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Tanuki Justice Lets You Attain 'Justice' For Your Furry Friends

Tanuki Justice Nintendo Switch
Courtesy of Wonderboy Bobi

Tanuki Justice

Developer: Wonderboy Bobi
Publisher: VGNY Soft (US Physical), PixelHeart Studio
Release Date: March 26, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Unapologetically 80s

Earlier I’ve covered Battle Axe as a first look and Tanuki Justice, much like the former, is a heavily retro-inspired 2D action game. While the former was more poised towards “Making a Gauntlet style game with glitz and glam,” Tanuki Justice gives its players a barebones NES-era experience with very little in the way to impede. Following a very brief tutorial showing the controls of the game, the first level begins and the player guides their tanuki ninja through hordes of rival tanuki ninja, kappa, birds, samurai armor spirits, and bosses of all shapes and forms. 

The gameplay reminded me of Gunstar Heroes in that the player throws shuriken in 8 different directions, targeting enemies above and below. The tanuki can also double jump, which is a rare inclusion for games of this era but it is a much welcome one as players won’t have to second guess if they’ll make a jump, using the second jump to correct their landing. Of course, much like side-scrolling platforming games of this era, slipping off the edge usually results in death. The player can commit to a jump of faith as they fall, but often it’s not enough as many of my deaths were due to me sliding off. 

Curse These Dumb Tree Logs
Tanuki Justice - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Tanuki Justice Is Also Deceptively Cute

Honestly, the majority of my deaths were due to the enemies themselves, generally speaking. Each monster has its distinct attack pattern that is easy enough to recognize. The pink birds, for example, fire three of their quills before leaving the area. The tanuki ninja throws three shurikens at different angles and the samurai armor guys fire a beam at regular intervals. While there are more enemies than the ones mentioned, each enemy’s attack pattern must be memorized as the number of enemies can quickly overwhelm a player should they not pay attention to their surroundings. 

This makes each death feel less cheap than the previous as everything, including hazards, runs on a consistent cycle that, over time, players will subconsciously pick up and maneuver about. The inclusion of unlimited continues certainly helps matters, giving players a challenging experience, yet nothing to the point of losing it all and starting from the beginning of the game.

Super Shuriken Powerup
Tanuki Justice - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Tanuki Justice IS Incredibly Challenging

Aside from the double jump and shuriken throw, the player can occasionally come across various beneficial items including a bonus life, a shield that absorbs one attack, a power-up that increases the power, range, and width of the default shuriken, and energy orbs to fill up the super meter on the top left. Once filled, players can summon a large shuriken that takes up the entire screen, eviscerating crowds of enemies while also dealing major damage to bosses.

This mechanic also serves as a strategic advantage, as players will have to determine the best time to use the super attack. Once the bar is filled, any energy orbs or enemies killed will not add towards the meter, meaning that for every energy ball collected, your precious meter is being wasted for the next attack. While it may seem foolish to use such a trump card on lesser mobs, players are at an overabundance of powerups from crates and enemies to kill, which is enough to fill up the bar just as quickly as it is to expend it.

Tanuki Justice Direct Capture 2
Tanuki Justice - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

A Short But Spicy Ride

The game isn’t “hand-holding,” however as it’s pretty difficult, mainly due to the “one hit = one life” mechanic but also because you start with a limited number of lives. Once they are all gone, the player must start from the beginning of the level, forcing players to play conservatively. Players will also need to be mindful of their powerups and meter as losing a life will immediately lose not only their power-ups but their meter. If a player is in a pinch, sometimes it’s best to use their super attack rather than let it go to waste via a death.

There are over six levels in the game, making the experience on the short side, again harking back to the 8-bit days of the past. The music and art design capture that era well, yet the tightness of the controls feels modern compared to how unfair some games of that era could be. There is also a 2P mode where the second player can control the girl tanuki in the local co-op mode, which is also a nice touch. 

Tanuki Justice Nintendo Switch Capture
Tanuki Justice - Nintendo Switch Direct Capture

Overall, Tanuki Justice is a nice little throwback to the classic 2D side-scrolling era, yet isn’t completely unfair to the point when newer players are turned off from the madness. It’s a fun game to play in spurts, perfect for the Switch, and one that is easy to learn in the first five minutes but can be brutal to master, especially when going for the in-game trophies.

Tanuki Justice is available on the PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One

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