Strider is a stylish 1989 action / platforming game by Capcom about a Ninja with an incredibly badass sword. The game features our hero Hiryu as he takes on the Grandmaster, an entity from another galaxy that has decided to conquer the Earth. The arcade game was ported to many systems, including the Sega Genesis, where it was one of the system's first Killer Apps, and the first game to be released on an 8-megabit cartridge.
The arcade version of Strider was actually the product of a three-way collaboration between Capcom and manga studio Motomiya Kikaku, which also resulted in a separate NES game and a single-volume manga version. The manga and NES version follows Hiryu, as he is forced out of retirement to track down and eliminate Kain, a fellow Strider and friend who has been compromised by his capture. Hiryu must travel around the world, from enemy bases to a moving train and from New York to China. During his mission, he uncovers a conspiracy that involves the Strider organization. The NES version understandably has a much deeper story than the more-famous arcade version, but suffered from many programming and control errors. Notably, the NES version was never released for the Family Computer in Japan, in a bizarre reversal of No Export for You.
The game naturally inspired a number of imitators and similar games, such as Run Saber and Shadow of the Ninja. Two of these, Osman and Moon Diver, were created by the same designer of the original and are considered its Spiritual Successors. In 1990, the British company U.S. Gold produced an officially-licensed sequel titled Strider II, which was originally released for various home computer platforms in Europe (specifically the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum). The game was remade in 1992 for the Mega Drive with redesigned stages and play mechanics much closer to the original arcade game. This was that version that was released in North America under the title of Strider Returns: Journey From Darkness. An 8-bit Sega Master System version of Strider II was also released, with a corresponding American release for the Game Gear under the Strider Returns title.
The series remained silent until 1998, where Hiryu was included as a playable character in Marvel vs. Capcom and its sequel Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. Hiryu's speed, easily-chained combos, zone control, and full-screen Limit Break made him a favorite of Scrubs and "Stop Having Fun" Guys alike. Thanks to this newfound popularity Capcom partied with Strider 2, released first in arcades in 1999 and later ported to the PlayStation a year later, where Hiryu once again faces the Grandmaster as well as a new foe, the renegade Strider Hien. Since then, Hiryu and his enemies have appeared in Namco × Capcom; notably, the Grandmaster gets the honor of being the last Big Bad to be confronted before the biggest bad herself. While not present in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 due to copyright issues, Hiryu did join the line-up of its Updated Re-release, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
The series received a new sequel in the form of a open-world Metroidvania-style game in 2014 by Double Helix Games, overseen by the original developers at Capcom's Osaka Studio. Following the 2014 revival, Hiryu and some of his enemies would then go on to appear in the crossovers Project X Zone 2: Brave New World and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and his uniform was included as DLC in Monster Hunter Generations and its Updated Re-release Generations Ultimate.
In 2017, Street Fighter V reintroduced Zeku (Guy's master from Street Fighter Alpha 2) as the last Season 2 character, and he returned not only with a design and moveset that leans heavily on Hiryu's, but his backstory strongly implies he's got a hand in the creation of the Striders organization, establishing Strider as being part of Street Fighter's ever-growing Shared Universe.
Media in the Franchise:
The game series contains examples of:
- Audible Sharpness: SWHING!! It returns in the HD game, only at a far quieter volume.
- Bayonet Ya: Russians in this series love their bladed guns, even in the new game.
- Bishōnen: In Marvel vs. Capcom and beyond.
- Bootstrapped Theme: Combined with Level 1 Music Represents, the theme to the first level of the arcade version, "Raid" has become the de-facto theme of Strider Hiryu in every cameo appearance he makes. Its opening notes are especially iconic to the character.
- Breakable Power-Up: A Power-Up gives you a robot to fight alongside you. You lose it from being damaged, with the special wrinkle that it is "linked" to your life total at the moment you acquire it. So it is possible to deliberately get damaged to almost dead, pick up the droid, then find healing power ups to provide a buffer against losing it.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": The kanji on Hiryu's outfit is the head character on his name (飛 or Hi).
- Strider Kain has a "C" (implying that his name is meant to be "Cain") and Matic has an "M."
- The 2014 game has not only Hiryu but all Fallen Striders wear a metal plaque with one of the kanjis making up their names as part of their uniform.
- Canon Discontinuity: None of the sequels follow the story from Strider Returns, and the producer of the 2014 installment downright called it an "illegitimate sequel". Considering the original development team wasn't involved, it makes sense.
- Child Prodigy: The youngest Strider to attain the greatest rank in the organization.
- Consummate Professional: Describes Hiryu's personality very well.
- Cool Sword: The cypher, specially in the manga and Strider 2.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Can cut through boulders, people and tanks like butter.
- Dual Tonfas: The weapon is tonfa-shaped. Hien can actually dual-wield his double-edged cypher as two separate weapons.
- Energy Weapons
- Laser Blade: The cypher uses plasma to cut through hard targets like tanks.
- Named Weapons: Hiryu's personal cypher is named "Falchion."note
- Sword Beam: A plasma-based projectile technique is a common feature of the Cypher in several games.
- Distant Sequel: Strider 2 is set 2000 years after Strider, in a world where Meio's plans were eventually successful.
- Gravity Is Purple: The Gravitron boss is a machine that emanates a violet gravity field around itself.
- Failed Future Forecast: The Soviet Union still exists in the 2040's and the country of Kazakhstan is referred by its former name of Kazakh SSR in both arcade and NES games, as well as the manga.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Hiryu's enemies tend to fly away in two pieces whenever they are hit by the cypher.
- In the manga, Hiryu cuts one bastard soldier in half vertically.
- Heroes "R" Us: The Striders are a Private Military Contractor with a ninja theme, but since the Big Bad refuses to hire them they default to Heroes "R" Us instead.
