Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 02.10.2018

Review for Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded on Nintendo Switch

Since way back in '96, the bullet hell craziness of the Touhou project titles have been popular, not just in Japan, but the world over. However, they are somewhat of a niche genre, the punishing gameplay a tad off-putting for wider audiences. For those who wanted to play with the young Japanese Shrine Maidens without taking on the onslaught of projectiles, AQUA STYLE developed a series of indie spin-offs entitled Mystery Gensokyo. This series took the same premise, styles, and characters but instead offered up a dungeon-crawling style, roguelike game reminiscent of Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon series. Now NIS America is bringing the remastered Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded to PlayStation 4 and Switch.

Shrine Maiden Reimu, one of the Hakurei Shrine Maidens, has a familiar challenge to take on. A sprawling tower has appeared where once stood the shop of a character that will be familiar to fans of the series: Rinnosuke Morichika. A cursed item within the shop has caused this and it's all Reimu's fault, so she needs to clean up her mess. Cue floor after floor of roguelike dungeons, stuffed to bursting with evil versions of other familiar characters and far too much dialogue.

The story of the game is absolutely cloying. The actual tale is rather short but it has far too much to say, resulting in a truly dull tale. It may be interesting to long-time fans of the series but the ratio of gameplay to dialogue heavily, heavily swings to dialogue. With huge periods of time spent reading through the George R. R. Martin level of text. It would be forgivable if the writing was decent, but this will be winning no awards for its story.

The core gameplay sees Reimu - and friends, there are plenty to recruit over the course of the game - step through dungeons in a turn-based style system. For every step the player takes, the enemies take a step or make a move. It will be a familiar system that has been used in many games across the Vita and 3DS back catalogues. It takes planning and strategic thinking to master, to plan what each enemy will do two-steps ahead. Unfortunately, even the most strategic minds will be regularly overcome here, and often unfairly. Enemies appear outside of the scope of the camera regularly and so trajectories of attacks or even just the closing off of escape paths become a regular occurrence. It's made even worse by the absolute mess of the UI, covering up a huge amount of the screen and further obscuring any threats.

Screenshot for Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded on Nintendo Switch

This is the type of game where death is to be expected. Those steps through each floor are going to be repeated many times before any of the floors are overcome. Death sends Reimu back to the first floor but allows her to keep all she has acquired up until her death - leading into a repetitive cycle. Climb some floors, gather some loot, die, return to the first floor with the loot, and repeat. Oh, and dying also resets the level back to one... Later in the game, there are checkpoints to rest and return to, but it is little respite. Death from the attacks of enemies isn't all that has to be considered. There's also a hunger meter that has to be considered during the treks and a Danmaku meter used to power the special attacks, these often embodying the bullet-hell nature of the original games.

Being a roguelike and a dungeon crawler, it suffers from the same issues that have plagued the genre from the start. It's hugely repetitive, especially considering the repeating deaths and the backtracking. The levels are randomly generated, and the algorithm that creates them isn't particularly smart, resulting in some awful stages, occasionally with instant paths to the next stage and sometimes maddening messes filled with dead ends. Loot is a huge part of the game and is plentiful in all for the dungeons, but thanks to the random nature the majority of the loot found is trash. Thankfully, there's an item fusion system combined with a decent crafting system.

For this edition, all of the previously released DLC is bundled together, along with some brand new features. There are some extra scenarios to play through including some new characters to unlock along with some stories around some other long-standing characters of the series history, like Alice Margatroid. The reviewed version was on Switch, but it's lacking in any sort of touch-screen or motion controls, so there's little to set it apart from the PS4 version.

Screenshot for Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

The roguelike procedural generation in Touhou: Genso Wanderer Reloaded often generates terrible flaws, horrible stages, and difficulty levels all over the shop - when the difficulty spikes, the challenging nature often just results in repetitive and frustrating grinding. There is far too much dialogue to read through, meaning huge gaps between actually being able to play… It's hard to find much to like here. It will certainly interest Touhou fans who get to enjoy some of their favourite characters, but for casual fans and those new to the series, all they are getting is a rather monotonous dungeon crawler.

Developer

Team Shanghai Alice

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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