The developers behind this 2014 remake/reboot of the Capcom arcade classic really got the balance right. They paid respect to the gameplay qualities that made the original fun, while carefully modernizing it with new elements which really elevate experience.
The gameplay starts off *very* simple, letting you learn the basics, and then slowly adds new moves, attacks and special powers as the game progresses. The difference between the complexity of the combat in the beginning and in the end is REALLY dramatic. That's a double edged sword, because on one hand it helps keep things fresh and interesting, but I can see how it could make someone toss the game aside after 20 minutes because he/she felt the gameplay lacked depth.
The control scheme is really excellent using an xbox 360 controller, but in the midst of heavy action I sometimes experienced some problems getting the dpad to select the desired plasma type. Probably just my overworked, uncoordinated old fingers, but it did annoy somewhat.
The graphics are pretty much perfect. They nailed the whole sci-fi ninja theme, and the 2.5d rendering dynamically zooms in/out depending on the area you're in, so that it feels confined and in-your-face when fighting in narrow corridors, and vast and open when you're outside in big areas.
The sound effects are also excellent, but I found the voice acting (there isn't much) and music just a tad above mediocre.
The game lasted me around 10 hours on "normal". 90% of it was an absolute joy, but the last 10% was sadly tainted with frustration due to a combination of high difficulty, my low skill level and some stupid game design decisions:
- Checkpoints aren't save games! You have to reach a "save pod" to save your progress to disk. It blows my mind that someone felt the need to punish the user for having to turn off the computer!
- Some checkpoints are placed too far before boss fights (of which most are great btw), making you replay a dull, unchallenging part of the map over and over.
- No "retry from checkpoint" option.
- Unskippable cutscenes before boss fights (well, you CAN after watching the first 15 seconds or so, but when boiling with rage after dying 15 times this feels like half an hour).
At it's best, Strider 2014 brought me stellar gameplay moments, and while I do reckon this is in my top 3 action platformer games, there's no denying that the above complaints poisoned my overall enthusiasm somewhat.