The Cypher (サイファー, alternatively translated as Cipher or Sypher) is the iconic weapon of the Strider franchise, appearing on all its different incarnations, and serving as Hiryu's signature weapon.
The Cypher, also known as the Light Sword Cypher (光剣サイファー), is a highly advanced melee weapon employed by the Striders. It looks mostly like a broadsword in shape and size, but it's hilt is similar to a tonfa, having a short handle perpendicular to the main grip. The weapon makes use of plasma energy, releasing it from an opening located on the tip of the edge, in order to greatly enhance its cutting power. Because of the speed at which the blade travels, it gives off a high pitched sound whenever it is swung. This weapon is only issued to those agents who reach the elite Special A-Class, and it's said very few members of the group are actually able to properly handle it. It is the favored weapon of Hiryu, and he's become known as an expert on its use, being said that no one can surpass him on its mastery.
The Cypher employs plasma energy as its main source of power, which surrounds the weapon when in use. Activating this energy generates a large amount of high-voltage electricity, making it a dangerous weapon to use near bodies of water. The raw electric current's voltage is powerful enough to instantly kill common soldiers and cause second-degree burns (plus burning most of the hair) to Aaron, a terrorist soldier almost thrice Hiryu's height. The current can be adjusted and reduced, however, with the lowest level still being strong enough to knock out crocodiles and temporarily paralyze a person. While a very powerful weapon in itself, its difficulty to properly handle it is cited as its main drawback.
The Cypher emits plasma through the use of a small warhead-type cartridge known as a Bullet (ブリット), which is placed in a small chamber revealed by pulling the Cypher's handle outwards. The amount of energy emitted is controlled according to how much pressure is applied on the grip, as well as by the level of conductivity. It is, however, said this may also depend on the strength of the user's emotions when using it.
When not in use, the Cypher is mounted behind its user through a "mount mechanism" located on the back side of the agent's loose-fitting metallic belt, ready to be picked at a moment's notice. Hiryu has also been known to carry his Cypher directly on hand, concealing it with a dark cloth.
The Cypher can generate plasma energy and use it in a number of ways. Its main use is to generate a blade of accelerated high-voltage plasma particles, capable of cutting through any material. Its cutting power is such that it is said to be able to go through ceramic armor as if it were simple wooden boards and it can effortlessly slash through large boulders and thick concrete walls. The plasma energy can also be charged up and dispersed in different ways: it can be concentrated into a plasma projectile, a technique known as Plasma Arrow, or released in the form of plasma waves that home in on nearby enemies. The effective range of the plasma blade can also be extended for a short period of time.
The Cypher can also be transformed into a throwing weapon effective for long range attacks. Activating this option makes two curved prongs to appear on the sides of the edge, and allow the Cypher to return to the owner's hands once thrown, much like a boomerang would. This mode produces no sound during flight, making it perfect for surprise sneak attacks.
Strider (2014)'s Model
The modern Cypher model works much different from the original model in how it uses plasma. The Cypher of the "reborn" Hiryu has gained the ability to perform charged slashes, the amount of plasma it can be infused with granting the sword a tremendous offensive power. The Cypher can't generate plasma energy on its own, and if used by a normal or lesser person, it'd act like a common sword. Instead, the blade channels the build up psychic energy from its user, which then affects the sword's output of plasma energy when swung. In Hiryu's case, he's so powerful that he generates plasma energy in excess he doesn't need, so it leaks outside of his body in the form of a trail of plasma similar to a scarf.
This Cypher also hides another secret: by tuning his own internal energy, Hiryu can also alter the afinities of the plasma energy he generates and infuses into the Cypher, providing it with several upgrades. Through this method he can create special edges such as the scorching hot Explosive Cypher, infusing the blade with emitted heat, or the freezing Ultra-Cold Cypher, which generates a blade at absolute zero temperature which freezes anything it touches. He can also infuse specific abilities to the plasma, such as a bullet-deflecting electromagnetic field to create the "Reflect Cypher" or a magnetic force to form the Magnetic Cypher, creating a projectile out of the blade which returns to him like a boomerang.
There exist a few variations of the basic Cypher, though whether they are commonly issued or are custom-made by their users is unknown.
- Main article: Geometrical Cypher
An unique variation of the Cypher used by renegade Strider Hien. It is a double-edged weapon, consisting of two smaller Cyphers which can be attached by the hilt to form a single weapon. The name "Geometrical Cypher" is presumed to be due to the variety of forms in which both Cyphers can be adapted into. This is a very adaptable weapon, capable of creating offensive attacks at any distance as well as defensive moves.
The weapon's most characteristic look is in the boomerang-shaped throwing form known as the third form: "Phoenix", though both Cyphers can also be used individually or joined in a straight line, depending on the situation.
