It's a spiritual sequel to the legendary Strider created by the same director, Kouichi Yotsui, but without Capcom's involvement... and that's pretty much the sum total of what I know about the game, so I'm not entirely sure what to expect from it. I'm reasonably certain at least that I've never played it before (I've barely even played Strider), but this title screen is reminding me of Knuckles' Chaotix and I hate it when games do that.
(Warning, there's going to be a lot of animated gifs this time, and they're going to be massive. Well, they sure have a lot of frames anyway.)
It's got dramatic lightning, a submarine, swords turning into flaming horses, flaming horses turning into swords, random people sliding in from every direction, and a crying woman wearing CDs for earrings! How could anyone see that running and not want to dart over to the cabinet, throw in some coins, and hit start? If only to find out what it's actually about.
I'm not sure if this guy is called Osman himself, but whoever he is, he's a well animated little protagonist. Better animated than he comes across here in fact, as I cut half the frames out to lower the file size; much like how he cut half his vest off to... I don't even know why. Maybe he just likes the backless look, combined with his baggy dragon pants and red sash.
In fact he really reminds of some other game character and I can't quite remember who. Gonna drive me crazy that is.
"Go! Save our people! Seek and destroy Abdulla the Slaver."
MONDAY. AGADAN---ON THE PERSIAN GULF.
The five clones land, reincorporate as one, and the mission is on.
Straight away I can tell you two things about the game: it looks fantastic and it's going to play a whole lot like Strider. Though Strider Hiryū carries a sword with him with the intent to murder everyone he sees, while this guy's apparently playing it Batman.
Seems like the armoured gentleman on the right has played enough video games to know how this is going to go down, as he's actually turned tail and ran away from me! His friends coming up behind on the other hand aren't so quick on the uptake; either that or they've got a ridiculous amount of guts.
These rapid fire kicks just obliterate anything in front of me; it really is Strider all over again.
Me, I've got climbing gloves or hooks or whatever it is Slider uses, so I can get up curved walls and across ceilings with ease! I'm fully equipped to deal with whatever weird architecture this strange city can throw at me.
You can see my clones in action here, hanging around in the air long after I've surrendered to gravity to get a few extra hits in for me. You can also see magic butterflies, a six-wheeled limo straight out of Thunderbirds, and a really obvious cut near the end of the gif that I tried to hide. What you're watching here is 100% legit though, I really did beat this boss in a single try and I'm even more surprised about it than you are. I'm used to these things dragging on and on as I slowly erode their health bar, but this was over in seconds (and I've got a timer to prove it).
Taking damage knocks me down to an earlier pants level, reducing my ability to inflict mayhem, but getting killed doesn't mean being kicked back to a previous checkpoint. In fact I lost a continue in this ambush and was still allowed to jump right back in mid-fight with my progress intact, so the challenge level seems pretty low unless you want to finish on a single credit.
AFTER THE FIGHT, A FEW STEPS DOWN THE ROAD:
Well I suppose I could learn his routine, discover his weak point and then masterfully and repeatedly dodge both his flamethrower and the fireballs he likes to spit out at me as I put my own plan into action...
I might as well, seeing I get all three 'fatal attacks' back whenever I lose a continue, and knowing me I'm likely going to be burning through the things.
Uh, what sanctuary? I was in a city 5 seconds ago, destroying security turrets and excavators. Who even ARE you? A goddess? A haunted statue? Abdulla the Slaver? The woman with the CD earrings in the intro?
Oh, oh, forget that crap... I just noticed that my guy's trousers are the same colour in these cutscenes as they were in gameplay. That's awesome. +500 points for attention to detail.
The game's definitely been made by people who understand that if you want a platformer to be fun, you've got to make the act of jumping around itself joyful.
I've had the feeling this was meant to be kind of a parody game ever since I read a quote from the creator saying that it was, but this is the first time I've been certain of it. There's more text to just explain this short 'outrun the thing that's chasing you' sequence than they've given to the entire story so far. Thanks Osman, but I have played games from the 90s before, I understand the principles of a 'boulder chase' level.
I gotta stop trying to make sense of the artwork and focus on running! But the perspective on the truck so mesmerizingly weird...
Oh shit, these are more those exploding platform blocks I'm standing on aren't they? I need to stop admiring the fireworks already and get my ass moving again.
Nope, too late, back to the truck chase.
A FEW PLATFORMS FURTHER:
Nope, the game has shown pity on me and put me back at the start of the exploding platform run this time. It really is surprisingly merciful, and I can't complain about the variety in gameplay either.
Now, where did I put my special attack button?
"There is an uprising in our midst.And then Jack Layzon's soldiers go and blast me with their particle cannon. They shoot me, nuke me, then strand me in the desert. I'm feeling a little hurt and betrayed to be honest. But mostly confused.
We must seek peace.
Get abdulla the Slaver.
Beware of his devout followers.
He has grown too strong.
TUESDAY. SOMEWHERE IN THE CABIL DESERT.
"You hinder my schemes.Man I wish I had any idea what Willf here is talking about. I hinder a lot of people's schemes, but I don't remember wrecking anything here in the desert besides a big ass sand monster and I'm pretty sure that thing was working alone.
I will teach you the proper manner of the deserts."
Whatever, I'm just going to walk in there, hit the special attack button a few times, and then shove his Freddy Krueger glove up his ass.
