Anyone who enjoys crazy storylines, awesome swords, nifty spaceships and old-school action will find Strider worthwhile.
Strider for the NES shares only a title and central character with its arcade counterpart. In this game, Hiryu gets called back to the Strider organization with an assignment to kill his friend who has fallen into the hands of the enemy. As you progress through the game, journeying to locations all over the world, you'll uncover a sinister plot to use some cybernetic trees to turn people crazy. Or something. The game's storyline is pretty much an incoherent mess, and it's told in the sort of poorly translated dialogue that was par for the course in 1989, which, depending on your perspective, will either be a detriment to the experience or a contribution to the game's old-school charm. (It's a plus for me, in case you're wondering.) The gameplay in Strider is fairly straightforward, but nonetheless very enjoyable. You run around each level slashing bad guys with your sword and looking for data discs to clue you in on where to go next or keys to open doors into new areas. While there aren't many full-fledged boss battles in the game, you'll frequently encounter enemies who take a bit more work than your run-of-the-mill enemy grunt to defeat. Between levels, you return to a computer console on the Striders' Blue Dragon spaceship, from which you can beam down to any area you've unlocked. As you progress through the game, you'll also level up, increasing your maximum health and learning new abilities that let you do things like heal yourself or shoot sparks or what have you. While the healing ability comes in handy from time to time, you can easily make it through the game without resorting to any of the offensive techniques that become available. Additionally, Hiryu will find pairs of boots that let him walk up magnetic walls and walk on water, but these abilities aren't called for very often. It also bears mentioning that jumping in Strider has a rough, imprecise feel to it, which can lead to some frustration during the occasional times when the game calls for some fancy footwork. I guess there's a reason they're not called Leapers, eh? Heh heh. Heh. Ahem. Although Strider isn't the best-looking game to ever grace the NES, it's by no means unattractive. Hiryu himself stands out in his vibrant blue outfit, valiantly lifting his knees so that they're perpendicular to his back with each stride he takes. The game also has some nice atmospheric touches, such as the storm that rages in the background in Kazakh, and one stage is memorably set atop a speeding train. The game's music isn't especially catchy, but the serious tone of it serves as a fine accompaniment to the action.
Strider can easily be completed in a few hours if you know what you're doing. You don't have to play through it all in one stretch, though. The game features a password feature that lets you resume where you last left off. As of this writing, Capcom has just released Capcom Classics Mini Mix for the Game Boy Advance, which features this title, along with Bionic Commando and Mighty Final Fight, for twenty bucks, providing people with a perfect opportunity to revisit this game or play it for the first time. If you enjoy crazy storylines, awesome swords, nifty spaceships and old-fashioned video game action, you'll certainly find Strider worthwhile.