Does his return to the next-gen era warrant a standing ovation or a total dismissal?

Review: Double Helix Games Infuses New Life In 'Strider'

Gaming fans have always loved Strider Hiryu. It's not because he has the wittiest catchphrases or the illest fashion sense, but rather because he has one of the coolest arsenals in video game history. Does his return to the next-gen era warrant a standing ovation or a total dismissal?

California-based Double Helix Games already had a win in their column for revitalizing the Killer Instinct franchise for the Xbox One / next-gen console era. As they turned their attention to the classic NES Strider franchise, the company utilized the best things from side-scrolling games, which resulted in an enjoyable and enthusiastically energetic game.

This new Strider Hiryu steps into the action-packed reboot a quarter-century after the release of Capcom's arcade hit, and our hero doesn't waste any time getting the fracas started. For those who don't know the back story to Strider, the sword-wielding ninja with the long flowing scarf is tasked with the assignment to assassinate a mysterious dictator known as Grandmaster Meio. After a brief introduction cutscene, Hiryu rushes right into the action as he begins his mission by infiltrating the Grandmaster Meio's capital at the Kazakh Soviety Socialist Republic. Double Helix instantly nails all of Strider's classic motifs: the searing sword slash, the nimble acrobatics, the smooth signature slide and cartwheel moves are all there and wonderful to use in battle.

Despite the game's Metroid / Castlevania layer of exploration, the 2014 reboot of Strider does suffer from being slightly unbalanced with the level design. As the high-tech ninja, players are able to traverse the area to find hidden rooms, but the game's sub-objectives are far and few in-between the action. Throughout our six-hour play through, Strider does look beautiful, almost art-like in its conceptual areas and enemies. Much like the 8-bit original, the game suffers heavily from the annoying mini-bosses that seem unbeatable and the unstoppable (yes, even on retries) dialogue from big bosses. Whomever was behind writing the script for Strider did not give any of them anything impactful to say. The voice work come off as average at best.

Double Helix's attempts to stay true to the original does mean that most of the weaponry at Strider's disposal is very straightforward. A set of plasma types allows for his sword attack to deal out explosive, ice, magnetic, or standard damage on foes. A drawback is that the cold cypher attack is too powerful, as it completely freezes enemies for a full seven seconds. While running right at most enemies and bosses and mashing your attack button as quickly as possible is typically the only strategy you need to complete the Strider reboot, the game can feel a bit dull and repetitive after a few hours of gameplay. Truthfully, the first game for the NES was a classic, and even Strider 2 managed to exceed expectations. But when finally given a chance to play Strider for the next-gen, our thought is that this game surpasses the previous iterations. It is great, albeit, not an all-around perfect game.

Other drawbacks include the missions themselves. While speed and fluidity are the key currencies to Strider, players find themselves backtracking and fighting through the same areas multiple times. Add to the fact that the enemies regenerate as well, the game flounders in its attempt at creating an open world structure. To Strider and Double Helix's credit, the new upgrades and abilities work to keep the gameplay exciting and fun, yet our hope would be for a more fulfilling plot. Another issue is that while players see a lot of Kazakh City (a prison, laboratory, subway station, airship and more), the confusing map layout creates a blasé look that runs together after awhile. Double Helix could've improved these stages by creating a bit more diversity, as some of the original game's most clever stages (snow-covered mountains, jungles filled with robot dinosaurs) aren't even included for exploration in this new Strider title. Lastly, the inclusion of a New Game+ would have served as a great option to have after replaying the game through Easy, Normal, or Hard difficulty settings.

All in all, Strider will last you around five-to-six hours — times that by two if you are a trophy hunter. Most of the extras included involve concept art, but there are a few nice inclusions like lore bits. There is also a survival mode and a race mode (where you speed dash through multiple beacons), which is more than most action games are offering nowadays. As reboots goes, Capcom and Double Helix have created one of the best ever. The latter company has truly come into its own, as they managed to capture what made the classics so much fun, while attempting to flesh out the story. Unfortunately, the voice acting and dialogue comes off as sack; too much of the game is spent indoors and there's too much fetch hunting, but Strider has new life infused into what we hope will be an ongoing series.

Don't believe us? Well, check out the trailer and see for yourself!

