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Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 30%
  1. 1987
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Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns
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  • Review Score:

  • D+
Did you know there's a sequel to Titanic? Released more than a dozen years after the Oscar-winning love story, Titanic II is an absolutely horrific disaster film released by the low-budget auteurs at The Asylum. Gone is the amazing cinematography, those
million dollar effects and the cast of award winning actors. In its place is the worst kind of schlock imaginable. Titanic II tries its hardest to sink the good name of the James Cameron original.

This is exactly what Tiertex Design Studios attempted to do with Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns. Not unlike The Asylum, Tiertex is best known for its barely recognizable remakes and knock-offs of popular entertainment. Amiga, Commodore 64 and Sinclair owners got the brunt of their efforts, thanks to hatchet job versions of Rolling Thunder, U.N. Squadron, MERCS and Street Fighter II. But their most offensive work was left for the Sega Genesis.

Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns (Genesis)

Contrary to what the name suggests, Journey from Darkness is not a proper Strider sequel. Capcom would eventually release a 32-bit follow-up, but it has no continuity with this Genesis game. You might know that by looking at the screenshots. Many of the elements found in the original are represented here, including cinemas and boss characters. Some of these sprites don't even look redrawn, suggesting that Tiertex slapped together assets from their previous games. The result is a Frankenstein's Monster of things I love sewn into a game I hate.

The good news is that Strider is back. That, above all else, should be regarded as a good thing. This 16-bit "sequel" looks the part, with Tiertex getting the character's look and animation right. But the gameplay is slow and the default weapon looks a little weird. Instead of the lightning quick Strider experience found in the Capcom original, this U.S. Gold-published sequel feels like everything is underwater.

We're forced to play through a series of five stages that look like outtakes from the 1989 arcade game. We fight through a forest, castle, sky base and prison ship, none of which are as interesting as the stages found in the original. Worse yet, the game has a tendency to repeat enemies from one stage to the next. Even the game's final boss is a retread of an enemy found in level two.

Journey from Darkness: Strider Returns (Genesis)

Journey from Darkness adds a couple of annoying wrinkles to the Strider mechanics. Instead of simply running from left to right, our hero is forced to think more vertically. This sets up a series of frustrating moments where you can miss a jump and quite literally fall to the start of the stage. These horribly designed stages are in conflict with the spirit of the original game. This was supposed to be a series about fast action and slashing fools in half, not making difficult jumps and getting lost in the game's confusing level designs.

After getting used to the slower pace and horribly laid-out stages, I started to warm up to Strider Returns. Not enough to recommend it, but I could see where Tiertex wanted to take the series. Using Strider's sword remains satisfying, even if the default animation is hard to get used to. This game lacks the big showpiece moments from the original. Instead we get lengthy stages that go nowhere and recycled sprites masquerading as new bosses. This isn't a complete failure, but Strider is too good for Journey from Darkness.
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