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Strider: the reboot-proof hero gets his second coming – interview

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 09:30 GMT By Dave Cook

Strider Hiryu has endured as one of Capcom’s cherished heroes, but the company has pained over his return for many years. VG247′s Dave Cook speaks with the publisher about Double Helix Games’ incoming reboot, and other failed projects.

”Not all elements in every game age gracefully, but there are those elements which stand the test of time and remain fresh in people’s minds. Understanding and expanding upon these elements is key to modernizing a classic game.”

When it was first released in Japanese arcades in 1989, Strider offered gamers a new proposition. It forced them to think differently about height and traversal, thanks to its protagonist’s wall-scaling abilities, and it meant that you no longer depended on ascending platforms to achieve feats of sheer verticality; just something solid to hold on to.

Kouichi Yotsui came up with the concept after he locked himself on Capcom’s roof during the height of Japanese winter. When it became clear that he was freezing to death he started to climb down the building, towards the nearest fire escape. One wrong foot would have seen him plummet to the streets below, but thankfully he lived to tell the tale and worked the notion of climbing and aerial feats into the Strider Hiryu concept.

It’s a magnificent tale, and while the Strider series hasn’t spawned more eye-popping anecdotes than this, there are many untold stories behind the license. With the Strider reboot hitting Japan this February – courtesy of Killer Instinct team Double Helix Games – I decided it was high time to pop a few questions to Capcom regarding the series, its many canned reboot attempts, and the new game itself.

“The concepts are not related,” Capcom producer James Vance replied when I asked him if the Double Helix Strider reboot and Grin’s failed sequel had anything in common. “To be honest, the first time I, and certainly the staff at Double Helix, learned about the Grin game was when the concept CG trailer appeared on the internet. The Grin ‘real-world’ rendition is an interesting take on the series, and is perhaps an avenue to be explored down the line.

“For our game, however, we felt that the surreal, analog-future design of the Strider universe is a key component of the series’ lasting appeal, and chose to focus on delivering this as one of our key game pillars rather than explore a more realistic approach.”

Vance explained that Double Helix pitched several classic series reprisals to Capcom, but revealed that its Strider pitch ended up swaying the company, as well as some of the old guard who were present when the initial game launched. Interestingly, Vance added that he was asked to pitch his own vision of what a Strider reboot should look like when he first started at Capcom. He revealed that he pitched the Double Helix concept right back at the board, re-affirming the decision. Work on the project began and here we are less than a month from its Japanese launch.

While Strider is a reboot of the classic release; focusing on the assassin’s encounter with the villainous Grand Master Meio, it takes a more open approach. Vance reckoned, “An average first time player will probably finish the game in around 7-8 hours, but much more time will be required to unlock every secret, additional game mode and explore every nook and cranny of the game world.” It’s closer to Metroid in terms of map exploration, but it doesn’t start with a lack of skills. Vance stressed that Hiryu is going to be highly skilled and combat-ready when he first drops into the game world.

“When the player begins the game as Strider Hiryu they have all of his core abilities and more,” Vance explained. “They are extremely agile, can cling to and climb on almost anything and punish opponents with lightning fast, ultra-responsive Cypher [sword] attacks. The sprawling, verticality of the game world challenges the player to utilize their core abilities to the utmost, and then push them even further.

”The passion for, and understanding of the original games has been the number one driving force on the project. We are all huge fans who grew up with Strider on the Genesis/Mega Drive, and push every aspect of the game to delivery on the quintessential Strider experience.”

“All of the weapon and ability upgrades branch out from the core abilities, thus introducing new gameplay that serves as the key to progressing further and exploring deeper into the world, but at the same time ensure players will enjoy the core Strider gameplay mechanics.”

One such mechanic sees players switching between different ‘Plasma’ types imbued within Striders Cypher tonfa sword and his kunai. By using different weapon states such as ‘Ultra-Cold’, ‘Explosive’ and ‘Reflect,’ players can exploit their enemy’s weakness. They each have alt-modes and support buffs, which add significant depth to combat. The Reflect Plasma can be triggered to create a bullet-deflecting sword attack that enables you to counter bullets. It’s only a fleeting support skill however. Vance warned me that some enemies are capable of raining down bullet hell. In short: you can’t counter them all, so aggression is required.

Vance revealed that some attacks will be familiar to Hiryu’s command list in Marvel vs Capcom, and stressed that Strider is a reboot formed by some proper, hardcore fans of the series – at Capcom and Double Helix alike. “The most important thing is to try and understand what it was about previous games that people remember most fondly,” he added, “rather than focusing solely on what the previous games actually were. Not all elements in every game age gracefully, but there are those elements which stand the test of time and remain fresh in people’s minds. Understanding and expanding upon these elements is key to modernizing a classic game without fear of losing the essence that fans hold so close to their hearts.