The symbol on the conning tower is the same as on the banner in Jack Layzon's majestic bathroom, but that could mean anything at this point. I don't know who I am, who these guys are, who I'm fighting against, what I'm fighting for, who's good, who's evil...
WEDNESDAY. NEAR CHAGOS IN THE MIDST OF INDIAN OCEAN.
Not that all of them are sticking around to fight me. One guy was scrambling up the floor trying to reach an exit, but a 60 degree incline was more than the poor guy could manage. I felt like helping him out, but unfortunately I have only 'kill' buttons and no 'save' buttons. There is no special move for mercy.
"Hey you, what are you doing here? Cast away like a rag? Do you want to kill?I still don't know who she is, but I'm starting to get the feeling she's not on Jack's side. I didn't get a chance to answer her though, as the sword immediately carried me up into a fortress in the clouds.
Go ahead. I want to see the world destroyed."
"Young man, how dare you fight without weapon!...says the guy who's clearly unarmed himself, which is a bit ironic considering his name. I'm not all that worried though; Cannons here may dress like the daytime version of Dracula, but I doubt I'll need a stake to finish him off.
Let's see you fight with your bare hands."
There's really no good reason not to use the special move to skip boss fights like this, unless you're looking forward to fighting them fairly or you're just too good to lose continues and get them refilled.
THURSDAY. IN THE WOODS NEAR ALEPPO.
"You begged for your life, I see. You are already dead.Uh? Is Tianon pulling some kind of Fist of the North Star style 'I killed you 20 seconds ago and you didn't even notice' thing on me here? Well I suppose our hero could also be a cyborg built using the body of a dead soldier... but that seems like a bit too much plot for this game.
See if you remember where you got killed."
Oh hang on, I recognise this place now. This is where I fought Herio, the fire boss with his magic hands. You know, the place with the nuns where Jack Layzon betrayed me and sent me off to the desert. I'm still not 100% certain about what's going on here, but I reckon she's editing history somehow; she's retconning the boss fight so that she was in Herio's place and was able to defeat me.
Without any special attacks left I was forced to try to defeat her using skill, reflexes, and lots of a mid-air throw move that I do by hitting jump while off the ground. Sadly though she was able to catch my guy in her cape, spin him around and kick him to death.
I still had another life left though, and came right back with a full batch of specials to kill Tianon instead! Let's see how she likes that retcon.
Unfortunately for Tianon this all means she's technically already dead, so time catches up to her and... boom.
At least that's my interpretation of what just happened here. I could of course be entirely wrong, and it's not like the game's going out of its way to explain anything at all. Seriously, I've been skipping through gameplay but I haven't missed out any dialogue or cutscenes; you're getting as much to work from as I am.
Speaking of time... check out that timer ticking down during dialogue.
FRIDAY. IN PRAGUE, THE CAPITAL OF THE FEDERATION.
"You----you have returned from the desert."Yeah I noticed that too. Wait, that's all I get? I've made it all the way to the epic confrontation with the guy who betrayed me and left me chained up in a desert to die, and this is all I get? A fucking explanation would've been nice!
I... can't believe I just slipped off the balcony and let the floating sword steal my kill! This tragedy wouldn't have even happened if he'd hadn't cheaped out and only bought half a railing.
Well that's it, right? I've defeated the final boss and it's all over! Or not?
And now here I am in the street getting my ass kicked by a pair of pyromaniac twins, while assholes in futuristic sports cars try to bounce me off their hood. Seems like a good place to quit really, seeing as I've apparently run out of plot.
I feel like I really must be close to the end of the game now, but I never actually meant to finish the thing. I just wanted to show a bit of it off, but then all these animated gifs happened and I got carried away.
Here's another thing that I'm hoping is a joke: the helpful advice on the continue screen takes all 10 seconds to appear, so if you take the time to actually read it all you'll lose the game.
Osman... makes no damn sense at all. The plot didn't quite survive the journey from Japan with its sanity intact, and even if it had the game still takes place in the world of 90s video games, where you can be fighting soldiers one second and tigers the next. And limos balanced on top of statues that fire off deadly energy butterflies the next.
The way the game respawns your character at the point where you died rather than kicking you back means that this is more of a ride than a challenge to overcome. I expect pretty much everyone has the skill needed to reach the final stage on this one as long as they keep feeding it credits, though I hear you're stuck with checkpoints from then on. On the other hand, a one credit run of this could kick anyone's ass. The game starts harsh and gets tougher, three hits and you're one life down, and those bosses aren't so trivial when you've no special attacks to spare.
I can't really share my opinion on the music, as I don't even remember it. It's just kind of there, doing its thing in the background without drawing attention to itself or trying to fire the player up, and it's a bit of a shame really as the visuals in this are fantastic. This is a real showcase for old school 2D pixel animation right at the time where everyone was keen to bury the style and move on to 3D and it's worth giving the game a look just to see it all in action.
I'm not saying the gameplay is bad mind you! This is a solid game, probably one of the best in its genre (that genre being 'Strider clone'). Not that I can back that up with any kind of serious analysis, as like I said, the game's a ride. You're flying around the next corner before you have time to really dwell on what got you there, and the respawn system takes all the sting out of deaths, bullshit or otherwise.
I'm not sure I have the patience to ever play it to the end, as it's a bit on the mindless side, but I'd give this another go for sure. So it gets a shiny star:
If you'd like to share your thoughts about Osman/Cannon Dancer, pass judgement upon my website, or help me out and tell me what Osman's outfit is reminding me of, then you can leave a comment right here, right now.