Cannon Dancer – Osman review for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Publisher: ININ Games
Developer: ININ Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When it came to the arcade scene in my area circa 1996, there wasn?t a whole lot going on that I can recall. At that point dedicated arcades like Aladdin?s Castle were definitely a thing of the past, so if you wanted to play something like Daytona USA or Area 51, you?d likely be doing so in the lobby of your local movie theater or mini-golf spot. Single-player action arcade games were virtually non-existent, making way for the larger, more attractive cabinets with special gimmicks or fighting games that could suck in quarters from multiple people at once.

I suppose this is part of the reason why a game like Cannon Dancer, or Osman as it was called here in the West, has largely flown under the radar for most people. Which is a shame, because as a spiritual successor to the first Strider, this is a far better Strider sequel than the one we originally got. Strider?s DNA is all over Cannon Dancer – Osman, which features large colorful sprites, the ability to climb and hang off of various surfaces, and attack abilities that will feel instantly familiar to anyone that?s played Strider before.

The plot to Cannon Dancer – Osman is pretty threadbare, essentially you?re a robot/cyborg guy who has their employer turn on them after the first couple of levels, leaving them to die out in the desert, at which point you escape and get your revenge while also battling against a death goddess of sorts that wants to take over and/or destroy the world. Throughout each level you?ll battle a variety of nameless goons and robotic foes, the occasional out of control vehicle, and fight against uniquely designed bosses culminating in one of the toughest final levels you?re likely to encounter in any action game. 

This home console port of the game, a first for Cannon Dancer – Osman, feels as close as you?re going to get to an arcade perfect port, and certainly seems to hold up against emulated versions found online. As such, things like the wonky translation are untouched here, but the work put into the various CRT filter settings, plus the additions of various cheats and enhancements more than makes up for any additional polish. 

Both the original Japanese release of Cannon Dancer and the western release Osman are available, but outside of untranslated text I had a hard time finding any significant difference between the two. For each game there are two modes, one dubbed Challenge mode which is your standard Arcade mode with one continue, and it?s the only mode that allows for achievements. The other mode, Standard, allows you to make use of cheats and multiple enhancements, like invincibility, unlimited continues, a double jump and more. Considering Cannon Dancer?s overall difficulty, you?ll likely find yourself wanting to make use of a few of those cheats throughout, but with practice it seems like you can overcome a lot of the initial difficulty curve. However, later stages, and the last level in particular, make use of some instant kill pits that can be difficult to overcome regardless of cheats, which may frustrate the average player. 

Still, it?s pretty cool to see a port of this relatively obscure action-platformer make its way to consoles nearly 30 years after its original release. My only real complaint is that I wish there was a little more to the overall package in the way of supplemental material, background info, concept or flyer art, cabinet shots, etc. The cheats and enhancements are cool, and borderline necessary considering the overall difficulty of the game, but for the asking price I?d expect just a little more. Depending on how hardcore your love is for 90?s arcade action games you may want to hold off for a sale down the road, but if you have any affection for Strider or games of its ilk, then Cannon Dancer – Osman will likely be right up your alley. 

Note: ININ Games provided us with a Cannon Dancer – Osman Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-