A variation of the basic design used by Vice Director Matic, this is in essence a Cypher twice its normal length. Outside the obvious advantage on reach, any unique abilities or advantages it may have over a common Cypher are unknown. Besides the length, the handle of this Cypher model is also altered from the usual L-shaped hilt, sporting instead a straight sword-like grip with a hooked cross-guard where one side points at the direction of the tip and the other down at the opposite direction. Matic wields it primarily in a two-handed stance with the tip pointing downwards at the ground.
In this version, Matic's Cypher appears the normal size for the weapon, but retains the same unique grip design and is colored red. In this instance, Matic wields the weapon in a battôjutsu stance, with his hand close to the grip and ready to counter the moment Hiryu attacks.
Hinjo's default weapon in the Mega Drive Strider Returns, a simple Cypher variant whose only difference with a common Cypher is in the shape of the plasma arc, coming out as a flat, edged arc segmented in two parts (three when powered-up).
The Cypher's original design as seen in the manga and its NES adaptation includes a very simplistic handle design and a long straight edge ended in a triangular tip with small openings. In designing the NES game's English cover art, artist Marc Ericksen made a preliminary sketch with a set of tiny blast ports in the blade to help speed it along the stroke as he thought the use of plasma to effortlessly cut anything didn't necessarily explain Hiryu's striking speed. This detail was approved by Capcom's creative team and featured in the final art. Having been provided material from the manga, Ericksen also included the "Billystick"-styled handle in his work, a detail missing in most other western covers.
In official art for the 1989 Arcade game, the Cypher is given a more detailed metal handle and a normal, two-edged blade with a pointed tip and either a blue or reddish-yellow core. In the Marvel vs. Capcom series, the Cypher was given a wider edge and a solid red core, a design adapted in later appearances with slight modifications. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 uniquely added a constant orange glow to the blade, which turns blue during certain special attacks.
In Official art
- The English manual for the Mega Drive/Genesis port of the original game gave Hiryu's "plasma sword" the name Falchion. This detail is, however, exclusive of the Mega Drive port's localization and hasn't been brought up in any following game or media.
- Reviewers of the many computer ports in European magazines at the time also wrongly referred to Hiryu's weapon as a "Titanium Blade". This was likely due to their version's box art tagline, "A TITANIUM BLADE A HEART OF STEEL".
- The Cypher was featured in Gamesradar's list of "Gaming's most impractical swords", with the opinion of the invited experts being that the Cypher is actually a practical weapon with the right tonfa techniques.
- Silence's weapon from Moon Diver (also directed by Isuke), "Shusui", works identical to the Cypher: it generates a blade from a discharge of plasma that allows it to cut through anything. Furthering this connection, the Japanese version refers to Shusui as being a "Plasma Light Sword", the same title given to the Cypher.
- Zeku's Hiryu-inspired Battle Costume in Street Fighter V includes a two-pronged bladed tonfa hanging from his back that looks very similar to the Cypher and serves as a non-technological equivalent for the costume.
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- Capcom (2000). Official site for Strider Hiryû 2. Retrieved from archive.org. Accessed March 22, 2016
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- Capcom (February 2000, PlayStation). Strider Hiryû 1&2 (Japanese). Instruction Manual, Pg. 10
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- Staff (1993). "Capcom Illustration Gallery". Club Capcom (0). Pg. 11-12
- Staff (Spring 1998). "Character Setting Museum". CFC Style Fan-Book CAP! (6). Pg. 13
- Wada, Tatsumi (November 10, 1989). Strider Hiryû. Chapter 1, Pg. 39. Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 4-04-713009-5
- Wada, Tatsumi (November 10, 1989). Strider Hiryû. Chapter 3, Pg. 108-109. Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 4-04-713009-5
- Capcom (Fabruary 2000, PlayStation). Strider Hiryû 1&2 (Japanese). Instruction Manual, Pg. 4
- Wada, Tatsumi (November 10, 1989). Strider Hiryû. Chapter 4, Pg. 130-132. Kadokawa Shoten. ISBN 4-04-713009-5
- Spencer (July 26, 2013). Strider Starts out with All of his Core Abilities and has Touches for MvC Fans. Siliconera.com. Retrieved November 12, 2013
- Capcom (February 2014, multi). Strider Hiryu (Japanese). Story Intel #15: Strider Ouga
- U.S. Gold (1994, Mega Drive). Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns (English). Instruction Manual, Pg. 4
- Ericksen, Marc (November 30, 2014). "STRIDER HIRYU and his Plasma Sword FALCHION: The BLINDINGLY QUICK SWEEP of OBLIVION!!". retrogameart.com. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- Sega (September 1990, Sega Genesis). Strider (English). Instruction manual, Pg. 5
- Sullivan, Lucas (2014). "Gaming's 19 most impractical swords: A metalworker and master fencer weigh in". gamesradar.com. Accessed June 29, 2015
- Square-Enix (2011). "Characters: Silence" (Japanese). Official site for Moon Diver. Accessed March 22, 2016
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