Starting playing a new doujin Touhou shooting game developed by “Hard-cover ha Donki” (ハードカバーは鈍器, Hard-cover is a Blunt Weapon) called Scarlet Meister. Unlike The official Touhou games, Scarlet Meister is a side-scrolling shooter instead of a top-down one. I haven’t really played these types of games too much so I really suck at SM but do enjoy the change of pace.
The entire game is rendered in 3D giving it a slightly different feel from the canon Touhou games. The player models are chibi versions of Remilia and Sakuya which look quite nice and cute although they can be initially distracting because of their fairly large size. Took me a while to get used to dodging because of the difference in size of the characters compared to the hitbox. Once you get used to it though it looks great although there seems to be some lag issues during times of high danmaku density. I’m not sure if this is intentional for dramatic effect or just a graphics issue. Won’t be able to test it until I have access to my much more powerful desktop next week. The illustrations of the characters shown during spell card activation also look nice.
Here’s some gameplay footage.
Although there is no player select option you get to play as both Remilia and Sakuya simultaneously which sort of reminds me of Imperishable Night. However unlike in IN which let you use 2 types of shots, unfocused (Sakuya) and focused (Remilia), SM gives you four options, unfocused and focused for both characters. Switching between characters comes in real handy when dealing with various shot patterns and enemies but when you switch, the character you were previously controlling moves in front of the character you switch to. This means that every time you switch you move forward a little bit and this can become very dangerous when you have no room to dodge so it is usually something you save for downtime between spell cards.
Another cool game play element is the combo meter which continuously goes up as you shoot enemies and goes down when you aren’t. The overall combo is displayed at the top-right and counts the total score achieved from all individual chains. However there is also a separate counter displayed above your character that only counts your current unbroken chain. If you achieve 500 or more and go into focused shooting mode, enemy danmaku in the immediate vicinity become point boxes and the counter switches to “Full” allowing you to temporarily use a special shot-type which is more powerful than even a focused shot with max power. Sakuya’s is great for it’s homing abilities while Remilia’s, although short ranged, decimates bosses.
Overall this is a fun game with solid game play which I would recommend to Touhou fans as well as shooting game fans in generall. You can buy a copy at Messe Sanoh Doujin Shop for a mere 750 yen although I don’t know if they ship outside of Japan.
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