Strider 2 logo

Publisher: US Gold Price: £24.99

U .S. Gold have done it again with another action-packed coin-op conversion. The follow up to smash hit Strider, one of last year's biggest sensations, looks set to enjoy even more success. Packed as it is with enough shooting, killing, and mindless destruction to keep the most hardened joystick waggler happy for many a long hour.

The scenario, for what it matter, is simple. You've just finished off the Reds from Strider 1 and are looking forward to a well-earned rest when your services are urgently requested by the planet Magenta. Their leader has been captured by alien terrorists and the Magentans are so desperate to get her back that they will agree to equip you with a measly Gyro laser and send you out alone to face the hordes. Smacks of conspiracy, that.

Armed with your trusty, well notched sword and the new gun, you stride (geddit?) boldly forth to fight your way through five levels of murder and mayhem, and let me assure you, this game is murderous.
It takes about 30 seconds to realise just how homicidal things can get, and after that you spend the remainder of your time waggling away like mad in an attempt to merely survive. 'Rock hard' is a fitting description for the difficulty level on this game, especially if you're not a beat-'em-up ace. I for one am still nursing a sprained wrist.

The terrorists come in many flavours. The least dangerous are those most recognisably human, which just walk through you or pepper you with little bullets, lowering your life level.
The really dangerous ones are the cyborg types and the more stationary obstacles, such as exploding flowers, robotic machine gun bunkers, force fields, and little R2-D2 type things which pop up, shoot, then slink back down again.

The weirdest enemies are the crows that fly about dropping hover bombs. These float gently down until they get to eye level, then streak across the screen at you causing a great deal of damage. Some of the crows seem possessed of the kamikaze spirit, crashing into you with predictable results. You soon start feeling a bit like an American aircraft carrier in the Pacific of 1944.

When you finally reach the end of the first level you come face to face with the end-of-level nasty. In this case, it's an armoured cyborg-cum-helicopter, and if you're to have any hope of defeating it, you'd better have collected enough energy pods along the way.

With enough of these under the belt you are automatically transformed into a hulking motorised robot, and your laser is given a few more watts of killing power. Without these, you might as well use a peashooter on the chopper for all the good your sword will be.
He spits homing missiles at you, and generally gives you the impression that your presence is not appreciated. Must have been something I said or maybe something my best friend should have told me.

After a couple of attempts (who are you trying to kid? Ed.), I finally defeated the beast and proceeded to the second level. From this stage onwards the warrior's agility is one of his best weapons. Climbing ropes and somersaulting over obstacles and holes in the floor is essential if you are to progress further.

It didn't do me much good, however, as I seemed to spend more time jumping into trouble than out of it, landing most of the time either in a force field or on top of a very annoyed robot. For these reasons, and by virtue of the fact that I'm about as naturally gifted for this type of game as Gordon the Gopher, I got no further than halfway through the second level. The game gave me a generous five lives, but these were quickly squandered as I stumbled around frantically leaping and shooting in every direction save the correct one.

For non-stop, smooth scrolling action, Strider 2 is hard to beat in every sense of the word. There are already far too many beat-'em-ups on the market, but if you're thinking 'not another one!' then think again. Strider 2 is a cut above the average and definite value for money.

Strider 2 logo

US Gold * £24.99 Joystick

You dare to fight me?" This introductory game phrase still haunts legions of Strider I fans. Now the man with the bad attitude and big sword is back fighting evil for the good of mankind. You know it's going to be messy, but fun.

The plot insists that the acrobatic assault trooper is out to rescue the world's president from a band of alien rogues. These pranksters have kidnapped her and hold her in their five-level world. Strider must beat his way through forests, towers, caverns, generating stations and finally a giant space ship to rescue her. Justice must be done, besides he gets to kill thousands of slimy, bug-eyed, scuzballs into the bargain!

