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Review for DS and StB.
Actual friggin' review->
I didn't think it was possible to find a Touhou game that was less pleasant than UFO, but wow, these two... things... are just atrocious.
I think I know why they're relatively awful, too. It's because they aren't actually Touhou games. .
What I mean by that they feel like things that were made to appease the fans. You get people complaining about the absence of certain characters ALL THE TIME, and it feels like this is the result of that. It's like ZUN wanted to shut them up, so he made games that he could just shove EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER into and still have the...*ahem* 'plotline' make a modicum of sense.
(The story of both games consists of nothing more than "HAI GAIZ, I AM TENGU, LET ME SEE UR PANTIES LOLOLOLOL" Although DS includes Hatate, which means that the plot of that one also includes "OMG, I EM TaNGU TOO. LETZ TAK3 PiX OF ERREONEY!!!1!!)
So, looking past the dumb premise, the game can be okay, right? I mean, Touhou is mostly a game centered around the 'experience' of playing it anyway, the music, the feel of the game, etc. So these could theoretically be at least passable., maybe even great.
But they aren't.
Let's run through this, shall we?
Playing these games feels like riding a winged dolphin, which is on crack, having a seizure, and covered in butter. It's awkward beyond belief. And don't give me that "Well, you just gotta get used to it," bullshit. Look at Fairy Wars. Fairy Wars had a gameplay style that made it similar to previous titles, but different enough to make it fun, exciting, and legitimately challenging.You got the hang of it right away, you knew what was going on, and it works perfectly for what it is. The control schemes for DS and StB, however, are just... awful. It feels like a fan-game or something. The film winding system slows down the gameplay, making you focus more on your percentage instead of dodging bullets (Which is kinda what danmakiu is about, just sayin').
Also, the hitboxes are the worst. I mean, it's like Aya's size sort of.... pulsates. Shrinking and growing without telling you. I dunno, it's weird. Personally, I think that, given what she is, Aya should control like Marisa, but with Reimu's tiny little hitbox. Instead, it's like I'm controlling a flying donkey with a camera attached to it's back.
Okay, Music, it's gotta be good, right? Well it is. The first few times you hear it, but you're gonna be hearing every song a WHOLE LOT. Very few feel memorable, and that's okay, but there should be at least be greater variety of songs, given how often one needs to repeat stages.
Completely random. You can tell me that there's skill to it all you want, but most of the time, the game will just give you whatever score it pleases for your photos. Unless you're good, like, capable-of-1CCing-every-game-on-Lunatic good, then you won't be able to make use of things like the Nice Shot bonus. The requirements of some of the bonuses are just plain dumb. (Color Shot? Are you kidding me?) And why the hell does the velocity of bullets affect the base score of the photo? Photos don't move.
EVERYONE. That's what the game's about, after all. Bringing every character (Aside from PC-98's lol. No one cares about that shit, and the ones that do only want Mima.) in so that you can make fans happy. Aside from Hatate, there are absolutely NO original characters in both StB and DS. I mean, you get to see Suika and Tenshi actually use danmaku, but that's not interesting enough to make up for it.
You don't even get any dialogue from these characters, just Aya's stupid comments on photos.
We could have learned more about Tengu culture, gotten a glimpse of Momiji's personality, seen some new characters, but instead we got this bit of useless fluff.
Lastly, you play as... Aya... yaaaaay... poorly executed character...yaaaay...
I don't know why there are two of these games, and I hope that there won't be anymore.
GFW proved that spinoffs can be inventive, fun and interesting enough to add more color to our knowledge of Gensokyo. Yet all the Aya games do is provide a fleeting bit of pleasure to people who think they're cool for liking obscure characters and complaining that they haven't returned.
In other words, these are for all the hipsters out there. Maybe I'd enjoy them more if I grow a neckbeard and wear a scarf while playing them.