Strider 1 / 2 (2000)
Given how well-established Strider Hiryu is in Capcom's curious character mythology, with appearances in the likes of Marvel Vs. Capcom and Namco X Capcom, it's hard to believe that the wild-haired modern day ninja appeared in only two games. The second of his outings (not to be confused with Strider II, a SEGA Master System sequel produced under license by US Gold, which was frankly awful) hit the arcades a decade after the launch of the original, and was ported in perfect form to the PlayStation shortly later.
In essence, Strider 2 is a platform game - but one which owes much of its heritage to the side-scrolling beat 'em ups of yesteryear, with a heavy focus on combat and special moves. As with many of the PlayStation games which still look decent, it used 2D sprites over 3D backgrounds for its gameplay, which remained resolutely two dimensional. The PlayStation's 3D abilities were purely used, in this instance, for window dressing; but Capcom's team excelled themselves on their sprite art and animation.
Aside from being one of the finest examples of 2D action platforming ever created, Strider 2 is also interesting for the influence it has had on a generation of games which followed years later. Vital roots of titles like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden and God of War can be found in Hiryu's dynamic rooftop clashes with rival ninjas and various other nasties - and playing it again, seven years down the line, it's not hard to see why modern designers might be influenced. It's still as tight, tough, and satisfying as ever. Perhaps for the twentieth anniversary, in 2009, it might be time for another outing for Strider Hiryu?