Who's that man with the killer Cypher?
Rewind to 1989, on a family vacation to Arkansas. What we did while there, I can't remember. How long we spent there, I can't be bothered. How we got there; take a guess, as long as that guess consists of the words station and wagon.
What I do recall is that on our long drive through Missouri, our family stopped at a Wal-Mart to stock up on food (that's right, fine eateries like Stuckey's and Big Boy were unnecessary for folks like us) to eat during our journey. Being that shopping was not my forte, I was given free reign to roam the aisles at my leisure for about forty minutes. I never made it past the vestibule. Beside the mechanical crane and gyrating airplane, stood a lone game cabinet: Strider.
I had four quarters in my pocket, and I was eager to spend them. From the onset, in which the titular, acrobatic one-man wrecking crew, Strider Hiryu, hang-glided into a futuristic Russia to dispense justice with his deadly Cypher (the best way I can describe it would be to call it a tonfa with a blade attached, capable of creating a blurry arc of electricity when swung with blazing speed) against an armada of robotic Ruskies (this was 1989, you know), I was hooked. The graphics were superb for the period, as was the sound quality. That being said, I only made it up to the second stage, Siberia, before I succumbed to the game's wiles. Nonetheless, I was entranced, and lamented the fact that I would have to wait quite awhile to play it again, if ever. Keep in mind that I'm from Iowa, and quality arcade games could be hard to locate at times, at the time.
One year later, I had the distinct privilege of attending Thanksgiving dinner at my (then) sister-in-law's parent's home. If nothing else, I'd like to emphasize that it was a decidedly awkward affair, given that I rarely spent time with any of those people, and because I had nothing in common with them whatsoever, brother notwithstanding.* Amidst all my malaise, a ray of light: there was a Sega Genesis, courtesy of my sister-in-law's brother, and he had a copy of Strider, one of the best ports of an arcade game to a home console (as of 1990). It's hard to believe that a Genesis (and not a DJ) saved my life , but it's true. I played that bastard till the sun went down, food was digested, and farts were discharged. I also managed to avoid conversation with my extended family, and for that, Hiryu, I am forever grateful.
For the record, Strider Hiryu was developed by none other than the geniuses at Capcom, the company behind several memorable titles released since 1984. Never heard of them? Don't worry, you will. Trust me on that one.
* Don't get me started!