Captain Beard Jr. (キャプテン・ひげ丸Jr) is a character from the original Arcade Strider and most of its ports. He's an unique enemy resembling a peg-legged pirate who occupies the final section of the third stage. Although ostensibly a boss character he barely puts up a fight and is easily eliminated.
Captain Beard Jr. is a loyal follower of Grandmaster Meio and the captain of its greatest ace, the Flying Battleship Balrog. Described as a wicked man, he appears to be a cold-blooded leader with no interest in the well-being of his men, not above abandoning them in order to save his own life, and even opposed to saving those who desperately seek an escape route. He fights by alternating the use of his whip and his hook hand.
Originally, Captain Beard Jr. was a Spanish Commander-in-chief of the allied forces opposing Grandmaster Meio. During a battle against him, he suffered a crushing defeat and as a consequence lost an eye, leg and hand. Ever since then, Beard turned against his former allies and became a loyal follower of the Grandmaster, adopting an appearance similar to that of a pirate. After his betrayal and turn to Grandmaster Meio's side, Beard Jr. was appointed as the captain of the giant Flying Battleship Balrog. Following Hiryu's infiltration of Kazakh and the elimination of its officer council, Meio ordered his subordinates to eliminate him. Beard Jr. led the Balrog towards Siberia, where Hiryu was at the time. Having found out about the Balrog through the defeated Tong Pooh, Hiryu decides to confront and bring it down by himself.
Once on board, Hiryu proceeds to mow down all his opposition, eventually reaching the Balrog's heart, the Anti-Gravity Device. With its destruction, the Balrog starts to collapse, and Beard Jr. attempts to flee the sinking ship, ruthlessly whipping away the soldiers trying to get aboard his escape ship. With destruction on his heels Hiryu reaches the escape port just in time and assaults Beard's Flying Tortoise airship, where captain and crew are slashed in two by Hiryu's Cypher shortly afterwards.
In the intermission prior to the last stage of the game Captain Beard Jr. is shown saying the phrase "El poder total... está... en sus manos...", a Spanish language sentence which can be translated as "Total power... is... in his hands....". The context and content of his dialogue suggest that he was referring to Grandmaster Meio and that he told this to Hiryu as a warning before finally succumbing to his injuries. The same dialogue was adapted as text in the same intermission, and was translated and modified into the phrase "The powers of the military and science are now in his hands...".
Captain Beard Jr. is a very easy enemy, as he has no apparent special skills to back him up in a confrontation. He handles his two main weapons to attack at different ranges: he uses his whip constantly to attack at long range, and swings his hook hand for a quick slash up-close, all the while quickly moving back and forth.
When hit, Beard Jr. jumps in pain and his attacks are interrumpted. This can result in his defeat and death before he can even throw a single attack.
Much like Solo, Captain Beard Jr. is listed as one of the characters created as a way to "broaden the scope" of the game's world, by showing characters that were not directly related to either Hiryu or the Grandmaster.
His Japanese name ("Higemaru") is a reference to one of Capcom's earlier arcade games, Pirate Ship Higemaru, and more directly to its eponymous antagonists, the "Higemaru Corps" (ひげ丸軍団). In terms of design, his black beard (in sprite) and purple uniform makes him resemble the "Captain" (キャプテン) from Higemaru Makaijima, a mini-boss character who serves as leader of the Higemaru Corps. Incidentally, Makaijima was one of the games Patariro worked on as designer before the NES Strider.
"Higemaru" can be translated literally to mean "round beard", though "-maru" (丸, round) is also used as a suffix in ship names and can be left untranslated.
- He went through the most notable redesign in the PC Engine port, with his red uniform changed to blue and his brown beard to white. Also, unlike all other characters in game, his sprite was the only one altered to match his new look.
- Some magazine reviewers at the time called him a "commie Captain Hook", in reference to the villain from Peter Pan.
- Strider Development Staff (March 1989). "Strider Hiryu Characters Original Image Collection". Gamest (30). Pg. 98-99.
- Capcom (October 2006, PlayStation). Gamebook: Strider Hiryu (Japanese). Pg. 31. ISBN 4-86233-076-2.
- Sega (Sept 29 1990, Mega Drive). Strider Hiryû (Japanese). Instruction manual, Pg. 25
- Capcom (February 22, 2014). Strider Hiryu Visual Chronicle (Japanese). Pg. 07
- Scion; Dire 51 (April 24, 2010). "Interview with Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui". LSCM 4.0. Translated by Gaijin Punch. Accessed June 14, 2011.
- Capcom (1987, Famicom). Higemaru Makaijima - Nanatsu no Shima Daibōken (Japanese). Instruction Manual, Pg. 19