How To: Play Touhou Games

How To: Play Touhou Games
Saturday — December 12th, 2009

I remember the first time I saw a Touhou game in action.  It was at Waterloo, after classes, when one of my friends was playing Imperishable Night.  There was a dense pattern of bullets on the screen, and the player character was at the bottom weaving around them.  I asked if this was the final boss or something, and I was told it was the first level.

The Touhou series is made by Team Shanghai Alice, which is a one-man team who does the programming, music, art, writing, etc. It’s one of those curtain-fire/bullet hell/wtfomgbbq shooting games where the the screen is filled with enemy bullets and centres around epic end-level boss fights. The games have quirky names like Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Perfect Cherry Blossom. The characters are all girls based on a mishmash of every fantasy setting (but mostly Japanese).

The Touhou fandom is surprisingly deep given the scarce amount of source material. There’s a brazillion fan pictures of the characters. It’s spawned tons of doujin manga and a couple of doujin anime (one of which has decent production values and professional voice actors). People remix the music and release dozens of albums. There are a few annual Touhou-specific conventions. There’s a write-up on Cracked which I think is pretty accurate:

Anyways, I beat the Extra stage for Mountain of Faith this week. It was a good day.

– Alex

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