Developed By: Ratalaika Games Published By: ININ Games, Strictly Limited Games Categories: Retro, Arcade, Action Release Date: 04.13.23
Twenty Seven years. After twenty seven years, Cannon Dancer (Osman in the west) is finally on home consoles. As this is…quite the niche title, lets do a little history lesson. Cannon Dancer was directed by Koichi Yotsui, who you may know as the director of Strider at the developer Mitchell Corporation. Mitchell Corp is known for a handful of things, so let me get those out of the way real quick too. Distributing arcade boards for companies like Capcom. Creating Puzzloop and Buster Bros/Pang, the former of which has been long plagiarized by companies like PopCap for Zuma. And oddly enough, being home to ex-Capcom employees, some of which were previously at Takeru, the Little Samsom and Cocoron developer.
Cannon Dancer is a spiritual successor to Strider, released a good three years before Strider would get it’s own official sequel. If you’ve played Strider, you should get the gist of how Cannon Dancer functions. Acrobatic action. This time, it’s all with our lead Kirin’s own limbs, no weapons. You’ll climb, slide, flip around, and new to this time around, have a screen clearing attack, which can do massive damage to all, even bosses. The Kirin Star Festival.
It’s hard to accurately decipher if Cannon Dancer is difficult or not. Enemies and hazards can and absolutely will kill you fast, but there’s powerups for strength (Red) and reach everywhere. Of which changes your pants color as well as gives you doubles to attack. You can upgrade your health (Yellow), you can find health restores (Blue) in around stages as well. You’ll need to play fast and keep and eye out for everything either way though, since this is an arcade game. They gotta make money. However, that screen clear attack? You get multiple per life and they restore every time you die. They also absolutely shred through what are otherwise fantastic bossfights. With infinite continues, this game essentially becomes a joke.
Cannon Dancer takes an arab influence to it’s art design and setting. This isn’t exactly common, but it very much should be. There is so much beauty to take from and it’s usually just flat out ignored or put to the side. The European and Japanese settings get old eventually, don’t they? As this is an arcade game from 1996 that’s sprite based, it’s a gorgeous game to look at, just full of color.
The plot however is just all over the place. There’s cults, government involvement, you fighting other members of a mercenary group you used to be in called Teki. You even work with pirates at one point. Also why does Jack Layzon dress like that? Cutscenes are also great to look at at least. Presentation is at it’s A-Game with Cannon Dancer.
Ratalaika is in charge of this release, so you very much should know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that enhancements from the JajaMaru RPGs return in addition to using cheats. When you start a game, you’re given two options like the Cotton ports they handled too. A free play, easier mode as Standard with all of the cheats and enhancements, and a more classic mode, Challenge Mode. Challenge lets you use two enhancements, which I’d using for continues your first time playing if you want to go this path. Finite continues are definitely needed to not make this game over too soon.
If you’re looking for any other extras…you’re in the wrong place. There is absolutely zero bonuses outside of the western release Osman. Which has a much better logo. Otherwise, this can be an incredibly hard $30 pill to swallow unless you’re buying physical and for the love of god, buy physical for this. If only because we need more physical home ports of obscure arcade games. Gotta wonder though…why is this $30. Even Clockwork Aquario, which was also a one game release $20 and that did have extras.
Buy Now: $29.99 Standard Edition – $69.99 Collectors Edition
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review