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Development
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The 2014 Strider was developed as a collaboration between the California studio Double Helix Games and Capcom's Osaka studio. Capcom stated that fan support played an important role in the game becoming a reality, noting that enthusiasm for series' main character Hiryu "remained high for years" and that fan demand, made known through outlets like Capcom-Unity surveys and forum posts, helped in the process[1]. Much like its predecessor, it was planned to release in time for the 15th anniversary of Strider 2[2], as well as by the series' 25th anniversary.

Development[]

Collaboration[]

The team at Double Helix

Producer Andrew Szymanski, a personal fan of the series, started pushing for the game while he was working on Lost Planet 3, wanting to get one of his pet projects off the ground and eager to bring back some of the Capcom feel to side-scrollers[3]. When asked about the reasons behind choosing Double Helix, Szymanski stated he choose them due to their ability to work closely with Capcom's studio as well as the passion they showed for the IP[4]. Producer James Vance explained that Double Helix pitched several classic series reprisals to Capcom, but that the Strider pitch was the one which ended "swaying the company".[5]

Double Helix collaborated very closely with Capcom's Osaka studio, the latter providing invaluable insight into the series' universe and Hiryu in particular. The two studios have little problems working together, citing the biggest challenges being the time differences and language barrier between them. Design Director Tony Barnes said that, since both teams were aligned with the same goal, it made their working relationship "smoother"[6]. Both companies established a vision for Strider early on between them and followed on development maintaining a "razor-like" focus on executing that vision, and thus the final game deviated very little from it.[6][7]

The game has been in development since around 2011, having been in the works "18 months or so before [its announcement]"[3]. While there was an earlier attempt at a Strider project back in 2009 by Swedish studio GRiN, James Vance explained there's no connection between both projects, as he and Double Helix learned of its existence when it was leaked on the internet.[5]

Concept and Design[]

Kazakh City's visuals have several nods to the original setting

Three main goals guided the game's creative process: to create a fast, fluid and responsive game in line with the fast action of the originals; to ensure its visual style adhered to the series' unique "analog-future" design which mixes elements of science fiction with base forms such as steam-pipes and cables, and to deliver on Strider Hiryu himself, making sure his looks, feeling and playstyle were in line with fan expectations[8]

The devs discarded a simple HD remake over a full game, feeling a modern Strider could work better with a "Metroidvania" style over its original "arcade roots", by blending the high-speed combat trademark of the series with a more open exploration element[9]. How to blend the fast-paced gameplay and acrobatic action with a non-linear, interconnected, open-ended, exploratory map design was the core concept during the initial phase. Another initial challenge was to adapt the original game's linear 30-45 minutes experiences and expand it into a six to eight hour experience to satisfy modern gamers. Bringing in a larger, explorable world to traverse through was the solution reached[10]. The decision to maintain a 2D side-scrolling design came from it being an integral component of the core experience and "the natural platform" for the series' high-speed, intense action hallmarks.[11]

The game's pace became a constant tuning challenge as the movement speed was said to be "8 times as fast" as the original Arcade game, and the team needed to make sure there was enough speed and felt like Strider, finding that "sweet spot" between the constant motion, jumping and climbing, fighting enemies and exploring the map. This is what really formed both level design and the overall game design[3]. As it was important to keep this "lightning fast killing machine" feel, concepts and ideas that didn't fit with the "fast and fluid combat" were iterated upon until they either fit or were cut.[6]

The game's art direction went through a few different styles, with art director Jon Tucci pushing for a bold composition with unique silhouettes and a hierarchy of details which evolved into a very graphic style which favors form over little details and visual noise. The addition of the scanline effect was initially a nod to the 8 and 16-bit era when Strider first debuted, but it also ended up enhancing the surface quality of the visuals.[6]

Promotion[]

The existence of the game was initially leaked in March 2013 after the discovery of a registry in Steam's database along with images of a logo, banner and achievement found by users of the NeoGAF online community[12]. Capcom made no comments about this leak and the game's existence remained under wraps until July, when it was officially revealed to a live audience during Capcom's "World of Capcom" panel held at the San Diego Comic-Con event[1] in the form of a live gameplay demonstration.

Strider made its Japanese official debut later in September during the Tokyo Game Show convention, in a "Special Stage" event which included a public playable demo, a new gameplay demonstration and the reveal of the first rival characters in the game: Pei Pooh and Nang Pooh[13]. A second playable demo of Strider was later featured in October during the New York Comic Con, where Solo was revealed as well[14]. The game was promoted extensively in Japan throrough 2013, including fan meetings with producer Andrew Szymanski and main artist Sho Sakai at several locations, Szymanski making a video blog series discussing the game[15], and a special challenge event together with the then-upcoming Sengoku BASARA 4. The game was promoted in the West as well through the official Capcom-Unity website.

A downloadable demo covering the first area of the game was made available for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions shortly before the game's release date.

