Well, this is quite the callback, isn’t it?

Back when I joined Respawning, I started off through Retro Reviews – Shuffle forwards a little bit, and I got my first game key; Touhou Gensou Rondo: Bullet Ballet, a pretty darn decent Bullet Hell-Fighter esque game, which started me off with my introduction into the world of Touhou –  Touhou Gensou Rondo holds some nostalgic feelings, and is what got me into Touhou afterall.

touhou genso bullet ballet screenshot 1

So if Gensou Rondo was what got me into this series…

…Then Touhou Double Focus would be the game to put me off the Touhou franchise.

Now, let me set the stage first – Starting off with the main characters of this title, you play as Aya Shameimaru, a reoccuring character within the Touhou series and resident Crow Tengu reporter for the Bunbunmaru Newspaper, who brings her bubbly, exciting and hyperactive personality to the game; Aya allows players to dash and hover in the air, and attack using air-waves, being the more agile of the two playable characters in the game – Alongside her is her companion, Momiji Inubashiri, a Wolf Tengu who reluctantly joins Aya, that specialises in ground-based mobility and short-ranged broadsword attacks, harbouring the ability to run up any straight surface in the game.

These two find themselves in a mystical world after Aya intentionally opens a book known as The Book King, which merges the Gensokyo and the Book World, with Aya wanting to profit off of the situation, and Momiji simply wanting to escape this fresh nightmare. Personally, I’m on Team Momiji! Other characters from all across the Touhou franchise re-appear from time to time, however they usually act as Bosses or NPCs.

This comes to my first gripe with the game – The way these characters manoeuvre and battle is jankey, rugged, and mediocre at best; hardly anything when related to other smaller Metroidvania titles, like Dust: An Elysian Tale, Shantae, or Guacamelee, or even other smaller Touhou Metroidvania fan games, such as the stellar Koumajou Densetsu Scarlet Symphony and Koumajou Densetsu II Stranger’s Requiem games. Enemies are annoying to hit, deal a lot of damage, platforming is a pain and simply moving around is a chore and a pain to get right.

The art style too, being entirely Chibi-oriented, comes with some issues too – Animations are basic, static and simple at best, with only the attack effects really having any charm to them; given this, if this IS a fan game simply translated (Which it appears to be), then it is rather impressive all things given, and is certainly beyond what I could do myself. However…The fact that NIS is charging £15.00 for this…A standard, slightly better than average Flash game is…

…Well it’s honestly disgusting. Touhou Double Focus gets a 4/10.

Now, onto the second game in this lovely package – Touhou Gensou Wanderer, a dungeon-crawling, Mystery Dungeon styled game that is heavily, HEAVILY inspired by Etrian Mystery Dungeon and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – The game sets you up as Reimi, arguably one of the most recognisable Touhou characters next to Remilia Scarlet, who is searching for her friend and local shopkeep, Rinnosuke, after he is possessed and cursed by a mystical, golden orb…Cast from the shop, and teleported far away, Reimi sets off on her quest to save Rinnosuke, investigate the Golden Orb, and of course, go on a massive and exciting journey!

Now, I’m not going to lie to you here. Touhou Gensou Wanderer certainly doesn’t save Double Focus. Not at all – If anything, Touhou Gensou Wanderer is more-so the lovely, adorable cherry ontop of the giant pile of crap that is Double Focus; not good when paired together, but when looked at separately, is worthy of at least some attention.

Touhou Gensou Wanderer is a Mystery Dungeon game, through and through, with only one or two minor additions to the genre, which makes it hard to review on the basis of it’s own merits – It’s very much just “Explore a randomly generated dungeon, find treasure, and climb floor numbers”; what it does differently to other Mystery Dungeon games, however is within it’s use of different items, weapons, and the Danmaku System – Early on, players can use the Danmaku System to fire a variety of projectiles at an enemy with varying properties – This ranges from a semi-protective Area Of Effect barrier Danmaku, a piercing Danmaku, triple-shot or semi-rapid-fire Danmaku – This makes tactical planning a lot more critical, especially since enemies are harder than in standard Mystery Dungeon games.

The weapon and armour system too is more in-depth than similar Mystery Dungeon titles, whereas in games like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, you cannot equip any weapons or armour, however in Touhou Gensou Wanderer, you can equip up to two weapons (One in each hand), and two pieces of armour, all of which can be levelled up and beefed up alongside your own level – It’s a nice addition that, admittedly, I’d love to see in more Mystery Dungeon games.

However, I have to unfortunatley inform you that this is where the benefits and positive of Tohou Gensou Wanderer end. The game itself is surprisingly cookie-cutter – Enemy designs and overall tone is chibi-fied, samey and generally just a bit of a mess to look at, alongside the huge UI (Which, I admit, CAN be turned off in the Options), lack of terrain difference, and long, lengthy dialogue, the whole thing just…Seems to drag on, a little bit longer than one may want.

The music that I had been excited to hear from a top-class Touhou game also was lacking here – The OST isn’t bad, but it’s like the rest of the game – Wishy-washy, and ‘alright’ at best.

I wanted to love this title, having a Mystery Dungeon game on my PS4, however I’ve come to the stern realisation that, maybe, Mystery Dungeon games should just stay on handhelds, for now.

Tohou Gensou Wanderer gets a 6 / 10 for me. The asking price of £40 is FAR too high for something like this, but if you like Mystery Dungeon games, or the Touhou franchise, give it a shot!

 

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