“Our three key pillars are the hero Strider Hiryu, the unique look and feel of the Strider Universe, and the extreme agility and responsiveness of the character. The first order of business on the project was to get Hiryu right. A truly extensive amount of time was invested in creating Hiryu’s model, working and reworking literally every individual piece until he was just right. Our Art Director, Mr. Sakai (Strider 2 character designer), created the design and ensured that it was satisfactory down to the last detail. Extremely talented staff at Double Helix then rigged and animated the model so that he moved, reacted and felt like the Hiryu fans, and Capcom have come to expect.”

Add to this many new and returning bosses such as Ouroboros and Mechapon, along with three difficulty modes, a brutal challenge for the veterans, and a truckload of respect for the source material, and you could be looking at one of the better reboots to come out of the industry in some time. We’re yet to play Strider however, so this could swing either way. I’m personally hopeful however, as a fan of the original. My original Mega Drive Strider cartridge still holds pride of place on my shelf of retro games to this day.

I asked Vance what set this reboot apart from other, failed attempts at bringing Strider into the modern age. He replied, “The passion for, and understanding of the original games has been the number one driving force on the project. We are all huge fans who grew up with Strider on the Genesis/Mega Drive, and push every aspect of the game to delivery on the quintessential Strider experience. Strider is without a doubt a game by the fans for the fans.”

He added that to really nail this game, both Capcom and Double Helix weren’t precious about content, and readily scrapped anything that either didn’t work, or perhaps felt out of place. “It’s very important, particularly for an action centric game, to be willing to tweak, re-create or remove mechanics and concepts so that the final product looks and feels right,” he concluded. “There is never really any question of willingness; time and budget are the limiting factors.

“The most challenging element in creating this Strider was to ensure that the game world and enemy characters provided the right challenge for the player’s abilities and skill sets upon the progression path. This required that a large degree of tweaking take place on certain areas of the world map, and in some cases entire areas of the map be reworked or even removed. Enemy actions and movements were also rigorously tuned. Some enemies and world areas did not make the final cut but may find their way back in future games some day.”

The promise of future Strider games without another years-long wait certainly makes this critic hopeful that Double Helix has pulled it off. More good Strider games would surely be welcome among fans, but we’ll know for certain how likely a future follow-up will be once we get the final code in our hands. Until then, let us know what you think of the Strider reboot below.

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2 Comments

  1. OmegaSlayer

    The fixed setting doesn’t appeal me.
    As an old Strider fanboy I expected more variety in settings.
    Bummer

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Butcher8

    I’m very hopeful this will be a worthy reboot as Killer Instinct on the x1 is superb. I loved the original megadrive version even if it was a tad frustrating and I also love metroidvania style games so this is right up my street.

    #2 12 months ago

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    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Punch-Out!!, Citizens of Earth and Part Two of the Throwback Sale. Here’s the entire update: Nintendo eShop releases Punch-Out!! (originally for Wii) – also 50% off until January 29 Citizens of Earth – introductory price of $11.99 until January 27 Breezeblox (Wii) Midnight (Wii […]

  • The Witcher Battle Arena has arrived on the App Store and Google Play

    The Witcher Battle Arena, CD Projekt RED and Fuero Games’ mobile MOBA, has been released. In Battle Arena, two three-hero teams fight it out as they try to capture and hold conquest points. The game features “no pay-to-win elements”, instead it contains a “player-friendly monetization system.” Every item and functionality can be unlocked entirely through […]

  • Second wave of Star Wars titles arrive on GOG, third wave next week

    The second wave of Star Wars titles will arrive on GOG.com today with more coming January 27. Today you can pick up the following: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D (digital distribution premiere) Star Wars Rebellion (digital distribution premiere) Star Wars Empire at War: Gold Pack On January 27, the final three games of this wave […]

  • If Microsoft is serious about PC games, Xbox One should be the real Steam Machine

    Forget the magic space goggles. Maybe Valve doesn’t have the wherewithal to realise PC gaming’s TV dream, but Microsoft holds all the keys. If Microsoft really wants to get into PC gaming full-time, it needs to get around the table with Mr Newell and its platinum chequebook. “It’s time for us to talk about gaming […]

  • Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 releases on Steam next week

