Touhou 18 – Unconnected Marketeers (Trial Version)

I suppose talking about a demo version for a game we all know I’m going to play to death is missing the point, but please be patient with me as I talk about the newest installment of my greatest love.

I am very, very excited for this one. Th17 wasn’t a particularly strong showing, in my opinion, mostly due to the animal spirit mechanic (which I know is bold of me to say given Th12 is my favouite), but there are no bad Touhou games and a new entry in the series is always cause for celebration.

Seems like ZUN’s been playing Slay The Spire recently, as the gimmick this time around is powerup cards you buy between levels from a randomly chosen selection. From extra shot-types to passive buffs, there’s a surprising amount of variety considering this is a shooter, and each is based on a character from the series. Finally, by equipping Sanae with Byakuren’s scroll and Yukari’s border, I can rep all my faves! Just need the full version to have a Spring Is Here card and I’ll be set.

Just about everything in this game feels great, some of ZUN’s best work. The music is, as always, wonderful; even the title screen music made it to my playlist this time, and there’s a surprisingly upbeat, warm song that plays during Stage 3 which is an absolute joy to listen to. Contrasted against Sannyo’s dark, seedy theme, there’s already a real showcase of ZUN’s range on display.

There’s new girls too, each with a signature style of danmaku to run into constantly dodge heroically; the enemy spellcards are super fun and feel completely fresh, an impressive feat given we’re 18 games into the series and new ideas must be running thin.

Fin or Bin:

Every Touhou game is a Fin, but this one feels like a Fin+. The cards mechanic is easy enough to ignore if you just want a pure danmaku game, unlike the gimmicks in previous titles, but each one provides a decent enough buff that it’s also a good title for newcomers to the series to sharpen their teeth on. I’ll doubtlessly be posting another entry for the full version when it comes out (in May!!!!! That’s so soon!!!! Aaaaa!!!!!!!), but for now- very impressed. Touhou 18 stands a chance of becoming a top-tier title.

(Steam (storepage for full version- link to demo is included))

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses


My in-game clock says I’ve been playing this for 60 hours. I know I’m really stretching the definition and purpose of this blog here, but I still have to write something.

Fire Emblem is a trap I’ve fallen into before, starting with Blazing Sword back in 2006. Compared to 3H, that’s a far, far simpler experience, and I remember watching the Three Houses announcement with some trepidation that the series was becoming a little too complicated, with the addition of Gambits and Batallions and- of course- the whole Professor thing.

But alas, I couldn’t stay away forever; the siren song of grid-based tactics in combination with a cast of characters to fall in love with will always snare me eventually. So my home is in ruin, my sleeping pattern can’t even be called a ‘schedule’ any more, I eat cheeseits for dinner to save cooking time, and I’ve just adopted 8-10 kids whose lives are literally in my hands.

It’s the permadeath mechanic which draws me into Fire Emblem, controversial though I can understand it to be. Other tactics games fail to draw me in anywhere near as hard as FE does simply because I don’t really care if Infantry Unit A dies, but you can bet I’ll be resetting 5 hours of gameplay if Bernie takes a crit.

Three Houses goes in hard on the characters side of things, far moreso than the series ever has. Typically the three-or-so main characters get a story arc, with the supporting cast being relegated to… well, Support conversations. It makes sense, since there’s no way for the writers to know who is still alive at a given point in the game, but the fact they did it anyway for Three Houses really strengthens the emotional attachment. No longer are they 30-odd disparate mercenaries, but a cohesive band of friends and soldiers-in-arms who each have a stake in the world and a history to speak of (or be ashamed of).

Addictive though the battling is, it almost takes a backseat to the schooling aspect; teaching Petra how to cast magic, catching a fish for Flayn’s dinner, and inviting Ferdinand to tea are not just background minigames but an intrinsic part of the experience. I can definitely see why people would be turned off by this, especially series veterans who just want more of that sweet sweet TRPG goodness, but I for one love all of it.

Fin or Bin:

This was already answered in line one of the review, and I doubt anyone is still wondering what my verdict will be by now. With 60 hours of progress so far, I’m almost at the end of the first half of the game, with three other routes to follow once I’m done with this one. Probably not going to play them all back-to-back… but I’ll Finish it someday.

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