That’s right folks – review.
I’m a games journalist now, with this post.
And the first entry on my sudden career shift?
Touhou – 東方靈異伝 ～ The Highly Responsive to Prayers.
Touhou 1 – Highly Responsive to Prayers is the first Touhou game.
It was released in 1997 by ZUN, on the PC-98 (I don’t know what this is either). I played the game on a PC-98 emulator, as the first 5 games were made on the PC-98 I believe.
While the other Touhou games are all bullet hell games, this one is a little different. You run along the ground and use a ball that bounces around to clear tiles in order to pass stages, and then you use the ball once again to fight bosses. There’s a bullet hell element to it, especially with the bosses, but you can only move left and right. You can deflect most bullets with your sword though.
That Damn Ball
I’m not complaining, but man, damn that ball! You’d think that the actual bullets would end up killing you the most, but you’d be wrong – so many times I died to the ball itself! It was supposed to be my only ally, helping me defeat my enemies. But the ball doesn’t distinguish between friend and foe, the ball cares not.
If you hadn’t figured it out, the ball can damage you. And because of gravity, the ball tends to find it’s way towards the ground very often. If you leave it alone for too long, it’ll end up just rolling along the ground, out for your blood.
As long as you keep hitting the ball with your sword, or sliding into it, or throwing seals at it, you’ll be alright. If the screen is clear of bullets, there’s usually no problem.
The problem arises when there are bullets on the screen, because right when your focused on dodging the bullets, the ball will come out of nowhere to take you out. Now, I’m a games journalist now, so I can admit that I dropped the ball when it comes to my peripherals in this one. When I play a bullet hell game and things get intense, my face is inches from the screen, in deep concentration. The ball adds a real chaos element to that.
I’ll be honest here, the in-between stages where you have to hit all the tiles on screen with the ball were a bit boring. There’s a timer on the stages, and if you don’t clear them in time, then bullets start raining down. Nothing too intense though. So I wasn’t the biggest fan of these parts.
But the bosses were a lot of fun. As you’d expect, there’s a good learning curve to each boss and their moveset, how to dodge the attacks, their movements (to a degree), and things like this. It was fun to try a boss over and over until I finally got it.
There are two main elements that add a lot of randomness to the game.
First is the ball and it’s bounces, because unless you’re some sort of genius that can anticipate exactly where the ball is going to end up after certain attacks and how it’ll bounce from there, you’re probably going to have no clue where it’ll end up.
You can sort of set up reliable attacks where you hit the ball from a certain angle, and you can expect it to go in the same general area. But many times, it might end up going a little short of where you wanted it to go, or it might go too high, or whatever. The power of your attacks on it vary depending on the angle and it’s hard to get precise with it, especially while dodging bullets.
Second random element is the bosses themselves. Some bosses have a fixed position, and their vulnerable spot changes as you damage them, but most teleport around the screen randomly after performing an attack. This makes sense, so you can’t abuse the game and just blitz them down with the ball. But it adds randomness, because sometimes the boss will teleport right into the ball multiple times, and sometimes it’ll manage to pull off some serious dodges by teleporting away.
Also, the higher the boss is located on the screen, the harder it is to hit because of gravity. After it’s first bounce the ball is not going to hit anything near the top of the screen, so you can’t just focus on dodging bullets and assume the ball will do some damage as it bounces around. Whereas when the boss teleports lower to the ground, as long as the ball has some momentum you can rely on it to get some hits in.
I feel like giving a rating makes no sense here, seeing as I have absolutely nothing to compare this game to, and very little bullet hell experience in general.
Overall, I thought this game was pretty fun to just play on my laptop here and there. Thanks to the emulator used to run the game, you can use savestates and save files to ensure you don’t have to start the entire game over again every time you open it up. Savestates also help with certain bosses that have a long intro animation.
I enjoyed the game. For what it is, it’s quite challenging. And even though it feels random at times, it’s still fun learning boss attack patterns and trying over and over. The most frustrating part is the ball, but at times the ball can be satisfying too.
Oh, and of course, the music was quite good. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Touhou game. I’d give my favourite but I wasn’t too focused on it, I’ll probably wait until Touhou 6 to start mentioning my favourite tracks from the games.
That’s all I have to say about this one!
More Touhou game reviews to come, no guarantees when though.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading!