Retro Inspired Frustration

HIGH Great-looking levels and bosses.

LOW Having to replay entire levels after dying at the boss.

WTF Unreasonably large hitboxes during a late-stage boss.

Tanuki Justice caught my eye with its 16bit-inspired screenshots and the trailer’s rocking soundtrack only amplified my interest. Its official description pegged it as a bullet-hell platformer, and I was sold! Sadly, Tanuki Justice didn’t keep my interest much longer.

Tanuki Justice follows the exploits of a raccoon ninja fighting off hordes of enemies across seven stages. The story is on the light side, so the focus is on action gameplay. Beyond standard platforming, the racoon can also chuck throwing stars a short distance to take down oncoming enemies.

Tanuki Justice features one-hit-kills and precision platforming – players looking for a challenge will find it here. However, I didn’t find that it lived up to the official bullet-hell description.

Except for a few boss battles, both mid- and end-stage, there were few times I felt the screen was overwhelmed with enemy attacks. There were also plenty of times throughout each stage to pause and catch my breath. Not necessarily a bad thing, just… not what I had anticipated, nor what was suggested.

Otherwise, players will find beautiful, retro-inspired stages teeming with zombies, angry apes, minotaurs, and a host of other enemies. Tanuki Justice also controls smoothly – jumps are precise and aiming is accurate, though it would be nice if the throwing stars reached just a little bit further!

That said, wonderful graphics and solid controls can’t make-up for its shortcomings. For one, Tanuki Justice has extremely limited lives and those one-hit-kills I mentioned earlier. Adding insult to injury, gamers are forced to replay an entire level if they die at a boss. Adding something as simple as checkpoints before boss battles would make the experience much more enjoyable.

The Boss battles themselves feature multi-stage attack patterns that compound the frustration of the nonexistent checkpoints because I often ended up arriving with only one or two lives left to fight an overpowered enemy.

One particular boss near the end of the game was especially frustrating. One of its secondary attacks is telegraphed by dirt kicked up from the ground where large talons then shoot upwards. However, there were numerous times when I was clearly in the safe zone between two talons and still lost my life from unfortunately large hitboxes.

After a few more attempts replaying the whole level and experiencing a similar fate during that boss battle, I gave up. Tanuki Justice ended up being more frustrating than enjoyable. It’s not quite the bullet-hell platformer I was expecting, but its difficulty curve will likely have many giving up before reaching the end.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Wonderboy Bobi and published by No Gravity Games. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. Zero hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E 10+ and contains Fantasy Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is a side-scrolling platformer in which players assume the roles of two tanuki ninjas battling an evil sorcerer. Players traverse platforms, dodge obstacles, and frequently use shuriken/throwing stars to battle enemies (e.g., rival ninjas, birds, zombies). Enemies use swords and projectiles (e.g., fireballs, shuriken, bursts of energy) to attack players’ characters that generally blink when hit. Additional effects include depleting health bars, shaking screens, and boss characters that explode into bursts.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. There are no audio cues necessary for play. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Certain functions are remappable. Attack, jump, and super move are all remappable. Movement is not, and the left stick or D-pad are dedicated for movement.

Brian Theisen
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