Beyond Co-op Review: Cannon Dancer – Osman
Review by: Paul Acevedo
Capcom’s Strider series of action platformers has received sporadic entries over the years, including two arcade games. Back in 1996, the creator of Strider teamed up with Mitchell Corporation (creators of the Pang/Buster Bros. series) to release an unofficial arcade Strider sequel called Cannon Dancer. The much inferior name “Osman” was used in international markets. More than 20 years later, ININ Games and Ratalaika have now rescued the game from obscurity and released it on modern consoles as Cannon Dancer – Osman.
Players can select from the English and Japanese versions of the game. The cut scene text is the only difference I noticed. The game takes place in a dystopian future in which all nations are united under one government. An evil wizard threatens to take over the world, and a high-ranking member of the peacekeeping organization that the hero works for has joined the insurrection. None of what happens over the course of the game will make sense (owing to a poor English translation), but that might be part of the game’s charm.
Kirin, the protagonist, controls a lot like his forebear, Strider Hiryu, attacking, jumping, sliding, and climbing on walls. This game offers additional moves, though, including the ability to throw or slam enemies during slides and jumps, and a Shinobi-like special move that clears the screen of enemies and does massive damage to bosses. One downside compared to Strider is that Kirin fights with kicks rather than a cool sword. The superior range and catchy sound effect of Strider’s Cypher sword are missed.
The game itself is made up of six sprawling stages, starting in a futuristic Arabian city and then spreading to a variety of locations. Stages have a fair amount of verticality and wall climbing to them. After battling through hordes of soldiers and robots, players will encounter gigantic and distinctive bosses. These include a huge chainsaw-armed mech with a dead soldier inside and several mystical beings that seem to draw inspiration from Buddhist and Hindu gods, much like those of Asura’s Wrath. Yes, there’s also a fun fight set in a low-gravity circular room, just like in Strider.
The home version offers two game modes that hugely affect the game’s difficulty. Standard Mode allows players to use save states, rewinds, cheats, and enhancements, but it disables Achievements/Trophies. Challenge Mode ditches all of the modern conveniences except for the choice of two enhancements such as double jumps or extra credits. Locking Achievements behind the much tougher (and less enjoyable) Challenge Mode is an interesting decision. It’s not that the game is unplayable without rewinding and save states, but the final stage is brutally hard and un-fun. Also note that the Xbox version’s Achievements are buggy, causing the wrong Achievement to unlock at times and making one Achievement unobtainable.
Challenge aside, the main issue facing Cannon Dancer - Osman is its $30 price tag. ININ Games released Clockwork Aquario, a previously incomplete arcade game of similar scope, for $20. Cannon Dancer doesn’t have any extra modes or major features to justify its higher price – unless we count optional widescreen borders, something missing from Clockwork Aquario. This is certainly a game that fans of Strider will want to pick up, but it might be best to wait for a sale.
Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5