東方風神録 ～ Mountain of Faith (Touhou Fujinroku ~Mountain of Faith) demo is out!
So onto first impressions…
When ZUN said that it would “return to its roots”, I thought it would have an EoSD-esque style of play. Turns out the only things EoSD-esque about it were that only Reimu and Marisa are playable, the Border of Life and Death (Deathbomb) timing is unforgiving, and that extends occur with the total score; not with the number of point items gathered.
There are two playable characters: Reimu and Marisa, each with three (!) different firing modes.
Reimu A is the basic straight shot with homing amulets. As you collect more options (more on this later), you will get more homing amulet streams; focus mode is simply pulling together all options close to you and does not change the shot. ReimuB shoots the basic straight shot, and each option will shoot two streams of needles, much like the ReimuB of PCB and EoSD. Her focus mode is again, pulling all options close. ReimuC uses the “Youkai Buster”, which, while having an awesome name, is not very strong. It’s somewhat efficient in dealing with large spreads of weak enemies. Going into focus mode, which also pulls together the options and creates something like a medium-sized fan of ofuda, will need you to go up close to properly deal with more powerful enemies . Reimu’s speed has been heavily increased (compared to PCB); thus, it will be a little more difficult to navigate dense patterns. Finally, her bomb is a large, circle which stays (more or less) in the same place while neutralizing all enemy shots within its vicinity.
MarisaA (my personal favorite) behaves like Gradius’s Type 1, options-wise. The usual straight shot is used. Each option fires a star and will follow you around and will freeze in place whenever the focus button is held. MarisaB is just as before with the straight shot as the basic attack. She uses the “Illusion Laser” with each option firing a laser and going close to her when focus is held. MarisaC is a rather tricky beast to use. She uses the normal straight shot, but her options use the “Cold Inferno”, something like a flamethrower. When in unfocused mode, they stick to her in close proximity. When the focus button is held down, they are held in place as well, something like Remilia’s attack from Imperishable Night, except, more powerful and with a much shorter range (somewhere from 1/5 to 1/4 of the screen). This makes her a lot more powerful against bosses, especially those that stay in one spot. Her bomb’s range is much smaller, but will constantly move up, out of the screen, making it more ideal for survival, but not for score. Her speed is still similar to other games’ Marisas.
The Power system is completely different. Rather than having a maximum of 128 power, you have a maximum of 5.00. Each small power item raises it by 0.05 and each large one raises it by 1.00. For every 1.00 power, you get a option. As you hit the 5.00 mark, you get a “free” bomb, so to speak. This is because the bomb system has been completely changed as well; no longer will you need to pick up bombs. For every 1.00 power, that is equal to a bomb; thus, you’ll have plenty of bombs throughout the game. The catch is, whenever you bomb, you will have to sacrifice 1.00 power, per bomb. This will cause you to lose an option, unless your power level is at 5.00. In this case, it will simply drop down to 4.00, in which you will lose an option if you bomb. Bombs, because they are rather plentiful this time around, are much less effective. Before, they were heavily damaging to bosses and enemies alike. Now, they simply create a small time period of invincibility and neutralize all enemy bullets within its field. Additionally, whenever you bomb, all enemy bullets caught in its initial range when triggered will turn into small belief items (more on that later).
The line, or point of collection still exists and works like Imperishable Night’s POC. As your character goes beyond it, all items will automatically be collected by you. The scoring system is completely changed too; there is a “faith” counter at the lower left of the screen, and gathering “belief” items (green stars and dots) increase this counter, which in turn increase the maximum point item value. The catch is, there is a bar under the counter, as well as above the player character’s sprite, which slowly decreases as time passes. Once the bar drops to nothing, the counter will rapidly decrease; in effect, the point items’ maximum value will drop as well. The only way to keep the bar from decreasing is to either destroy enemies (which somewhat delay the decrease for about half a second) or to pick up items (any one can push the bar to the maximum).
The Spell Card Bonus is still present, as always. The maximum bonus is determined by an estimate of your Belief counter’s value, multiplied by 10. Other noteable things are that when at full power mode, all small power items will turn into small belief items and large power items turn into large belief items, making it crucial that you get to full power as soon as possible. Also, when you die, you start off with at least 1.00 power, and assuming that all power items discharged after death were collected, you can get a maximum of 4.70 power, which makes strategic dying rewarding (like Ibara). Extends are given when the player’s total score reaches 10,000,000 points, 25,000,000 points, 50,000,000 points, and 1,000,000,000 points. Additionally, when in focus mode, items caught within the proximity of the magic circle that forms around you will be drawn to you like a vacuum, but will not if you are not in focus mode. Finally, there does not seem to be any graze system here as there is no graze counter and no audio visual effects when grazing a bullet or any other enemy shot; this is still unconfirmed.
Wow, it’s such a new sort of experience. It’s absolutely fun, that much is certain, but I have a personal preference for the pattern-heavy, slow moving stuff, which this isn’t. I’ll eventually warm up to it though. All-in-all, a refreshing breath of air into the Touhou series, which any fan must play.