Rating: A

Russians, robots, hungry wolves, dinosaurs, giant mechanical apes, Amazon women -- what doesn't this game have? You control Strider Hiryu, a futuristic ninja-style warrior (the year is 2049) who's out to stop some Soviet-looking bad guys and save the day. I didn't know that there was such a thing as Russian ninjas but I guess that in the year 2049 there is. So you're a Russian ninja, and you're armed with a lightning-quick plasma sword that destroys whatever/whoever happens to be in your way. There are no bullets or missiles that you're firing -- your only weapon is a plasma sword -- but if you repeatedly hammer your action button your weapon becomes a deadly arc of steel. The plasma sword is really fun to kill with, especially if you have a controller that has a "turbo" button, in which case you're swinging like a Russian ninja on speed. Both its speed and destructive ability and the fact that it's a hand-to-hand weapon without being wimpy are very satisfying -- much funner than shooting bullets or lasers balls or what have you.

Another great aspect of the game is the jumping, climbing, leaping, and so on. Strider Hiryu is very acrobatic, and you will find yourself flipping over enemies and scaling walls and pulling yourself up onto ledges. This really adds to the action. And have you ever fought a boss while spinning round and round in an anti-gravity chamber? You'll be doing that too.

Music: definitely Genesis but definitely good. The tunes are very catchy and the music transitions very nicely when entering a new area and provides a lot of flavor to the game.

Negative marks: The only faults I can find with the Genesis version of Strider are the slow-down problems and a mysterious lack of sound. Sometimes the action lags or slows when you get a lot of sprites on the screen (or one really big one, like a dinosaur boss). However, as this occurs only once in a while and the game otherwise moves very quickly it's not really much of an issue. In terms of the sound, apart from the music and the swishing of Strider's sword, there is a mysterious lack of other effects: no explosions, no death cries (er, except for the Amazon women), not even any blips or beeps. Fortunately, because of the music and the constant action of Strider's weapon I really don't often notice the lack of sound effects that much. Still, a little more work in this department would have been nice, though who knows -- maybe the arcade version lacked more than a few sound effects too.

Bottom line: Strider is easily one of my favorite Genesis games. I highly recommend it.

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