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Video Game / Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism

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Touhou Chireidennote  ~ Subterranean Animism is a video game created by Team Shanghai Alice for Windows computers in 2008. It's the eleventh videogame installment in the Touhou Project franchise.

A geyser erupts near the Hakurei Shrine, and Reimu looks forward to turning it into a proper hot spring to attract patrons. But with the water come vengeful spirits from deep underground, and Patchouli Knowledge takes this as a sign that something dangerous is happening in the Underworld. Gensokyo has ancient treaties with the Underworlders which forbid surface youkai from entering their domain, but the youkai sage Yukari Yakumo promises that she will send humans to investigate.

This game features only Reimu and Marisa as playable characters, but they can choose from one of three youkai partners to direct them from above ground (Yukari/Suika/Aya for Reimu, and Alice/Patchouli/Nitori for Marisa), each granting a different shot type. The value of point items is modified by your partner's signal strength, which is increased by grazing bullets or staying above the Point of Collection.

The game's official website can be found here (in Japanese).

This game provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When meeting Yuugi in Stage 3, Reimu and Aya try to introduce themselves but keep talking over each other, confusing the oni, who thinks there's only one person because she hasn't noticed the Comm Links. The whole thing ends with Yuugi believing Reimu to be a tengu sneaking into Former Hell in human disguise, and is so amused by this that she promises to let it slide if Reimu can best her in a duel.
  • Alternate Character Reading: This is the first main series game to officially support furigana (Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, a spinoff, was the first), although ZUN mostly uses it in non-standard ways, such as having anta above a character's name or hidden meanings behind character's words.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Instead of clearing bullets, Marisa's bomb when Nitori is her partner casts a temporary shield that protects her from one hit. If the shield despawns by timeout instead of from a hit, you recover half the power that was spent bombing, and if you bomb during a Spell Card but clear it without actually getting hit, it still counts as a capture.
  • The Artifact: The entire reason the player character's youkai partner acts as Mission Control in the main story is because youkai from the surface are not allowed to interfere with Former Hell. However, the Extra Stage takes place back in the surface, at the Moriya Shrine, but the youkai partner continues to communicate from afar instead of joining the player character in person.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: Utsuho consuming the Yatagarasu drives her to apocalyptic madness. In response, her best friend Rin starts an incident where the entire purpose is to find a human incident resolver that can stop Utsuho and restore her sanity.
  • Beneath the Earth: This game introduces a society of "hated" youkai living underground; surface youkai are forbidden from entering their realm due to an ancient treaty, but the opposite is not true. This realm includes the former site of Hell - it was relocated due to overcrowding, but some of the workers and evil spirits are still around.
  • Book Ends: Stage 5 begins and ends with three waves of spirits that explode into bullets aimed at your position, and drop power and point items when shot.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Utsuho Reiuji, the nuclear-powered Hell raven girl (and final boss) of the game, has the distinction of prefixing each of her spell cards with klaxons while the text "CAUTION!!" flares on-screen.
  • Breaking Old Trends: In all previous games, extra lives were obtained either through score, or in the case of three games, by collecting certain amounts of point items. This game does away with both of those methods and introduces a new mechanic in the form of life fragments, which net you an extra life for each five of them you collect. This system went on to become the new standard for subsequent games, albeit with each installment varying the amount of fragments required for a life, and bomb fragments were also introduced when bombs went back to being a separate resource instead of costing power.
  • Comm Links: Yukari modifies Reimu's Yin-Yang Orbs and Alice's dolls to act as communicators. According to Suika, the Mission Control end consists of a TV screen and a "cellphone-type thing".
  • Deflector Shields: Marisa's bomb when partnered with Nitori casts a barrier that protects you from one hit.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: The midboss in Stage 5 is followed by what's nicknamed by the players as "popcorn hell," an infamous stage section filled with many small pellets. However, the stage section is still secretly playing out in background, so one might want to stall out the midboss just to deal with as little of it as possible.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Aya's passive ability grants Reimu increased movement speed while she's not firing.
  • Elemental Powers: Patchouli's magic utilizes the Chinese five elements, and so Marisa's Stance System shot types when partnered with her are themed accordingly: Fire for the forward concentrated shot, Water for the wide shot, Wood for the three-directional spread angle shot, Metal for the sideways shot and Earth for the backwards shot.
  • Exact Words: Treaties with the Underworld forbid surface youkai from interfering with their affairs. None of that mentions humans, so Reimu and Marisa investigate the incident on the youkai's behalf.
  • Flunky Boss: Yuugi summons wheel ghosts (i.e. the yin-yang shaped enemies) during her nonspells, while Orin is assisted by a squad of zombie fairies throughout her boss fight.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: If Reimu is partnered with Yukari, one of the Spell Cards Satori recreates from her memories is "Boundary of Wave and Particle", despite the fact that Spell Card had only previously appeared in Shoot the Bullet and thus had only been faced by Aya, not by Reimu. A similar situation occurs with Marisa regarding Alice's "Straw Doll Kamikaze", which is also from Shoot the Bullet, but said spell was included in The Grimoire of Marisa, released almost a year after the game, retroactively explaining how Marisa might already have had some familiarity with the spell.
