From Panda Conspirator to Beloved Wife

One of the reasons why I love Capcom’s Strider so much is because it’s packed full of so much stuff. The game is a patchwork of incongruous art, half-finished ideas, and schizophrenic level design. Somehow, though, it all gels as one jumbled, wonderful whole.

One particular element, though, always struck me as being especially weird. Tucked in an out-of-the-way corner of the third level are three stacks of artillery shells. You don’t need to destroy them (they’re not even worth any points), and you might never see them in a normal playthrough.

Destroy the top row, though, and you’ll uncover this little guy.

He does a little dance, rotates his head a full 720 degrees, and then disappears, never to be seen again.

Strider Hiryu later crossed paths with another stuffed bear in a background cameo appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 2.

This, according to Internet legend, is a tribute to the troubled programmer of the unreleased SuperGrafx port of Strider. Depending on who’s telling the story, the guy either suffered a nervous breakdown or committed suicide after cracking under the pressure of strict deadlines.

But really, what’s with that panda? More than 20 years after the game’s release, an explanation was finally given in this recent interview with Strider’s designer Kouichi Yotsui:

“The graphic staff and planners will sometimes conspire against the planner and put something in without his knowledge. For Strider, someone put a panda in the battleship’s cannon room without my knowing. The person who did that later became [Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune]’s wife, fully supporting her husband’s success.”

Yotsui also claims no knowledge of any programmer suicides or breakdowns in regards to Strider’s creation.

The panda was, apparently, snuck into the game by someone who simply likes pandas.

Well, hell.

7 Responses to “From Panda Conspirator to Beloved Wife”

  1. Xkeeper Says:

    I think Star Soldier has to be the king (or at least high on the list) of games with all sorts of random nonsensical hidden shit.

    But at least some of it makes sense, like Milon’s head.

  2. Roscoe Says:

    Or… the suicide did happen and everyone who was involved in Strider somehow feels so guilty they make this kind of shit up.

  3. sardoose Says:

    I knew it! The conspiracy deepens!

  4. ArnoldRimmer83 Says:

    The suicide programmer of SuperGrafx Strider was always one of my favorite video game urban legends.

    That Strider site with the interview is pretty cool. It also has one with Allan Findlay, who worked on the infamous Strider Returns. His reaction to being shown the story in the US manual, is amusing.

  5. Damon Wenkrik Says:

    Each post I have read is well written and to the point. I would also like to say, not only are the posts well written, but the design of your site is excellent. It was easy to navigate from post to post and find what I was looking for with ease. Keep up the great work you are doing, and I will return many times in the near future.

  6. Scion Says:

    Found this while trawling the net for hits on Strider. Thanks for the link!

    Also, to the person who commented on the Allan Findlay interview… I felt bad for him. He didn’t make a shoddy on purpose; he was just doing his job. The person you really want to blame is the owner of Tiertex, for insisting on such a subpar game.

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