Wednesday 26 April 2023

Canon Dancer - Osman Review (Switch)


Strider has had several sequels over the years. There was Strider II, published by U.S. Gold which came out on a host of consoles and computers in 1990 and then Capcom itself released its own sequel (Strider 2), which was ported to the PS1 in 1999. Neither of these games are to be confused with the 2014 game Strider, which released across a host of digital platforms. Amongst all thess though is the true spiritual sequel to the iconic arcade game developed by the original director and released in arcades – Cannon Dancer, or Osman in the West. Sadly, this game never received a home release at the time. But now ININ games is here to bring it to modern platforms both digitally and in physical format.

Strider took its inspiration from the colder parts of the world and this design is flipped on it’s head in Cannon Dancer with a heavy Middle Eastern influence. The graphics are big, bold and colourful and full of rich reds and oranges and it certainly gives off that arcade vibe that games of the time were known for. The whole thing moves at a crazy speed as well and is much more fluid and smoother than even its inspiration.

Luckily, our hero is every bit as nimble as his more famous ninja friend with players able to launch the bell pants wearing Kirin all over the place with ease. You can also cling to and climb pretty much any surface which gives a huge range of movement once you have gotten used to how everything works.

Speed is the key to success with powering up Kirin’s attacks essential to survival. Once you have picked up a few powerups you’ll notice that when you attack, you’ll leave behind a shadow version of yourself which will stay in place and continue to strike for a few seconds before returning back to you. This is primarily how you take on bosses with players needing to dart into small spaces, leave a shadow and then dive out again so you can attack from safety. It’s difficult to master but a rewarding gameplay loop.

Unlike Strider, you’ll find the five stages almost impossible to clear with one credit. Even though your character is faster and more flexible, the levels are much more chaotic and unforgiving. This creates a strange set up as your special attacks are, in contrast, crazily powerful. You don’t have many buttons at your disposal (punch, jump and special), but pressing that special attack button pretty much obliterates everything on screen and even bosses are dealt a serious amount of damage. This does mean there is a temptation just to power through blasting the special button. Dying and then repeating.

Overall, cannon Dancer is a very welcome addition to the Switch arcade library. It’s also great that ININ have taken the game and given it a high enough profile to give it a physical release. However, the overall package could do with more content to really justify the price currently being asked. We had a whole collection of Turtles games for the same price so getting the Japanese and Western version of a single five level arcade game with few extras does seem a bit thin. That said, the game is really good fun so if you are a fan of Strider or arcade games in general then it is well worth a look.

Overall 7/10

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