Side-scrolling cypher

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It’s not so toilsome to remember the glorious days of side-scrolling — you know, the decade when all games followed the same basic engine as Mega Man and Castlevania. In a sense, it was a very cinematic way to conquer a cartridge, since back-and-forth pans were the foundation for gameplay.

Strider 2 is Capcom’s homage to that era of greatness — of the side-scrolling adventure. Spawned from the original Strider, a graphically challenged precursor, the sequel returns comic book-style hero Strider Hiryu to the limelight. Armed with Cypher, his mystical light sword, he charges through each series of stages like a Jedi gone berserk. A clever fusion of two-dimensional characters and three-dimensional environments adds to the fast-paced action, allowing the aged PlayStation console to show off its generally drab 32-bit guts.

Like the eight-point box copy states, performing “double jumps, dashes, slides, backward somersaults, long jumps and the new ‘midare-giri’ slash” is all possible here. Enthralling, visually pleasing baddies are ultimately the targets for these fancy physicalities; a barrage of indelibly inept grunts supplies your target practice.

Side-scrolling action is much too dated to perform as well as, say, five years ago, though. The limited collection of locales in this sequel becomes monotonous after repeated gameplay. And an unlimited ration of “continues” doesn’t insist that players learn strategy. So after hours of playing various stages, once the urge for sleep overcomes even the most ardent player, the ability to “save” would have been a complemented courtesy.

But for those who wish to compare and contrast, this gritty actioner also includes a second disc, the habitually decaying Strider — which is more of a trinket than treasure. With two discs, a few honorable hours of reminiscence and wicked visuals, this $40 duo is an inexpensive snare. Just don’t get too attached to the past.

Jon M. Gibson writes about video games for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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