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Video Game / Cannon Dancer

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Cannon Dancer (known as Osman in English) is an Arcade Platform Game released by Mitchell Corp. in 1996, and it's often called the Spiritual Successor of Capcom's Strider (Arcade) (which is reinforced by the fact they both were designed by the same guy). Controlling a badass mercenary known as Kirin, the player goes through very colorful stages, kicking everything into gory death along the way. Kirin has an asortment of special skills, including a slide, Izuna Drop esque throw, and upgrades that allow him to generate energy copies of himself, which stand where they are generated and mimic his actions, making for some interesting tactics and strategies with them.

The game's plot is actually a bit Mind Screwy, albeit a good deal of it was actually Lost in Translation (including a slew of alternative dialogues for the bosses). Set in a dystopian future ruled by a single government, problems arise with the appearance of a terrorist sect known as "Slaver," which deifies one "God Without Form" by the same name. Director of Judicial Affairs Jack Layzon, tired of these guys, contracts the services of the main character to deal with them, but he's secretly only using Kirin to stir up trouble with them so he gets a legit reason to arrest the cultists. Once his job's done, Jack betrays Kirin and dumps him into a desert to die. Needless to say, Kirin survives and sets out on a quest to get Revenge on Layzon, though he'll have to go through all his troops, as well as his former allies who now want him dead. Things start getting really weird from that point onward...


The game's main characters are:

  • Kirin: The Hero, setting on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his traitorous contractor. Kirin forms part of a mercenary unit known as Teki (Barbarian), whose members are said to hone their bodies to the point of considering themselves "weapons for hire." Kirin is billed as a top class fighter and expert of a secret martial arts style.

  • Jack Layzon: Director of Judicial Affairs and the Big Bad who sets the game into motion. Tired of the pesky cultists taking over his city, he uses Kirin to force them into conflict and justify their arrest, and then disposes of Kirin after the job's done. Doesn't do much else afterwards.

  • Tianon: One of the 4 members of Teki now against her former ally Kirin. She's a blonde pigtailed Kick Chick that can generate energy with her kicks. She tells Kirin she's been always wanting to fight him to the death, though there are also hints that she also has feelings for him.

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  • Cannons: Second member of Teki, a tall man dressed in a black longcoat. He calls himself "Kirin's top student" and shows complete repulsion towards him, calling him an unrefined idiot who still fights bare handed. On the other hand, his method of fighting involves teleporting around while a Transforming Mecha attacks from the background.

  • Wilf: The Ax-Crazy third member of Teki, a green armored white haired guy who uses a metal hand claw. He's very open about his hatred of Kirin, while also wanting the other members of Teki dead so he can claim the title of the "Strongest Weapon."

  • Slaver: The mysterious goddess who appears midway through the game showing an odd interest in Kirin's massacres, as she "wants to see the world die." Things start getting really odd once Kirin's goal is achieved, though...

The game's garnered a sort of cult following over the years, and is slowly crawling into Cult Classic territory.

This game provides examples of:

