Gaming Greats – Strider (1989)

A platform classic gets a look through our rose-tinted gaming glasses

Games are just so much easier now. That’s the conclusion we’ve come to after revisiting Capcom’s classic arcade platformer, which made its way from arcade onto almost every home console and computer during the early '90s.

Putting you in the figure-hugging spandex of futuristic ninja Strider Hiryu, Strider tasked you with no less than bringing down an evil world government by assassinating its leader, the Grandmaster.

Instead of using a huge gun and bunch of explosives to get the job done, Hiryu has only a plasma sword, a bunch of robotic helper powerups and the ability to jump around like Michael Flatley on methamphetamine. That means you’re dodging, somersaulting and climbing your way out of reach of various fireballs, blades, giant android gorillas and, er, dinosaurs, slashing away at them when you get the chance.

It’s simple stuff, true, but Hiryu’s acrobatics – which among other things, sees him climb up onto a massive airship by jumping on smaller airships – set Strider aside from the average platform game. And yes, it was very difficult.

To complete Strider without cheating (or pushing in more 10p coins than the arcade machine itself was worth), you needed fast reactions and, unless you were luckier than a heather-clad Irishman, intimate knowledge of the baddies and their habits. Many of the boss battles, for instance, require some sort of awareness of the way the enemy moves or shoots in order to pass by them unscathed.

The game itself is short, and can be completed in well under 30 minutes, but it’s unlikely that you ever got to the end and kicked the Grandmaster’s megalomaniacal keister without putting in many, many hours of thumb-bending graft.