Shoot ‘em up’s have been left at the side of the road, a relic of the arcade era with little entries into the series that defined a genre way back when. Games have come out that are shmups but are few and far between, and usually are not that great in quality or playability. However, a semi-resurgence has come back, with veteran developers such as cave re-releasing their games on console and on steam this year, bringing some new eyes to a once thought dead genre.
Though whilst arcade got a lot of shmups and some consoles received versions of those games, the PC were very limited in what was released. However, coming from Japan we have the Touhou series, a series that originally started out on console started to be released on PC, fan games and free releases came out over the years and slowly got a substantial fan base. From the music to the gameplay it was a shmup game, with anime girls flying around and shooting down each other.
Now we have Touhou Genso Rondo being released on consoles and PC, though this time, the gameplay is a little different. For starters, you no longer have levels where you fly around shooting down enemies flying towards you as you did in the previous games. It’s cut all that out and now it’s a 1v1 vs a boss, which wouldn’t be so bad as the boss fights are usually the most memorable from these sorts of games.
However, its more styled as a battle arena, as you and the boss circle around each other slowly, shooting and using different bullets to deal damage. The boss will go through different stages of health and perform bigger and more flashy attacks in an attempt to deal damage to you.
Now usually for your playable character, one hit and you’re done, however, you now have a health bar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, in most shmups, your hit box is usually a small circle in the centre of the character model. In older games, the centre of the character would be the hit box.
Hit box in Raiden
Now whilst that may seem a little easy, this is to justify the insane amount of bullets on the screen at once that you have to dodge, where if the hit box WAS the size of your model, it would be impossible.
1One of the many insane Tohou bosses
This is where the extra health comes in, it seems whoever was a lead developer on this Touhou game never got the memo about hitboxes, as the whole character is the hitbox, which if you are a fan of shmups makes this game really frustrating to play as you can’t get through some bosses without taking damage due to this oversight.
Then we get onto the movement, I get it, they wanted to try something new, but did no one test the movement and think it just felt clunky?
The movement is very slow, and it feels frustrating to move around, in most shmups, you have a limited movement space that is pre-defined, so you never feel like you HAVE to go any further, but here you can move freely, just slowly.
I think a patch could fix this, where the movement of the character is increased, and then it would feel great to play, but as it is right now the gameplay is just a tad too slow. But the hitboxes are another thing entirely.
Those who are fans of the previous series will be glad to see the roster of bosses fight AND play as are extensive and cover most of the previous series of games, including the music from previous games also.
As for the actual attacking, you have multiple attacks based on what face button you press, including a melee attack if you get close enough, dealing damage and pushing the boss back some distance. Some attacks are the standard attack, and some give you a small amount of help by destroying some projectiles. It’s all down to how you play, you have a limited amount of power to use your defence so you have to play with some strategy in mind.
Touhou Genso Rondo is a game that tries something new from a series that has not really changed since the late 80’s and that is something that should be applauded. However, some games should stick to their roots. This game reminds me of the Metal Slug 3D remake for PS2, the game wasn’t bad, but it was a disappointment to original fans. Touhou Genso Rondo is a good game in its own right, with some movement niggles, but when you compare it to the previous games in the series, it’s a bit of a let-down. Overall the game is a 7/10, it was fun to play, but a potential series mistake with the choice of series it has been entered into.