Introducing quite possibly one of the most recockulous series of games in history: in the left corner, the right corner, and pretty much the entire screen, we have the enemy projectiles of the Touhou Project games. These danmaku (or bullet hell/curtain) shooters feature traditional 2 dimension vertical-scrolling shoot ’em up gameplay, as well as the classic “bomb” screen clearing attacks.
There are currently 11 Touhou games, with a 12th scheduled for release this August. The first 5 were released for the PC98, and sadly I am rather uninterested in getting them to work for windows. However, there are emulators for those interested in playing them. Currently the one and only game from the series I have tried has been Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, and the bulk of the rest of this post will be a review for it. Developed by Team Shanghai Alice, whose sole member is a man known as ZUN, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was released in August of 2002 and was the first Touhou game released for Windows. Featuring 2 playable characters with different “story lines” and attacks, 6 stages, 4 difficulties, and an extra stage for those able to clear any difficulty above normal without continues, the game is anything but short. I, for one, am having trouble clearing even easy mode, let alone normal, hard, and lunatic. What’s more is how the extra stage alone is supposed to be more difficult than playing through the entire game in the hardest difficulty, which spells out a bleak future for one such as myself.
3rd Stage Boss on "Easy" Mode
Whenever you run into a boss, and sometimes a mid-boss, there will be a short dialect between the character you have chosen to play as and the opponent. Although half the time these conversations don’t really make sense, it adds an element of completion and self satisfaction knowing that you just kicked the crap out of someone after having a pleasantly random conversation that always ends up in them getting angry at you for rather pathetic reasons.
These speeches, coupled with the short prologue that comes in the game’s main folder, serve as the story for the game. It doesn’t necessarily make a perfect plot line, nor is it an award winning tale, but it gives the two playable characters a reason to go through the stages of the game.
Couldn't it be Kobe beef instead? >:
Although ZUN’s art style may not be as extravagant as others, it certainly gets the job done. Initially I was a little skeptical about the chubby-like drawn caricatures, but as time went on and I saw more and more of them, I began to like them as they were. Sure they may not be a top-of-the-line super famous manga artists drawings, but they flow nicely with the game and don’t seem too out of place. I’ll be seeing more of them in the future, I’ll bet.
Now ZUN here makes his own music as well, and I personally think it makes up for most (if not all) of the weaknesses the game could have in other areas. Each stage has an individually composed piece that fits extremely nicely with the setting, as well as a boss theme for that particular stage that matches nicely with either the bosses personality or appearance. After listening to all the music from the game time and time again, I eventually gave up trying to choose a song to upload for your enjoyment. However, worry not: Touhou music is quite popular, and there are mp3 streams and other ways for you to acquire or listen to it if you so desire.
Anyway, I think it’s about time to wrap up. All in all I would recommend this game to anyone with free time and those in search of a challenge, but not to those that get frustrated easily or those who are looking for an easy game to play. Although I’m not entirely sure how long it will take me to beat the game, I’ll make sure to post in celebration once I finally beat easy mode without continues.