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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 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 Federal 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, Layzon betrays Kirin and dumps him in a scorching 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.

  • 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 and a heavy metal hat with rocket boosters on the rim. 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 cult following over the years, and slowly attained Cult Classic status among fans of retro platform games.

27 years since its release, it is finally getting a new lease on life thanks to ININ Games who, in collaboration with the game's director Kouichi Yotsui (aka "Isuke") and Takashi Kogure (aka "Utata Kiyoshi"), is releasing a digital port for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch in 2023, with a limited physical "Collector's Edition" by Strictly Limited Games for the PlayStation 4, 5 and Switch packaged with lots of goodies.

This game provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: As Slaver lays defeated at the end, she wonders if Kirin understands what he's doing as she is a god. Kirin tells her in response that he's above gods.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Most backgrounds in all stages are vibrant, colorful and gorgeous sceneries of different locations like cities, cloudy skies and forests. The final boss area is a red-sky hellish location with bright lasers and strange architecture.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Teki's Da Rudel Taktik., which basically amounts to the three bosses attacking at the same time with no regards to each other.
  • Attack Drone: Hovering, mechanized drones armed with laser turrets are an enemy Kirin regularly encounter and destroys.
  • Ax-Crazy: Wilf's entire motivation to betray Kirin is that he really hates him and wants to be crowned the strongest Teki, and that can only happen if every other Teki is dead.
  • Back from the Dead: Slaver is said to have the ability to resurrect those who died. The three Teki return in the final stage in this way.
  • Background Boss:
    • Cannons' mecha floats in the background as it sends its parts to attack Kirin in the foreground. It can't be hit thought, as the actual target is Cannons himself.
    • Slaver, with a twist: the boss is normal-sized, but a massive image of herself appears in the background watching, zooming in at two points when she's damaged enough. The background boss is only decoration, as the player has to avoid and attack the smaller target flying around.
  • Badass Longcoat: Cannons rocks a large, black overcoat as his primary costume elements.
  • Big Bad: Jack Layzon is the primary antagonist for most of the game, hiring then betraying Kirin and sending him into his quest of revenge against his troops and the other Teki. Slaver then takes over for the final stage.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Tianon. She even wishes she'd be resurrected 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.
  • Boss Rush: During the final stage, the player has to defeat first stage bosses Gamran and Herio, then a copy of Kirin and the three Teki rivals fighting together before reaching the final boss.
  • The Brute: Wilf fits into this nicely, having no subtletly in his hatred of Kirin and just wanting to kill'em all to become the strongest. His fighting style also consists of violent puches and slashes with zero finesse in contrast to Tianon's refined movement and Cannons' rythmic poses.
  • 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.
  • Chainsaw Good: The mecha Gamran, first boss in the game, has one circular saw as a limb.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Kirin's power ups are identified by the color of his pants: blue (none), red (1 clone), purple (2 clones), white (4 clones) and black (extra melee range).
  • Cult: One of the main enemy forces is "Slaver", a cult with terrorist ideologies and an armed military that has taken over one of Jack Layzon's cities, prompting him to seek out Kirin.
  • Dark Action Girl: Tianon is violent and bloodthirsty, seeking out a battle to the death against Kirin but professing she feels "fired up" at his beauty and wishing to be resurrected so she can fight one more time before her death.
  • 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).
  • 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.
    • Jack Layzon tricked Kirin into conflict with a group of cultists overtaking his city then betrayed and left him for dead in the desert. However, Kirin not only survives, but he also eventually corners Layzon at his quarters. The latter could only stutter at Kirin's survival as he backs away from him towards the balcony where he finds himself impaled and ripped apart by Slaver's dagger.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: One of Kirin'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.
  • Dual Boss: Near the end of the game, Kirin faces the three Teki at the same time.
  • Dub Name Change: "Slaver" to "Abdulla(h) the Slaver," and "Kirin" to "Osman." Most stage locations are also given new names.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Herio, the second boss, is a Giant Woman made of flames who attacks by floating all over the place trying to roast Kirin.
