Touhou Youyoumu
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Combination of intense shooting action with story and character, carried to perfection.

Go to: [ Game Mechanics and Controls | Good | Bad | Notes ]

Developer Team Shanghai Alice
Web site 東方妖々夢
Platform Windows 98 and above
Cost 1470yen
ESRB Rating Not rated. Contains no offensive material.

Play it for the story.

Shooter and story, seriously? Fact is, I am usually not a game person, much less a shooting game that requires lighting reflexes. But the personalities of this game was enough to lure me in, and wanting to see the next character was enough motivation to complete the game. The fact that it happens to be a well implemented shooter could be said as a coincidence ^_^;

In the game, the players are set out to investigate the causes for an exceptionally long winter, in search of the culprit who has stolen spring from the world of Gensoukyou. Various characters show up along the way, but none of them wants to give out information until they are defeated after an intense curtain fire shootout. Thus the game progresses with you having to shoot and dodge bullets continuously, and read short dialogs before and after each boss battle.

There are many action-orientated games that try to interweave story and characters, but this game is definitely better than average in getting it all integrated seamlessly, resulting in an experience that is enjoyable and memorable.

Demo version of the game is available from the developer's site. The demo version is playable up to stage 3, out of 6 total stages.

Game Mechanics and Controls

Gameplay is more or less intuitive, as you might expect from a shooting game. Notable features:

  • One of three character is selectable, each with two sets of weapons to choose from. The character and weapon are not changeable during the game.
  • Two means of attack: unlimited bullets, and limited number of bombs.
  • Characters move at one of two speeds, normal and slow.
  • At slow speed, a dot appears in the center of the character sprite, which shows where the character is vulnerable to enemy shots.

Much of the game emphasizes dodging bullets, rather than bombing your way out. This is especially obvious in "extra" mode (available after completing the game without continues), where the final boss is can't be hit by bombs.

Excellent Ideas

  • Beautiful and intricate curtain fire attacks. It's not simply screens filled with random bullets, but deliberately choreographed fireworks.
  • The story ties seamlessly with the entire flow of the game, including background and enemies.
  • Music is excellent, and fits with the flow of the game as well. There were also various parts where enemies would be generated dynamically (rather than appearing in fixed patterns, like most of the game) to match current music position.
  • Graphics is decent. Not as much variety or flair as you would see in commercial games, but delivers the intended result rather well.
  • Integrated replay feature -- watch your own games and learn from your mistakes. Better yet, watch the masters and awe at their seemly impossible maneuvers. This feature made the game infinitely more enjoyable to those who prefer to watch video games rather than playing it themselves ^_^;


  • Hard. Really hard. But even someone at my level can finish the normal level after ~20 hours of practice, so don't be discouraged if you are getting cornered and shot over and over ^_^;

Other Notes

As far as we know, Team Shanghai Alice consists of just one solo member, ZUN, who produced all the story, graphics, music, and code. All done at professional quality, no less. Of course he also happens to be a developer for Taito...


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