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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Touhou Makukasai ~ Fantastic Danmaku Festival


Just four posts ago I played the sequel to today’s title and was absolutely bowled away by it. Afterwards, I rushed out and bought the first title in this series and, with a little bit of cheating and luck manipulation, expedited its turn in the backlog list.

So, why did I start with Part 2? FDF is a series that reimagines the earlier touhou games into a more modern perspective- HD textures and sprites, more involved danmaku, and so on. Part 2 is a reimagining of Touhou 7, my personal favourite, and I’d rather try out a fave than a remake of one I’m less fond of.

It’s a decision I’m glad I made, since much of what amazed me about Part 2 is absent from Part 1. It’s perhaps unfair to compare the first effort of a group of fans to their second, especially since Part 1 is still a fine game; but where Part 2 was one amazing thing after another, the surprises of Part 1 are far more spread apart. Part 2 had sublime art direction, excellent attention to detail (it’s the little things- the spellcard declarations in FDF2 are a treat), and unique exciting danmaku patterns, showcasing unexpected ideas and tricks that set each battle apart.

Part 1 doesn’t really have any of that. It’s a good danmaku game, but it doesn’t really get past Good. There’s definite flashes of brilliance but it feels like a warmup for Part 2.

Fin or Bin:

I got a 1cc on my first try, during the stream, which then unlocked Extra. I dipped my toes into that, but hoo boy that’s a difficulty spike. I never managed to beat Flandre in the original Touhou 6, I wonder if I can Finish her off in the remake?

Video coming up just as soon as I can get it to export in a watchable fashion! It always comes out too choppy to watch, which in a touhou video is motion sickness city. EDIT: Here!


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Touhou Makuka Sai ~ Fantastic Danmaku Festival Part II

The title is a mouthful- it wouldn’t be Touhou if it wasn’t.

As anyone who has known me for longer than ten minutes is aware, I am a stalwart and dedicated fan of the Touhou series. I’ve played ‘em all, even the really weird first one which was kind of like a breakout clone but with bullets and you go to Hell. Anyway-

FDF is a fan-made reimagining of sorts for the older titles in the series. The story goes that the particular incidents in those games (in this case, Touhou 7) are happening again in the current time, and our protagonist of choice is mighty peeved about having to do it all over again.

What follows is largely a beat for beat rehash of the story, with some alterations here and there in order to make sense (for example, Youmu is a playable character in this one, where in the original she was the boss of Stage 5- so FDF Stage 5 has someone else filling that role).

Alright, enough setting the stage-

This game is freaken gorgeous.

Holy dooley, they took what is probably my favourite story of the Touhou series and gave it a whole new fresh coat of paint. It’s not just the art itself, but what ZeroPunctuation refers to as ‘juiciness’- the attention to detail in the backgrounds, the way each character has a slightly different spellcard declaration, Yuyuko dancing with her fans- danmaku games are not the kind of game you can usually spend a long time sightseeing in, but even if it costs you a hit, you gotta look around in this one.

The danmaku itself is also inspired, perhaps even moreso than the original Perfect Cherry Blossom. ZUN’s become a lot more experimental since 2004, and FDF takes that experimental spirit and runs with it, teaching an old dog new tricks.

Fin or Bin:

Speaking from an entirely self-centred fan standpoint- they took one of my favourite stories, added one of my favourite characters to it (Sanae!), made it beautiful, and still managed to make it fun. It’s a Fin! Lily White is a full-fledged boss now! Fin Fin!!!


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Touhou 17: Wily Beast and Weakest Creature

I don’t like to spend too long talking about new Touhou releases- the primary point of this blog is to sort my backlog based on games I want to play, and there’s really no question which pile each new Touhou will go into.

Touhou 17 is the 28th game in the series (29th if you count Gold Rush), a fact which puts Kingdom Hearts to shame. This time, animal spirits from Hell are rushing into the living world to force a takeover, so our heroine of choice throws herself head-first into the bowels of Hell to give them all a right proper spanking.

I went with Marisa this time! I always play Reimu first so wanted a change of pace. The explosions from Marisa’s missiles make it impossible to see anything, but who cares about dodging when you can just out-gun everyone?

Each main-series title has its particular Quirk, and Th17 combines the UFO-collecting of Th12 with the temporary spirit-world protection of Th13. As far as Quirks go, I rate it Fine/10- there’s not as much value to it as the UFOs (life pieces aren’t tied to collecting certain UFOs over others).

Fin or Bin:

1CC on my first try, now tackling Extra. Otter Beast seems to be the way to go, but I worry they’re probably too slow to be of much help in Extra. I’m just about good enough to Finish the Extra stage in each game, so off I go!

(On Steam as of Sept 9th)

Touhou 16.5- Violet Detector


The latest installment of the series was released at this week’s Comiket event, and it’s another .5 game in the vein of Shoot The Bullet. Sumireko is having some kinda fever dream where she’s combatting the residents of Gensokyo while trying to take selfies featuring the bullet patterns coming her way.

Unlike the previous photography games, you actually have to beat the spellcards in the same way as any of the mainline titles- shoot down the opponent. It’s kind of a weird, not-quite-fully-baked mishmash of the two where taking photos doesn’t really matter, so it’s kind of questionable why it’s there in the first place. Taking a photo with the boss visible in the frame will do a little chunk of extra damage to them, but good luck getting close enough to actually pull that off more than once per battle.

Sumireko has another trick up her sleeve, the ability to teleport a short distance. While on paper this could open up some really cool spellcard ideas (like featured in the absolutely superb Th14.3 Impossible Spellcard), the controls to activate the teleport are so finicky and imprecise that it’s almost useless. Having to double-tap shift, which you’ll likely already be pressing in order to Focus, and then pick a direction, in a game requiring frame-perfect reactions, is baffling. Why not just map it to C and teleport the direction you’re already moving??? Troubles are compacted further when the teleport sometimes simply refuses to acknowledge the direction you’ve chosen, and Sumireko just blankly stares down the incoming barrage.

Fin or Bin:

I am a huge, huge megafan of the Touhou series, and have been for almost ten years. I don’t think I’m enjoying this one very much, but it’s a Touhou game, and I’ll be Finishing it regardless.

Recommended to:

If you’re an established fan of the series, play one of the other photo games before this one to get a feel for them done properly, then try this one. New fans should absolutely not start here.