NOHK Talk: Touhou Project — What About the Games? —

Oh, hey! This is the NOHK Blog’s 1st collaboration post featuring P3r50n5_UnKnWn and Alkaeid! Incidentally, it’s also Alkaeid’s first post.

P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Well, at least he has one now. XD And it’ll be about one of his favorite topics, I could say. XD
Alkaeid: Indeed, indeed, but let’s just put that fact aside us. Anyway, we’ll be collab-writing about the Touhou Project~.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: And to make things a bit different from those I’ve seen around, we’ll go back to the most common elements of the said fandom. What could be simpler than talking about the elements that started it all? Enough about the fandom! Let’s talk about the game! XD

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Alkaeid: Yeah, the game.  So, as of this writing, there are 14 main games in the series.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: The latest one being released a year ago if I remember correctly, at C84.
Alkaeid: I do hope ZUN keeps making these games for a long time.  So, the Touhou Project games are classified as vertical “danmaku” shooting games.  That is to say, you, your character, and your screen are all subject to “bullet-hell”; hundreds to thousands of colorful bullets surround you while you try to avoid all of them, at the same time firing bullets of your own.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Sounds hard at first glance. But the only reason that there are hundreds and thousands of bullets shooting at you is because there is only one “you”. What the general description of this game failed to mention is that your character isn’t the whole image of the character. In hindsight, you’re just a little dot known as a “hitbox” trying to avoid those bullets while you along with your sprite (or the image of your character) shoot down those who oppose you. Storyline and character descriptions aside, this is the description of the series.3
Alkaeid: Yeah, don’t be afraid to try the game out.  Each game consists of 4 difficulty levels from “Easy” to “Lunatic.”  Obviously, enemies and patterns get harder and harder, but usually easy doesn’t go through all 6 levels.  Each game has its set of playable characters so you can easily find something or someone you’ll like.  Don’t let the fact that most of these screenshots are just of one character get to you.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Well, sorry. I just proved your point that one can easily find someone he likes. XD
Alkaeid: Indeed.  Let’s talk about the gameplay experience, shall we?
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Something I’ve been longing to talk to you about for some time now. I kinda feel like I don’t wanna brag around you anymore. You’ve gone through, what, two computer crashes and two file losses?
Alkaeid: I feel as if those two lines aren’t related to each other.  It hasn’t been too long of a problem for me though~.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: I meant that by you haven’t played for yay long, and when you got that chance, your system crashes and you lose your files. Hell, while you guys were out there grinding tanks at WoT or having fun with comms at WarThunder, all I got to do was PCB.
Alkaeid: Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Aren’t we straying a bit off-topic though?
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Guess you’re right. Anyway, to start off this topic, may I just emphasize how much is this game a pain in the eyes the first time around. XD This game is not recommended for those with epileptic seizures. It’s that game warning all over again. :O
Alkaeid: You’re scaring all the potential players!  Joking aside, he’s right.  Unless you just wanna pass the time playing easy which should be okay.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Play enough of times, and you should be used to it, I must say. Oh, before we forget,, the series showcases a special pattern somehow defining a character in the series, she be a midboss or boss. It’s the Spell Card. This special pattern is that moment of the game where the midboss or boss shows her talent and grace at danmaku with her own attack. This is shown by a change in background, a descending picture of the character at the right of the play area, and the appearance of the name of the Spell Card along with a bonus counting downwards. Drain the opponent’s life points down without getting hit or using a bomb which clears all bullets in the field (and saves you from losing a life) to get that bonus. And, out of all the Spell Cards on Normal at PCB, I’ve cleared them with Reimu’s Shot Type B~ Reimu be beast! XD
Alkaeid: I can’t believe I forgot to note that PCB, Perfect Cherry Blossom, is the 7th game in the series.  Anyway, readers do take note of Persons’ complete satisfaction in obliterating the game on Normal.  There’s a certain joy to completing these Spell Cards, and an even greater joy when you watch yourself do them, with the help of the neat replay system built in the game.  You can also just watch the sheer genius that is the beauty of the bullet patterns.  I don’t even know where one comes up with these kinds of things.4
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Oh, yeah. There’s an even greater joy when you actually beat your friends’ highscore before the span of him even completing the game. Well, I guess it’s just me, but, you get the picture. Alkaeid was in the fandom longer than I have, but I have to note his gaming is not, well… established. XD
Alkaeid: I would restate the thing about epilepsy again, but I don’t want to make excuses now. Just goes to show how, even if the game looks entirely impossible, retrying a several hundred, I mean, practice long enough, and you can brag about it to your friends.  A very effective manner of doing so, if you ask me.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Oh, I mentioned shot types a while back. Shot types for each character, well, affect how you damage your enemies. For instance, in PCB, my favorite playable character Reimu’s shot types vary between A and B. A is the homing type, while B is the piercing type. For balance, the homing does some low damage compared to the piercing, which requires real accuracy in order to do some damage. After starting with Reimu A, I got bored. It’s homing. It was too easy, but for the record, I didn’t finish the game with that shot type. I moved to Reimu B and, look at the difference! Though I have to aim more, the damage is significantly greater! I’d rather finish off the boss faster with this accuracy rather than graze randomly waiting for the life bar to go away. At that, boom. Reimu B. 360 Million+, and the first of the NOHK to clear PCB with Reimu B.
