A shrine maiden, a monk, and a saint enter a bar…
Good day, readers, the Inverseman here reporting on the next upcoming Touhou Project game, Touhou 13.5 Shinkirou – Hopeless Masquerade a spin-off fighting game project between ZUN and Twilight Frontier. Having gotten ahold of the demo, let’s see what’s in-store for us!
ZUN has been setting us up for a while. The past two mainline games had introduced the Buddhist and Taoist factions to Gensokyo led by Byakuren and Miko respectively and with Reimu leading the Shinto faction it’s a three-way crusade to win the affections and following of the people of Gensokyo? How you may ask? By having an all-out battle for people’s viewing pleasure.
The first thing you will notice is that the matches are all aerial dogfights as part of a brand new game engine. You can ascend and descend but you snap right back to a “middle lane”. This can make control a little stiff and floaty at first, but once you visualize an upper, middle, and lower lane it makes sense. The fundamentals of Grazing and proper blocking are still there. To attack you have four buttons once again. Light and Heavy strengths of melee and bullet attack types. Instead of quarter/half circle motions, specials are performed by pressing two buttons of the same attack type and a direction similar to Smash Bros.
Now the specials and supers are very interesting. We no longer have the deck-system which I wasn’t too fond of, but instead before battle you can customize by assigning your specials to one of eight slots, four for each combination press for the four directions. Which direction you assign the specials alters their properties. For example, the trajectory of Marisa’s exploding flasks changes depending on direction, which lets you assign the same attack to multiple slots if you wish. Personally, I think this is much more thoughtful than the leveling up and random drawing of your Skill Cards, which you had to collect in a tedious process. To better specialize, each character also has a unique mechanic like Ichirin’s Rage Meter and Reimu’s teleporting.
To perform a super Spell Card attack, you need to perform well in combat which will gradually turn your health bar blue. Then you can declare just like in Immaterial and Missing Power and execute your attack. But to perform the very stylish Last Word supers, you need Popularity, which is like Tension Pulse and Negative Penalty in Guilty Gear . If you don’t attack, turtle too much, or just simply hand over yourself to the opponent for an extended period of time, you’ll lose Popularity points. Meanwhile fighting well increases your Popularity. If you hit -100% Popularity, you’ll incur penalties and if you’re at +100% you’ll get many bonuses and the opportunity to perform a Last Word. Lastly, if the match goes to time, higher Popularity will win the round instead of higher health.
The mechanics are all fine and dandy but the real draw is the characters, and you’ll notice in the background of the battlefields other series characters like Sakuya and Yukari, which poses a rather interesting question. How many older characters will be playable? Have many old favorites been relegated to the background? The series does have a dizzying number of characters, so it’s a possibility to let newer girls shine. As much as I hope not, I think it’s too early to say.
Music is spot-on and the visuals are a treat. This is the first game to be in 1280 x 720 resolution with all new art for the characters. There are even intros and victory poses too! That said, while the game is still odd to handle at this stage, I can’t wait for the final release. With easy specials, complex customization with a low barrier of entry, and a whole lot of style, I anticipate the “CONFIRMED FOR HOPELESS MASQUERADE” threads to start up. Join me next time when I take Yuyuko on a trip to White Castle.
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