The Touhou Series, which is also known as Toho Project, or Project Shrine Maiden, or Touhou Project is a series of Bullet Hell Scrolling Shooters made by Team Shanghai Alice which is made by Japanese game maker ZUN, (meaning: graphics, music, and programming).
- PC-98 predecessor games
- Windows games
- External links
The Touhou Series began Highly Responsive to Prayers, which was developed by the group Amusement Makers for the Japanese NEC PC-9801 series of computers in 1996. The next four Touhou games released between August 1997 and December 1998 also were released on the NEC PC-9801. The Touhou Series was inactive for the next three and half years until 2002 with the release of The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, and was the first on Microsoft Windows for the series.
The player's bullet power increases on a linear scale as the player collects power-ups dropped by enemies, and eventually maxes out. The player can also collect 'point' icons to earn extra lives; the number needed grows exponentially as the player gains lives. The player can use 'focus', the shift key by default, which slows down the player's movement, makes the collision box visible and (generally; some characters are reversed) focuses the player's attack to make it more powerful. In Imperishable Night, this mode actually brings in the Phantom teammate. This function is essential for navigating through complex bullet patterns and defeating bosses more quickly. The graze counter tracks how many bullets entered the character sprite but avoided the collision box, and rewards the player with a score bonus for living on the edge.
The player can utilize a weapon called a 'spell card', the X key by default, which is similar to a 'bomb' in most other shooting games. While the player has a limited number, using one makes the user temporarily invulnerable and uses a special magical attack that generally clears the screen. Each character has two cards with different names and patterns. The player can use one during a short period after being hit by a bullet (known as the 'border between life and death') to avoid loss of a life. In Imperishable Night, this consumes two cards. Bosses also have spell cards, but with bosses the term applies to named attack sequences, giving the distinction of spells and non-spells within the context of boss fights, rather than merely attack sequences.
Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night have 'cherry' and 'time' points, respectively. Cherry points are used mostly in scoring, but can grant temporary invulnerability (known as 'supernatural border'.) Time points are essential to restoring the moon before morning arrives, and also determine if the player gets to challenge a boss's 'final spell' on normal or higher difficulties. Mountain of Faith uses 'faith' points, which help tabulate the score the player receives upon gathering point items and bonuses for clearing spell cards without dying or using a spell card. However, since Immaterial and Missing Power and Scarlet Weather Rhapsody are fighting games which are different from the shooters, they vary quite a bit in the gameplay.
The Touhou series of games started on the Japanese PC-9801 series of computers and its first five entries are native to that platform; standard PC users are only capable of playing them through an emulator. Also, the PC-9801 series of computers was already on the decline when these games were released. Because of this, they are not well known among players. The group making these games was called "Amusement Makers".
Highly Responsive to Prayers is first game of the Tōhō series. It is not a traditional shooter, and is similar to Arkanoid instead. Reimu Hakurei, the perpetual protagonist, was introduced in this game. The game was released in 1996. The story is nearly non-existent, with the vague plotline being given that Reimu's shrine was destroyed and she is traveling to seek out whoever destroyed it. At the end of stage 5, the player can choose to enter either Makai or Hell, each are with its own enemies.
Story of Eastern Wonderland is the second game in the series. Released in August 1997 at Comiket 52. This is the first danmaku game of the series, and also marks the first appearance of Marisa Kirisame (here as the second-to-last boss), the second major player character of the series. It was also the first of the series to introduce hallmarks of the series such as small hitboxes, a power-up system, an extra stage, and varying shot types. The story revolves around finding her shrine being swarmed by monsters, causing her to set out across Gensokyo to investigate. Eventually, she reaches the Dream World, a land between Gensokyo and our world.
Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dreamis the third game and was geared for two-player, Competitive Scrolling Shooters. Released in December 1997 in Comiket 53. The story is based Reimu finding mysterious ruins near her shrine. As only one person is allowed in the ruins at a time, she needs to come out victorious from seven others who wish to enter. Inside, the player finds Kitashirakawa Chiyuri and Okazaki Yumemi, who have come from the outside world in their Probability Space Hypervessel.
Lotus Land Story is the fourth game. Released in August 1998 in Comiket 54. This game introduces the focus mode, a staple of the series hereafter, that slows the sprite's movement to facilitate dodging bullets. The game is also the first to allow character selection, giving the player the option of Kirisame Marisa (who uses a narrow, high damage shot type) and Hakurei Reimu (who uses a wider shot type), as well as being the first to use a rank system (which was not continued past Mystic Square). They each go to a strange lake in the mountains, from which a strange power source is being omitted. Under the lake, they enter a portal and go into a strange dream world, in which they believe they may find the mansion Mugenkan.
