Strider Hiryu

is best known as the protagonist of the arcade game Strider and its sequel, Strider 2 (originally titled Strider Hiryu and Strider Hiryu 2 respectively in Japan). The character is jointly owned by Capcom and manga studio Moto Kikaku due to an earlier collaboration.

The titular Striders are a fictional group of ninja-like secret agents specializing in kidnapping, assassination, demolition and other specific tasks, with Hiryu himself belonging to the "Super A Grade" class. Hiryu is usually dressed in a blue-colored ninja outfit and often wears a red large scarf that conceals the lower half of his face (In the first Strider, he wore lavender blue without his mouth covered). Hiryu's primary weapon is the "Cypher", a plasma-generating broadsword with a tonfa-like handle, although sometimes he is assisted by robotic companions which he obtains as power-ups in the original arcade game.

The original manga

A year prior to the release of the arcade game, the Strider Hiryu manga was originally serialized in the Weekly Comic Comp (see ) published by Kadokawa Shoten from May to October 1988 and later collected in a tankōbon published on November 10 of the same year. The manga series was illustrated by Tatsumi Wada and written by Tetsuo Shiba for Moto Kikaku, although Capcom is credited in the series for the original concept.

At the start of the manga, Hiryu is already retired from the Strider organization after he was forced to kill his older sister Maria, an A-grade Strider who mysteriously turned renegade years before. He is coerced out of retirement by Matic, the Vice Director of the Striders, when Hiryu's former comrade, Kain, is taken captive by the enemy in Kazakh. He teams up with Sheena and together they manage to release Kain from his captors, only to learn that he's been brainwashed by the enemy. Thanks to Hiryu, Kain manages to break free of his control, but not before Sheena is killed during the struggle.

Hiryu learns from a captive enemy officer that an organization known simply as the Enterprise is conducting a mind control program known as the ZAIN Project that can turn skilled soldiers into mindless zombies, and that Hiryu's own sister was previously subjected to the program. Moreover, Hiryu's own boss Matic had been conspiring with Enterprise in the development of the project. The rest of the story involved Hiryu and Kain's attempt to overthrow Matic and Enterprise and stop the ZAIN Project. After completing the mission, the Director of the Striders, Kuramoto, offers Hiryu to return to the organization, but Hiryu declines and leaves his Cypher behind.

After the main story was completed, an additional chapter simply titled Strider Gaiden was published and serves as a prequel to the main story. It recounts Hiryu's final mission before his retirement and features appearances by Kuramoto, Kain, and Sheena. This chapter was not included in the tankobon, making it rarer than the series itself.

Strider video games

The deal between Capcom and Moto Kikaku led to the creation of two separately produced Strider Hiryu games in 1989, both of which were released outside Japan under the shortened title Strider.

The arcade game, which was first distributed to video arcades in March 1989. The arcade version was only loosely based on the manga and did not follow the same storyline. Instead, Hiryu is sent to thwart Grandmaster Meio, who plots to conquer the world. Hiryu's mission takes him to Kazakh, Siberia, the flying airship Balrog and the Amazon before the final confrontation in the Third Moon, Meio's lair in outer space. There was also a NES game which was based on the manga, though it was a non-linear action-adventure platformer, and it was never released in Japan either.

The arcade version of Strider, also gained the license to produce an entirely original Strider game for computer. U.S. Gold's sequel, dubbed Strider Returns: Journey from Darkness (or Strider II, as it was known in the PAL Region), which was released for the Mega Drive and various computer platforms in 1992. In Strider Returns, Hiryu (or Hinjo, as he is alternately referred in the manual) is forced out of retirement once again when his girlfriend Lexia is taken captive by a revived Grandmaster. Strider Returns was poorly received by both critics and fans of the original arcade game, due to its overall quality. The game was not produced by Capcom and is not recognized as a legitimate Strider sequel.

In 1999, following Hiryu's fighting game appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, Capcom decided to revive the franchise with a true sequel to the arcade game titled Strider 2. Set an unspecified amount of time after the events of the first arcade game, Hiryu must not only face the recently resurrected Grandmaster, but also against the corrupt Strider Hien. Strider 2 retains the same 2D gameplay of its arcade predecessor, but features fully polygonal 3D graphics instead. Strider 2 was originally released for the arcades on the Sony's ZN-2 hardware and quickly ported to the PlayStation in a two-game bundle that also contained the original Strider. (Some copies were accidentally switched during U.S. production, so the disc with Strider 2 printed on it was actually the original Strider and the disc with Strider printed on it was the Strider 2 game. Like the whole Resident Evil: Director's Cut FMV fiasco, Capcom did not fix the problem.) Due to this mistake the title has become a rare collectors item among fans and hard core gamers. While Strider 2 was better received by critics than the illegitimate Strider Returns, the game was still criticized for being overly easier than the original Strider due to its unlimited continues. While achieving only minor commercial success, it gained a strong fan base.

Capcom has yet to produce another Strider game since Strider 2. At one point Capcom producers Yoshihiro Sudo and Koji Nakajima expressed interest to do the next game for the Xbox, but no such title ever surfaced. Despite this, Hiryu still made appearances outside the series.

In other games

Hiryu has made several appearances in other games by Capcom outside the Strider series, particularly in crossover games which involved Capcom's characters. Hiryu makes an appearance as an adversary in the Japanese-only Trivia game Capcom World 2 in 1992. Afterwards, he makes a cameo appearance in Ken's stage in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as a guest in Eliza's birthday party along with other Capcom characters.

Hiryu would make an appearance as a playable character in the 1998 fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. In this game, he uses the same techniques from the arcade game and even summons his robotic companions from the game in special attacks. His design in this game by Capcom artist Bengus would be the design used in all of Hiryu's subsequent appearances (including Strider 2). Hiryu appears in the 2000 sequel Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes as well.

The character was also depicted in trading cards featured in SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash and its sequels Card Fighters 2: Expand Edition and Card Fighter DS. Hiryu appears in the 2005 RPG Namco x Capcom along with other characters from the series.

Hiryu was also scheduled to be included in the unreleased 3D fighting game Capcom Fighting All-Stars.


External links

Fansites dedicated to the Strider series:

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