[CONSOLE] NEC PC-Engine CD Game
ストライダー飛竜 © 1994 NEC Avenue, Limited.
Strider Hiryu is an action game by NEC Avenue and conversion of Capcom's classic arcade game of the same name originally released in 1989. In the year 2042, the world is crumbling under the rule of a heartless dictator named Meio (the 'Grand Master') and his mysterious army. Six years later, Hiryu (the 'Flying Dragon'), a A-Class agent from the elite anti-terrorist group called the 'Striders', is given the mission to reach Meio's hideout, the Third Moon, and to eliminate the evil dictator. Hiryu's journey begins in Kafazu, a fortress city in Russia, and his mission eventually takes him to a variety of hostile locations - from frozen Siberia to the heart of the Amazonian forest or deep inside a space station orbiting around the Earth. Like all the A Class members of the Striders secret organization, Hiryu is armed with a lethal plasma-blade called the 'Cypher' that can cleave through obstacles and enemies in a single blow - and Hiryu is very proficient at it. Additionally, the elite soldier is an expert in acrobatics and he uses this unerring dexterity for evading enemy attacks or sneaking up on them. With the help of a special claw, the agile Strider can climb vertical walls or inclined platforms with incredible ease. Hiryu can also acquire small robotic drones to help him with his mission - some just stay close to the player and attack enemies, whereas others, such as the Hawk or the Panther, just kill enemies on the screen. Additionally, special small containers are scattered throughout the levels and release various power ups items, such as Life upgrades (increase the player's life bar), Sword upgrades (increase the range of the Cypher) or temporary invulnerability. This PC-Engine version of Strider Hiryu consists of six stages (as opposed to five in the original arcade game) as well as exclusive animated cutscenes and an arranged redbook soundtrack.
Strider Hiryu for PC-Engine CD was released on September 22, 1994 in Japan.
There has been a lot of drama surrounding the release of this PC-Engine port of Strider Hiryu. You may have noticed that it was released in 1994 - five years after the original arcade game, and four years after the Sega Mega Drive version. So what happened? It seems that original work began on a Super Grafx HuCard version in 1990 - but, apparently, the failure of the system forced NEC Avenue to make a CD-ROM version instead (it seems that the choice of the Arcade Card came later). Although the incredible delay is explainable, various pictures appeared in Japanese magazines around 1990 arguably 'showing' images of the game in action. And indeed, the images do show differences with the original arcade game (they could be pictures taken from an arcade beta version though). In any case, this was enough to start a rumor mill among PC-Engine fans, and this subject remains a topic of controversy, still to this day.
Interestingly, this PC-Engine port was made by the Japanese developer Dice Creative. Their website states that the company was created in response to a request for third party outsourcing by Satoru Iwata (Manager of Development of HAL Laboratory at the time and now president of Nintendo). They first released the gambling game Vegas Stakes/Las Vegas Dream (Super Famicom, 1993) and Strider Hiryu for the PC-Engine followed in 1994. This is rather strange if you take into consideration that Dice only developed 'low-profile' games for Hal Laboratory and Strider was the only PC-Engine game they ever made... How did they end up inheriting NEC Avenue's Strider project? However, all of this partly explains why Strider looks under part compared to other NEC Avenue games...
This PC-Engine port is quite faithful to the original arcade game. But, NEC Avenue (maybe in a way to apologize for the game being delayed) added an exclusive second stage (a desert camp level), as well as new animated cutscenes filling out the story in even more detail and a CD-quality remixed soundtrack. However, the game lost the original parallax scrolling and the stage layout is slightly different in places.