There were many 2D side-scrolling action games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) but one game in particular combined action elements with role-playing skill upgrades as well as an evolving plot with mystery and adventure. This game is called, Strider. It is a killer game. In this game you play a character named Strider Hiryu. Your character is a powerful Ninja-Secret Operative who carries a big sword. You get your missions from the control room in your orbiting base called the “Blue Dragon” (Thanks to Wikipedia for that tidbit of information). It is cool because the control room looks like something out of an Anime or high budget science fiction movie. When you use your sword it makes a slash-effect that cuts enemies that are in front of you. You can slash very quickly so if there is an enemy that takes more than one hit, you can slash repeatedly and dispatch them pretty fast. Also when you kill enemies there are usually cool death animations like exploding blood splotches, or else the enemy can fly backward a ways. You can also stab enemies by holding up on the control pad. I didn’t find myself using this move very much until the end of the game where you need to do it in order to use your fireball combo attack.
The gameplay is probably the best part of Strider. You can slide under things, triple jump across walls, jump into transport tubes. And later in the game you can even get some magnetic boots at walk on walls. You don’t have a tremendous amount of health points. So you need to be careful when getting into combat with enemies. I usually find myself ducking a lot in order to avoid gunfire and waiting and watching for enemy patterns in order to choose the best time to strike. But in some cases the best thing to do is just avoid combat all together by jumping over bad guys (which you can do if you get enough momentum down a hill and jump at the appropriate time). Your slide is a great way to get underneath small areas, also it can be used to dodge enemy fire when timed properly. Strider is realistic in the sense that you can’t touch enemies by jumping on them or running into them. If you do so you will get hurt and will bounce backward.
The settings in the game are great. Each level is a different part of the Earth. You can fight in the dark, Sci-Fi urban areas of Kazah, and also visit the deserts and pyramids of Egypt. Strider does a great job of making each level look different. And if you explore each stage completely, you will encounter people that will talk to you and give you information that you need in order to complete your mission. Sometimes talking to people will also give you special abilities or computer disks which you use to visit new areas. You also can LEVEL UP by talking to people and that increases your health points and energy points. It is very rewarding from a gaming perspective to talk to people in the game because it gives you a short break from the action and it makes you really feel like you are in a mysterious situation doing the work of a ninja.
There are passwords that you use to save your progress in the game. And this is a good thing because the game is pretty long. It takes more than a few hours to beat it. The levels have multiple areas and the dialogue parts take some time. Even though you get to use passwords to save your game, I recommend playing this game when you have a good amount of time on your hands. This is because if you are pretty good at action games you will do well fighting through the stages and will want to proceed on your adventure without stopping. Strider is a compelling game that flows well from area to area. Even though there is a decent amount of exploring in each stage, you will find yourself completing your objectives without a whole lot of frustration. And fighting bosses and difficult areas pumped my adrenaline a great deal and it made me want to play the game more and more.