Mystic Square is the fifth and last Tōhō game for the PC-98, released in December 1998 in Comiket 55. Mima and Yuka, final bosses of The Story of Eastern Wonderland and Lotus Land Story respectively, return as playable characters in this game. The story involves a massive amount of demons coming from a cave, through which the player enters, and goes through Makai, to the fortress Pandemonium, to fight Shinki.
After four years of inactivity, Touhou creator ZUN began to develop games for Windows instead, and left Amusement Makers to make his own group: the Team Shanghai Alice. The playability of the Windows games was substantially improved compared to their PC-98 counterparts. Most dōjin works derived from the Touhou series are centered on these games.
The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil is the sixth Touhou game and the first on Windows. It greatly exceeded the PC-98 games graphically and musically, and was the first game to gather a substantial Western fanbase. The story, told by conversations between characters during interludes in the action, goes as such: The land of Gensokyo; (setting of all the Touhou games) has been engulfed by a red mist, and its inhabitants no longer see the sun. As the miko Reimu Hakurei or the witch Marisa Kirisame, the player attempts to deal with the source of the mist, a mysterious figure called the Scarlet Devil.
Perfect Cherry Blossom is the seventh Touhou game. It is unusual among the recent releases in that the English and Japanese titles are not similar in meaning; its Japanese title could be rendered as Bewitching Dream. As the month turns to May, winter has lasted far longer than normal in Gensokyo, and the denizens begin to suspect foul play. As Reimu, Marisa or the new arrival Sakuya Izayoi, the player embarks on a search for those who are working to prevent spring's coming. Perfect Cherry Blossom continues the tradition of the Touhou games, the reappearance of former bosses as playable characters. Sakuya was the maid of vampire Remilia Scarlet, better known as the Scarlet Devil, and the player fought her several times in EoSD.
Imperishable Night is the eighth Touhou game. It was released at the Comiket 66 Convention in August 2004. This story's focus is on a rather more insidious evil than past games. Gensokyo's yearly event, the Moonviewing Feast, is only one dawn away, but someone seems to have replaced the moon with a fake that will not grow full. A team of human and phantom set out to remedy this before the night is over—the story says that the team the player selects is the only team heading out to investigate. This is true for most of the Touhou games; the only character heading for the final boss is the player-chosen one—exceptions to this are Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream and Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
Each of the usual playable characters gets a teammate from the non-human side of Gensokyo; in this entry. Reimu Hakurei allies with Yukari Yakumo, Youkai of the Boundary; Marisa Kirisame with Alice Margatroid, Seven-Colored Puppeteer; and Sakuya brings her mistress, Remilia Scarlet. The new team is half-ghost Youmu Konpaku and full-ghost Yuyuko Saigyouji, end-bosses of Perfect Cherry Blossom. All the other characters (except Remilia) appeared in Perfect Cherry Blossom as well. Each character can be played solo, if the game is cleared without continues on all teams. The other unique feature, which was not again implemented until Ten Desires, is the spell card practice feature, which allows players to replay spellcards they have unlocked.
Phantasmagoria of Flower View is the ninth Touhou game. It was released in August 2005 at the summer Comiket 68 convention. This game is a versus-type shooter like Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream, and has very different gameplay from the past three entries in the series. The story puts the characters in an investigation on why the flowers of Gensokyo are blooming out of season and more than usual. Initially playable characters include Reimu, Marisa and Sakuya as usual (as well as two other characters from previous games), but the list adds on as the player progresses in the storyline of each of the players.
Shoot the Bullet is the 9.5th game in the series. It was released at the Comiket 69 convention in December 2005. The game is meant to be the game version of the official fanbook, Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red. The player, as tengu reporter Aya Shameimaru, is tasked with taking pictures of bosses for her newspaper (Bunbunmaru) to clear successively more difficult stages. The game is unique in that the player has no standard shot or bombs; rather, the camera is the main method of offense and defense as it clears bullets from the screen. Scoring is based on the contents of each photo, boss location, number of bullets, and Aya's position. Notably, this is the only game in which Reimu Hakurei is not a playable character - in fact, she does not even appear as an enemy.
Mountain of Faith is the tenth Touhou game. It was announced in early May 2007, and a trial version was released at the Reitaisai 4 convention on May 20, 2007. The full game was released on the first day of Comiket 72, August 17, 2007. Reimu receives an order to close down the Hakurei Shrine, or it will be torn down and the god of Youkai Mountain will take it over. As either Reimu or Marisa, the player has to ascend to the top of Youkai Mountain to find the god behind the happenings and prevent the shrine from being taken over.