  • Attack Drone: Hovering, mechanized drones armed with laser turrets are an enemy Kirin regularly encounter and destroys.
  • Back from the Dead: Slaver is said to have the ability to ressurect those who died. The three Teki return in the final stage in this way.
  • Blood Knight: Tianon. She even wishes she'd be ressurected so that she could fight Kirin again if she's the last Teki defeated.
    • It's also implied that Kirin is this as well at the end, after accomplishing his revenge, he has no other motivation to fight other than pure bloodlust.
  • Chained to a Rock: How Kirin starts in Stage 3, complete with nearby monsters trying to chomp on him. He escapes almost immediately after regaining consciousness, of course.
  • Dead All Along: The revelation in Stage 5 is that Kirin was once killed before by one of the Teki (since the Teki's boss order can be switched around, whoever Kirin fights third will claim to be the killer... Well, at least in the original Japanese game.)
  • Difficulty Spike: The last stage ups the difficulty considerably compared to the rest of the game since it removes the "spawn in the point of death" ability, instead respawning Kirin at predetermined checkpoints. And since the stage pits you against very irritating mooks and the Boss Rush...
  • Dirty Coward: At a certain point, some of the armed Mooks will start to panic in front of Kirin and fall on their backs while trying to crawl away.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: One of Osman's special moves allows him to summon multiple copies of himself, all of them following his moves as if reflected on a mirror. The copies' punch, kick and stomps can still inflict damage on enemies, and it's a very useful method of clearing large amount of mooks or fight bosses.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Jack wants to destroy the Slaver cult to save his city from the cultists taking it over. But he also runs The Empire, immediately enslaves the cultists once Kirin has defeated them, and attempts to have Kirin disposed of to have one less threat. The Slaver herself wants to rule and destroy the world, facilitating Kirin's Revenge before testing him by a fight to the death for who gets to rule the world in survival of the strongest. This backfires on both of them as much as you would expect, though even Kirin himself is implied to Take Over the World in the ending.
  • Extremity Extremist: Kirin and Tianon both use kicks exclusively.
  • Expy: Gameplay-wise, Osman is pretty much Strider with the same sliding abilities, teleportation moves, abilities to take on armies, but unarmed.
  • Gainax Ending: After the final boss is defeated. Slaver's face cracks and a single tear fall from her eye, landing on the Earth and turning it back into a more healthy color. Slaver then claims she's a god, being prompted by (allegedly) Kirin replying that he's "above god" (or, in English she claims to be king and he retorts with being the king of the world). Cue the credits.
  • Gratuitous German: During the Dual Boss with the three Teki, they refer to their combined strategy as Da Rudel Taktik, the German name for the "Wolf Pack" tactic.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Osman fights unarmed, and easily kills scores and scores of mooks holding firearms.
  • The Hashshashin: Osman is a Cyberpunk version of this trope, being a ninja-like badass in a futuristic version of Persia.
  • Lost in Translation: The translation changes or skews most of the dialogues. Even worse, each Teki has 3 different dialogues depending on the stage they are fought; these are removed and replaced by a generic single text shared by all three.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Thanks to Osman being granted the ability to rip enemies apart with his bare hands, expect any human-sized enemies to burst into geysers of red.
  • Mad Love: Tianon hints at having something for Kirin, calling him beautiful and even claiming he makes her body "stir up." But then she comes and claims she's been waiting for this deathmatch to happen...
  • Mind Screw: In-universe example: The "Forest of Memory" (Stage 5) seems to have a mysterious effect on Kirin's perception and memories. The last surviving Teki then shows up and reveals Kirin has been Dead All Along, killed by his / her own hands, and even allows him to try to remember where he was killed to re-enact the moment he died. This is all a ploy trying to manipulate Kirin's perception and thus make him easier to kill. It doesn't work, obviously, and the "scenario" turns on the Teki.
  • Nintendo Hard: If you're playing casually, you respawn right where you died. But odds are you're going to die a lot, given the sheer number of obstacles and enemies the game throws at you, to the point of introducing whole new threats in between almost every boss for such a short game. Not to mention, every time you take damage you go down a level of power-ups. This gets ramped Up to Eleven in the final stage, where you have to do a Boss Rush and deal with some nasty foes with a sudden checkpoint system - and since the power-ups are so vital to the game's balance, you're now having to do all of this with barely any if you die at all.
  • Slide Attack: Pressing the "B" button allows Osman to skid forward from one side of the screen to another, often leaving a bloody trail behind.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: You lose power-ups as you're hit. Manage not to get hit and you'll plow through the game.
  • Wall Crawl: Osman can cling on smooth walls, an ability often used to dodge attacks or reach power-ups in hard-to-access spots. More than one boss area have walls in order for Osman to evade otherwise unavoidable projectiles.