Gun ho!
Strider has been in training since mission one. No longer limited to a titanium blade, he now gets a gyro laser pistol to reap with too. When he's running, hitting the fire button sends his sword scything ahead, swathing through anything or one. If he stands still, or crouches for cover, Strider whips out his laser pistol and pumps shots at his foes. He is a more balanced hero now, able to murder either from a distance or close enough to feel their last alien breath.

The boy's made sacrifices to gain these new powers, namely the loss of his death slide - sliding in low, kicking and killing anyone who stood in the way. This close-combat flexibility has been traded-off for long-range fire power, at the cost of head-to-head thrills.

The acrobatic somersault leaps are still there, where the lad tumbles, through the air, killing as he spins. Not only a vital gameplay element, but they are also what made the man famous. These spinning jumps are central to Strider's chances of success giving him the ability to leap over ground attacks with poise, ease and grace.

Allowing Strider to bypass all those nasty, hard-to-kill beasties that have the nerve to sap his energy while he sticks a sword in their heads.

Transformers: Sprites in Disguise
Strider II is, generally speaking, a high speed, horizontal scrolling come platform battle. There's one more thing however, one little secret that only reveals itself when he picks up eery power pod on a level. Then, when he goes head-to-head with the end-of-level guardian, he doesn't have to worry about his frail, physical frame getting all busted up because he turns into a robot. Then it's trashing time.

The pools are worth collecting anyway, as they give Strider extra health, drone protection, extra lives and more firepower. And although the guardians are beatable without robo-power, it makes life so much easier when he turns into tin.

Strider I was a steady, slashing affair because the boy's mission was simply to infiltrate - by kicking his way into - a Soviet base and then to get killing. II's rescue theme means that this one has a more frantic edge. Strider actually runs this time, which is just as well because those enemy guys come for him at a thick and fast speed, eager for his blood.

A Time to Die
With its tight time-limits Strider II stresses the importance of maps. You have to know the right route, or valuable seconds will be spent killing aliens in the wrong area. Then, even though he is still standing, Strider will die as the time limit expires. This is a factor further exasperated if you try to collect the power-ups. Pixel-perfect murder is needed if you're going to get to the guardian on time.

Strider lost some of his graphic appeal when he lost his side. Before he was silly but hard, now he's just hard. The sprite moves well, leaping and killing with clarity and precision but then so do other heroes of more mundane games.

Strider's ability to do daft jumps and other unusual things set him apart from the crowd. While the other graphics have been improved for this sequel, some of the magic has been lost.

Strider II is a fast paced veteran's chop-em-up that will wear many joysticks down in the drive for completion. Yet the desire to get to the end is diminished, a fact which correlates with the main characters loss of charisma. It is an enjoyable test of joystick skill, but doesn't attain the classic status enjoyed by its forerunner. The inclusion of the gun has somehow made the guy more normal and that is just what wasn't needed.

The Real Thing

This time it is for real! Strider I started off as a raiding mission on a Soviet base, but if it was played through to completion a terrible secret was revealed. The whole game was a simulation to test would-be warriors! A dry run, it didn't really matter if he lived or die Strider II is just the sort of real mission that all the training was supposed to prepare for. So remember, failure here means death and not just a low test score, because this time it's the real thing. Makes you think, or at least run a hell of a lot faster doesn't it?

Strider 2 logo

Vor gut einem jahr beorderte U.S. Gold den Säbelschwinger zum Kreml, jetzt hat der Osten als Feindbild endgültig ausgedient. Also wurde die Action kurzerhand auf einen fernen Planeten verlegt.

Womit auch schon geklärt wäre, warum der neue Strider-Schriftzug (wenigstens auf der Packung) ohne das umgedrehte R auskommt.

Weil aber nur ein richtig geschriebenes R als Neuerung ein bißchen arg kümmerlich ist, hat unser Striderle jetzt eine Laserwumme dabei und kann sich sogar kurzfristig in einen schier unbesiegbaren Roboter verwandeln! Klar, wer fliegt schon auf einen fremde Planeten und nimmt nur sein Küchenmesser mit? Noch dazu, wenn es dort von Terroristen, Killerrobotern und bösartigen Mutanten nur so wimmelt...

