skate fast eat trash
The year is 19-retro-x. You’re just a trash panda with a longboard, looking to roll wherever the road takes you. As cars and dumpsters whizz by, you pick up speed, collecting currency all along the way. Maybe later you’ll head over to Bob’s Board Shop where you’ll pick up some new boards, decks, wheels, and threads. Hitting the arcade doesn’t sound like such a bad idea either — but the ultimate goal is to be the first raccoon ever to finish the trail and be featured in FISH magazine. No matter how many times you spin off the track into the infinite beyond or the incessant calls from Mom trying to force you to wear a helmet, one thing’s for sure: life is good.
Such is Tanuki’s life in Tanuki Sunset, the chill retrowave longboarding game featuring an even chiller raccoon protagonist. Developed and self-published by Vancouver-based team Rewind Games, Tanuki Sunset has a vividly addictive aesthetic matched only by its absolute banger of a soundtrack. With relaxing gameplay and tons of tiny details that will make you smile on the inside, Tanuki Sunset is a soothing joyride with plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.
If games like SSX Tricky on the PS2 were your jam, you’re going to find a lot to love in Tanuki Sunset. It’s just you, your longboard, and the open road sprawling for what feels like an eternity, and it’s up to you to get from start to finish. Of course, this is easier said than done — this thin highway only has a lane or two at most with severe dropoffs on either side. The road isn’t straight either, its curvy corners painting elegant streaks across the sky. And, naturally, you have to share the pavement, with cars and even crabs staking a claim to your lane. Will you be the first raccoon in history to finish this twisty, treacherous trail?
Controls are smooth and simple — one of those things where it’s easy to learn, hard to master type situation. I would absolutely recommend a controller, as it’s a much more fluid experience when using the left control stick to control direction and speed with the right hand tapping buttons to drift and revert. Be forewarned that drifting might take some time to get used to — especially if these games aren’t your forte — but after two or three times of plummeting to your death you either get the hang of it or find a workaround; either way, there’s a solution forward.
In between trail runs, you’ll be hanging out in Bob’s Skate Shop, where you can buy hats, shirts, boards, wheels, and decks. You can also play arcade games and talk to your mom and friends over that iconic gray brick of a cellphone, but that just delays the inevitable — you fall, so you need to get back up again and skate. What’s nice about dying in Tanuki Sunset is that deaths aren’t dragged out, there isn’t any annoying sound/music signaling your failure, and a retry is only a click away. Although the checkpoints are few and far between so starting over means losing a lot of distance, it doesn’t feel like punishment, that calming feeling never interrupted enough to raise the blood pressure.
Although I wish Tanuki Sunset had maybe been a bit more forgiving in terms of checkpoints, I fell in love with just about everything else this delightful title had to offer. I loved the style of course, the aesthetics feeling that specific early 90s Los Angeles vibe in their retrowave passion. But I also loved all the little details, like the way Tanuki walked around in the shop, breezing past perfectly positioned dumpsters that legitimately looked interesting, the sun that moves to the beat of the pleasantly upbeat retrowave tracks, or Mom’s suffocating personality leading me to wear a helmet or have a board with “I <3 Mom” on it. Tanuki Sunset may be somewhat of a repetitive exercise in failure, but hey — I’m already trash anyway. At least I’m having fun being at the bottom of the barrel.
If you want to kick back and relax to a chill retrowave game where the journey is more important than the destination, you simply must pick up Tanuki Sunset. Longboarding has never looked so good, and with so many photo-finish opportunities, I’m pretty positive you’ll agree. So skate fast, eat trash, and enjoy this radical ride on this eye-candy trail of synthwave symphonies.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Rewind Games; Developer: Rewind Games; Players: 1; Released: December 4, 2020; MSRP: $14.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Tanuki Sunset provided by the publisher.