Talk about a glutton for punishment: after gruelling it out with the difficulty settings on Golden Force, Pixelheart’s latest game, Tanuki Justice, developed by Wonderboy Bobi, makes matters worse for my gaming cred – this is bloody hard.
Why then do I want to keep playing it? Perhaps it’s because it’s a hardcore action platformer that, despite its challenge, is pretty doable if you have an inkling of patience.
Don’t expect to be wowed with the presentation, as this Tanuki Justice is a bit of a throwback to a Sega Master System game or even the Mega Drive at a push. But there aren’t any good games on those platforms, and they’re for boomers, right? Wrong.
Tanuki Justice Switch Review
It’s clear then that this game is for a niche. But perhaps that’s pigeonholing it into something that won’t appeal to the masses. It might; it’s just that Tanuki Justice is a testing game and one that will have you launching the controller at the cat.
If you thought it was exclusively related to Mario’s wardrobe, the tanuki is a Japanese racoon-like creature, typically with big balls. That’s irrelevant here, but quite a well-known fact, friends. There’s a restaurant in Japan with tanuki statues greeting your patronage each time you go, even with a little jingle. A song, not of its balls. Anyway – game review.
Play this with the d-pad if I were you. Aside from it being ‘traditional’, it’s a bit more accurate, and you’ll need this for executing your enemies and fine-tuning jumps so that you land in-between hazards rather than on them.
Coming back to Tanuki Justice after regular breaks put it in perspective. When you’re balls deep in the game, it feels utterly unfair, and the challenge is just taking the piss. But, if you pace yourself, in collaboration with the time, of course, it’s ‘doable’.
Still, there are so many aspects that make this game ragequit inducing, and there’s not enough reward/incentive to keep going. While I didn’t get overly enraged with it, I wasn’t enjoying it enough to stick with it each time.
Compared to PixelHeart’s other physical title, Golden Force, which is arguably more demanding in places, it’s more realistic to get past a section. There’s a tad more creativity involved, and it looks better. While the latter shouldn’t be a deciding factor, there’s no comparison with the two in terms of presentation.
Sod The Environment
What makes Tanuki Justice so challenging is that it’s only seven levels, but you’ll be stuck on them for ages, pending how patient and nimble you are. There’s no health in the game, so death is instant and doesn’t discriminate – whether it be melee attacks from enemies, distant shurikens, or the worst: environmental hazards.
You can re-attempt a level repeatedly without risk of continues, but you start from the very beginning each time. There aren’t any checkpoints, and when you finish a level, you feel that there’s no need for a checkpoint in terms of the distance you travel, but as it’s such a risky environment, you can’t help but want a few more safeguards.
At least you don’t need to worry about ammo as your shurikens are infinite, and pending you collect the power-ups, increase their potency, plus release a special attack that wipes out practically everything on the screen.
Another advantage; despite this feeling very 8-bit, you can play with the d-pad or analogue stick, and you have eight directional control. Playing with the d-pad, because I’m a purist, you can jump and shoot an enemy mid-air diagonally down or up. This works underneath an enemy too.
A Deal Breaker
Set in feudal Japan and with relatively tight controls, this would usually be something I’d be drooling over. Still, as mentioned, the difficulty and frustrating hazards – namely performing a jump only to get sniped mid-air or not pressing jump in time to do the double-jump, put me off far too often.
There will be a niche that will love this type of difficulty, and ignoring the ninja-like themes reminded me of Ninja Gaiden on the NES. There’s plenty of scope for old school fans and hardcore gamers alike as there are three difficulty modes to choose from. Aside from the Normal mode, there’s also Hard and Insane – the latter is the definition of insanity.
Still, don’t let my judgement put you off. If you’re a fan of Megaman, and old school run and gun action platformers, then this might be worth the look. If this sounds like your ideal game, you can pick it up on the eShop, or if your shelves need filling, you can pick up the physical edition from Pixelheart. More info on the separate news piece.
Tanuki Justice Switch Review Summary
Though far from a casual gamer, it was a little too challenging for me, and the rewards of playing weren’t enough for this to be something I could keep coming back to. Bear in mind that even if you can rise to the challenge, it’s a relatively short game and other than the difficulty, not much scope for repeat play unless you’re good at this sort of thing.