- Heroic Mime: In the arcade original, Hiryu says only two phrases: "Take me to your boss!", and calling the aerial battleship a toy. Unless you're playing the Japanese version, then he'll NEVER shut up... "PAAH! PAHPAHPAHPAHPAHPAH!"
- Hiryu is more or less The Quiet One elsewhere, Namco × Capcom and UMvC3 being perhaps the best exceptions.
- In the manga he's much more expressive, emotional and gets along just fine with his friends, although when fighting he's as cold and to the point as he's been known in later characterization.
- He's quite a bit more talkative in the 2014 game, though only when directly speaking to someone. He also has at least two "..." lines. And even when he talks, he's very terse and business-like.
- Job Title: English title.
- Leader Forms the Head: Mikiel, leader of the Kazakh Federation's government and Grandmaster Meio's Number Two, also forms the literal head of Ouroboros, the boss of the first stage.
- Legacy Character:
- For the longest time a discussion among fans about the connection between the original no-scarf Hiryu and the one in Strider 2, the Visual Chronicle artbook establishes the 2nd Hiryu carries the same codename of the original, implying he's a successor.
- Although yet to be brought up in games, Zeku's written setting establishes that he's the "1st Generation Strider Hiryu" and the original, scarf-less Hiryu will be his successor and the 2nd generation, more or less upholding what was already implied in the Visual Chronicle. This would basically make Zeku Capcom's very own Yoshimitsu.
- Levels Take Flight: Any stages set in or around the flying Airship Balrog.
- Ninja: The Striders aren't ninja per se, but they're pretty damn close. They do claim to be modern descendants of them, however.
- Ninja Run: Hiryu's dashing animation in the NES game, Strider 2 and all crossover appearances.
- Nintendo Hard: Both the NES and the original arcade games are really hard due to Hiryu's funky hitboxes. The arcade has a extra whammy of not being able to control Hiryu mid-jump. The final stage in the original arcade game is almost impossible to complete without memorization.
- One-Man Army: The Striders are billed as being as such. The lowest ranked guys in the group can fight on par with entire special force units.
- Palette Swap: Hinjo from Strider Returns is a white and neon green swap of Hiryu's Genesis sprite. Hien is a black and white head swap of Hiryu.
- The Kuniang are Color-Coded for Your Convenience identical sprites in the first game (Ton Pooh = green, Sai Pooh = blue, Bei Pooh = red). Averted in the second game and beyond, where they have personalized hairstyles in addition to the color-coding (with Bei / Pei's coloring additionally becoming a lighter shade in the 2014 game).
- Recycled Title: There are 3 games (out of 5 total) named "Strider": The arcade game, the NES game, and the HD digital game.
- In Japan, the manga is named the same as the arcade game.
- Reformulated Game:
- The arcade and Famicom versions were developed in tandem. Strangely, the Famicom version was canceled despite the fact that it was heavily promoted by Moto Kikaku's tie-in manga, although it eventually saw a U.S. exclusive release on the NES.
- Strider II, the U.S. Gold-produced sequel, was remade completely when it was released for the Mega Drive and Master System.
- The Rival: Solo, a cyborg bounty hunter that Hiryu faces at least once per game, often multiple times.
- Same-Sex Triplets: The Kuniang sisters. They become an all-female Sibling Team starting in Strider 2 (Ton Pooh, the leader, is the middle sister, Bei is the oldest, and Sai / Nang is the youngest).
- Scarf of Asskicking: Conspicuously absent in the original arcade game.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Hiryu's responses to villains' threats.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Hiryu displays his well-toned arms proudly.
- Slide Attack
- Spell My Name with an "S":
- The name of the flying airship in Stage 3 of the arcade, "Ballog", is an obvious mistranslation of "Balrog" (this was corrected in Strider 2). A concept art also spells it "Val Rogue".
- Strider Kain has an uppercase "C" on his ninja outfit (matching the "飛" (Hi) in Hiryu's and the "M" on Matic's), which seems to suggest that his name is supposed to be "Cain", not "Kain."
- Ouroboros is spelt "Urobolos" in the Genesis in-game sound test and manual.
- In the NES game, there's "Yugdesiral", which should actually be Yggdrasil.
- The Kuniang sisters are specially prone to this, thanks to their Chinese names being filtered through Japanese transliterations and then romanized, resulting in Ton Pooh / Tong Poo, Bei / Pei Pooh and Nam / Nang Pooh.
- Spiritual Successor: Osman was directed by Isuke, the same director who worked on the arcade version of Strider. Isuke also worked on Moon Diver, essentially a remake for PS3 and Xbox 360.
- Super Soldier: The Striders are super mercenaries, and Hiryu's the top elite among them.
- Super Speed: A constant in all his appearances: he's fast. Really fast.
- Theme Naming: In Marvel vs. Capcom, Hiryu's moveset is heavily influenced by legendary swords and items (Ame no Murakumo, Excalibur, Gram, Vajra) and mythology in general (Ragnarok, Ouroboros, Legion).
- The Ton Pooh sisters are named for three of the four winds: Ton, Sai, and Bei are respectively the eastern, western, and northern winds. (Ton Pooh also doubles as a musical Shout-Out to the first track of the second side of a self-titled album by the Yellow Magic Orchestra.) In the 2014 game, Sai is replaced by a different sister named Nang Pooh (the southern wind), as in this continuity, the trio was trained by a master martial artist named Xi Wang Mu.
- Wall Crawl/Ceiling Cling: One of the iconic elements of the series. In the main series and crossovers, Hiryu uses his Climb Sickle to climb to any surface and ceiling. In the NES game, he can move up specific glowing walls/ceilings with magnetic boots.
- Wall Jump: An ability in both the NES game and Strider 2. Much loathed in the former due to funky controls.