My dystopian past with Strider's dystopian future
Hiya, Hiryu! Fine thanks, you?
Thirty years on, Strider remains one of the most fondly remembered coin-ops of all time. Spectacular set-pieces flow into astonishing battles with enormous boss monsters as the titular Strider Hiryu clambers every which way all over the shop like a startled arachnid, bisecting Russians with a sword the size of a traction engine. Something amazing happens approximately every five seconds. Idea after idea after idea. And I thought it was absolutely shite.
You see, this isn't the Strider I grew up with. I was raised on the Sega Master System conversion. Raised by it, one could argue. An upbringing one could reasonably consider borderline abusive, as Master System Strider is complete and utter bobbins.
It's not even Strider. It's like a child's drawing of Strider. A stupid child, to boot. While there was always a freewheeling "whatever next!?" looseness to the original game, Sega's 8-bit attempt feels more like a dullard regaling you with his holiday slideshow. "Then there was a bodybuilder... then fire rained from the sky... then he climbed around some scaffolding for a bit."
Indeed, the game's framerate ably supports this (let's face it, really good) slideshow metaphor. It tanks constantly, despite the giant enemies of the arcade classic being reduced to titchy blobs that barely resemble their source material. It's farcical. Remember that incredible boss fight with Ouroborous, the sickle-wielding serpent that you dramatically cling to as it soars through the air? Here, you just jump over it as it loops around the room jerkily, flickering in and out of existence as the Master System coughs up blood into its Bovril.
It wasn't until 2006's Capcom Classics Collection Remixed for PSP that I was able to play the original and go "Oh. Oh yes. That Strider is quite good, isn't it? That is quite good."