I am but a passing wind.
The first time I encountered Strider Hiryu was in the original Marvel vs. Capcom where he instantly captured my heart with his potential for long combos, wall-climbing, and lovable robot companions. Though at the time I didn't know anything about Flying Dragon's debut as a manga character in 1988 or as a beloved character in the arcade, Strider became one of the better reasons for my love of all things ninja. Since then, he has been seen in various crossover Capcom titles in strategic and fighting capacities, but for the last two decades or so, he's never been the star of his own title. Developer GRIN attempted to bring Strider back to the fray with a remake in 2009 but that was regrettably canceled. Luckily, Double Helix and Capcom have decided that now is the time for him to return in all his glory.
Giving me the chance to play through the Strider demo that was available at the recent Tokyo Game Show, Capcom is bringing a much needed reboot to the Strider series while keeping its hallmark 2D platforming action. As a futuristic ninjitsu practitioner, Strider remains as one of the swiftest agents around, with daring, multi-directional flips, a cypher blade that can be swung as fast as the player can press the attack button, and a sturdy claw that makes quick work of walls and ceilings.
It becomes immediately apparent within the first minute that being deliberate and methodical, despite the lack of a time limit, isn't the suggested course of action. My attempt to take extremely careful swipes against the horde of respawning robots backfired after only reaching two screens away from the starting position… how embarrassing. From that point on, I chose to spring Strider into action and started swiping and flipping with as much speed and precision as I could muster. That method resulted in me clearing the entire demo in less than twenty minutes.
Most skills that Strider learns through metal capsules strewn throughout each stage are meant to allow him to exact a continuous onslaught. In case a robot soldier is shooting straight forward, he can slide along the ground for a low, disrupting attack. Sliding can also kick open vents and be used as a form of evasion against a boss. Rapidly slicing the air with the cypher will deflect bullets easily, and doing so with perfect timing will deflect projectiles back at the target. Charging the cypher beforehand greatly extends the range of the swing and destroys enemy shields in one strike. Strider can even infuse his weapon with various elements, including an explosive element that inflicts fire damage on enemies over time.
If that wasn't enough, Strider can spend a portion of his orange special meter to throw kunai and summon several robot companions through Option A that provide cover fire and shield him from harm. The other Options weren't available in the demo, but I would be on the nostalgic lookout for a robot leopard and a robot hawk of some kind. Destroying enemies and random canisters will usually drop restoration orbs, so maintaining a long chain of attacks isn't difficult and it makes building the fury meter that much easier. Once the fury meter is completely filled, Strider automatically deals double damage for badass domination over anyone in his path. Not even the giant robot snake boss Ouroboros will escape.
Fated to eliminate Grandmaster Meio once more, Strider will be striking back as a downloadable title in early 2014 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.