For all the music the series its known for, Touhou Project rhythm games haven’t really been all that prominent within fan circles. Touhou Danmaku Kagura has finally launched in Japan, with a variety of circles contributing their arrangements to the game. Let’s see how it goes.
There’s use of Live2D sprites in the main story, the character units, cards and the boss behind the stream of notes that come towards you at the bottom of the screen. Surprisingly enough, from the story beats I’ve unlocked thus far, is fully voiced. Some of the voices don’t match what I personally expect from the characters, which doesn’t mean they’re bad or unfitting. Besides, this is a rare opportunity to get fresh ideas when it comes to interpreting aspects of the staggeringly huge cast who don’t get equal attention.
You can turn off a lot of the effects, which includes bullet streams during the boss phases of a song if you rather focus on hitting the notes. The notes are the typical tap, hold and slide to follow the stream along seven columns. Some of the notes will be marked differently, which sends bullets to deplete the boss’ health, the “danmaku” wrinkle to the game.
You can set your homescreen to scroll through a selection of cards you have, and tapping them will give you some of their voicelines. For the most part, there’s nothing especially different in how the game looks, so if you’ve played one rhythm game, you probably know what to expect.
You have five difficulties per song: Easy, Normal, Hard, Extra and Lunatic. Why is Lunatic the last one…? Regardless, once again, it’s nothing too outlandish. You can set your timing and speed as is standard. Rhythm game aside, each song has an attribute where some cards perform better at, or also songs where all elements apply. You can play continuously without worrying about stamina. As far as I can tell, those “flames” are only boosters. Incidentally, you can get bonuses three times daily when playing songs.
The wrinkle comes in the “danmaku” part of the game. I mentioned that the song can enter boss phases. During this phase, all the notes streaming towards you have these extra detailing on them, and successful taps means you damage the boss. I’m led to believe that if you can deplete their health, the song can end early. Outside of these phases, there will be less marked notes. There’s also actual bullet hell shooter gameplay, but without knowing the language, I don’t know when it’s supposed to happen.
You have these expeditions where you can get materials. One part of the game has you rebuilding areas of Gensokyo, unlocking stories and other rewards or game systems along the way. You will want to level up, as limit breaking cards have a minimum level requirement. Besides the “mitama” cards, you also have heroines attached to a party, separate from the cards themselves. Heroines can be obtained by exchanging through a shard system, where you get a character’s shards from cards featuring themselves.
At 3.6% base rate for SSRs, it’s on the higher side. And then you see the SSR emblem rate at 0.4% (!). It’s 3000 currency per pull, where you could reasonably expect 100 per first time song clear. I can see there’s a potential problem for so-called “pay to win”, where you might simply steamroll a song by defeating the boss instead of, you know, the rhythm game part. Clarification on this aspect is much appreciated.
Honestly, I’d be playing DanKagu only to play the songs from circles I recognize or find new tracks, the gacha being more or less an after-thought. You start off with Reimu and Marisa as heroine units, and the beginner missions are there for you to slap together some basic team.
It would be nice to get the game to international audiences, with fan circles hopefully not limited to sometimes absurdly strict music copyright laws. We’ll have to see how that goes, but until then, why not give the game a shot?