Preview: Strider HD

Strider HD was one of my most anticipated games. Notice that I used the past tense. Hit the link to read about my hands-on time with Capcom’s first entry in the Strider series in 14 years.

I said that this was Capcom’s game, but really it isn’t. Sure, they own the Strider name and character, but this game is being developed by Double Helix, the studio who brought you such gems as G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra and Battleship. Capcom’s absence is evident.

First of all is the art direction. Strider 2 took place in a shattered city, a castle, a space station, and beyond. Granted, I only played one level of Strider HD, but the stage was just plain boring. I was in a generic high tech lair. Pretty much everything was smooth and blue and meh. Also generic were the bad guys. Obviously enemy models are going to be reused often, but I think I only counted three types of enemies excluding the boss. And all of their designs were Iron-Man-power-suit-and-laser-gun.

Next was the controls and physics. Strider 2 was ridiculously fast paced. If it were any faster, your Playstation would melt. You were zipping through the level, cutting down everything that got in your way. While Strider HD isn’t floaty, it is noticeably slower than Strider 2. The camera is wider as well, making the game feel even slower. Jumps take several seconds to land. The way Strider HD handles takes it down a notch and brings it back into the realm of the standard platformer as opposed to the mayhem of Strider 2.

Strider 2 had a few power-ups like a boost that could be used to shoot lasers out of your sword, a shield, and health replenishments. Strider HD‘s power-ups actually give Hiryu new powers. Wait, hold on. By “new” I mean he doesn’t have them within the first few minutes of Strider HD. As far as I recall, all of the power-ups I got in Strider HD gave me abilities that Hiryu already had in Strider 2. What, did he forget them in his 14-year absence? Maybe there will be cool new power-ups later in the game, but I should be able to do a slide attack right off the bat.

It’s awesome that Capcom are bringing Strider back, but this isn’t the way to do it. It doesn’t feel like the next logical step in the series. There’s no progression here. It’s a step backwards. I’m hoping that they and Double Helix can prove me wrong, but Strider HD is going to be a generic platformer, unlike the unique games that launched the Strider series into cult classic status. Like the Western produced Strider Returns, this will be considered a black sheep by hardcore fans.