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I have to speak about my opinions in a professional manner, and do so in first person... Not my comfort zone...
Although I am a relative newcomer to the Touhou fanbase, I find it incredibly difficult to tear myself away from the series for any extended period of time. Though I haven't seriously played the games in a few months, the large fanbase more than guarantees many varieties of indulgence. No, it's not what you think.
Because of this, I have decided to try my hand at reviewing Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, in an attempt to get attentionkill time gain experience in the field.
This review will be mostly my opinions on the game, rather than a comprehensive description of game mechanics, which, in all honesty, I am not qualified to give. I love this game, but I suck at it.
And now, without further ado or bad jokes...
Scarlet Weather Rhapsody
Name: Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (東方緋想天) Publisher/Developer:Team Shanghai Alice, in collaboration with Tasogare Frontier ("TasoFro") Release Date: May 25, 2008 (JPN) Platform: Windows 2000/XP Genre: Fighting Game
Something is amiss in Gensokyo, as always. For no apparent reason, the weather in Gensokyo has decided to become slightly... strange. The Hakurei Shrine hasn't seen anything but sunshine in many days, while the Forest of Magic has been drowned by constant rain for just as long. Hakugyokurou is covered in thick snow, while the Scarlet Devil Mansion is surrounded by dense haze. And to top it all off, an earthquake just leveled the Hakurei Shrine, leaving destruction, problems, and one very, very, very angry Reimu.
Though the plot gets... confusing at times, the game is divided into fifteen story modes, each one following a specific character's efforts in beating to a bloody pulp discovering the cause of the strange weather. As with every Touhou game, the motivations of the characters range from revenge to greed to boredom to simply wanting things back to normal. And, as always, this includes massive brawls and pointless fights.
Don't see your favorite? There's a mod for that. Somewhere.
Although the plot clearly isn't the main focus of the game, the effort put into it is very evident, with the usual lighthearted dialog, blind accusations, getting answers through dumb luck, and people just screwing around in general. In the midst of an incident. Though the dialog between characters is different based on which viewpoint the scenario follows, this doesn't detract from the game too much, as there are very few occasions where both sides of the same fight can be played.
The story is mostly told by the Talking Heads. Or, rather through talking heads.
Perhaps the only major weak point is the lack of consistency and, more often, coherency. Though the story mode is done very well, the plot is a tangled mass of nonsense, with the only consistent element being the last two to three stages of every character.
Though this is more gameplay related, it's also worth noting that each battle consists of alternating "Plain/Melee/Volley" stages, in which both characters engage in a plain, quick fight. After you have depleted your opponent's health bar, they cast a spell (Similar to the spell cards of bosses in the shooters) which is a repeated, much heavier attack that lasts until the player deals enough damage. Lather, rinse, repeat until your opponent stops moving.
To put it simply, the plot makes next to no sense, but it still serves as a fun, lighthearted excuse for the characters to all beat each other up in their own special ways. For what it's worth, it's much more sensible than the quest to find and pummel a giant catfish outta nowhere next game.
The gameplay is pretty much the real reason you play SWR aside from the fact that it's a Touhou game, and, therefore, obligatory. And this is where the Touhou name really starts to make itself evident.
In the game, Reimu beats up her shadow form, and proceeds to save the world.
Whereas most fighting games are based on throws, combos, punches, kicks, bursts of energy thrown from hands, and cheapsauce spamming, SWR is... different. While it has the good, old-fashioned "Beat the other guy loli to a pulp" moves, the movelist is mostly dominated by magical attacks. Each character has a wide variety of special attacks, which are more in line with the tried-and-true method of combos involving long sequences.
To further mix it up, TasoFro also added in a spell card system, which allows the characters to use bigger, better attacks, gain boosts, mess with the weather (More on this later), and generally wreak havoc, win matches, and influence people by curb-stomping them.
While the cards add depth, they can also be a bloody pain to use properly. Each character has a small, customizable deck at their disposal, which makes planning and strategy important. However, at the beginning of the match, each card must be charged by dealing or receiving enough damage, and each use of said card requires them to be recharged again. As I have enough problems focusing on multiple things trying to kill me, the multitasking involved with cycling and choosing cards gets to be... rather difficult.
Another interesting addition/gimmick to the standard formula is the addition of weather effects. Reflecting the entire point of the story, weather can make or break a fight, and it changes often, and dramatically. Movement speed may be slowed, attacks may be weakened, health may be leeched, or the characters may start being pulled towards each other, all based on the whim of the weather system.
Of course, this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Though I've cleared all of Easy, and a good bit of Normal, I still know precious little about most of the game's finer points, including Guard Crushes, Border Escapes, Grazing, Spirit, Flight... all that good stuff.
The controls are roughly similar to every other fighting game in existence. You have different buttons for different actions, which can be remapped. The number pad serves as an alternate method of movement, and various combinations can be mapped to whatever other keys you need. All in all, the game doesn't exactly do anything impressive here, and the controls are as good or bad as most other fighting games.
Prettiness/Music and Visuals
This is where the game shines, and claims its rightful place in the Touhou series.
Though I don't want to let my obsession cloud my judgment too much...
The music is beautiful, and very well done. Each character gets a remix/total reworking of their theme song, while each stage gets a fitting background tune. The menu theme is par for the course, and... Well, here. Listen for yourself.
Slightly over-the-top, but... That's how Touhou rolls.
As for the actual sounds effects... There are no character voices, for one thing. The sound consists of music, noises made by attacks, and some extra effects for emphasis. Nothing outstanding in this department.
As for the visuals, the artwork is very good, while the actual fights are standard for a PC fighter. The attacks, characters, and background aren't exactly stunning, but they do look very good. The art style is consistent with Mountain of Faith, as well as the graphics.
Mountain of Faith 2: The Fighter
Closing Comments and Final Scores
This game is one that would definitely appeal to Touhou fans, but not so much to not fans. It's a good game in almost every respect, but, for non-fans, it's has little to offer outside of what you'd expect. I would say it's worth a shot.
Story: 8/10. Nothing spectacular, but it's still highly entertaining, and very amusing. Gameplay: 9/10. It has nothing on BlazBlue, of course, but for its type, it's a very well made game, that has quite a few hidden levels of depth. The only downside is that the characters are... a little too even. Fear Patchy's melee Book Smack. Presentation: 10/10. While the actual game isn't stellar, the menus, portraits, and music more than make up for it. Replay Value: 7/10. Will keep you entertained for a while, but it's mostly dependent on how much you love fighting games. 10/10 if you can get online multiplayer working.
Overall: 8/10. A brilliant effort on ZUN's part, and a nice opportunity to stage some "If X and Y got into a fight..." moments.
EDIT: Heh heh, a bit of an unfortunate typo there... Of course, I meant the characters were screwing around in general. Not "screwing in general." I do not subscribe to that view.
"I don't find my name tasteful next to Shanghai Alice."