This is reposted from this archived topic. The liveblog died for a while, but it's back now. I'll only be re-posting the main update posts, so there may be missing context from comments and such. Sorry in advance if you're confused, although I did try to avoid that a bit when I originally wrote these.
Also, be prepared for walls of text. I'll try to add more paragraph breaks at least, but it's still a lot of text.
As you may already be aware, Touhou is this ridiculously popular... thing in Japan. Technically a series of Bullet Hell indie shooting games made by one alcoholic in his spare time, a twist of fate has rendered it the most popular subject in Comiket by an order of magnitude.
People make fan-comics, fan-music, fan-anime, and of course fan-games. So it's no surprise that there'd be a Touhou RPG or two or a dozen. This particular one, by a group called Strawberry Bose, is called Touhou Soujinengi ~ The Genius of Sappheiros and no I don't know what that means either, although I'm sure it's explained in the plot.
Which is in Japanese. And well, I'm not too good at reading Japanese. This game is pretty new, having been released last August and only about the first third has been translated in my brief search of the Touhou wiki. So if you're curious about the plot, this isn't the place for you. From what I can tell though, it's mostly an excuse to run around beating up familiar characters, so it shouldn't matter too much.
If you're unfamiliar with the setting, the basic gist is that there's a sealed off world in Japan called Gensokyo that's a Fantasy Kitchen Sink for everything that people don't believe in anymore, mostly Japanese folkloric monsters (called youkai) but also some Western immigrants like vampires.
Oh, and they're all Cute Monster Girls, or at least the named ones are. In this particular game there are nameless male NP Cs, but interpretations vary. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I'm explaining this because this game makes no friggin sense at all if you're not familiar with the characters. That said, let's get to it.
The game starts with our shrine maiden hero Reimu cleaning her shrine and complaining about the summer heat. Suddenly, a mysterious fog rolls in, cuing an appropriate "What? A mysterious fog?" reaction.
Cut to Yukari, our resident Trickster Mentor/Big Good hanging out by the Sanzu River for no particular reason, when the fog rolls in there too. And then she also goes "What? A mysterious fog?" followed by the classic "It couldn't be..?!", appropriately cluing in the audience that if she doesn't know what's going and thinks it's important, then something big is happening.
Cue montage of various characters in various locations having pretty much the same reaction repeatedly. It's quickly made clear that this isn't an ordinary fog, it weakens youkai yet leaves humans unharmed. Clearly this is an Incident, and Yukari, back at home and talking to her familiars, makes it clear in a convenient exposition way that Someone is behind it, even if she doesn't yet know who. But she's gonna leave it to Reimu anyway. Because hey, why not? Then we get a title screen, so I guess this was the prologue.
Cut back to Reimu, who is... not doing anything. She's back to sweeping the shrine and complaining about the heat again, and the fog seems to have disappeared. She wishes aloud she had a ghost to cool off with (because of their unearthly chill) when Marisa shows up.
Marisa is a witch. With a hat and broom and everything. She also talks in a sort of manly way and has this cool animation where she pulls her hat down over her eyes like a cowboy. Anyway, apparently she came with a gift, causing Reimu to excitedly ask if she brought a ghost. But alas, they are merely pickled mushrooms. But why did Marisa come here anyway? No reason, she was bored. And then they complain about the heat together.
And then Sanae (other shrine maiden, actually dutiful to her gods who are a bit more in-your-face than is traditional) shows up, also bearing a gift. They repeat the gag about the ghost, and Sanae expresses surprise that Reimu hasn't done anything about the incident, which is apparently still happening even if we can't see the fog anymore.
Reimu notes that Sanae came to the shrine with a gift despite expecting her to be out, so apparently all three of them have nothing better to do than sit around. Anyway, Reimu doesn't consider this an incident because it only hurts youkai. And her job is to exterminate youkai, isn't it? So isn't this just helping her do her job?
Yukari suddenly interrupts the conversation by popping in through a gap in space, which both Reimu and Marisa take in stride but nearly gives Sanae a heart attack. Yukari wonders if she should have brought a ghost, which at first I thought was an awesome Strange Minds Think Alike moment, but apparently she was just eavesdropping.
Anyway, Yukari thinks that this incident might trigger a war between humans and youkai because the youkai might assume that the humans are behind it, so yes this is an Incident, and yes you have to go solve it Reimu. Good luck, bye.