Influences[]

One of the developers' key motivations behind the project was to create, first and foremost, a game that delivered the core Strider experience remembered by gamers[11]. Having throroughly researched the games and any related works, the team took elements from the first Strider, Strider 2, the NES version, the Marvel vs. Capcom series and even the manga itself, creating a truly "love-letter" to all things Strider.[7]

One of Strider's biggest influences was the "Metroidvania" sub-genre of open-ended platform games, and specially the 2009 digital game Shadow Complex, a personal favorite of Szymanski. The biggest goal in gameplay execution was figuring out a "golden ratio" between combat, speed and the exploration, which became a bit challenging because no other game in the genre moves as fast as Strider[3]. While there is a strong influence from "Metroidvania" games used to help deliver a more open world, the game doesn't adhere strictly to their compartmentalized sense or their core "power up and backtrack" formula, since the team didn't want to deliver a complete structural imitation of the format and instead sought to strike a balance between it and the fast-paced action of the series.[7]

Director Tony Barnes lists the 1983 platformer Jumpman as an indirect influence in trying to emulate its addictiveness, attention to detail and fun factor[16]. He also included a lot of easter eggs and pop culture nods to films and series he loves such as Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Dune and Hellraiser, among others.[16]

Hiryu[]

Hiryu's new design

Hiryu's overall design and feel were a top priority for the development team. One of the first things designed, every little detail was toiled over each step of the way, from paper to 3D to in-game[6]. Hiryu was updated to match the game's visual themes, in the way that he remains instantly recognizable: his visual and mechanics being a melding of the simple and responsive Hiryu from the two Arcade games and his powerful and dynamic appearance in the Versus series. His looks are closest to his first incarnation, but with the color scheme and silhouette as seen in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3[8][11]. Much effort was also put in ensuring his movement and actions had the right look and feel, aiming to deliver not only on previous games' experiences, but take them further by taking the "gilded memories" gamers had of the older game's animation, which are usually not as fluid as remembered, and making them a reality.[11]

The decision to make the Cypher Hiryu's only available weapon was also a way to keep his iconic silhouette intact, as giving him any other weapon would have broken it. The Cypher's new plasma function and the plasma scarf both derived from the concept of extending the plasma abilities to all of Hiryu's skills as a way to "ground" the plasma abilities with the Cypher and allow for a more diverse move set, by keeping the Cypher's physical attack but changing what it can do[3]. The setting behind these new elements was also considered important, and thus they were integrated into the backstory: Hiryu's Hard rubber armor was described as an uniform meant for long-term missions since it resists more than a normal uniform, and the scarf is explained as a trail of excess plasma released by Hiryu's body through a discharge port in the back of his neck, for example.[17]

In terms of voice direction, Marc Biagi was given the specific direction to try to give Hiryu a more quiet, unfazeable and youthful delivery to match him more closely to his manga and Arcade appearances instead of his fighting game portrayal.[18]

Other characters[]

Most of the returning characters from previous games have been designed or "re-imagined" from the ground-up, placing special attention in retaining their proper look and feel. Their arsenal has also been expanded from the short-lived original boss battles, adapting more robut attack patterns which has provided them with opportunites for a bit more character and challenge for players[6]. The main concept behind their designs is "rebuild": creating a new design by combining elements from their previous appearances with new elements.[19]

The concept of enemy characters speaking different languages was dropped; instead the team chose to have all characters speak English with different regional accents as a way of capturing that same feel provided by the original's multilingual track.[20]

World Setting[]

The new world and setting in Strider, albeit very similar to that of the original, is not to be considered a remake of the first game nor a reboot "in the strictest sense"[10]. According to Tony Barnes, Strider is "another game in the Strider universe, [...] meant to sit alongside those other great games, not replace them"[7] and is not meant "to stomp on any previous canon"[16]. Szymanski also clarified the game is not a "parallel world" of the original either[17]. This approach to continuity is compared to the James Bond film franchise[7] where the main actor playing James Bond changes between films and fans don't question this change.[17]

Described as a "re-imagining"[8], "reconstruction" (再構築)[17] or "retelling" of the classic Strider story[10], the game uses the basic setting of both previous Arcade games which centers in Hiryu's battle against Grandmaster Meio, being created as a retelling enhanced for a modern audience, as the team wanted to avoid the need to create "a direct continuity" with previous entries[10] nor pay particular attention to the game's time setting[17]. This concept was also "kind of" the implication over having avoided calling the game "Strider 3" and instead keep it unnumbered.[17]

Officially, the term "reborn" (新生) is used when referring to the game[21] or Hiryu himself.[22]

Music[]

The game's soundtrack was composed by Michael John Mollo, this being his first work in a video game soundtrack. Mollo was referred to Double Helix by film composer Michael Giacchino, since the company was looking for an electronic-infused score and they were at the time doing electronics for the film Star Trek: Into Darkness[23].

