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Strider Returns: Journey from Darkness
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Developer

Tiertex Design Studio

Publisher

U.S. Gold

Release Date

1994 (US/EU)

Game Gear's Strider Returns: Journey from Darkness, known as Strider II in Europe, is a port of Tiertex's Strider II for Sega's aforementioned handheld console. This was the last Returns port to be released, but rather than being based off the original or the Mega Drive port, it is practically identical to the Master System port, since the Game Gear's hardware is closer to the Master System. It does, however, have some slight tweaks done to the programming and a few minor changes as well.

It can be said it is the best port in terms of programming, though the trial-and-error gameplay and unresponsive controls remain intact from the Master System, making it as irritating and frustrating to play as every other Returns game.

Differences with the original gameEdit

As it was already mentioned, the game is pretty much identical to the Master System port, having the same graphics, soundtrack and (buggy) physics. Slight tweaks has been done to the coding, and now Hinjo moves and jumps faster and is slightly easier to control while jumping. All the Master System adittions are present as well: Hinjo throws shurikens if standing still or ducking (and thus, can't slash unless he's moving or hanging onto something) and gathers orbs scattered throughout the stage which are activated for the boss fight. He can slide and climb onto walls and ceilings, as well as ropes/chains.

Gear1

Screenshot from Stage 1

Most of the differences already present in the Master System port also apply in this one: the game offers two difficulty settings (Easy and Hard) before starting, includes cutscenes (which remain an assortment of one-liners between Hinjo and his enemies), uses the same item design, uses Item Boxes and removes the lower panel from the home computer versions (with the HUD distributed around the screen). Notable changes for this version include:
  • The inclusion of a few unique enemies, like wolves and a variation of the two-legged mechas which hovers in the air.
  • Bosses are the same ones from the Mega Drive port: Solo takes the generic helicopter's spot in Stage 01 and Grandmaster Meio (Evil Master in-game) is the final boss. Interestingly, the Stage 02 boss is not a weaker version of Meio like in the Mega Drive port, but an original (yet very generic) Jet Harrier, while the original Stage 02 boss (generic gold helicopter) appears downgraded into two sub-bosses.
  • Bosses have received upgrades in their patterns and arsenal. Solo, for example, now makes use of missiles as well as his flamethrower; and Meio doesn't stand static in one place but teleports around and uses incendiary bombs together with energy balls.
  • Some minor changes in stage's layout, mostly due to the smaller screen size. Most notable in Stage 01 and Stage 05.

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