Marisa and Sanae decide to tag along for their own reasons (boredom and excitement respectively) and then Aya the tengu reporter pops in and forces her way into your party so she can report on the incident solving right from the scene. Reimu's attitude is "sure, do whatever you want, just don't get in the way" which we'll see a lot of.
And finally we can control. I'm not sure if that cutscene was particularly long or not, but I almost certainly won't go into that much detail in the future. Most of the time less "stuff" happens. Anyway, we're on the world map now with a party of 4 characters and I guess I might as well explain the basic RPG systems.
It's a turn based RPG, both parties line up on the sides and take turns hitting each other. There's the basic physical vs magic and elemental properties for attacks. Each character also gets a unique ability called a Last Word that randomly activates when things happen in battle. Basically a Limit Break, although they tend to be very situational.
Using elemental attacks fills up the land gauge for that element, so the more fire spells you cast in a single battle the more damage future fire spells will do. Conversely, the opposite element, water in this case gets weaker. So even if the enemy aren't weak to something you have a motive to weaken the element that they use against you, or at least prevent them from building it up.
You've got MP as well as a separate Bomb counter. All spells take MP, but only a few take bombs and those are called Spellcards. They tend to be more powerful versions of the basic spells, but you only get about 4-5 bombs depending on the character and you can't replenish them except by resting at save points.
Spellcards also trigger a cooldown on themselves and all other Spellcards, so you have to wait a few turns before you can use them again, depending on the Spellcard used. Unlike MP, your bomb count does not increase with level. Some spellcards take 3 bombs and are called Final Spells and are even better, but mostly not worth it in my experience. You can only equip 6 spells at a time, so you have to choose what spells you use carefully and Final Spells don't make the cut.
There's also a Sa Ga style life point system, where you lose a point every time you die and if you run out you can't be revived and are removed from battle completely until you heal at a save point. I've run out of life points exactly once, so I mostly ignore them.
You get two kinds of experience from battles, experience points and power. XP gives you levels, which give you stats and spells like normal. Power gives you power levels, which are points that can be assigned to different categories that vary based on character.
Each character has 4 idiosyncratic skill categories as well as 4 weapon categories, the 4th of which is a unique weapon for that character. the other 3 are generic weapons like swords and axes that don't really make much sense for the characters to use. So 8 paths per character, and they max out at 25. This is most of the character customization, but how much that matters depends on the character. You can reassign points at any time and you often have to. Currently I have:
- Last Word: "Hakurei Healing Border" Full party heal
- Specialties: Spirit Attack (light-element attack magic), Barriers (healing), Exorcism (raises both physical and magical attack), Concentration (HP + Def)
- Weapon: Gohei (that little stick with paper hanging from it), drains HP and MP from normal attacks if I leveled it up.
- Overall: The Mario leaning towards defensive. She's the tank at this point, as well as the healer. Uses light-element offensive magic.
- Last Word: "Miracle Hakkero" Makes the entire party's spells cost 1 MP for a few turns
- Specialties: Lasers (non-elemental magic), Astronomy (elemental magic), Magic Mushrooms (M Attack + MP), Power (Master Spark!)
- Weapon: Broom, regens MP
- Overall: Squishy Wizard. Has powerful single target spells but lack area effect stuff. Can only use fire, water, lightning and non-elemental magic.
- Last Word: "Yasaka's Divine Wind" Buffs party with all stats up
- Specialties: Wind Priestess (stat boosting magic), Miracles (healing), Youkai Extermination (attack up), Faith (HP + MP)
- Weapon: Snake (she uses it like a whip, poor snake), causes negative status effects and drains MP
- Overall: Staff Chick with awesome healing and buffs. Oddly enough, uses her physical attack for all her damage spells even though she doesn't have much strength. Uses lightning and earth elements, from her patron gods.
- Last Word: So-called "Shippu Jinrai" Self-buff granting double normal attacks
- Specialties: Land War (Pattack), Air War (Evasion + Speed), Tengu (HP), Reporter (extra bombs + MP cost down)
- Weapon: Fan, learns area effect physical attacks and can randomly knockdown enemies, canceling their action for that turn
- Overall: Fragile Speedster, kinda weak but has AOE. Also has a bunch of spells that speed up your allies' turn order.
I'll start with the actual game next post. Sorry, I talk too much.