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 will be released on Steam for PC next week. The PC version of the was announced earlier this month and contains upgraded graphics, runs in 1080p, and has both Japanese and English audio. It will release on January 28 for $14.99. Fairy Fencer F and Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 also coming […]

  • Take a look at the controls and special abilities in The Order: 1886

    The Order: 1886 has a new trailer available that highlights the game’s controls and reveals the two special abilities the main protagonist has at his disposal. The game uses a similar control scheme to other shooters, but just in case you wanted to see more gameplay, we’ve got just the thing. The most interesting parts […]

  • These elderly people are better at GTA 5 than you’d expect

    Do old people get video games? Namely something known for its violence like GTA? Well, you’re about to find out. The latest REACT production sits a few elderly men and women in a room and lets them play GTA 5. The results are not what you’d expect, they start off getting a feel for the […]

  • More major Microsoft titles will be coming to PC

    Microsoft will bring more of its franchises to PC. Following on from yesterday’s big Windows stream, Microsoft has released a full recap on Xbox Wire. In the blog post, the firm hid a small bit of news revealing that Fable Legends will not be the only title to come to PC. “Today we announced that […]

  • Someone is attempting to recreate Dark Souls’ Lordran in Minecraft

    Lordran, the land of the ancient lords will soon be explorable in Minecraft thanks to a passionate modder. Davweed is a talented modder attempting to recreate the entire world of Lordran in Minecraft. Lordran is the land where the entire Dark Souls game is set. The goal is to make it a 1:1 scale of […]

  • Elite: Dangerous is getting Community Goals with update 1.1 – all the details

    Patch 1.1 is Elite: Dangerous’ first major update. Developer Frontier has detailed Community Goals, the big change coming with the patch, and more. We were told last week that big additions are coming with patch 1.1, due in February. Today, we learn in more detail what those features are. Namely, what the developer is calling […]

  • Sunset Overdrive, Skyrim and Dead Rising 3 highlight this week’s Deals with Gold

    A new week, a new set of deals for Xbox Live Gold subscribers and we’ve got the full list. Major Nelson posted the deals which are live now and run through Monday, January 26. Highlights include Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising 3, Skyrim, Final Fantasy 13-2 and more. Check the full list below. Xbox One Dead […]

  • Survarium: 10,000 FREE Premium account keys to give away

    We have 10,000 codes to give away for MMOFPS Survarium, granting the player a Premium account for 24 hours along with 5,000 Silver coins. Each key gives the player a Premium account for 24 hours along with 5,000 Silver in-game currency. A Premium account gives you 50 percent more experience, income and reputation for 24 […]

  • “I don’t like people thinking we’re doing underhanded, dirty shit,” says Evolve dev

    Despite what it looks like, Evolve developers did not intend to give out the wrong signals when it comes to the game’s DLC plan. Evolve creative director Phil Robb spoke to Destructoid in an interview that was conducted late last year about the studio’s approach to DLC, map packs and more. Robb’s idea is that […]

  • Clock Tower spiritual successor Night Cry gets first screens

    Night Cry is coming along nicely and today we get our first look at it. Ever since the announcement of Project Scissors (at the time) last September, and then the name change to Night Cry, we’ve been waiting to see what the game looks like, especially since it’s developed with mobile platforms in mind. Today, […]

  • Tekken X Street Fighter is still happening, 40 people working on it

    Tekken X Street Fighter is definitely not vaporware. A team of 40 developers is currently working on it, according to director Katushiro Harada. Harada was interviewed by Polygon. In the interview, he touched on many topics, one of which is the status of the seemingly-never-coming-out Tekken X Street Fighter. “It’s very difficult to talk about,” […]

  • From Game of Thrones to Borderlands: all of Telltale’s adventure games rated

    Telltale Games has an impressive back catalogue of licensed adventure games to its name, and we have opinions about all of them. Note that this rundown doesn’t include bundles, the non-adventure games or games published by Telltale but created by other developers. It’s also got a fair bit of speculation in it, since at least […]

  • There is probably a new Battletoads game coming

    If you’ve watched last night’s Windows presentation you knew you recognised that logo on Phil Spencer’s t-shirt. Wearing a t-shirt with a logo of an upcoming game is an antic we’ve come to expect from Xbox boss Phil Spencer now. Based on that, we wouldn’t be alone in predicting that a new Battletoads game is […]

  • Here’s a short, 60fps trailer for DmC: Definitive Edition

    DmC: Definitive Edition has a new video available that shows the game running at 60 frames-per-second. Capcom has put out a short new trailer for the Definitive Edition of DmC: Devil May Cry that takes a look at different stages and boss fights. The video begs to watched in 1080p60 quality, if your connection can […]

