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Strider
Amiga
Front cover
Information
Developer: Tiertex Design Studio
Publisher: U.S. Gold
Release Dates: Flag of Europe.svg September 1989 (16-bit)[1]
Flag of Europe.svg October 1989 (8-bit)
Key Staff
Composer(s): Mark Tait[1][2]
Programmer(s): John Prince (Amiga, Atari ST)[1]
Paul Cole (Commodore 64)[3]
Chris Brunning (Spectrum)[2]
Artist(s): Andrew Ingram (graphics)[1][2]
James Clark (graphics)[1][2]
Other Releases
Compilations: Platinum, Capcom Collection

Strider is a port of the original coin-op for six home computer systems of the time: the 16-bit Amiga and Atari ST, and the 8-bit Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and PC-DOS. There was also a planned, but never released, SAM Coupé port.

All the ports were published by U.S. Gold as part of a 10-product licensing deal with Capcom obtained after Elite's license ran out[4], and developed by British company Tiertex. Developed over a period of six months[1], all six home computer ports of Strider were created simultaneously[3], and thus have more or less the same structure and differences when compared to the Arcade game. Capcom's only support in the porting process was to provide Tiertex with an Arcade cabinet to play and extract graphics from.[1][3]

Upon release, these conversions (specially the Amiga, Atari ST and Spectrum) received high scores by most magazine reviewers. Currently, however, they are not as well-regarded among critics and fans due to their many shortcomings, among which include slower gameplay speed, awkward physics, decreased sprite quality, redesigned stage layout and a largely missing soundtrack.

StoryEdit

All the ports' manuals include the same written prologue, which offers a very different story from that of the coin-op, playing up the communist imagery already present in the original: "Strider" (Hiryu is never used as his name) is said to be on a mission to infiltrate the Russian Red Army in order to return enemy secrets back to his superiors. The first stage is referred to as "Red Square", where Strider battles out "KGB attacks". After showdowns in the snow-capped peaks of Siberia and the southern lowland jungles, Strider seems to receive new instructions, as he must return to Red Square to defeat the "Grand Master of the Red Army" in order to protect the "future of the western world".[5]

In-game cutscene, on the other hand, remain unchanged from the original, except for the ending which has been rewritten: The game is revealed to be a simulation Hiryu entered as a test to prove his skills before the real invasion. Hiryu is praised for having successfully completed it, something no one believed was possible, and are certain his skills will come in handy once the true invasion starts. Funnily enough, the programmers recycled the images from earlier cutscenes, leading to Ton Pooh and General Mikiel congratulating his enemy for his success.

ConversionsEdit

Amiga and Atari STEdit

Strider amiga vs atari

Amiga (left) and Atari ST (right)

The Amiga and Atari ST versions were the first two to be released out of the six, and since they possess the highest graphical power and capacity, the ones closest in content to the original game. Having no access to the Arcade game's source code to work with, both conversions were programmed basically from scratch, with their sole programmer John Prince writing them based on "lengthy playing sessions" and gameplay videos.[1]

The graphics for both versions were created by digitising the backgrounds and sprites from the Arcade board itself onto an Amiga, which were then transferred to an Atari ST with the "Degas Elite" art package and touched up by hand[1]. These graphics were later ported down for use in all the 8-bit home computer ports.[3]

The Atari ST is slightly inferior in graphics and sound and comes packaged in two disks, but both versions are otherwise virtually identical.

ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPCEdit

Strider spectrum vs amstrad

ZX Spectrum (left) and Amstrad CPC (right)

The ZX-Spectrum port was coded by Chris Brunning, who produced the source code on an Atari ST, which was later assembled using an in-house Z80 assembler package and later transferred, alongside graphics and maps, to the ZX Spectrum with an Atari development system.[2]

Due to the much limited memory space when compared with the original, and since Brunning wanted to include as many of Hiryu's acrobatics as space permitted, a compromise was reached to reduce the original six angles of incline to only two, which led to the extra work of redesigning the mapping on each stage. In order to fit the still-large maps, they were further split into smaller sections and then compressed individually. This way, each section contained a small duplicate of the previous "sub-map” which expanded as the following area was approached, overlaying the old area without the need to stop the action.[2]

Strider was produced for both the 48K and 128K Spectrum models, the latter of which includes in-game music[2]. While still far from the original, the Spectrum port is very fluid gameplay-wise, featuring a Hiryu who moves and jumps far quicker than in the other conversions.

The Amstrad CPC version appears to be a port of the ZX Spectrum, except it features colored sprites and a drastic decrease in gameplay speed.

Commodore 64Edit

Strider commodore 64

Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 Strider sports big, high-quality sprites and colors when compared with other games in the platform. As explained by programmer Paul Cole, they tried to get visuals close to the original but in doing so stretched the computer to its limits, and the gameplay suffered as a result.[3]

Unlike the other ports which maintain the same overall appearance, this port stands out with its use of an unique, starkly different look. Background objects and map structures are created using a very simple style, with a much more angular sprite set devoid of any details. Due to the computer's even more limited memory space, some of the bosses who do appear in the other ports turn out missing here as well, notably first boss Ouroboros in Stage 1 (which ends after defeating Novo instead) and Stages 3 and 4 ending after killing a generic enemy. The Anti-Gravity Device is also missing, replaced instead by a six-way laser panel.

