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Strider II/Development

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Development
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Strider II was designed by U.S. Gold and Tiertex under license from Capcom USA as an official sequel to the original Arcade game, having somehow being able to capitalize on the license, likely from having previously worked on the home computer ports of several of Capcom's titles, including the first Strider[1]. This was the second time both companies developed a sequel to one of Capcom's properties, the first being Human Killing Machine, an unofficial sequel to the first Street Fighter (which they also developed ports of) known in early promotion as "Human Killing Machine: Street Fighter II".[2]

In spite of having used the Strider license, much of the game's visuals bear little resemblance to the original coin-op, and only the sprites for Hiryu and Grandmaster Meio (the latter only seen in the title screen) were directly taken from their previous home computer ports. Hiryu's sprite is, however, noticeable recolored white instead of the original lavender. This is believed to have been done because they couldn't use Hiryu due to being jointly owned by Capcom and Moto Kikaku.[1]

DevelopmentEdit

Originally, Strider II was born as an entirely-different project bearing the in-house name "TOR"[3][4], designed by graphic artist Andrew Ingram[5] and a Commodore 64 coder who only spent six months at Tiertex.[6]

Coder's accountEdit

The following is the account given by NeoGAF user "Clear", who has claimed to be the one responsible for the game's existence during his short tenure at Tiertex: After joining Tiertex at some point in 1990 the game that would become Strider II began as a side project of his for the Atari ST. The basic setup for "T.O.R." (acronym for "Transforming Overland Robot") was that its main character would traverse a series of horizontally-scrolling gauntlets with "ambush areas" where he'd need to transform into the robot in order to get through, both due to its higher endurance and its ability to interface with defenses that'd allow him to "look ahead" off-screen and disable threats beforehand.[6]

Since Andrew Ingram was lead artist in the first Strider, they picked up assets from the game to serve as placeholders for the human sprites while they developed the game further. Their side project, however, caught the attention of the company's higher-ups, who kept suggesting them to make it "more like Strider", something that irked him because he felt a tank-like robot character was only suitable for a horizontally scrolling experience. His bosses finally decided on making it a full-on sequel after he mockingly suggested it to them out of frustration. Tired of their meddling and having his other, almost finished project put on hold, the coder issued an ultimatum to get more money, which ended with his resignation.[6]

Once the coder left the company, the game's original design changed entirely for the worst[5], and it was rushed ahead for a quick release. The Commodore 64 version was given to artist Wayne Billingham to "spruce it up", but he thought the game was so bad that only by ripping Strider graphics and passing it off as a third-rate game would it sell[3]. The music was also recycled entirely from the score composed by Mark Tait for the first game, even though he was gone from Tiertex before Strider II was ever mentioned[4]. In the end, Strider II was announced at the September 1990 London CES event[7] and released mere three months later in November.[8]

PortEdit

A port of the game for the Atari Lynx was revealed to be in the works during 1991. Although reported to be 50% complete around July[9], the port was quietly cancelled and never saw release.

Sega consolesEdit

A port for Sega's Master System was developed and released in 1991, followed by ports on the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1993 and Game Gear in 1994. The latter two are the only ones who reached the American market under the title "Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns".

Development on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis port began somewhere around the first half of 1992, EGM reporting it being only around 20% complete in their August issue[10]. Higher-ups at the company were only interested in getting the port "written and out as fast as possible", and as such all the design instructions were, literally, to simply make a better version of the Amiga original in full screen, by removing the lower panel HUD present in all home computer ports.[1]

The game was programmed by Allan Findlay as his first ever job in developing a game, which made him feel that it could've done better. He specifically cites the error of making the game run on 2 frames (25Hz/30Hz) instead of the expected 1 frame (50Hz/60Hz) given its genre[1]. He also mentions how the game's testing "left a lot to be desired", done without much care or interest and in such a way it dragged on for months[11]. The game engine was mostly coded from scratch, built off the code from the first game's Mega Drive port and actually ripping and reusing sprites from it[1], which led to more Strider elements and bosses like Solo and Grandmaster Meio to be finally featured.

The game tester (Danny Curley[1]) was also in charge of testing the Game Gear port, which he did a similar shoddy work as implied by the game's programmer, Danny Whelan, years later.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Scion (11 Feb 2010). "Interview with Allan Findlay". LSCM 4.0. Accessed August 18, 2015.
  2. Staff (October 1988). "Previews". Crash! (57). Pg. 114.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Games That Weren't 64. "Creator speaks: Wayne Billingham", from the California Games 2 article. Accessed August 18, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 SID Tune Information List. "Mark Tait comments from STIL text file". Accessed August 18, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anthony Ball reply, posted May 24, 2008. Tiertex Facebook Group. Accessed August 18, 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Clear (November 23, 2013). "Strider (Capcom/Double Helix, PC/PS4/XB1/PS360, 2014) [Open World, Orig Devs, Video", post #1281. NeoGAF forum. Accessed August 18, 2015
  7. Staff (November 1990). "CES 1990" (German). Amiga Joker (11). Pg. 105.
  8. Webb, Trenton (December 1990). "Coming Attractions". Amiga Format (17): Pg. 19
  9. Staff (July 1991). "Atari Attack". Raze (09). Pg. 20
  10. Staff (August 1992). "Strider 2". Electronic Gaming Monthly (37). Pg. 116.
  11. Allan Findlay reply, posted May 25, 2008. Tiertex Facebook Group. Accessed August 18, 2015
  12. Danny Whelan reply, posted October 20, 2008. Tiertex Facebook Group. Accessed August 18, 2015

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