- Not to be confused with Strider 2, the official sequel made by Capcom.
Master System's Strider II is a port of Tiertex's Strider II for the aforementioned 8-bit Sega console. It was one of three ports released on different Sega hardware, followed up by the Mega Drive and Game Gear ports. It was released exclusively on Europe.
This port was also the first to feature a large number of modifications to the gameplay and stage layout of the original version, doing away with the awkward robot transformation and greatly altering level layout, adding in more enemy variety and changing obstacles for a different experience. Regardless of all the changes the port still retains the trial and error gameplay, overly aggressive AI enemies and buggy progamming, and thus is as well-regarded as all its predecessors and successors.
Story-wise, the port features an unique plot as described in its manual, different from the original game's "rescue the leader of an alien planet" scenario and formally introducing Grandmaster Meio ("The Master") as the main villain (even though he's still missing as an actual boss). The manual states that the "simulation is over" and the Strider's training (as before, he's not given an actual name) is complete, making a direct allusion to the "simulation ending" featured in Tiertex' ports of the original Strider. The kidnapped lady is given a name for the first time as well, "Princess Magenta", and established to be the main character's "object of his affection". "Magenta" was the name of the planet where the original Strider II is set, but the manual makes no mention of this detail or whether the game is set on Earth or not.
With the Strider ready to "tackle the Master and his evil empire", the Master kidnaps Princess Magenta well aware that his enemy will attempt a rescue mission, planning on leading him onto a "path of destruction". The latter two ports would alter the plot once again, describing it as being Meio's attempt at getting revenge over a previous defeat instead of a plan to lure the Strider to his death before the invasion even starts.
The port also introduces in-game cutscenes (something missing from the home computer versions), although they don't follow any continuity and are simply one-liners thrown by The Master and the Amazoness from the original coin-op against the player.
Differences with the original game
The Master System port saw a large list of alterations to gameplay and stage layout, as well as features reintroduced from the original coin-op. In terms of gameplay, Strider regains his ability to climb ceilings and the Slide, two abilities that went missing in the original Tiertex game. The robot form was removed and replaced by the Rotun shield, a set of five orbs the player must gather in each stage and that surround him during boss battles ; while the Gyro laser was replaced by the ability to throw shuriken in much the same manner (by pressing attack while standing still). Shuriken are infinite but can be thrown only two at a time and have a slower rate of fire.
Graphics-wise, the game looks much darker than the originals, probably due to the sprite limitations of the console. It does use better sprites however, specially the one for Strider. In terms of performance, the port suffers from most of the same problems that make the Tiertex games infamous; buggy programming makes jumping and maneuvering over long gaps a difficult action, which coupled with the aggressive enemies rushing from both sides of the screen attacking non-stop, makes for an overall frustating experience.
Most of the changes are also observable in the Mega Drive port where they were further altered.
List of Changes
- Slower gameplay and progression.
- Fewer onscreen enemies.
- All enemies have different score and HP allocations.
- Modified enemy, object, and checkpoint placement.
- Before starting, the game lets the player select between two difficulties: Easy and Hard.
- Removal of the robot tranformation during boss battles, replaced by a set of orbs called the Rotun shield, which must be gathered in the stage beforehand and activates at the boss battle as a rotating shield.
- The Gyro laser rifle is replaced by a set of shuriken. The shuriken work identical to the rifle, but they are much slower when firing.
- Strider can now climb ceilings and perform the Slide move.
- Stages have been redesigned extensively with paths being altered, new enemies being introduced and new obstacles and hazards being added.
- The first two stages retain their original bosses (Helios and Helios-II), but the remaining bosses are all new: Stage 3 debuts the mechanical Waspini and Stage 4 alters the Alien Mother's appearance into a green mechanical dinosaur with a missile launcher. The final boss works the same as the Alien Terrorists leader, but with a very different-looking sprite.
- There are only two items to be found, both with new simpler designs: "life energy pods" (a red heart) restore health and "Rotun energy pods" (round orbs) need to be collected for the Rotun shield. The Item Boxes from the original coin-op are brought back and work as before, holding items inside and requiring a strike to open.
- Altered collision detection has also been implemented for the redrawn foreground tiles and sprites, affecting gameplay.
- The viewing area is full screen now, having removed the lower panel from the home computer versions.
- Entirely new HUD replacing the removed panel. The new HUD is now at the top of the screen showing from left to right: Hiryu's lifebar (a gray vertical bar), a continues counter, timer for the stage and the Rotun orb counter (each time the player finds an orb, a small gray circle appears there).
- Different text fonts.
- Sprites have been overhauled for the most part.
- A brand new soundtrack was created for this version, replacing the reused Mark Tait score. In turn this soundtrack was later reused in the Game Gear port.
- All sound effects are new.
- Reprogrammed game.
- Inclusion of in-game cutscenes. These only feature the Master and (at two points) the Amazoness from the first game saying "you can never win" in several different ways. Neither character makes any other in-game appearance.
- The original ending is missing. Winning the game shows the artwork of Princess Magenta thanking her "hero" and then a simple "The End" screen.
|Strider II / Returns|
|Equipment: Cypher • Climb Sickle • Gyro laser • Rotun shield • Shurikens|
Moves: Slide • Cypher Attack • Elite Mechanical Combat Unit
|Alien Terrorists • Automatons • Wall Crawler • Wolf • Aliens • Turbo Wasp|
|Helios • Energy discharging skulls • Alien Mother • Milsoma • Podulous • Inferno • Waspini • Anti-Gravity Device • Laser wall panel|
Terrorist Leader • The Master
|The Forbidden Forest • Castle Metropolis • The Hive • The Alien Depths • The Master's Prison Ship|
|Lexia • Striders|