So kämpft sich der Held also fünf Level weit durch routiniert gestylte SF-Landschaften voller Plattformen und Lifte, tankt durch's Aufsammeln entsprechender Symbole Energie nach und killt alles, was sich bewegt.

Immer noch kann der Junge recht gut klettern und hübsche Salti springen. Leider gibt es aber noch viel mehr Gemeinsamkeiten mit Teil I, sogar eindeutig zu viele: Der Rahmen mit den Energiebalken ist praktisch der selbe, die (an sich recht gelungenen) Animationen der Spielfigur haben sich kaum geändert, das Scrolling ruckelt immer noch leicht, und den Sound (Musik und spärliche FX) hat man gar 1:1 übernommen!

Die Stickabfrage geht soweit in Ordnung, auch ist es kein Leichtes, die fünf Bildschirmleben beisammenzuhalten. Somit ist Strider II zwar ein recht ansprechendes Actiongame, aber ein bißchen mehr "Modellpflege" hätte sicher nicht geschadet... (ml)

Strider 2 logo

US Gold, C64 £10.99 cassette, £15.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Fresh from defeating the evil Red Lord, the athletic Strider now faces an even tougher mission. Horror of horrors, aliens have kidnapped a world leader. 'So what?' asks Strider. 'Why should I bother rescuing some grey-haired politician?' Perhaps because this world leader just happens to have a 36-24-36 figure? 'Ah, well, now you mention it, I'd be failing in my duty if I didn't!'

So off the cartwheeling hero goes, to battle through five multi-directionally scrolling levels on the planet Magenta. Of course, the place is crawling with energy-draining nasties - including missile-firing robots and deadly flying birds - so Strider takes along a laser gun plus his huge sword (which also comes in useful for slicing bacon - yes, we can exclusively reveal that Strider owns a butcher's shop, currently running a special offer on alien mince!).

The hero's incredible gymnastic abilities come in useful for leaping over baddies (doing the obligatory cartwheel - flippin' show-off!) and climbing up ropes, chains or even walls.

At the end of each level, there's a huge mega-baddie, for which Strider can magically change into an armoured robot - its strength determined by how many special icons Strider has picked up during the level.

The five levels are: a large spaceship, two huge towers, underground caverns, a generating station and finally, the alien complex climaxing in a glorious reunion with that world leader - by the way, we were lying about her vital statistics; it is, in fact, Mrs T! 'Aaaarrrrghhh!'

Phil King Sequels are often disappointing but Amiga Strider II is a real downer after the impressive original (96%, lssue 54). The glorious range of graphics has been much reduced, Strider himself seems a bit smaller with less animation. The laser pistol is also a bit awkward to use and makes the sword virtually redundant. Where there should have been a change is the music! It's identical to the original!
Even though the C64 game looks like the disappointing Black Tiger with no overlays, it all moves well - especially important for those athletic somersaults which Strider specialises in. Unfortunately both versions' gameplay is dated and unoriginal: it's all up and down and across, exploring unexciting mazes for the route through. The laser sword is still pretty, but overall Strider II is a step back, not forward.
Phil King I love the whole look of the Strider coin-op, the imaginative mix of Japanese, Islamic and European architectural styles creates a memorable game. A year on, Tiertex come up with an original sequel: Unfortunately the game has a boxy feel and a lack of which some nice touches, such as the missiles and birds, can't really compensate for. On the Amiga, the amount of detail has been increased, But the graphics are designed for the ST and compare badly with Turrican or RoboCop II. Combine this with a high difficulty level, which sends you back to the start of the level each time, and you soon lose interest.
The C64 game is a bit better - the big, somewhat blocky graphics look unimpressive initially, but they move quickly and there's a zestful feel about it all. Unfortunately on both versions, end- level confrontations are made dull with Strider turning into a sluggish tank-like robot. High difficulty also makes the maze side of things irksome.