Title: Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Aqua Style
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America/Unties (Japan)
Release Date: July 17th, 2018 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America
This is a classic rogue-like dungeon crawler RPG. This is part of a franchise that already showed up on Switch before in Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle, but that was more of an action arena fighting game. So how is this game? Let’s find out!
The beginning if the first dungeon.
This game being a rogue-like dungeon crawler will be very familiar to those who’ve played similar games such as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Shiren the Wanderer, and Chocobo’s Dungeon on Wii. I myself only played the last one, so I at least knew what to expect and wasn’t disappointed.
In games like this, you explore multi-floored dungeons and you need to survive until the very end of course. You have weapons, armor, and charm accessories you can equip. There are your healing items, as well as traps you can set, and power-ups for your weapons and armor.
I CAN HEAR YOU JUST FINE!!!
Gameplay is turn-based. When you take a step, use an item, or even attack, a turn is used. When said turn is used, an enemy can take a step closer to you or attack if within range. This is very familiar if you’ve even played JRPGs before. But the thing with rogue-likes is that they can be very fast-paced (faster still by turning up the speed in the option menu!).
Your actions are critical because one false move and you could end up dead before you realize it, and if you die, you’re booted out of the dungeon and your level and experience drop back to Lv. 1. Thankfully, any items picked up and upgrades made to your items are untouched.
The Yokai Village
Every character in the game, from your playable cast to the enemies are these adorable girls, even more so in their chibi form in the dungeons! I’m serious, this game is too cute to bare at times! Example, some enemies will just randomly fall asleep on the floor so peacefully. One enemy just spins around and around and around and looking adorable while doing so. Cutest of all is one is this sleepy-looking blonde one that is like a big head crawling on tiny arms and legs and she… SQUEAKS when attacking you. AHH!!!
The game has such an adorable charm to it. The raw graphics might look cheap-ish at first glance (the Touhou games are more indie-esc in Japan which explains it), but this game in particular actually has some great artwork present. From shots of the characters during special attacks, to art of the dungeon floor title cards, and hell, the freaking title screen is this beautiful multi-layered crystal effect. Really the only thing “cheap” about the visuals is the repeated ground textures, most visible on dirt textures in forest areas, and the very simplistic animations that have a “flash”-look to them. But overall I was surprised at how much I liked how the game looks.
That one on the far left is the one that squeaks!
Audio-wise the game is shockingly fully voice-acted in Japanese and there is a LOT of it. Every few floors you reach a sort of “break point” where there’s no combat and you just wander around villages or quiet places. When in villages you usually speak to characters who will assist you on your travels, such as provide healing, a shop to buy and sell things, etc. All of these are shown off in fully voice-acted cutscenes featuring still portraits of the characters (with changing expressions).
A bit into the game you’re introduced to a fusion machine you carry with you which allows you to merge two objects, such as two weapons or two armor items to merge their abilities and seals which grant new effects (such as more damage against certain enemies), and power buffs (shown like a +2 and merging two of those will give it a +4). You’ll also gain the ability to dismantle items to free up space in your inventory (which is sadly pretty limited) which also give you points needed to merge objects (it don’t come free you know!). The merging mechanic is right out of Chocobo’s Dungeon which I adored very much.
An example of the fusion machine in action.
So the game’s fun to play but the problem is the difficulty spikes that can occur. Once I died to a Death Curse which instant-kills you if you don’t react to it in time (I blinked and it was over… back to the beginning for me). Honestly this is all in the first dungeon you start in once the game gets going… and I was in the mid-20’s floor and lord knows how many there are. I died a second time just because I got bombarded by really tough enemies all of the sudden at around the same point. Make sure you have a good supply of Bean Cakes and Tea which recover health and your tummy meter (once your tummy empties you start losing HP, but your tummy empties slowly so it’s no biggie).
Overall I had a surprisingly fun and addictive time, especially once I got the fusion machine. The game’s utterly adorable and charming. If you enjoy rogue-likes, I actually highly recommend this. Just be prepared for the difficulty spikes. Also you can’t reset since it auto-saves after each floor and when dying (maybe if you reset quick enough…?).
+ Too adorable for words. Very charming characters.
+ Fully voice-acted in Japanese.
+ Classic rogue-like gameplay is very enjoyable.
+ Merging items like weapons keep things very interesting and engaging.
+ I liked the music. It changes up every few floors with the environment.
+ Has screenshot and video capture support.
– Difficulty spikes. You can get killed before you even realize it.
– Upon dying you’re sent back to the beginning with all your level and experience progress gone.
– Some of the environment art is a tad bland like the repeated ground textures. Animations in the sprites have that “flash animation” look.
– Inventory could be larger, so you have to dismantle/use up items VERY often.