Strider II, also known as Journey from Darkness, and Strider Returns in the U.S., is a platformer developed by Tiertex and published by U.S. Gold. It was released for various home computer formats in 1990 and later ported to the Mega Drive and Master System in 1992.
Capcom gave the license to produce a sequel for Strider to U.S. Gold and Tiertex due to the success of their home computer ports of the original game. Although the original computer versions of Strider II got mixed to positive reviews, it became a lot more negative decades later. Capcom later made their own sequel for the arcade and the PlayStation in 1999 titled Strider 2, ignoring this game and rendering it non-canon. There are rumors that Capcom is aware of how bad it is, and regrets ever giving Tiertex the license to produce a sequel instead of making their own in the first place.
Why Strider Hiryu Didn't Return Here
- Besides the graphics, this game its literally the same exact game that came out in the micro computers, which were far less powerful than the Genesis, yet the design hasn't changed a bit to accommodate the new stronger platform.
- Sub-par graphics, the color palette is really limited, even for a Genesis game; and what's worse is this affects the gameplay, as for example the first level has mines that can be barely seen.
- When Hinjo swings his sword, it looks like as it's slightly above his hand; and what's worse is that the attack doesn't look like a sword slash, but rather, Hinjo weakly swinging a baton.
- At some points, the backgrounds look like they came from an NES game.
- What happens with the mines also happens with the enemies, they blend with the backgrounds.
- The level aesthetics also look really generic.
- The enemy designs are boring.
- It also reuses a lot of stuff like portraits and sprites from the original games, it even reuses portraits from characters that don't appear in the game like Tong Pooh.
- The new additions are stupid, for example the rope to climb, when Striders can wall jump, and in the computer versions Hinjo turns into a robot with a gun (which was removed from the Genesis version), that sucks to play as, because he has terrible weapons and moves incredibly slow.
- The computer versions also give you a gun, which was replaced with shurikens in the Genesis version, and in both versions these weapons are awful since they're way too weak and barely deal any damage, and once you have the upgrade to the slash attack, they become completely redundant.
- The Strider Robots got replaced by a single lame-ass black ball that spins around Hinjo which is way too slow, you cannot get more than 1 and goes away after a single hit,
- The silver orbs on the other hand, can be collected up to having 5, and if you have 3 or more bosses become a cake walk, since the silver orbs can take hits for you, allowing Hinjo to tank the bosses attacks while he slashes them to death.
- The level design is a disaster, the game throws you massive amounts of enemies that seem to spawn at random, the stage hazards are really annoying, and they seem to be repeated over and over and over, and the levels themselves are giant mazes with no direction, so getting lost is pretty easy.
- The enemy placement is also terrible as many of them come from angles that Hinjo cannot cover with his sword slashes, this leads to unfair damage constantly, and forces to go really slow to even survive, which goes against Stider's main appeal.
- The levels are also filled with leaps of faith.
- The game demands way too much precision for platforming, which is not helped by the awful controls.
- There are also a crap-load of dead ends, and this game still has a 3 minute timer per level.
- Enemies just mindlessly rush forward against you.
- In level 4, there are pools of acid that can kill you in 2 hits (2 because of hit invincibility).
- Clunky controls. The original has this problem also, but the levels were designed in such a way that they didn't ruin the game. Here, the controls aren't suited for such small areas much less for the large mazes this game has as levels, but the controls had been worsened even compared to the original game.
- Hinjo's attacks are way slower than Hiryu's.
- He also moves stiffly and jumps way too slow.
- The somersault jump has too much momentum, and it is impossible to change your direction in mid air.
- Poor audio, the game has some really boring and forgettable tunes, also the sound quality is worse than the first game. and the sound effects are really muffled.
- Sloppy hit detection: Hinjo gets hit by enemies that didn't even really touch him, other times his attacks don't register, he also misses platforms that he should've grabbed or landed.
- The game is filled with framerate drops everywhere, literally when you do anything, which is ridiculous, considering how awful the game looks. Needless to say, the original game didn't had this amount of framerate issues.
- The game is also fairly glitchy, for example when Hinjo is hit by a purple lightning volt generator, he is frozen in place and then gets knocked back (which can lead to you being passed around like a ball between 2 electricity generators until you die), Hinjo can attack enemies through walls, and when you fight Solo, he lands on empty air to attack you. However there are other worse glitches like:
- The game can freeze during both fights against Meio, destroying all your progress.
- The game not acknowledging the checkpoints and sending you further back than it should.
- The game taking away your silver orb power-ups, while usually stay collected, even after losing a life.
- Hilariously bad (albeit surprisingly audible) voice acting, like if that wasn't enough, they are accompanied by awful cutscenes with elements rehashed from previous games.
- Speaking of cutscenes, they make no sense. They show characters that don't appear, and are even named, like Hinjo's girlfriend Lexia.
- What's worse is that most of the story is on the manual, contradicting the purpose of the cutscenes.
- Crappy boss fights.
- Solo is copy-pasted from the previous game.
- You fight twice with Meio, and the first fight is filled with annoying lightning chains, and he is in a place where it is really hard to hit him, so you have to resort to attack him by hitting homing energy balls.
- The third fight is against a giant bee robot that's out of place, and is extremely easy as long as you stay in an specific place while crouching.
- The fourth is a ridiculous-looking dinosaur with the pathetic range to all his attacks.
- The final stage has another recycled boss from the first game alongside a boss rush, finishing with a second fight against Meio, which is almost the exact same fight as the one from the second stage, only more annoying as the energy balls are no longer present.
- Due to all the previous factors, the difficulty is a nightmare and extremely frustrating, and the amount of lives and continues aren't enough for such an unfair game like this,
- There is also no way to get extra lives.
- You can even die before you reach the exit after defeating the boss.
- You don't even play as Strider Hiryu, because Capcom didn't give the license of the character and so instead you play as Hiryu's son, Strider Hinjo (Who is just Hiryu in white) who is nowadays considered a joke character amongst fans.
- The game has only five levels, which way shorter than the first game.
- The expert difficulty mode only changes how many hits the enemies take, the rest is all the same, plus you don't get anything after finishing it.
- Absolute garbage ending, it just a crappy cinematic which cuts to a black screen that says "The End".
- Fortunately, this game is non-canon, as Capcom made the TRUE Strider 2, which blows this game out of the water in every single way.
- The voice samples are crisp and clear for the Sega Genesis compared to what the Sega Genesis is known for.