow down atrociously or flicker nearly into oblivion. But Strider had it's own particular brand of stuttering. It really destroyed the rhythm of the whole game, especially one where you were supposed to be gracefully leaping from one tower to another. It did a number on the whole Suspension of Disbelief thing. Interestingly enough, although they were two completely different games, the NES conversion was also horribly buggy in it's play control - Capcom was fairly well known for kicking out smooth-as-silk experiences (Bionic Commando, Megaman, etc) on that system so that game just seemed like someone did not care-

Even so, no one cared. Strider and his world were rich, interesting, and unusual - and people loved it and still rave about it to this day. The game came and went on Genesis, to moderate fanfare - a few notable titles followed, but nothing as impactful as the one you are looking at right here. To this day I think a full-on 3D Strider would make a wonderful game (a lot of people share this opinion!), maybe one day that will happen..


  1. Personally, I've always thought 1990 was the Genesis' best year. What do you guys think?

    No, a 3D Strider just wouldn't work. It would definitely have to be in glorious 2D, especially now that Super Mario Bros 5 is the hottest thing going.

    US Gold's Strider Returns was a daft mistake, and I don't know how they got the name. It played like an Amiga game, but lacked all the thrills of Capcom's arcade.

    Capcom did make Strider 2 in the arcades, and it arrived on PSX, but I could never play it all that much. Maybe it's not as good, and maybe I just never sat down and gave it the time. Perhaps the 3D polygon backdrops were off-putting; the hand-drawn graphics of Strider 1 (I'm thinking of the spectacular drop down the mountain, and the sky full of heavy clouds) were infinitely better.

    This is a really fantastic blog. I'll be adding it to my blogroll on Daniel Thomas Vol 4. It's great to see game designers who know their videogame history. It seems like everyone else wants to break into Hollywood and abandon videogames altogether. Keep up the excellent work!

  2. Thanks so much Daniel, I am happy you enjoy it!! I appreciate the people who read this, do your part and spread the word :)