From the Web

More on Vibe

Jussie Smollett attends the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala Benefit at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

'Empire' Camp Says Jussie Smollett Never Complained About Salary

The accusations made towards Jussie Smollett in the alleged staged assault has those close to the actor-musician scratching their heads–including his Empire family.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday (Feb. 21), sources close Empire were surprised to hear a salary increase was the motive behind the actor's reported staged attack in January. The Illinois state prosecutor stated in a press conference Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate a homophobic racist attack in an effort to get his star rising and his pockets heavier. But those close to the Empire set believe that can't be the case since as he was most recently paid $125,000 per episode.

"I don't think it's true that he was unhappy with what he was being paid," the source told THR. "His representatives never once called and there was no effort to renegotiate. He's never expressed any dissatisfaction."

Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Smollett's base pay was in the $40,000 to $50,000 region but after setting record-breaking ratings in the first season, the main characters received a big increase with Smollett receiving $125,000 per episode and esteemed actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard moving from $110,000-$120,000 per-episode to the  $225,000-$250,000 range. Aside from season one, there are 18 episodes from season two to season five.

The actor has officially been cut from the last two episodes of the fifth season to avoid "disruption on set."

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out, a statement from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer reads. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

Smollett has also maintained his innocence throughout the entire case. Alternative motives have pointed to a boost to his music career but the actor also seemed to be pleased with that as well.

Speaking to VIBE just after the release of his debut album Sum of My Music, the actor was pleased with his journey outside of Empire.

"Here’s the thing, I’m not ashamed of Empire songs. I wrote a lot of them," he said. Empire's soundtrack was a hit with fans as it climbed to the top of the Billboard charts in 2015.  "I’m proud of the work I’ve done with Empire. I just can’t be only Empire, that’s not all I am."

His project moved 7,000 units and views on his YouTube channel views have been modest with "Catch Your Eye" feature Swizz Beatz reaching 620,000 views and audio of "F.U.W." reaching 1.1 million spins. His most popular song on Spotify isn't an Empire-related track, it's "Ha Ha (I Love You)" from Sum of My Music.

As the case might to go trial, one can only hope the full truth will be revealed.

Continue Reading
Kevin Winter

Big Boi To Play Motown Founder Berry Gordy In DeBarge Biopic

Big Boi has reportedly been cast as Motown's legendary founder Berry Gordy in the upcoming biopic about Bobby DeBarge. The rapper confirmed the news on Instagram on Thursday (Feb. 21).

"Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the Debarge movie. Coming Soon," Big Boi announced on Instagram. The photo showed an acting chair with his name and Gordy's printed on the backrest.

Bobby DeBarge was the lead singer of R&B group Switch, an act signed to Gordy’s Motown Records imprint Gordy Records. Known for his  impressive falsetto, DeBarge quickly shot up to stardom during the late 70s. He later co-produced for his siblings' band, also named DeBarge, before joining the group himself.

Amidst his success in music, he struggled with substance abuse and legal issues. He died in Aug. 1995 of AIDS complications at the age of 39.

The Bobby DeBarge Story is slated to premiere on TV One sometime this year.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the “ Debarge “ movie @swirlfilmsig 🎬🎥🔥 coming Soon ! 🆙

A post shared by Big Boi (@bigboi) on Feb 21, 2019 at 8:21pm PST

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Welcome To The Jam: 'Space Jam 2' Gets 2021 Release Date

It looks like we've got a real jam going down, and it will all happen in a few short years. According to Springhill Entertainment's Twitter page, the official release date for Space Jam 2 will be on July 16, 2021.

The follow-up to the 1996 Looney Tunes-heavy film starring Michael Jordan will star LeBron James this time around. Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler will produce it, and Terence Nance is directing, which were revealed in summer 2018 with a pretty cute promotional photo.

Filming will reportedly begin this summer, and we're certain we'll find out more high-profile cast members within the next year. James' production partner discussed the possibility of Michael Jordan appearing in the second film, but only time will tell.

"Michael Jordan is Michael F**kin' Jordan," said Maverick Carter. "It doesn't matter [if James] calls him, he's gonna do whatever the hell he wants, which he has earned that right to do."

The first film features basketball stars Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Larry Bird and more, and features a pretty memorable cameo by Bill Murray. Danny DeVito voices Swackhammer, the owner of outer space theme park Moron Mountain. He and his tiny group of aliens steal the talent of NBA players to win a basketball game against the Looney Tunes, which could determine the cartoons' fate.

July 16, 2021 🎥🏀🥕 #SaveTheDate pic.twitter.com/qV1Tnxuksd

— SpringHill Ent. (@SpringHillEnt) February 22, 2019

Continue Reading

Top Stories