  • Xbox One to PC streaming targeting 1080p, 60fps

    Microsoft has revealed that it’s looking to achieve 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second when the Xbox One game streaming launches later this year. The question of what final resolution and framerate Xbox One game streaming will operate at was on a lot of people’s minds when the demo was shown. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra has […]

  • Microsoft is looking at offering PC to Xbox streaming

    Having announced Xbox One to PC streaming as part of its Windows event last night, Microsoft said that making the process a two-way street is on the cards. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer sat down to do a group interview following the Windows event and talked a little bit about the firm’s plans for streaming, including a […]

  • Watch John Romero play Doom

    John Romero made DOOM, and now you can watch him play it, dropping many a delightful gem of insight regarding one of the most important shooters of all time. This video was organised by Double Fine as part of its Devs Play series, a thing I only just discovered and now want to marathon all […]

  • World of Speed has gotten fairly pretty over the past year

    World of Speed has produced a new trailer, showing off the racing MMO’s progress over the past year. Announced one year ago, World of Speed is looking pretty damn shiny now. Check it out in this trailer, which introduces the Mountain Spiral Road location and teases several yet to be revealed. World of Speed comes […]

  • Minecraft user data leaked in plain text – change your passwords

    Minecraft users should change their passwords and those of any accounts using the same log-in details. Minecraft’s user data servers have apparently been compromised, with user names and passwords leaked online in plain text. 1,800 Mojang accounts were affected. The news comes via German source Heise and The Guardian and has been treated quite seriously […]

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will commence filming in August

    The sixth Resident Evil movie is back on track. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will begin filming in August, having been delayed to accomodate star Milla Jovovich’s pregnancy. In a Facebook post, Jovovich said she’s currently being very mindful of gaining enough weight to ensure a healthy birth for her second child, without the risk […]

  • Nintendo bosses “do not really understand modern gaming”, says former executive

    Former Nintendo executive Dan Adelman has provided frank insight into the Japanese platform holder’s inner workings. Adelman, who was one of Nintendo’s most important developer liaisons, left in August 2014. One of the first things he did was say that Nintendo had issued a gag order on his social media use, and shortly thereafter called […]

  • Sony’s 10% apology discount doesn’t apply to pre-orders

    Sony has updated the terms and conditions of its apology discount to exclude pre-orders. PSN members have been offered a 10% discount voucher as an apology for downtime over the holidays due to DDoS attacks. In an update to the PlayStation Blog announcement post, Sony clarified that you can’t use this for pre-orders. So. That […]

  • 343 to beta test Halo: The Master Chief Collection matchmaking fix

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection is still broken, believe it or not. The next Halo: The Master Chief Collection update is, like most of the others so far, designed to resolve the shooter collection’s ongoing matchmaking woes. 343 Industries is determined to get it right, apparently, as it’s gone so far as to elect to […]

  • Here’s the release schedule for Star Citizen’s story and first-person modules

    Star Citizen lead Chris Roberts has shared release windows for several modules of the space simulation sandbox. Star Citizen was the focus of a BAFTA Masterclass presentation yesterday, during which Roberts outlined the game’s current development milestone goals. Polygon captured the details. The first person shooter, planetside and social elements on the game are expected […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End Hard Mode has already been beaten

    Destiny’s toughest challenge got extra tough today, but a troop of willing Guardians stepped up to the line of duty. Destiny developer Bungie has verified the identities of the first Guardians to beat hard mode for the Crota’s End raid, which launched earlier today. Bungie User Research has confirmed the World First finishers for the […]

  • All maps and modes for Battlefield Hardline detailed

    A third map and mode has been announced for Battlefield Hardline which means all modes and maps have been revealed. The new mode is Crosshair, a second competitive mode in which a former criminal “turned state’s witness” is on the run. His former buddies, who are criminals, are trying to kill him and the cops […]

  • Alien: Isolation has sold over 1 million copies

    Alien: Isolation has sold over 1 million copies, Creative Assembly and SEGA announced today, and probably in joyous fashion, although PR mails never denote the writer’s mood. The quote included from creative lead, Alistair Hope does sound as though he is super pleased with the milestone. “It has been fantastic to watch the reviews come […]

  • Fable Legends launching on PC alongside Xbox One with cross-platform play

    Fable Legends was announced for PC today during Microsoft’s Windows 10 event, along with the news it would contain cross-platform play with Xbox One. The game will allow you to play with up to four of your friends online across both platforms. A video from the team at Lionhead, which goes into more detail, was […]