  • Energy Beings: Herio, the boss made of fire.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Jack Layzon 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, Kirin is pretty much Strider with the same sliding abilities, teleportation moves, abilities to take on armies, but unarmed.
  • False Friend: Both Wilf and Cannons were allies of Kirin as members of Teki, but in truth harbor resentment and disgust at him for his position as the strongest among them, and openly declare their dislike of Kirin before engaging him in battle.
  • Friendly Pirate: Kirin meets a group of pirate-themed rebels at the end of Stage 3. They are in the process of stealing a Federal submarine, and happily accept him into their group as they sail forward and later fight against a battleship for the duration of stage 5. These "pirates" are in truth people who opposed the government and ended up sent into a forced labor camp.
  • 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.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Most of the generic armored Mooks appear wearing face-concealing gas masks and helmets.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: During his boss battle, Cannons will not attack the player but instead teleport all over the screen while commanding his robot to attack. As he's the actual target of the battle, the player has to move around pursuing him while avoiding the robot's attacks.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Tianon sports two large pigtails with elaborate ribbons tying them around.
  • Grapple Move: Kirin can perform two special throw moves against human-sized enemies: either a spin enemies around on the ground, or a non-spinning Izuna Drop on flying ones.
  • 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kirin's attention for most of the game is Jack Layzon and the Federal soldiers standing in his way of revenge, but Slaver seems to be playing a role in the background. Setting material even implies she may have a hand in the Teki's betrayal of Kirin, and may have been playing both sides for her own plans regarding Kirin.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Kirin fights unarmed, and easily kills scores and scores of mooks holding firearms.
  • The Hashshashin: Kirin is a Cyberpunk version of this trope, being a ninja-like badass in a futuristic version of Persia.
  • Heroic Mime: Kirin speaks no line of dialogue during the game. In the ending, it's implied he gets the last line, though.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • Gamran is a large, dilapilated and literally duct-taped together mecha that serves as the boss of the first game. The 5th stage's Eurogam boss appears to be a newer and better equipped model.
    • Cannons fights Kirin by controlling a large green robot flying in the background. Depending on the pose Cannons strikes, the robot will detach its head, arms or legs to attack Kirin.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Willf has one of the most bizarre weapons ever: it is a massive metallic black hat that has rockets installed on the rims, allowing it to spin at high speed and be used like a throwing disc. Willf also uses it as an effective shield and even a floating platform to stand on.
  • Indy Escape: During the 2nd stage, Kirin has to outrun a massive truck while running down a steep vertical incline and jump at the last possible second, in a clear homage to the Siberia run in Strider.
  • Kick Chick: Tianon has a very nice pair of legs which she uses to attack, sending a shockwave of energy with each kick that's triple Kirin's range.
  • 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 Kirin 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 some strong feelings for Kirin, calling him beautiful and even claiming he makes her body "stir up." On the other hand, she has always wanted to have a death match against him and happily takes advantage of the situation to force Kirin into one...
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Cannons wears a lavish dark blue coat, a high-collar red cape, white gloves with gold accessories and rings and a pair of stylish shades. He is described as a man of taste that dislikes getting his hands dirty which is why he fights by proxy through his controlled robot.
  • Market-Based Title: Cannon-Dancer in Japan became Osman in English. For the 2023 rerelease, it was decided to use Cannon Dancer for all regions, with Osman remaining as a subtitle.
  • 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.
  • Mirror Boss: "Fake", a darkened Kirin clone fought during the last stage's Boss Rush. He is an identical copy of the player and can perform almost all of his moves, with the exception of the power-up upgrades and copy-making.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jack Layzon stands up and express utter shock at Kirin once he appears on his chambers. Then if the player tries to approach him, he slowly backs away always keeping distance from him...until he reaches the balcony and gets gibbed by Slaver, that is.
