A Little History First
Released by NIS America, Touhou Genso Rondo dances its way onto the PS4 in North America. Originally released in Japan for PC, NIS brings the title as a full HD remake. In case you haven’t heard of Touhou before I would recommend using Google, but I’ll still get into a short description for you. The Touhou Project originated in Japan, and brought many bullet hell/ shoot’em up games also known as danmaku games, which all starred magical girls that shot out a huge amount of lasers on-screen. The series was originally only released on PC and later developed a huge fan base in Japan, that also spawned off a huge amount of fan games. Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet, is one of those fan games on the other hand. This not part of the main series, but instead, it is a new mash-up rather than just a bullet hell game. This time around, Touhou mixes up ten Magical Girls (Two more will be added as DLC to make Twelve in total) in the fighting game genre with the bullet hell/ shoot’em up genre. Get ready to have your screen filled with colorful lasers, and Magical girls duking it out.
Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet is a pretty intense bullet hell/ shoot’em up, fighter that is fun and challenging, but also has its flaws. First, you must understand the controls to play this game. Each character has 4 attacks and a meter that needs to fill for each attack.
- Main attack – Your basic shots and meter will fill fast for constant use.
- Sub attack – A stronger attack. This meter takes a little longer to fill so you can’t spam it.
- Special Melee – Clears bullets from your around you and doesn’t need to refill meter often.
- Charge attack – One of your strongest attacks which has a slow fill rate.
- Spell attack – Your most powerful move. Once activated, it makes your character go into Boss Mode.
- Boss mode – Exactly what it sounds like – a full bullet hell
Each attack can also be mixed up with the slow move button, and dash move button, which changes the variation of the attack. Learning different attacks will take time for players to get used to, but once you have it down, you can actually start having fun with Touhou Genso Rondo. With 10 playable characters that each have their own unique move set, players can test different match ups and find out who counters each other.
Touhou Genso Rondo:Bullet Ballet’s visuals are a seizure waiting to happen, but also a memorizing light show. Players who aren’t use to the bullet hell/ shoot’em up genre will probably be overwhelmed with how many colors are displayed on-screen at once. Once you begin a match the whole screen becomes a dodging playground of laser bullets and you are drawn in to the colors as if you were looking through a kaleidoscope. As a remake, the 3D models for each character look dated, but this was not too bad, mainly because the characters have no importance to the game. The game actually looked very good, overall, with its HD graphics upgrade, and the complete UI overhaul.
One downside from the visuals is the story modes, and tutorials character art. The characters on the Character Select screen and the 3D models during game play look amazing as finished art, but going into the story mode and character introductions you can tell somewhere the animators got lazy.
For a shoot ’em up/bullet hell game, the visuals are eye-catching; unleashing laser hell is mesmorizing. The major drawback is that art work is not perfected all around. I expected just a little bit more for an HD remake.
Bullet hell games are usually fast paced, and with fast game play comes fast music: Pianos, bass, kicks, and synthesizers. That’s right, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet’s audio is filled with some awesome fast paced, adrenaline filled, melodic, Japanese techno which helps sets the mood for the competitive aspect and game overall. For example, I really enjoyed the music in the Main Menu, which was completely different from the fast pace in-game music. Slow, soft, and simple, which makes sense for a menu, but really sets a menu tone. Then, once you enter battle, it kicks in with faster techno music to set the fighting mood in place.
The audio for Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet is pretty spot on for the genre, and honestly, this is a soundtrack anyone could enjoy and lose themselves in.
Touhou Genso Rondo will have you will finding yourself trying to dodge everything your opponent has to throw at you, no matter which character they choose. This can be fun, frustrating, and even too easy depending on who you are playing against.
As I made my way though each character’s story in Story Mode, I found the game teaching me how to counter other characters, which is good, but it got really repetitive pretty fast. Single Player is not where this game shines; it’s the Online Mode is where the game really comes out. Going against players in ranked matches and using what you were taught in the single player to defeat your opponent is one of the most rewarding parts of Touhou Genso Rondo, not to mention, great netcode. The netcode was actually another big thing I noticed while playing. I never ran into lag, and if I did, it was unnoticeable. This is mainly what the game was made for anyways, competitive play, not single player.
After making my way through Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet for the Playstation 4, all I can really say is that the game really lacks in the Single Player, but is a lot of fun for couch play/online play. What the game offers in single player does not earn the $30 price tag; I suggest waiting for a sale to pick it up. However, I do recommend this game to any Touhou fan or Shoot’em up fan, or even someone who has been waiting for this to come to the US, since these are the type of players who will actually appreciate the game.