Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
The Master’s almost as mean as he is ugly — in other words, he’s one of the most evil S.O.Bs your ever likely to meet. He likes to think he’s a skilled tactician, so when the heroic Strider thwarted his plans to take over the kingdom, his over-inflated ego took a major battering.
Now The Master’s out for revenge. He’s kidnapped Princess Magenta, who just happens to be Strider’s main squeeze, in the hope it will prompt the athletic hero into action — and a trap. Strider’s not going to disappoint, and plans to leave The Master’s forces in tatters.
Armed with an endless supply of shuriken throwing stars, run and somersault around The Master’s various bases, clinging to and climbing walls, dangling from and monkey-swinging across ceilings. Strider’s also a master swordsman and swings a flashing blade with a quick jab of button .
Select a skill level (Normal or Expert) and begin exploring The Forbidden Forest, Castle Metropolis, The Hive and Alien Labyrinth. The final challenge lies in The Master’s Lair and the untold horrors it contains.
All levels are packed with soldiers, animals, various types of vehicle and many robots. Automatic defences such as energy barriers and gun turrets complicate things even further, but you’ve three lives and five continues.
Picks-ups increase the power of Strider’s weapons and restore energy, but don’t go out of your way to collect them unless you’re really short of power because each stage has to be completed within a time limit.
You’d better master Strider’s abilities or the Master could give you the willies!
After the poor performance of Strider, which bored many with its deathly dull levels, I was a tad wary of playing this sequel. I don’t know what I was worrying about: it’s twice the title but three times better than the predecessor.
Graphically, Strider ll can’t be faulted. The sprites are realistic; scenery’s clear, colourful and well drawn.
Strider himself is agile and has all his old moves — one of very few decent qualities of the original. He leaps, performs impressive somersaults, swipes people with his mighty sword and can now throw shurikens to slice up assailants from a distance.
The soundtrack’s pretty good. The main tune can get a wee bit boring but there are oodles of sharp spot effects to keep your earholes occupied.
The gameplay’s considerably more challenging than the first time around, so if you’re expecting another easy ride, think again. The controls are relatively easy but some of the situations are a little tricky to get out of, particularly the bigger machines, which take plenty of hits and launch missiles and fireballs in all directions.
Strier II’s one of those odd games which, despite a range of admirable qualities, is hard to get enthusiastic about. It’s one of the better platform hack-’em-ups available but I’m not exactly jumping up and down in my seat as I write this comment.
Starting with the lad himself, Strider’s a detailed, beautifully animated sprite who’s easy and fun to control — somersaulting backwards to cling onto a wall behind you is almost exhilarating. Some enemies are impressive, backgrounds are deeply colourful and there’s only the occasional hint of flicker.
The levels are sizeable, so when you know where to go and can spare a few seconds from the often challenging time limit, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to search out. End and mid-level guardians can be a pain, as there’s usually little scope for evasive action, but a series of dramatic, up-tempo tunes spur you ever onward.
Platform combat fans will warm to Strider II, and the tough baddies, devious traps, tight time limits and arcade adventure elements ensure high lastability even on Normal skill setting. Try it, you might like it.
Big improvement on the original. Offers a big if frustrating challenge
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