  • Ghostly Chill: How do you tell the difference between phantoms from the Netherworld and vengeful spirits from Former Hell? Phantoms are cold, while vengeful spirits are hot. In the Marisa A ending, Marisa makes an ill-conceived attempt to cool down the hot spring by filling it with phantoms.
  • Guide Dang It!: There are certain things that are up to the player to figure out, that aren't exactly obvious:
    • Certain enemies, such as the fairies that appear at the beginning of Stage 1 and Extra, do not have hitbox. Similarly, certain spellcards, such as Parsee's midspell or Orin's final, have the boss lose their hitbox, meaning the player can just move onto them for massive damage.
    • Certain bullets that spawn directly on the stage won't spawn if you are close enough to their spawning point, which makes such patterns that much easier to defeat (though Yuugi's final drops this safeguard on Lunatic).
  • Hell Gate: Patchouli takes notice of the incident because the geyser is leaking vengeful spirits from Former Hell (also referred to as "earth spirits"). In the end the causes of the spirits and the geyser turn out to be unrelated - Rin was sending the spirits through in the hopes of alerting the surface to Utsuho's rampage.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Defied - Reimu and Marisa are more than ready to build an onsen around Utsuho's geyser, but the water turns out to be too hot to bathe in.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The difficulty levels are named after various youkai, supposedly in ascending order of danger.
    • Easy: Fairy Class
    • Normal: Kappa Class
    • Hard: Tengu Class
    • Lunatic: Oni God Class
    • Extra: Idol Class
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Satori draws on the player character's memories to recreate spell cards used by their youkai partner. E.g. if Reimu's partner is Yukari then she'll face weakened versions of "Double Black Death Butterfly", "Flying Insect's Nest" and "Boundary of Wave and Particle".
  • Lethal Lava Land: Stages 5 and 6, which take place in the former Hell of Blazing Fires, further warmed by an underground STAR.
  • Loophole Abuse: Treaties with the Underworld prevent youkai from the surface from meddling in their affairs, but say nothing about humans, thus making Reimu and Marisa's investigation perfectly legal.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Marisa when partnered with Alice. Her focused shot is spread while her unfocused shot is concentrated, opposite of how shot types usually work and reminiscent of Nether Team from Imperishable Night, and her power cap is 8 instead of 4, which also effectively means she can have up to 8 bombs in stock, but to counterbalance this, her bombs have narrow range and have very limited defensive properties, being very short-lived and clearing few bullets.
  • Mission Control: Various youkai provide this to Reimu and Marisa, leading to different ammo/bombs, different special skills for Reimu and gimmicks for Marisa, different dialogs and endings, and different ways of getting horribly mauled by Satori.
  • Mistaken Identity: Yuugi recognizes Suika's voice, then sees Reimu and, since she doesn't know the two are using Comm Links, thinks Reimu is a very changed Suika until Reimu clears things up.
    Yuugi: Wow, you sure have changed a lot... You look just like a human shrine maiden. When did you pick up those tastes, anyway?
  • Multitasked Conversation: A recurring source of humor is that the bosses hear both the player character and her partner, but only see the former and don't realize she's talking to a third party via Comm Links. As a result, the bosses believe the player character is doing odd things like talking to herself or making contradictory statements. Satori averts this by reading the player character's mind to learn of her partner on the surface, and depending on the route, the characters may or may not explain things to Yuugi.
  • No-Sell: Satori's powers only work on someone who is physically present, so she can't read the mind of the player character's partner. In fact, she only realizes the player character is working alongside a partner at all after reading the former's mind.
    Satori: Who on earth are you talking to...? Oh, I see, there's an oni above ground. I didn't know that.
    Suika: (I knew it, she can't tell what I'm thinking up here. It's so far away, I'm in a safety zone.)
  • Not Completely Useless: Marisa-Patchouli's 3-directional Wood shot has very niche application. It's handy to spawnkill one wave of fairies early into Stage 3, and for an easier time with the spirits at the beginning and end of Stage 5. In addition to this, players at the highest skill levels can use it very effectively against bosses at point-blank range, as the added damage of all shots at once is absurdly high.
  • Offhand Backhand: Marisa shoots backwards when using Patchouli's Earth shot.
  • Powerup Magnet: When playing as Reimu with Suika as her partner, the player can attract items by releasing all buttons.
  • Shaped Like Itself: This line in Reimu and Yukari's route after Orin transforms into her boss form:
    Reimu: Aah! The cat turned into a cat!
  • Single-Use Shield: If Marisa partners up with Nitori, her bomb casts a shield that protects her from one hit.
  • Smart Bomb: Like in the previous game, bombs are cast spending 1.00 power instead of being a separate resource. Unlike the previous game, power caps at 4 instead of 5, meaning you can't have a buffer to use a "free" bomb.
  • Stance System: Patchouli grants Marisa five different elemental shot types, which can be switched between by pressing Shot + Focus.
  • Uncommon Time: Koishi's theme is composed in 7/8.
  • Undead Counterpart: Zombie Fairies are undead variants of the regular Fairy enemies. They share the exact same attributes as them (can swarm the player in droves but go down easily), but unlike the regular variants, Zombie Fairies don't "die" and will come back to life shortly after being shot down. They're only ever deployed by the Stage 5 boss: Rin "Orin" Kaenbyou, making them a case of Unique Enemies as well. The trope is technically subverted, however, in that the fairies aren't truly undead, just cosplaying as zombies.
  • Wrap Around: Reimu gains the ability to go from one side of the screen to the other by going either left or right for long enough while Yukari is her partner.

Alternative Title(s): Subterranean Animism