Alkaeid:  As for me, I blame my weakness due to my utter reliance on Marisa’s signature bomb, the Master Spark, which appears in nearly all games.  It completely decimates bosses, bullets, and especially those fairies.  While pros use it to earn insane amounts of score, I simply use it to progess, which in the long run, has definitely lowered my skill/capacity I would have had if there were no bombs.5
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Effects of such an epic Spell Card… That’s why I try not to use that shot type. In PCB, Marisa uses up lot of Cherry with just that bomb. Cherry Points are the special system only located in PCB. It gives a temporary shield at 50,000 and adds total Cherry x10 to score if you don’t use up the shield. Man, explanations are tough. Do we really need to do this? I thought we were just gonna talk about gameplay experience? XD
Alkaeid: I dunno.  Guess not?  But, to add to that, each game has it’s own quirk to its system, so the gameplay is never stale, in any sense, with each passing game.  I, for one, don’t really care about most of that stuff currently, since I have clearing the game to worry about.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: While I’m here, trying to clear PCB on Normal with the only remaining shot type of Marisa we’re so coincidentally talking about… T_T
Alkaeid: That’s because you just don’t want to use the Master Spark!  You’re practically disrespecting Marisa now.  That shot type of Marisa should be the easier one to clear with, really.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Though I did get as close as Stage 6 Boss’ Yuyuko-sama’s last Spell Card, a survival one in which you can’t damage her, and you have to simply survive to earn the bonus, without bombing, of course. I’ll give you that! XD Still, I blame her speed. I lost hope. oTL
Alkaeid: Taping down your shift key should work wonders.  I mean, what with getting used to Reimu, focused Marisa isn’t all that far behind, hahah.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: I need the points from unfocused grazing. :O6
Alkaeid: Then stop complaining about her speed!
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Fine! What I should be complaining about is that difficulty spike present in almost all of the editions of the series I’ve played. First time I played, I was incredibly pissed at how from the small amount of lives I had during the time I first played went from 4 lives to 1. Even until now! In PCB, I can easily max out my life reserves, only to be cut down at either Stage 4 or 5!
Alkaeid: I agree.  The joy of perfecting the first three stages of EoSD (6th game) only to be annihilated by Patchy…maybe that’s why I’m not so fond of her, gameplay-wise.  The fact that her Spell Cards differ from each type make her even more annoying.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: And that’s another thing that makes one game unique from the other. Gameplay isn’t stale once you reach far. If you shift types, and you expected the same thing, you’ll be in for a big surprise, and possibly give up because getting there is tough enough. Losing lives unnecessarily on Spell Cards you should have prepared for isn’t exactly someone’s cup of tea.
Alkaeid: Don’t you mean anyone’s.  I remember the first time I experienced that.  It was the complete opposite of déjà vu.  Even more props to ZUN for that kind of thing.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Well, at least it’s better than impossible spell cards, in my opinion. I’ve gotten only one miss at a Stage 4 at PCB once before. Back to impossible spell cards, in any Touhou danmaku game (because there are other genres of the Touhou series), there has to be that one Spell Card which average experts like me can’t clear. And if ZUN had to add Spell Cards not meant to be put in the story mode, they have to be damn hard to clear!! >_<
Alkaeid: Well, those kinds of cards do exist, don’t they~?  Still, if there are things that seem impossible, pros post crazy replays all the time, so you should learn a thing or two before deeming anything impossible~.7
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: Yes, and even if you don’t watch replays, there will always be that moment of “Ahh, the pattern goes this way! I should be able to clear it now!”, no matter the difficulty. It’s like this certain Last Spell card of Kaguya-hime from the 8th game, Imperishable Night.
Alkaeid: It’s like any other Spell Card, really~.  Anyway, I guess it’s time for us to finish this little talk of ours. The Touhou Project is truly an interesting game series, with it’s extremely large cast of (mostly female) characters, but before anyone gets into the fandom, they should really play the game first.  Hopefully this post of ours gets you into playing the game, fandom knowledge or no.
P3r50n5_UnKnWn: In case you do get the urge to play the game, little tips from me: 1. There are bullets where you can pass without dying, so check those bullets to avoid losing a life and probably your computer from your raging. 2. Try not to move around so much. Sometimes, you just gotta let the bullets pass by. 3. Anticipate. The danmaku shooters have only one set pattern per difficulty, only Stage 4 bosses differ. So, enough playing will allow you to memorize! Well, same here. I hope this post, though too technical, gets you curious about the game, the one that started the fandom. In case you’re wondering, my highest score in PCB is 620M+ on Extra. No one in the NOHK took the time to beat it. XD XD
Alkaeid: So I guess that’s it for this post. Thanks for taking the time to read through this, pretty long if I can say, post.  Well, this is Alkaeid and Persons, signing off.  See you next time~.
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