Subterranean Animism is the eleventh Touhou game. It was announced on May 1, 2008. A demo was released at the Reitaisai 5 convention alongside the full version of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody. The full version was released on August 16, 2008 at Comiket 74. A massive geyser erupts, sending earth spirits pouring out. Marisa and Reimu are sent to investigate, with the person who sent them and talks to them by various means throughout the game varying by shot type (Yukari, Suika, and Aya for Reimu, Alice, Patchiouli, and Nitori for Marisa). The player travels through the underground, eventually reaching Former Hell, where they find a Hell Raven attempted to use nuclear power to destroy the world, making this one of the most serious stories in the series.
Undefined Fantastic Object is the twelfth Touhou game.It was announced on February 26, 2009. A demo was released at the Reitaisai 6 convention on March 8, 2009, and the full version was released on August 15, 2009 at Comiket 76. Spring has come to Gensokyo and a magical flying ship that is said to bring good omen has appeared in the sky. The player assumes the role of either Reimu, Marisa, or Sanae Kotiya, who returns from Mountain of Faith, as the three girls race to board the vessel. While the separate bomb counter is back, the scoring system gets complemented by the "Undefined Fantastic Objects", or UFO's, that appear as traditional unidentified flying objects in three colors (green, red and blue) and must be collected in groups of three in order to get different bonuses.
Double Spoiler is the 12.5th Touhou game. It was released on March 14, 2010, at Reitaisai 7. It is another photography game, similar to Shoot the Bullet, with the differences beside the additional playable character Himekaidou Hatate (running the newspaper Kakashi Spirit News), being minor.
Great Fairy Wars is the 12.8th Touhou game. It was released August 14, 2010, at Comiket 78. It is unique in it's gameplay mechanics, in that the player plays as the popular ice fairy, Cirno, who can use her abilties (manipulation of freezing) to freeze almost all danmaku (the exception being fire bullets). She can also use a "perfect freeze" (bomb) to freeze all bullets on screen, including fire bullets. It also differs, in that there are only three stages, with branching paths, in which the player may choose which order they would like to play the stages in, as well as an extra stage, where the player fights Kirisame Marisa. The story is that Cirno's house being burned down, causing her to believe this is a declaration of war, and seeking out the three fairies of light (Sunny Milk, Luna Child, and Star Sapphire).
Ten Desires is the 13th Touhou game. A demo was released online in April 2011, and at Reitaisai 8, in May 2011. The full version was released at Comiket 80 on August 13th, 2011. Unlike previous games, for power ups, it uses "divine spirits", which are released upon boss downing, enemy killing, and on certain events. They are sorted into 4 colours, blue (increasing point item value and increasing trance gauge), grey (granting maximum points no matter where they are collected and filling the trance gauge more than blue), purple (adds one life piece), and green (adds one bomb piece). The trance gauge, is used for the activation of trance mode, which is entered by pressing C or losing a life when the gauge is filled to at least 1/3. In this mode, the player is invincible, blue and grey spirits are worth much more, and the player does increased damage. The story is that Divine Spirits have appeared in mass numbers, causing Reimu, Youmu, Sanae, and Marisa to investigate. At first they believe Yuyuko is responsible, however, this is proven false, as she points them to Myouren Temple. Here, they enter the Hall of Dreams' Great Mausoleum, where they realize the spirits have appeared to witness the resurrection of Toyasatomimi no Miko.
Double Dealing Character is the 14th Touhou game. It was announced on May 11, 2013. A demo was released on May 26, 2013, at Reitaisai 10. The full game was released on August 12, 2013, at Comiket 84. The gameplay returns to being very similar to Undefined Fantastic Object. There are three playable characters, Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya, who each have two shot types. The game, as well as Imperishable Night and Ten Desires, features spell practice mode, and unique to it, a stage only needs to be attempted rather than completed to be unlocked in practice mode. The story is that the player must stop a youkai rebellion by going into Shining Needle Castle, to stop the rebellion started by Shimnyoumaru Sukuna, who was manipulated by Kijin Seija.
Impossible Spell Card is the 14.3rd Touhou game. It was released at Reitaisai 11. Gameplay centers around individual spell cards, cast by previously fought bosses, that are nearly impossible beat without "cheat" items. The player must use these items in combination with a primary usable item and a secondary passive item, to finish each spellcard, though within hours of release it was proven to be possible without using a single item. The story is that after the events of Double Dealing Character, Seija had a massive bounty put upon her, which prompted a large amount of Gensokyo's residents to attempt to hunt her down and capture her for the bounty, using "impossible" spellcards to aid them.
- Touhou Wiki which goes more in Depth
- Team Shanghai Alice, the official site of the group.
- Twilight Frontier, creators of Immaterial and Missing Power (8.5), Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (10.5), and Hisoutensoku (12.5), the fighting games of the series