Strider is the title of a highly popular action-platform game, first released for the arcade on the CPS-1 board by Capcom in 1989.
The game is set in the year 2048 AD, and you play as Hiryu, a unusual ninja-like commando, part of an elite unit known as the Striders. (Strider is frequently used as both a title and as a name for Hiryu.) Your task is to defeat Meio, the Grand Master, an alien being from a distant nebula. Meio has come to the planet to bring Earth under his control, and establishes a base on the mysterious Third Moon, an artificial satellite in orbit between the Earth and Luna. Hiryu must fight his way through Kazakhstan, Siberia, the Amazon jungle, and the Third Moon itself to a final showdown with Meio. All this, armed only with the Strider plasma sword, called Falchion (not particularly creative since that's just a word for a type of sword). By taking advantage power-ups along the way, you can also be accompanied by a drone, a hawk robot, and a powerful jaguar robot.
Strider Ports and Sequels
Strider was ported to several systems, the most highly rated of which is the Genesis port. There was an attempt to port it to the Turbografx, but this failed when the programmer, as a result of too much workplace pressure, had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide. There is a version of Strider for the NES, and while this game this has little in common with the arcade version, it is acknowledged as being fairly entertaining. The Sega Master System also has a version of the game. Tiertex, a french company responsible for several Capcom ports, attempted a sequel to Strider which goes by the name of "Strider Returns - The Journey From Darkness," and is by all accounts terrible. The official sequel, which goes by the name Strider 2, was released for the Playstation. Ports have also been made for the Amiga, Amstrad, MS-DOS, and Commodore 64 platforms, but all these are considered to be inferior to the Arcade version, which is now available on MAME, so they are most likely of interest only to a collector. The Arcade board itself is a hot collector's item, and as of this writing in 2002 goes for $100, which is three times what most games of its era (87-94) are worth.1
Strider Hiryu is something of a cult figure, spawning several fan pages across the net and making appearances in several other games, including Marvel vs. Capcom and an arcade sequel. It's always hard to say why anything becomes popular, but the artwork and animation for Hiryu in the original game is very sleek, and his character is given a sort of grace in motion that has rarely since been duplicated. Hiryu doesn't just stolidly run and jump, he does aerial cartwheel flips and soars through the air with a kind of effortless grace. Revenge of Shinobi is one of the classic ninja platform games, and is no question one of my favorites, but side by side, Strider makes Shinobi look like a turkey. (this being a comparison of the two Genesis carts, and is just my opinion, to boot.) The background music for this game is also excellent - standouts in my mind are the intro track, which plays as Strider hang-glides into Kazakhstan, and also the track named Gravity Unusual.
1Thanks to TheBooBooKitty for this information
mkb notes that the most entertaining part of the NES version of Strider is the translation.
Nothing like a little Engrish to spice up an average game.