Touhou is a cult “Danmaku’ or Bullet Hell series which in the past few years has branched out from its origins to Dungeon Crawlers, Metroidvanias, and even 3D PvP Bullet Hell games. Now Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers is here to see how the long-running series finds its feet in the 1vs1 Fighting Game genre.
It’s a Kind of Magic
Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers or Touhou 15.5 is part of the Touhou Project which is the umbrella all these titles gather under. The series started as a “Danmaku” which for those unfamiliar with the term are Shoot Em Ups or Shmups with a focus on dodging bullet patterns.
As the series has grown several developers have produced titles for the series in different genres. In all honesty, I’ve only ever enjoyed the core Shmup titles but always remain optimistic when it comes to the spin-offs.
Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers is a fighting game in the vein of Street Fighter or closer Marvel Vs Capcom or Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, each player picks 2 characters from the roster of 19 characters.
I’m hardly an expert on the Touhou Project; my time with the series can be described as fleeting at best. Looking into it, this is the 6th Fighting Game developed by the team at Twilight Frontier. While they don’t have much experience with the genre outside of Touhou it would seem they aren’t newcomers.
Do You Believe in Magic?
The story in Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers follows on from the events of Touhou 14.5 and features Reimu Hakurei trying to solve the mystery of a phenomenon called “Perfect Possession”.
The story is quite interesting and the character interactions are both amusing and well written but at the end of the day, it’s still a fighting game. While some games of the genre have rather detailed stories like Mortal Kombat or Injustice, the story in fighting games is usually just window dressing or an excuse to have certain characters in; the same applies here.
The more of the character “paths” you take the more of the story that you unlock. Each team you can play is predetermined and shows you what each character is doing throughout the story. This always then culminates in a final “end boss”. While entertaining, it was nothing that ever really stuck with me and it is a shame the teams are stuck as they are as this is the main single-player mode and allows for the least flexibility.
Something I did notice that was exclusive to the Story Mode was that each fight had 2 stages to it. The first stage is a standard brawl and the second more like a boss fight from a Danmaku, leaning on a higher focus of bullet patterns and when to attack, block and dodge. The final boss also has several forms much like others from the annals of Shmup history.
So the combat of Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers is the main focus of the game and it plays like a cross between traditional fighter and Danmaku. The main differences are where the fights take place and less focus on combos and special move memory.
The Touhou cast are a bunch of witches, shrine maidens, and other mythical people of power who can fly. This means all fights are suspended in the air. Instead of crouching you’ll dodge downwards and be able to float up. It’s total 8-way freedom of movement and you’ll need it.
Combat is performed with a melee button, a magic spell button, and a dash button. The way that magic works is the longer you hold the spell button, the stronger the bullet pattern you produce. Ultra attacks are a case of either pressing both the spell and melee buttons or just the ZR button for a more convenient way.
This is a combat system that is easy to pick up for fans of the genre and newcomers where choice trumps button input skills. It’s fantastic for getting your friends into a bout or two locally.
To help further separate this from the other fighters in the fray, you also have the “Slave” system and the ability to pick which ultimate attack your maiden uses from a selection of 3. These use varying amounts of meter to activate.
The “Slave” system works much like tagging a partner in, only this partner is only temporary and doesn’t have access to the Ultimate attack. They do help you recover health and have different Danmaku which is always good for keeping your foes on their toes.
Black Magic Woman
The game has several modes which are.
- Vs CPU
- Vs P2
As of the time of writing, I was unable to try the online multiplayer due to a lack of matches but local multiplayer was a blast. Vs CPU is single matches only which is a shame as the game really could have benefitted some kind of Arcade Tower alongside the rather restrictive story mode.
Replay allows you to save your matches for later viewing and there’s a practice mode to test out your moves and try all the characters out. Music allows you to listen to every music track you’ve unlocked (through Story progress). Usually I don’t spend much time here but the music in this title is just purely amazing.
Visually Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers looks fantastic. While it has rather basic stages aside from the live music stage which is my favorite, the character sprites are all well-drawn and bring the characters to life. It really draws on how unique the cast is.
The bullet patterns produced are all very distinctive. Much like the genre they come from, you’ll soon learn the attack pattern from just how they look. This leads to you learning the best way of avoiding damage.
As mentioned above the music in this game is amazing. It features iconic tracks from previous games and even has some live variations. It’s certainly a dream if you like heavy rock and orchestrated music. The game is also fully voiced in Japanese with no English dub on offer.
While Touhou Hyouibana ~ Antinomy of Common Flowers is a lot of fun, it does have a really short shelf life due to repetition creeping in. By the third or fourth story run, I felt like I’d already seen everything the game had to offer. With the focus on simple controls, matches tend to go the same way every time much like 3D Arena Brawlers, and this makes matches feel less free flow and more flow chart.
The lack of an arcade tower also dampens the package as the story mode doesn’t allow you to choose individual characters and wants to focus on the narrative instead of the combat experience. Another aspect that makes the game feel cheap is the fact the developers never bothered to translate the special moves throughout the game. It’s the lack of little touches like that which put the game further down the genre list than it should be.
WAIT FOR SALE ON TOUHOU HYOUIBANA ~ ANTINOMY OF COMMON FLOWERS
Many thanks go to Phoenixx for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night! Follow me on Twitter @powahdunk