on November 27, 2012 by ricedigital
If you’re new to the doujin scene, and have only done a little light investigation into it, then this will be one of the first questions you’re likely to be faced with. It’s one of the widely talked about doujin series, with one of the most passionate fanbases of any series of games ever made! As a result it’s one of the most intimidating questions to ever have to answer!
Touhou is huge. So utterly colossally huge it would take a lifetime to answer fully. It has its own convention, a legion of fans and more characters, games and doujin manga, than there are stars in the known universe. In effect, Touhou is the ‘biggest’ of all the doujin games – and has become something of a phenomenon in its own right.
But that answer doesn’t help you really does it? So we may as well start from the beginning. After that – you’re on your own! ; )
So let’s break this down into a nice and easy, ‘10 THINGS YOU HAVE TO KNOW’, style format. Think of it as a beginner’s crash course!
1/ TOUHOU IS THE WORK OF ONE MAN
His name is Zun. Or, if you prefer, Team Shanghai Alice. That’s the name of the developer – which consists of just ONE employee (see pictured). So yes, this guy is responsible for everything – programming, artwork, some AMAZING music, game design – the lot. That’s pretty impressive when you consider he also has a day job!
2/THEY ARE BULLET HELL SHOOTERS
Touhou’s core series consists of shmups which boast firework displays of bullets so intense, that they’d put the Olympic opening ceremony to shame. Touhou games are best described as ‘challenging’ – but unusually for a series of shooters, they also boast a pretty involved story. There are 12 Games in the core Touhou series – although, realistically, you’ll only be able to play seven of them.
3/HALF THE GAMES ARE KINDA HARD TO PLAY NOW
Okay, so not half EXACTLY. The five original Touhou games were made by a company called Amusement Makers who made them for a Japanese system called NEC PC-9801. You can only play them now either on the system (hard to find) or via emulation. After the original five games, Zun left Amusement Makers to set up Team Shanghai Alice where he carried on the series alone.
4/ SO WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT THEN?
In summary? The game is set in a fictional place called Gensokyo a kind of hidden world in a mountainous region of Japan – that’s been sealed off from the outside world by magic. No one can enter and no one can leave, and so this little pocket of civilisation has developed in isolation. The world inside is populated by fairies, spirits, beasts and witches – all manner of magical beings loosely based around Japanese mythology.
5/ ARE THERE ANY ‘MAIN’ CHARACTERS?
Reimu Hakurei (pictured) has appeared in pretty much all of the Touhou games and spin offs. She’s a shrine maiden from the Hakurei Shrine (kind of like a gatehouse to Gensokyo) and it’s usually her that has to check out any strange goings on in the world. She also has a friend called Marisa Kirisame, a grumpy little witch who’s also appeared in most of the games. On top of that you have, oh, well over 100 supporting characters and enemies. Which is frankly insane. Oh yeah, and almost all the characters in this series are little girls.
6/ TOUHOU’S NOT ALL SHOOTERS THOUGH RIGHT?
No – some games do change up the formula. Phantasmagoria of Flower View for example, while still a shooter at heart introduces a VS mechanic with split screen play and the ability to rain destruction on your opponent, not unlike in VS puzzle games. There are also a few 2D fighters made in collaboration with Twilight Frontier – Immaterial and Missing Power, Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Touhou His?tensoku. A fourth 2D fighter is also in the works – called Hopeless Masquerade.
7/ OKAY, YOU’VE CONVINCED ME – WHERE DO I START?
Well, for many, game number 6 – ‘The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil’ – is the first game in the Touhou series as we know it today, and the best place to start if you don’t fancy trying to get the older games up and running via emulation. It’s also significantly more attractive than the earlier games and ultimately, more enjoyable to play.
8/ I HEAR THERE’S ALL KINDS OF MERCHANDISE TOO?
You are correct. You can find all kinds of stuff to buy from Manga to Pillowcases and cosplay costumes. Want an example? Here, have some nice boxer shorts. Sorry you asked now, right?
9/ ARE THERE ANY… YOU KNOW… SEXY COSPLAYS?
Yes lots. But we’re not posting any here – that’s what google is for.
But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
10/ SO… WHERE CAN I GET THIS TOUHOU STUFF FROM?
Well, you could try Eurotaku here if you’re Europe based.
Toylet also have a good selection and can be found here.
Now I know Touhou has a CRAZY-BIG fan-base that burns, NO – spontaneously COMBUSTS – with passion, so I couldn’t hope, in a million years to really do the epicness of this series justice. With that in mind, anyone who can contribute further is encouraged to do so in the comments section below!