Touhou Project

May 10, 2007

Everyone loves scrolling shooters. If you don’t stop reading. Remember stuff like Gradius and Galaga? Well those are horizontal scrolling shooters. Not what I’m here to talk about. Maybe you’ve played Raiden? That’s a vertical scrolling shooter. Hopefully you know the difference between vertical and horizontal. Assuming you do, and that you like these types of games, I’m here to tell you about Touhou Project. Touhou Project falls under a genre aptly named “Bullethell”.

Originally Touhou Project was being created by a Japanese software group named Amusement Makers. They made several games on the Japanese PC98, which was hardly being used anymore. Eventually the games creator, ZUN, broke off from the group and made his own group, Team Shanghai Alice. They created the Touhou games most fans play and love.

I’ll cut it short, there are 7 games by Team Shanghai Alice right now. The ones I’m going to be telling you about are their vertical scrolling shooters. Their vertical shooters are: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Imperishable Night, Phantasmagoria of Flower View (A versus style vertical shooter), and Shoot the Bullet. For new players I recommend Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night.

The game is difficult. It’s not called bullethell for no reason. I’m not great at this so far, but I’ve been playing these types of games for a long time, however even playing Imperishable Night on the end of normal through hard takes a mindbending amount of concentration. The enemies in this game shoot dozens of barrages of magical bullets at you from every angle you can think of. If you’re not used to this game and you attempt anything but easy-normal at first then you will be hard pressed to do anything except dodge bullets. You won’t have time to see where you’re shooting.

An example of “Bullet Hell”

Each game has a slightly different playstyle, For instance, in Perfect Cherry Blossom there are three character options and two different shot options. However, in Impershiable night there are four different character options and each character choice includes two characters whom use different styled shots that you may switch between by using the “Slow” button, which slows your character down to make dodging easier. Just try them all and see what suits you best.

As much fun as playing the game is, its aesthetic value is what’s greatest about it. While maintaining a well coordinated pattern, the shots appearing on screen are more like artwork then game mechanics. It’s very much like watching an extremely well coordinated fireworks show, except the fireworks are trying to kick your ass. The music in most of the games is also wonderful, and if you don’t like it there are dozens of fanmade remixes and even bands that made alternate soundtracks for some of the games.

Also, if you’re looking for a story, look elsewhere. First of all, only the menus are translated to english. Second, I doubt the story would be any good regardless. But that shouldn’t throw you off. Games like this aren’t made for their story, they’re made for sheer asskicking mindnumbing bulletdodging beemspamming fun.

Rating: Kickass/5



  1. Those images are seriously mad xD I dont think I could actually play that game well xD I would totally die! But I am gonna download it and give it a shot especially for you 😀

  2. takes some getting used to, since i play ikaruga alot. also works with my 360 controller, which is win.

  3. I need to find the fucking IN soundtrack and it would be really sweet if I could find a translation of the PCB one so it doesn’t look like garbled shit. 😦

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