Red Star Rising

by Morgoth Galaxius
with additional contributions from Rodrigo Shin

Many have tried to make some sense out of the Strider coin-op's storyline and found it to be be confusing and contradictory. In my estimation, the best story source in English can be found in Strider 2's PSX manual, which states that Meio's capital is in Eastern Europe and that a revolution has begun in Kazakhstan:

The coin-op's attract mode also tells us that the first level is St. Petersburg, found in northern Russia, not close to Kazakhstan. St. Petersburg is also called Russia's northern capital.

Now the title of the first stage reveals that you are in Kazakstan. The characters closely resemble the modern day Kazakh spelling for Kazakhstan (at least the first half of the characters). So, by 2048, does Kazakhstan expand northward to include St. Petersburg and become the main power in Russia? One of the first stage's BGM's is "Mosque the Cold-Hearted". Mosques are a feature of the Islamic religion. Kazakhstan has many mosques. St. Petersburg is predominantly Russian Orthodox (Christian).

Also, after Kazakh, there some initials: "CCP". This stands for Soviet Socialist Republic. The "SSR" becomes "CCP" in Cyrillic. You'll also notice that the red half-star appears above the "CCP". This is the symbol of the nation/government. This symbol is littered throughout the first stage:

It can also be found in the NES version and the original manga:

General Mikiel and his foot soldiers wear the half-star as well...

...over the deck of the Ballog...

...and the half-star can be seen on ammo crates in the interior.

It even shows up in the PC Engine port's exclusive level!

Another thing, at the end of level 2, you must break down the Siberian airship's door and beat the pilot to complete the level.

Right after you break in, the pilot turns to you and some characters appear over his head. They appear for only a few frames, and it's almost impossible to see them without the background planes turned off.

The characters all seem like katakana, which is what the Japanese usually use for foreign words. It is also used as a kind of emphasis, like speaking in capitalized letters. Either way, the Japanese can have a whole load of "poetic license" when it comes to portraying their characters, and if it's a bit far from the "default" style it can be confusing, especially when it's something highly stylized like high-tech or horror fonts.

That aside, it seems like he's saying either "Soyu" or "N-yu", since "So" and "N" are very alike. The "yu" is generally way smaller than that, but that's the only katakana it resembles.

My best guess is this:

ソユーズ Soyuz (Russian spacecraft)

Referring to... a Russian spacecraft? So Hiryu corners the soldier and all he has to say is "RUSSIAN SP--"? It's lacking two characters, if that's the case, but it's safe to say the Ballog was built by the CCP (Russians/Soviets), and the Third Moon itself seems to have been constructed by them as well!

One last tidbit... more level titles.

- Unsurprisingly, these are the Cyrillic characters for "Siberia".

- These six unidentified characters may spell "Ballog" in some script.

- "Amazon" written in stylized English characters.

- This one is interesting. It is written in Nordic runes. It spells out "WE THLRB MOON". I don't know why "third" is misspelled. Check this and scroll down to "Elder Futhark" to see that alphabet. Note the three small moons above the text in the title!

While all this gives a better understanding of the story, it's still puzzling. I'd like to hear other takes on the story. If anyone has any additional info, or spots any errors, please let me know.

The best way to get the real story would be to scan and translate the Japanese manuals. The Megadrive, X68000, PC Engine CD, or Capcom Game+Book versions all might have the definitive story in them. Unfortunately, I don't have these and can't provide scans!

Thanks for reading!