Oh, Touhou… how would ZUN get his beers if you didn’t exist? One of the few games in the world that can be described as ‘so damn-fucking-hard, it’s fun’ (besides the moe girls and Sakuya though). Although I’m not a die hard fan of the danmaku genre (I’m just sux at it), I must admit that I’m quite addicted to Touhou. SWR is part of Touhou franchise that doesn’t use the danmaku genre and one of VERY few Touhou games I can handle. It’s also the second game in Touhou-verse that was created from the collaboration between ZUN (Team Shanghai Alice) and Tasogare Frontier (the creator of EFZ series). The first one is Immaterial and Missing Power and sadly I haven’t played that (although my friend said it sucks).
SWR’s system is a bit unique. Kudos to Tasogare Frontier for able to mix Touhou’s danmaku element with you good ol’ 2D fighting game. In SWR there’s only one button for melee attack. It might sound very limiting at first but you were also given 2 buttons for projectile attacks. There are weak projectile and strong projectile and the way they are executed kinda reminds you of typical bullet hell in Touhou. Unlike most fighting games where mashing random buttens will often result in whoopass combo, this game demands you to develop your own style. You can dash to your enemy and spam your melee skills, keep range to depend on your projectiles, or combine them both.
This game also doesn’t forget to include most Touhou’s characters basic ability, flying. By pressing a button you can set off from the ground and fly to the sky. Pushing the same button on the ground while pushing directional button can also result in dash. By flying, or dashing forth or back you can graze towards your enemy. That means all the projectiles thrown at you will be rendered useless. But as far as I know, grazing doesn’t work well to ward off melee skills. BTW flying, using projectiles, and skills cost your magic gauge. If your magic gauge is too low you can’t do anything. Breaking enemy’s defense will result in shortening the enemy’s magic gauge (which looks like 5 orbs).
Other element that surely can’t be found from other fighting games is spell card. Before battle you, you can customize your deck to decide which spell cards will be used in battle. There are 3 kinds of cards: System, Skill, and Spell. System cards allow to use bombs or traps, Skill cards upgrade your status and Spell cards are basically ready-to-use super skills. Some cards also require several cards before they can be used.
Another unique system in SWR is the weather system. On top of the screen, there’s a time counter indicating how many times left before the weather changes. Weather can turns the tide of battle for your advantage or against you. For example dense fog allows you to drain your enemy’s health while during river mist players will be forced to be apart one from another.
There are 6 modes in this game. Aside from your standard VS Com, VS player, Arcade, and Training mode, there are Story Mode and VS Network mode. Completing Story mode will grant you new characters while completing Arcade mode will grant you new spell cards. You can also unlock BGMs and stages by playing in various modes (especially Arcade). But the main fun lies in the VS Network mode that allows you to face opponent across the internet.
I have no qualm over the overall presentation of this game. The numbers of the characters are adequate and they’re quite balanced (at least so far in my observation), the music is great, and the graphic is beautiful. It was quite expected from Tasogare Frontier. And thank Haruhi they don’t use ZUN’s art of the character portraits so they look much better. If there’s one thing that makes me irks so much while playing this game is probably the difficulty. But maybe that’s just because I’m not quite adapted to the system yet (my ‘rush to the enemy and rape them with combos’ method is not quite effective here!). Overall I find this game very fun and I like it so much (Sakuya is in it! yay!) and I really recommend it if you’re looking for unique fighting game experience.
Demo combo video (not by me, I’m not that good)