I've said it before and I'll likely say it again, Strider is one of the coolest game characters of all time. His game (which graced not only arcades, but also the Genesis and the SuperGrafx) is still one of the best playing games of its type with one of the coolest weapons of all time. While the Genesis version quickly became one of the first killer apps for that system, few noticed that Sega also published an 8-bit version for their Master System.
Although the Master System was not the only 8-bit system to house Strider, it was the only version that was based on the arcade game. The version Capcom released on the Nintendo Entertainment System had more to do with Bionic Commando than it did Strider, angering fans of the arcade version and confusing anybody that was new to the series. Thankfully this was not the case for the Master System version, whose owners were greeted with one of the most ambitions arcade ports of the time.
Although the levels, bosses, and baddies are pretty faithfully retained, it's easy to see where the developers had to cut corners to make it all work. For one thing, there are almost no backgrounds in this game ... none at all. There are ceilings and a good number of walls (of both the visible and invisible variety), but there's just nothing in the backgrounds. What used to be beautifully hand drawn mountains, cities and caves, are now reduced to a black background you fight in front of.
The game's quick speed has also been taken down a few notches, much to the detriment of the game play. What was once easy on the console is now made painfully difficult thanks to imprecise jumping mechanics, sluggish combat, and moves that are extremely difficult to pull off. Even Strider's sword has been reduced to a nearly useless flash of light that is so close range that you nearly have to get hurt just to kill the on coming attackers.
But even though Strider is broken, it does manage to recreate many of the best parts of the Genesis version. You can still pick up special items that allow for extra bots and animals to aide in your quest. The bosses are pretty much intact, even if a few of them are kind of difficult to fight against (what with the short sword and wonky controls). As 8-bit arcade ports go, Strider isn't half bad.
But the original Strider was one of the best 2D arcade games out there, when it's not done right it just feels wrong and is hard to recommend. It's amazing that the game was even this close to the original, but sadly it just wasn't close enough. Sure it's miles ahead of the N.E.S. Strider, but this really is the type of game you would want to experience on a 16-bit console.