PCEdit

Strider PC EGA vs CGA

DOS EGA (left) and CGA (right)

The DOS-based Strider port for personal computers appears to be based off the ZX Spectrum version as well, except with slightly better sprites, in color and with all cutscenes restored. The game was programmed to support both EGA and CGA display modes.

SAM CoupéEdit

A port of Strider for the short-lived SAM Coupé was said to be in the works, produced by the programmer of the Spectrum version, Chris Brunning. Talking about the port, U.S. Gold development manager David Baxter said "[s]upposedly it’ll only take two weeks using our existing Speccy code and ST graphics, but we’ll have to see."[6] In spite of that, however, no further word came about the port and it never materialized.

Differences with the ArcadeEdit

Amiga1

Amiga port's title screen

In general, these ports suffer from several missing features when compared with the coin-op, stemming mainly from the stark difference in system specs, a gap which only widened even more with the 8-bit home computers. Overall, graphics and sprite work is much inferior, being way smaller and showing far fewer colors and details, and frames of animation have been cut short in several places, most noticeable in larger enemies. Gameplay remains somewhat the same, albeit the physics are more floaty and lack the fast-paced movement of the original. Stage design is, for the most part, faithful to the original, as well as the item and enemy selection, save a few omissions.

List of ChangesEdit

  • Hiryu's lifebar starts out with 6 units instead of 3, though only 3 are filled at first.
  • Some items like the "Ryu" Kanji and Invincibility are missing.
  • Slower gameplay and progression, including noticeable slowdown and pauses.
  • Fewer onscreen enemies.
  • Lower game difficulty.
  • Some objects and enemies have different score and HP allocations.
  • Out of the three Options, only the Dipodal Saucer remains.
  • Some of the 8-bit ports removed the Slide technique.
  • The boss fights against Strobaya and Solo cannot be avoided.
  • The final stage boss fights against Lago, Ouroboros and Grandmaster Meio have been removed. The game automatically ends after defeating Mecha Pon in the Third Moon. Some of the 8-bit ports have even more bosses missing.
  • Boss patterns and attacks have been simplified extensively: Ouroboros only dashes across the edges of the room and can't be climbed up, Mecha Pon loses most of its animations and can only move back and forth, etc.
  • Several sections in the stages have been simplified considerably, most notably with the removal of all inverse-gravity areas and omission of the spear drills obstacle in the final stage.

  • Game coding and physics have a much looser or "floaty" feeling, probably due to the having been programmed from scratch.
  • Scrolling and character speed are much more slower than in the original.
  • Lower native display resolution.
  • Fewer background scrolling layers.
  • Altered game boundary scrolling limits.
  • Stage layout and appearance has been modified in several areas.
  • Modified sprite movement and collision behavior.

  • An entirely new HUD has been added in the lower side of the screen: A panel menu with the in-game portraits of Solo and Hiryu on each side. This panel shows Hiryu's life, score, timer and number of lives.
  • All stage intro texts (showing the stage's name in different languages) have been removed, except for the first stage text ("Казахская CCP", or Kazakh SSR written in Russian) in the Amiga/Atari ST ports. The Atari ST port is the only one to include the "Hiryu slashes at Meio" intro animation.
  • The ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 ports lack cutscenes entirely. The ending is also missing from the first two.
  • All the game graphics and sprites have been redrawn.
  • Much fewer frames of animation in the foreground, backgrounds and sprites.
  • Much fewer colors.

  • In-game soundtrack consists of only 3 tracks: "Valleys and Rivers" (used in the title screen), "Raid!" (used in all stages) and "Urobolos, the Iron Ruler" (used in boss fights), plus two fanfares (for winning and losing). The third theme is missing from the 8-bit ports.
  • Several sound effects are missing.
  • Lower instrument quality for music and sound effects.
  • Omission of the multilingual voice clips played during cutscenes.
  • Interestingly, the 16-bit ports use Hiryu's "Ha!" voice sample for when he attacks. This sample is used in all Japanese versions of Strider, but was omitted in all English localizations.

  • Reprogrammed game by Tiertex.
  • Stage 3 (Flying Battleship Balrog) and Stage 4 (Amazon) are switched around in the stage order, though cutscenes still play in the original order.
  • As stated above, an all-new ending replaces the original in which Hiryu is revealed to have passed a simulation test in preparation for the real invasion.
  • Single player only.
  • Unregistered trademark symbol on game title.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Whitta, Gary (Sept 1989). "Review: Strider". The One for 16-bit Games (12). Pg 58-60.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Staff (September 1989). "Blueprints: Strider". SinclairUser (90). Pg 58-59.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Jones, Darran (2013). "Interview. Paul Cole discusses Strider's C64 conversion". Retro Gamer (121). Pg 51.
  4. Staff (May 1989). "Capcom: A Captive Audience". The Games Machine (19). Pg 24.
  5. U.S. Gold (1989, Amiga). Strider Loading Instructions. Transcribed by Lemonamiga.com. Accessed 27 Dec 2012.
  6. Staff (March 1990). "Soft on SAM?". YourSinclair (51). Pg 50.

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