And again, the portal that opened up at the end of Halloween just sent me back home. It actually fixed my studio too, which is sweet! Anyways, onto today’s show. The NES has a certain charm to it. Even beyond the great games everyone knows (Super Mario Bros., Megaman, Punch-Out), there are some games that just sum up the system. These games are mostly unpolished, platforming adventure titles revolving around sci-fi themes if you ask me, games like Totally Rad or Batman. Let’s go into*Capcom Time* and take a look at a game I think fits this, Strider on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
For every “so Nintendo” thing I just said, Strider is actually a port of an Arcade game… which actually might add to that, as those were also very common (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Double Dragon are known for being great NES Beat-em-ups, despite being ports). It was also ported onto the Sega Genesis among others, which might be the most popular version since it’s available for the Wii virtual console and ScrewAttack loves it. But the NES version seems to be the most different.
As a matter of fact, the plot might be where the games have the most in common, even though the NES games was more complex. In 2048, there is a group of ninja-like people helped by technology who call themselves “Striders”. You play Hiryu, who is of course the “special” one as the he is the youngest ever Strider to reach his rank. The game starts off when Hiryu is told he must kill his friend Kain since he has been captured by hostile forces and has become a liability. Immediately I thought I misunderstood something since why would they ask his friend to kill him and why not kill the ones who captured him instead? Of course THAT’S what Hiryu decides to do, but it gets even more complicated. Hiryu discovers conspiracies to takedown the Strider organization itself, but I won’t spoil it for you. However, this might be hard for you to enjoy since the game is not linear and the story is all presented in text that you can mostly read at any time. This makes it hard to know when something is a plot point or just some guy telling you where to find a power up. It’s also hard to recognize who is a good or bad guy since some are just introduced and say something that can be taken either way (like “kill your friend”).
Strider is basically your usual adventure-action-platforming game on the NES, but with some RPG elements added in. You’ll run around taking down enemies with your sword, but unlike most platforms at the time, you’ll have to back track, collect items and use special skills in order to advance. You have meter for both skill points and health which will have their maximum limits increased as you play . This makes the game play closer to Zelda 2 than other Capcom games like Megaman or Little Nemo.
However, the controls feel off. Firstly, jumping has that weird floating feeling and you always jump the same height, which can get really frustrating when you’re trying to make precision jumps. Hit detection is a little off too: it seems that it’s not enough that enemies get hit by the arc of Hiryu’s sword, but they have to be inside it sometimes. Also, slopes can be a pain; you’ll speed up or slow down depending on if you’re walking up or down-hill which is innovative, but feels sudden, incomplete, imprecise and clunky. But the most flawed game mechanic goes to wall jumping. Though my favorite skill, this game found a way to make it suck. Unlike most games where you’ll stick to a wall while jumping towards it and just press a button to bounce off, you just slide down as if it were a normal jump and you need to press the jump button and the opposite direction on the D-pad. You will probably just change directions midair and land back on the ground since you can’t tell when the right time is. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a skill to have as an option, but at one point it becomes the only way to continue.
As you can probably tell, Strider is actually a bad game; everything is glitchy and poorly executed. Despite trying to be unique and doing something slightly different with this version of Strider, fans were left disappointed and I really doubt that many new players were all that happy. However, I have to admit that this is a guilty pleasure for me. Like I said at the start, this game is a prime example of an unpolished NES game, and I have to say it’s very playable, despite its flaws (I call this the best most glitchy game, if that makes any sense). If you’re actually looking for a good game, then look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a game that’s bad but easy to like, I suggest giving Strider a shot. I give Strider for the NES 4 levels out of 10.