2023年 6月 25日
Indie Tsushin 2023 June-July issueThis article was featured in our 2023 June-July issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.
TANITANI WIZARD title screen

Long before we started working on Indie Tsushin, we participated in the 2021 GMTK Game Jam with the theme "Joined Together." We had a ton of fun playing through all the other submissions, and some of our very first livestreams were of games from that jam.

One title that stood out to us was MOON HAMMER by SparkWing. In it, the player can adjust the Earth's gravitational pull and its distance from the moon orbiting around it. The goal was to protect the Earth from incoming meteors by smashing into them with the moon. The rules were simple and the controls were immediately understandable, but the levels were challenging and tense. It was a new and interesting way of making a sort of reverse shooting game. MOON HAMMER was our first encounter with SparkWing's out-of-the-box and free-spirited game design. Their titles contain a lot of the creativity that indie games bring to the table.

Player fighting the first boss, a rogue sending out a spray of bullets.

Clashing with the first boss!

Another game of theirs that I enjoyed was the more recent TANITANI WIZARD. This is also a bullet hell shooting game with some fun twists. Instead of the usual spaceship, players control a wizard blasting their way through a fantasy world. The 8-bit pixel art is bright and retro, immediately transporting me back to my memories of playing King's Knight on the Famicom. It is obvious to anyone playing this that the creator has a deep love of retro games. TANITANI WIZARD could have stopped at being a typical vertical shmup, but instead it builds on the formula in some interesting ways.

Player on a sandy beach, has to make a choice between going left or right. Water monsters are spitting bullets at the player.

Which way should I go?

Because the wizard is not flying but instead auto-running through the levels, players need to be aware of obstacles and paths. If you encounter a fork in the road, do you cross the bridge and grab a bunch of power-ups? Or do you go the long way and avoid the horde of enemies? Obstacles play out like RPG encounters that you need to decide on the spot, leading to some fun risk-reward decisions on top of the classic shmup gameplay.

Player with a party of four tanishi snails behind them, shooting their way through a village.

Are you the bad guy?! Destroy everything in this peaceful village, I guess!!

The real star of TANITANI WIZARD is, of course, the tanishi, a kind of freshwater snail with a spiral shell. Here, they function as companions who shoot out slime to slow down enemy bullets. Like any good bullet hell, the bosses in this game send out huge screen-filling arrays of attacks with impossibly narrow margins to avoid getting hit. This is the huge bottleneck for many shmup beginners, who immediately give up or turn down the difficulty the first time they see this. However, the tanishi in this game help even the odds. Although they don't outright kill enemies for you, their bullet-slowing shots help create paths through the hailstorm and let you dodge much more easily. Gathering up a whole squad of tanishi is not only useful, but it is also adorable seeing your train of little snail buddies tagging along after you.

Player fighting against an armed castle with rows of soldiers standing on the walls shooting at the player.

Storm the castle!

Bullet hells are notoriously difficult, and it's usually impossible for beginners like us to see the ending. But in this game, even if you get a game over, you can simply restart the level without losing any of the power-ups you have gathered. I always appreciate it when a game accommodates players at different skill levels and lets everyone enjoy the game the way they like best. Whether you are a high-level player blasting your way through on a single life, or a newbie like us who requires dozens of tries and a small army of tanishi, you can roleplay as your own character in TANITANI WIZARD.

Player defeating the final boss, the king. Coins erupt all around the room.


I highly recommend playing not just this game, but the rest of SparkWing's library on itch. They have dabbled in a wide range of game genres, and their titles all have some interesting twist that adds a lot of personality and charm. You will surely discover something new that will surprise you.

Play TANITANI WIZARD in your browser on itch. Follow SparkWing on Twitter @sparklewing925 and find more of their work on their itch profile and Scrapbox. And you can watch us play TANITANI WIZARD on stream!