Review: “Cannon Dancer” (Nintendo Switch)
Osman, huh? That’s the name that they went with for the English release. I feel like Cannon Dancer is a way cooler name than Osman, although I guess this release is trying to rectify that by tagging on the Cannon Dancer name this time around.*
I figured “Osman” had to mean something, though. After some quick internet research, I found that Osman was the name of the guy who started the Ottoman Empire, so that’s kind of cool. I guess some of the art style looks like it could be Ottoman-inspired, though I’m definitely not an art history, so what do I know? Osman/Cannon Dancer/Whatever still looks quite cool, with plenty of eye-candy scattered throughout, so that’s a bonus.
Cannon Dancer was apparently released in arcades in 1996… Has anyone out there actually played this game before? I was a big arcade rat in 1996, and none of the arcades that I haunted ever got this game. And in all my gaming conversations with some pretty big game fans out there, I don’t recall anyone ever bringing up Cannon Dancer. Or Osman. Or the Ottoman Empire. In that way, it definitely feels special getting to play this for the first time today, as the game is actually pretty freakin’ sweet and definitely fun to play!
Upon seeing Cannon Dancer, my initial thought was that it looked very similar to Strider, the famous Capcom action game that some considered “the best game of all time” back in 1989. It definitely has a lot in common with Strider, but it is different enough to not feel like a sequel or a direct rip-off.
After playing it, though, you know what Cannon Dancer really felt like an entire game built around the final boss of the original Shinobi arcade game: the evil “Masked Ninja”! Not so much in the “mask” part, but in the sense that your character has attacks that resemble the Masked Ninja’s kicks and your power-ups are shadows that trail behind you and attack when you do. It’s definitely cool, and I felt like I was playing as a bad-ass ninja the whole time.
To test your ninja mastery, this new home console version of Cannon Dancer features multiple play modes which range from the brutally difficult “challenge” mode (which limits your number of credits and power-ups) to the much more lenient “standard” mode. While most situations in Cannon Dancer feel completely beatable, there are plenty of blind shots that will come at you as you progress, making things quite difficult at times… and the last stage is especially brutal! For those not up to the task of taking on challenge mode, the standard mode gives you full access to various cheats such as a double jump, invincibility, and a rewind feature which honestly allows almost anyone to plow through the game like an unstoppable, time-manipulating ninja master!
While Cannon Dancer definitely feels like one of those classic (*cough* short! *cough*) arcade games of the mid-90s, the game is still a highly entertaining distraction for fans of the genre and retro gaming in general. And with the quality-of-life enhancements, anyone with an interest in Cannon Dancer can still have fun no matter their skill level.
Cannon Dancer is published by ININ Games and is available now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 and Xbox.
*Disclosure: A copy of Cannon Dancer/Osman for Nintendo Switch was provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.
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Nice review! I bought this game physical but haven’t even opened it yet since I’m in plying through other games currently. Good to know I’m not the only one who had never heard of this game prior to this release. Excited to boot it up nonetheless.
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