Choosing previous themes to be rearranged was a difficult task, both Mollo and sound director Andrew Dearing had their own ideas on which theme they wanted, but the final decision came from the project's design director, Tony Barnes. The most iconic theme used in Hiryu's many appearances, "Raid!", was the one everyone agreed from the beginning[24]. Double Helix had a formed idea about how to approach the music from very early, feeling it was very important to pay homage to the original themes which were considered iconic and part of the gameplay experience. Mollo, however, knew he could bring in a fresh perspective to the game and approach these themes from an unique angle[24]. After they decided on which themes to arrange, it became a matter of breaking down each one to its basics and rebuilding them against a new backdrop. Mollo considered a challenge to keep the integrity of each music theme intact while adjusting the arrangement to bring it into the 21st century.[24]

Mollo found out that, when compared to film, composing for video games requires a different set of skill. The music in Strider needed to be incredibly elastic and each score needed to support many states of action. Mollo focused completely on creating tunes and arrangements while Dearing handled the in-game implementation. In this way, Mollo delivered each theme of music in multiple layers and Dearing mixed each one so the audio would transition smoothly based on the various intensity levels of gameplay[23][24].

As the developers aimed to have Hiryu's actions speak for himself, Mollo focused primarlly in the original adaptations, level areas and enemy themes. When composing music for the bosses, his aim was to give each one an unique sound palette and set of musical motives, superimposed over a variety of amped up electronic accompaniments. The combination of these elements sought to accent the sense of freneticism and chaos for the player during boss battles. Mollo also tended to favor odd meters or odd combinations of beats to make the experience slightly off-kilter.[24]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Romano, Sal (July 18, 2013). "Capcom announces new Strider for early 2014". gematsu.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  2. Totsuka, Kiichi (February 28, 2020). "A powerful helper for Indie game developers! What is the ideal indie scene as seen by The Irregular Corporation, whose first title "Puzzle Detective Scout" is soon to be released?" (Japanese). famitsu.com. Accessed July 21, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Spencer (July 26, 2013). "Strider Starts Out With All Of His Core Abilities And Has Touches For MvC Fans". siliconera.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  4. Spencer (July 30, 2013). "Why Double Helix Was Picked For Strider And About The PS4/Xbox One Versions". siliconera.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cook, Dave (January 15, 2014). "Strider:the reboot -proof hero gets his second coming- interview". vg247.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Calvert, Darren (February 7, 2014). "Interview: Double Helix Games on Carving Out a New Strider for PS4". pushsquare.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 McFerran, Damien (January 29, 2014). "Strider: Remaking an arcade classic". redbull.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Jones, Elton (February 11, 2014). "Top 10 Facts You Need to Know (Interview with Game Producer, James Vance)". heavy.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  9. Gillbert, Henry (July 22, 2013). "Strider isn't a reboot, it's a retelling". gamesradar.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Cork, Jeff (July 19, 2013). "We Get Answers About Capcom's New Strider Game". gameinformer.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Sayed, Rashid (January 24, 2014). "Strider Interview: How Hiryu Is Making A Cracking Return To Next-Gen Consoles". gamingbolt.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  12. JC Fletcher (March 13, 2013). "Rumor: New Strider coming to XBLA, PC, Double Helix involved". joystiq.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  13. Dengeki Online (September 20, 2013). "State-of-the-art old school action "Strider Hiryu"! Stage Report and Announcement of Enemy Characters Pei Pooh and Nang Pooh. (Japanese). DengekiOnline. Accessed July 21, 2020
  14. Knight, Rich (October 12, 2013). "New York Comic Con: The New "Strider" Is Pretty Much Everything You Want From a "Strider" Title". complex.com. Accessed July 21, 2020
  15. Staff (February 21, 2014). (Official Blog) Andrew-P's Road to Special-A Class Strider! (Japanese). Strider official site. Accessed November 22, 2019
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Hickey Jr., Patrick (January 3, 2020). The Minds Behind Adventure Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers. "Even Better Than the First Time", pg. 208-214. ISBN 1-4766-3847-0.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Emmanuel (February 21, 2014). "Interview with "Strider Hiryu" producer! Talks about the reborn action exploration game which will please series' fans" (Japanese). dengekionline.com. Accessed April 11, 2014
  18. Biagi, Marc (July 23, 2014). "The Voice of Strider" (English). The Many Worlds of Marc Biagi. Accessed on archive.org. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  19. Tani, Rio (February 21, 2014). "With love for the original, the team has revived the newborn "Strider Hiryu" - Mr. Andrew Szymanski interview" (Japanese). gamespark.jp. Accessed December 14, 2015
  20. Capcom Unity (February 13, 2014). Strider Live View Producer Q&A. Page 5, Post #47.
  21. Capcom (2013). "Introduction". Capcom's official Strider site. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  22. Capcom (2013). "Action: Cypher". Capcom's official Strider site. Accessed August 18, 2020.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Wilken, Brenna (March 19, 2014). "Return of Hiryu - Strider 2014 OST (Review & Interview)" (English). Originalsoundversion.com. Accessed March 10, 2016
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 Geno, Anthony (March 8, 2014). "Strider Hiryu Returns: Composer Michael John Mollo On Leading Capcom's Legendary Ninja Into Another Light-Cypher Liberation". Sumthing.com. Accessed March 10, 2016
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