Sunday, 16 October 2011

Koumajou Densetsu: Scarlet Symphony (PC) - Guest Post

If anyone's missing the old school Castlevania platformers, GreatOldOne has apparently discovered the next best thing.

Koumajo Densetsu. Also known as 'Touhouvania' in certain circles, this is a game featuring characters from the Touhou Project (a series of indie vertical scrolling shooting games) with gameplay modelled after the popular Castlevania series. Despite being a Japanese indie game, it actually comes with English and French language options, which is pretty nice, although the translation is... lacking.

After a brief cutscene where the main character, Richter Reimu talks to herself about the return of Dracula Remilia Scarlet, an immortal vampire, stage 1 (a forest level, of course) begins.

Despite looking a bit blurry, Reimu animates pretty well. She has a smooth transition from left to right, and there are lots of frames in her walk cycle and attacks, making it all look rather nice.

Reimu can whip, jump (and steer herself in the air), slide, and backflip. She can also shoot projectiles if you hold up and press the attack button, as well as fly if you hit jump in midair. While flying, you can only shoot, you can't use the whip, and it eats up hearts cards to do so. This level features pretty much nothing but birds who like to fly up and swoop down at you, and they are really annoying.

After making my way through hordes of birds, I find this weird blue thing. it dies in one hit just the same, and since it doesn't fly around every which way, it's nowhere near as annoying as the birds.

Seriously, I hate these guys. Why can you even fly through the ground? Look at how much life I've lost already. It's embarrassing.

There haven't been any in the screenshots so far, but there are also slightly bigger white birds in addition to the black ones. I haven't noticed much difference between them. Also that red orb is a card, which fuels your projectile attack. They automatically fly towards you when you go near them.

Shortly after getting killed by birds, the game starts pitting frogs against me too. These guys are ridiculously easy to deal with, you just need to crouch and whip. I don't think I've ever been hit by one.

Towards the end of the stage, I find this statue. After whipping it like twenty or thirty times, an extra life popped out. Take it easy!

And then I encounter the first boss of the game, Cirno. Another character named Marisa also shows up, and agrees to partner with me, which takes the form of being available as another subweapon in addition to the card attacks, although she's more expensive to use. Marisa has her own button dedicated to her, and hits both diagonally above and below me, which is quite useful.

Cirno is definitely not a very Castlevania-y boss. She flies around everywhere and shoots blocks of ice, then sends out a circle of bullets that she freezes in place, and makes them move again about ten seconds later.

Crap. She killed me, and now she's trapped me in a circle of ice bullets. Maybe I can like, fly out?

Cirno goes down for the count, and then the game grades me on my performance. After beating her, Reimu tricks Cirno into joining as well, and she takes the form of a second assist attack that you can switch to. She attacks straight ahead, but I think she does more damage than Marisa. Stage 2 begins, and it's...

...more forest. Except, a bit later in the day. That little purple thing grows a bit when you go near it, which makes it easily whippable.

Okay, this bit is pretty awesome. You're stuck on this platform while birds fly in from both above and below you and try to swipe you off. I'm not sure how effective that can be, since you can just start flying if you get knocked off. The bottomless pit below isn't really a threat.

I haven't got any screenshots of it, but there is a new even more annoying bird in this area. They all have skulls on their head, fly up in the sky out of your reach, and they're all carrying frogs they like to drop giant frogs like they were freaking bombs. Also, this new tiny frog is a bit harder to deal with, since you can only whip him while he jumps at you. You can time it pretty easily though.

Unlike their blue cousins, these yellow stars are completely invincible. They just fly in a pattern and try to be annoying. You can just fly up and over them.

Hey, it's an enemy from Castlevania! Just like in Castlevania, these Mermen like to suddenly jump up onto the bridge out of nowhere.

This was awesome. Three mermen suddenly jumped onto the bridge at the same time, and I whip them all at once, causing them to die in a shower of glowing red orbs. All in all, this level is definitely way easier than the first one. Or maybe I'm just more used to the way the game works now?

The second stage boss is Hong Meiling. She likes to do kungfu kicks through the air with daggers shooting out behind her, while fairy maids flank her.

Holy crap, Meiling is hard. I lost all of my lives on her. Now I have to continue and redo the level from the start again.

Okay, I'm starting to get the hang of her. A bit. This attack looks like a lot, but it's pretty easy to just fly through the gaps. If you're on the ground, you just need to stand in the right spot and crouch, because your hurtbox is tiny relative to your body, just like in the scrolling shooters.

On my last life. I spent most of my time being up in her face and whipping her while throwing Cirno at her.

FINALLY. Meiling dies, leaving the mansion free to enter. But first, to backflip onto this orb to complete the level. Boss projectiles are actually still active after you kill them, so I think it is possible to die after beating them and then you have to do the whole fight AGAIN.

Stage 3 is inside Remilia's mansion, so now I feel more at home. Hey look, it's a goofy skeleton throwing bones, and candles you can whip for ammo! Just like the good ol days. The skeletons go down in one hit, so they're not too bad on their own.

Gotta be careful, since Meiling took all my lives. You can't see it, but there was a fairy maid throwing axes like the Axe Knights in Castlevania. The maids only take two hits, so they're waaaay less annoying. Also, the chandeliers on the ceiling fall down, but you can avoid them just by sliding.

Doesn't this room look like a joy? I actually made it about halfway through before accidentally jumping into ceiling spikes like a complete idiot. And then I went back to the start.

All of the obstacles in this room can be completely avoided just by flying. It's actually kind of depressing how easy this room actually is.

Sorry Castlevania fans, those stairs are just part of the background. You make your way up by jumping/flying instead.

More maids. That one up there lunges forward with a sword. After making it a good way up through this room, I screw up and fall down on the spikes at the bottom. Twice.

On the other side of the room where you go back down, except now you have to deal with BATS. They're kind of thin, but easy to hit if they're above you because the whip actually has a huge solid hitbox above it, hitting anything that isn't anywhere near it. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit below it at all, so you have to wait for the bats to pass you by.

I love this picture, because it remind me of Castlevania 1 Block 5, with the long hallway filled with Axe Knights and Medusa Heads. For some reason, I haven't encountered an equivalent to the Medusa Heads in this game, so this hallway is really REALLY easy in comparison.

The boss is the head maid, Sakuya, who can freeze time. She likes to throw knives that freeze before moving, or bounce off the walls, or cover the entire screen in a hail of bladed death.

She always does this attack right after she makes a huge circle of knives that shoot out in EVERY direction. If you flew to avoid any, this is going to hit you.

She took a life off of me, but I'm doing pretty good. I'm making sure to avoid all her knives (although the bouncing ones hit me EVERY time), and eventually I'm able to kill her and rightfully backflip onto the orb, clearing the stage.

Stage 4 is yet more castle. But I'm done with the game now. I have to say, it's an incredibly solid game, and totally worth checking out. You can check the official site out here. Like I said before, it has an English option, but the gameplay is just basic Castlevania stuff with flying thrown in, more or less.

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