Touhou is a franchise known chiefly for its genre-defining bullet-hell insanity. Team Shanghai Alice’s wholehearted embracement of fan-made games (“doujin” more accurately), though, has led to a bustling, open-ended franchise where creativity is bread and butter. Its characters have gone on to star in everything from unofficial anime to light novels, morphing stars of a niche genre into broader symbols for aspiring developers in Japan.
The experiments conducted by fans are most lucrative when they aren’t just leveraging the cutesy characters themselves but embracing the bullet-hell gameplay synonymous with the Touhou name. We saw recently with Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet that fighting game and 2D shooting mechanics can work in harmonious unison. Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity, a doujin title from another studio, instead seeks to fuse the action RPG with the tried and true Touhou shooting formula. Though the fruits of its labour aren’t quite as ripe, the game does prove once again that grandiose bullet-hell gameplay can shine outside predictable contexts.