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Cannon Dancer: Osman Review

Initial release date: February 1996

Rerelease: April 16th, 2023

Developers: Mitchell Corporation, United Games Entertainment GmbH

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Arcade game, Nintendo Switch

Mode: Single-player video game

Publishers: ININ Games

Genres: Platform game, Fighting game, Beat 'em up

"Review Copy Provided By ININ Games"

In collaboration with Capcom, Kouchi Yotsui developed Strider, an innovative action-platformer that stood out in the arcade scene. During a time when such games were more commonly found on consoles, Strider surpassed the capabilities of the consoles of the era, boasting exceptional graphics, a stable framerate, precise controls, and an unforgettable soundtrack set in a futuristic Russia. After parting ways with Capcom, Yotsui developed Osman, also known as Cannon Dancer, a game that shared similarities with the original Strider but surpassed the quality of Capcom's licensed game, Strider Returns. Although there were other Strider-inspired games, like the SNES-exclusive Run Saber, none matched the fluidity and control of Strider. Yotsui aimed to recreate and enhance the Strider experience with Osman, which remains unique and relevant today, even 30 years after the original game's debut. The protagonist, Kirin (or Osman, depending on the version), employs rapid, agile hand-to-hand combat that feels familiar to those acquainted with Hiryu, the main character of Strider.

Cannon Dancer features a peculiar story that becomes even stranger when translated from Japanese to English, likely due to the translation practices of the time. Kirin, a highly skilled fighter with extraordinary speed and agility, is manipulated by Jack Layzon to provide an alibi in order to apprehend a cult. The narrative, while bizarre, is entertaining and is presented through intricate in-game cinematics.

Gameplay-wise, Cannon Dancer is reminiscent of Strider sans sword, incorporating running, sliding, teleportation, cartwheel jumping, and the ability to quickly traverse platforms and walls. The game could be considered a modern "spiritual successor" to Strider. Cannon Dancer offers faster action and thrilling auto-running segments with vehicles, creating tension-filled moments and setting it apart from other similar games.

Kirin's abilities to create clones, gain power through upgrades, and utilize screen-clearing attacks add unique elements to the gameplay. The added layer of strategy in positioning Kirin and his clones to deal damage and avoid harm makes combat feel fluid and dynamic.

Cannon Dancer controls well on modern hardware and offers numerous quality-of-life improvements. Challenge mode replicates the arcade experience, while standard mode allows players to experiment with various abilities. Double jumping, for example, changes the game dynamics, offering new ways to navigate stages and boss battles.

Visual enhancements include a 4:3 aspect ratio and the option for black pillarbox borders or more colorful artwork. The game features smooth animation and a vibrant world, with a diverse range of settings and moods. The soundtrack, while not as iconic as Strider's, is memorable and fitting for each stage. The ININ development team has skillfully revamped Cannon Dancer, breathing new life into the game with features and enhancements that were unavailable in the original arcade version.

Cannon Dancer now offers both English and Japanese language options, playable in standard and challenge modes, providing players with a more personalized experience.

General features across both modes include:

  • Save states

  • Rewind functionality

  • Controller vibration

  • Customizable controls

  • Graphic filters and shaders

The game also boasts a series of enhancements:

  • Double jump capability

  • Invincible jump

  • Invincible slide

  • Invincible attack

  • Auto attack with five adjustable speed levels

  • Additional credits

These improvements elevate the Cannon Dancer experience, making it more immersive and enjoyable for players, while still maintaining the essence of the original arcade game.

In summary, Cannon Dancer is a remarkable tribute to Strider that has aged well, offering a fresh, engaging experience for fans of action-platformers. The game's fluid combat, unique gameplay elements, and striking visuals make it a must-play for those seeking a classic arcade challenge with a modern twist.

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