  • The Plan: Jack Layzon's plan to get the cult arrested: hires Kirin to take them out, forcing the cult into a conflict that spreads across the city. At the end, Layzon raids the main temple with a police force and, due to all the chaos and destruction their fighting caused, presents an arrest warrant for the cultists.
  • Professional Killer: Teki is a mercenary group that presents their members and their trained-to-perfection martial arts physique as "weapons". Kirin and the three rivals are all members of Teki.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Teki trio: you have Cannons, described as a neurotic mercenary that wishes not to dirty his hands killing people; Tianon, a bloodthirsty blonde wishing for a death match with Kirin while proclaiming he's beautiful and makes her body heat up; and Willf, an Ax-Crazy brute that wants nothing but to be the strongest (a.k.a. only living) Teki.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kirin gets hired to eliminate a terrorist sect for Jack Layzon. Once the job's done he's then betrayed, shot, and left to die while being Chained to a Rock in a scorching desert. Suffice to say, Once he breaks free, Kirin's not too thrilled at the sequence of events and quickly sets his sights on Layzon for sweet revenge.
  • Sculpted Physique: Everyone outside of the feminine evil goddess has well-toned and muscular bodies befitting of a mercenary unit...but then, this also includes the government officer who has no fighting ability and does nothing but sit in his quarters until the end.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Stage 3 starts out in a scorching desert filled up with monstrous creatures, deadly scorpions and poisonous butterflies.
  • Ship Level: Stage 4 occurs entirely within a sinking battleship as Kirin breaks his way through, killing any of the soldiers trying in vain to stop him or holding onto dear life as the ship goes under.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jack Layzon presents himself to Kirin (and the player) wearing only black shorts, revealing quite the physique for a non-fighting man. As the meeting appears to be happening in a bathroom, it'd appear he's fresh out of taking one when Kirin meets him.
  • Slide Attack: Pressing the "B" button allows Kirin to skid forward from one side of the screen to another, often leaving a bloody trail behind.
  • Smart Bomb: Kirin has a screen-clearing move known as the "Kirin Star Festival" (Kirin Hoshimatsuri) where he and his copies trace out an inverted 5-pointed star that clears away all enemies on screen and takes out a chunk of any boss' life.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Wilf's attack with his large metallic hat is to spin it around quickly to throw it like a boomerang.
  • Teleport Spam: Cannons' tactic is to let the mecha in the background attack Kirin as he constantly teleports around the screen, forcing the player to pursue him while avoiding the robot's attack.
  • Timed Power-Up: Kirin's power ups lasts for as long as he's not hit, with the exception of the final "black pants" power-up. This power-up gives him extended reach for his melee attacks instead of more clones, but it only lasts a set amount of time before Kirin reverts to the previous power-up level.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Jack Layzon, a high-ranking member of the oppressive government, hires Kirin to get rid of a terrorist cult taking over one of his cities. Two stages later, the whole mission is revealed to be a ruse: Layzon only wanted Kirin and the cult's fight to cause a lot of ruckus so he could justify having the cultists arrested, then he happily betrays Kirin as he has no more uses by having him shot and left to die, Chained to a Rock in a scorching desert.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The player loses power-ups as they are hit. Manage not to get hit and you'll plow through the game.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Kirin in the first half: he's hired to get rid of a terrorist cult that has invaded a city, but by the end he discovers this was all a ruse and he was just used to get them to fight back so Layzon could justify an arrest warrant.
  • Wall Crawl: Kirin 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 Kirin to evade otherwise unavoidable projectiles.
  • Wolverine Claws: Willf's other weapon is a metallic clawed glove he uses to perform quick swipes at Kirin.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Layzon only needed Kirin to get into conflict with the cult and cause a lot of disturbance around the city so he could get legal reasons to have the cult arrested. Once that's done, Kirin has no more value and so he "rewards him" with a cannon blast to his face.

Alternative Title(s): Osman