Tanuki Justice, published by PixelHeart (physical) and NoGravityGames (digital) and developed by Wonderboy Bobi, has run-and-gun Contra style gameplay with charming 8-bit visuals. It also has that old school challenge that demands practice in order to complete each stage. Although difficult, it is still beatable with some persistence. The tanukis are also pretty darn cute.
With basically no story outside of the brief opening cutscene, the focus is placed firmly on the retro gameplay. Like Contra, it might only take a minute or two to complete each stage but reaching the end takes skill and memorization. The Tanuki can shoot small projectiles but occasional enemies and boxes will drop a power-up icon which increases the size and range of each shot. Killing each enemy also provides incentive to increase score on the local leaderboards but it also causes the power meter to grow. Once fully charged, a giant shuriken will cause major damage to any enemy within range including bosses. Speaking of bosses, each level is capped by a boss battle that usually tests the reflexes of the player. Some are large and some are the same size as the player so the variety is nicely implemented and welcomed.
Unless you find the rare shield item, it is one hit one death. Once all lives are spent, the player will need to restart at the beginning of the stage. There are unlimited continues and the brevity of each stage makes this an easier pill to swallow. However, some of the later stages incorporate tricky platforming that is much more tasking than shooting all the bad guys and not even playing co-op can help. Always difficult but it can be bested with enough practice and tenacity even though there are some cheap platforming and enemy placements.
Tanuki Justice is a short but enjoyable new retro action platformer. Replay value comes in the form of high challenge as even the best players will need to replay each stage multiple times before it is mastered. It isn’t the best new retro platformer to hit digital marketplaces but it is a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Plus it has tanukis. We don’t have enough tanukis in our gaming lives these days.