Touhou 3 – Phantasmgoria of Dim.Dream Review

Another Touhou game down, although this one was a little different!
Didn’t take too long to actually beat, but also didn’t feel like I really learned anything or improved so much as I got lucky.

A PvE / PvP Experience

So this game was different in that it was designed so that you face off against another player, which is either AI controlled, or an actual other player. Naturally, I played against the AI…

But because of this, the game was designed a little differently. Both players face the same enemies, and the enemies for the most part are simple enough to deal with. However, as you defeat enemies, you build up special, which you can then use to cause an attack to occur on your opponent’s screen. You can even summon a boss-like character to the opponent’s screen, which will attack them. The type of attack and boss both depend on which character you play as.

In theory, it’s a cool idea.
A player versus player bullet hell experience.

For single player you just fight each of the other characters.

True Bullet Hell

Truly, Touhou 3 fits the definition of bullet “hell”. It’s total chaos. Absolute cancer. The fact is that while rounds start out simple and slow enough, once specials build up, it get’s very crazy very fast. To the point where you will inevitably find yourself in situations where you CANNOT dodge, no matter what.

Unlike a standard Touhou game, or what I’d expect of one, where you learn boss patterns and if you play right, can always take no damage, that doesn’t feel like the case here. Nor should it be, because it’s player-vs-player. But it’s not really satisfying to end up facing a screen completely filled with bullets constantly. I’ll admit, it’s not like I’m good enough to beat most bosses in a regular game without taking damage anyways. But the theoretical possibility of being able to “no hit” a boss is nice.

The AI is also particularly good at keeping cool under pressure, as you’d expect. So many times I’d be facing down hell, while my opponent was just chilling with a mostly empty screen.

But there is a good reason for that…

Player Disadvantage

There’s one big disadvantage that I found myself in as a player, and that’s that my attack speed on all the characters I tried was absolutely brutal. See, normally you just hold the fire key and you fire a constant stream of bullets. However, in this game, holding the fire key charges up your special attack.

Mashing the fire key doesn’t work either. No matter what I tried, my fire rate was pathetic. Not even enough to properly deal with enemies on my screen, let alone a boss my opponent spawned on my screen.

And so my solution was to just ONLY use special attacks. You can always use them, but you have to charge them a certain amount to actually cause damage on your opponent’s screen. So if you just spam minimum-charge special attacks, you can sort of keep up with enemies. Problem is, you still have to wait 3s between each attack. If you get hit, you lose your charge and the screen is probably beyond saving, full of enemies and possibly a boss too.

Meanwhile, I glance over at my AI opponent, and they’re firing so fast that I can’t believe it. It must be at least 5 times faster than what I can manage, maybe more. Which means not only can they take care of spawning enemies with ease, but bosses are no problem for them too.

Overall, it was just a little frustrating to not be able to fire normally, and to see that my opponent was able to attack absurdly faster than I was.

Wrapping Up…

Touhou 3 is very chaotic and overall not the best experience. That said, there were still some moments where I was enjoying it all.

I feel like this format of game is really interesting and could work well. My two suggestions would be a larger screen for each player so that you have more time to react, and to fix the player’s fire rate.

With both of those, I feel like games would be less chaotic, more strategic, and you could get some really interesting situations where you want to hold and use your special attacks only at opportune moments, instead of just spamming them out whenever you can.

Great concept, not the best execution.
But considering the age of the game, I don’t blame it for any of this.
If it were made today, I think my feedback would hold more weight.

Anyways, here’s some more beautiful art that I got during the story that I wasn’t really following. Something about an alien ship and whatnot, I’m not sure if it’s the same for all characters or not though.

I played as Mima, a green-haired spirit girl who was also a boss in previous games, so this is from her story. Might be the same story for everyone though, I don’t know.

And that’s all for this review.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

Touhou

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