I reviewed the original of this way back in November '89, so I should actually know what I'm talking about here (for once!). In a nutshell, Strider II is more colourful than its predecessor, it's bigger (there are the same number of levels, but each one is a lot longer), it's got more baddies and the leading character can do more things (including climbing ropes and firing a gun).
Otherwise, though, the new game is more or less exactly the same as the old one - a superior platform-and-ladders shoot-'em-up thingie, distinguished by an incredibly athletic lead character who cartwheels and bounces all over the place. And there you have it, the complete review in two paragraphs. I think I'll go home now.
Oh, what? You want more? Well, okay then (but just because it's you). You know the story behind Strider II, of course. In brief, Tiertex (the programming guys behind Black Tiger, Dynasty Wars and loads of other hits for US Gold) were slightly disappointed with their conversion of the original Strider. Not that it wasn't any good, you understand (after all, it earned a YS Megagame), but they couldn't use all the new ideas they came up with to improve it because of they needed to be as faithful as possible to the arcade.
So what to do? The answer, of course, was a sequel, one which would keep all the good things from Strider and improve upon (ahem) the slightly ropier ones. Hence out go the not-particularly-long levels, the relative easiness and so on, and in comes the rope-climbing and all that stuff. Since there wasn't (and still isn't) an arcade sequel to the Capcom original they were free to come up with their own game design. Capcom approved it all and the rest you see here.
So what's Strider II all about, and how well does it work on the Speccy? Well, the first thing that strikes you (even more so than most sequels) is how like the original it looks. The main sprite is a bit smaller to allow more room for movement around the screen) but otherwise it's more or less identical. There're big dollops of spot colour thrown around the place, which help improve the look of things, but without having them side-by-side you could easily confuse the two.
Unfortunately this colour does nothing to ease one of the big faults of the first game - that at times the Strider character gets lost against the complicated monochrome backdrops. Most of the time things are designed so Strider's a crisp white shape against a dark screen, but his disappearing act still niggles.
But that's about as negative as I'm going to get. In all other ways Strider II is actually jolly good. Baddies are thrown at you thick and fast, and Strider's new-found ability to shoot a gun (while standing still) as well as leap about slashing his sword adds variety to the combat sequences. He can now climb ropes too (unfortunately the graphics of him doing this are as ridiculous as every piece of rope climbing ever depicted on the Speccy) and at the end of each level he transforms into a wheeled robot creature before taking on the big baddie. This doesn't really add much to the game, but it's all part of the battle to be different, I guess.
What else is new? Well, the plot for one thing. Here at YS we quite liked the fact that originally Strider was invading a futuristic version of Moscow, but that's all gone by the board here. Instead he's rescuing the leader of the world from an alien planet or something, a much more boring task which means we don't get any red stars or ballet dancers, and have to make do with (very human-looking) aliens and ED 209 lookalikes instead.
That said, Strider II is an improvement on the original in most every respect, though somehow it's missing something - the novelty has gone. Strider was brilliant in his first incarnation because he moved so differently from most podgy sprites - now there's no surprise and it all feels much more ordinary. In fact, the whole feel of the game is that of a revamped and improved version of the original, rather than of a brand new game - hence the lower mark than the original, even though this is in almost every way better.
There is a footnote to this story however. Capcom are apparently so impressed that they've plans to use this game design as the basis to their own Strider II coin-op. It's not all that often that we get something converted the other way, is it, Spec-chums?
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