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Video Game / Touhou Reiiden ~ Highly Responsive to Prayers

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The game that started it all, even if its gameplay wouldn't stick.

Touhou Reiidennote  ~ Highly Responsive to Prayers is a video game developed by ZUN Soft and published by Amusement Makers for the PC-98 in 1997. It's the first installment in the Touhou Project franchise.

In the mountains of an eastern country lie a number of portals to Hell, Makai, and other terrible places. Long ago, a great gathering of mystics sacrificed their lives to seal away countless demons and youkai, but over time their power has slowly weakened. For generations the miko of the Hakurei Shrine have stood guard, honing their bodies and minds in order to defeat anything that emerges into the human world.

One day the shrine is destroyed by something inhuman, and its only inhabitant Reimu Hakurei enters one of the gates seeking payback. While her normal fighting skills are ineffective on the enemies inside, she's happy to find that hitting enemies with her Yin-Yang Orbs (an ancestral treasure of her shrine) still works quite well.

Unlike the Bullet Hell Shoot Em Ups which would compose most of the series, this game is an Arkanoid clone where you bounce a ball around the screen to hit blocks and enemies. Reimu is capable of redirecting the ball and deflecting small bullets, either by swinging her gohei or by throwing Ofuda. Combinations of inputs allow her to perform a few types of Slide Attack or throw multiple ofuda at once. Finally, a limited number of times she can use a "spirit strike" which renders her temporarily invincible while destroying all bullets on the screen.

If you're viewing this page because you wanted an introduction to Touhou Project then skip ahead to the Windows games starting with Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, because Early-Installment Weirdness abounds (and not just in the gameplay).

This game provides examples of:

  • Boss Subtitles: Played with. The bosses' names and titles don't appear in the boss fights proper, but rather during the Enemy Roll Call after getting the good ending.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In the Makai route's good ending, the yin-yang orb turns into a fairy that grants wishes. Reimu wishes, in order, for treasure, sweets, knowing the principles of the universe, and the destruction of the Earth. The fairy asks "Who would wish for something like that?"
  • Breaking Out: There are many elements of this, for one thing swatting the ball away from Reimu so it won't kill her and breaking cards with it.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: A bit literally with Sariel, the Angel of Death and Final Boss of the Makai route. After being seemingly defeated, Sariel adopts a second form and shoots flurries of danmaku, but this form has very little health.
  • Collapsing Lair: Implied. In both routes, the screen shakes violently once the final boss is defeated.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference:
    • PC-98 Reimu looks very different from her Windows design. She has purple hair instead of dark, and looks shorter, younger and fatter. Her clothing is also more accurate to that worn by real life Miko.
    • She also has yet another design only in this game's results screen, where she looks older and taller than both of her regular designs, wears more red than white compared to her regular PC-98 design, and wears some sort of headband.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Even when compared to the other PC-98 games:
    • This isn't even a danmaku game. It's more of a weird Arkanoid clone, with some Shoot 'Em Up elements in the boss fights. Not only that, but the game is far more generous with resources (getting one every 400 thousand with no upper limit unlike other games, on top of keeping bomb count and getting one on death; the game seemingly expects you to burn through these resources, making a Perfect/NoMissNoBomb run that much harder).
    • The input for using a bomb is more elaborate than in later games, where you simply press the X key. Here, pressing X alone will make Reimu swing her gohei. Instead, to bomb you must either quickly press Z and X simultaneously twice, or simultaneously press Z, left and right.
    • There's no dialogue between Reimu and the bosses. Not before and not after the fight. This changed from the next game onwards.
    • The music room doesn't contain commentary from ZUN on each track like it does in all other games.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom:
    • Subverted in the bad ending. The yin-yang orb starts glowing, and the world blows up... Only for Reimu to appear in front and say "Just kidding!".
    • In the Makai route's good ending, Reimu's wishes are graphically represented inside thought bubbles. Her last wish, the destruction of the Earth, is represented as the world blowing up.
  • Enemy Roll Call: After getting the good ending, the "staff roll" consists of names and pictures of all the bosses from the route you played.
  • Engrish: When the clock runs out, the text "HARRY UP!" will appear on the screen before you get showered by bullets.
  • Excuse Plot: Unlike later installments, where the stories are much more elaborate, all the plot we get in this game is that someone messed up the Hakurei Shrine and Reimu heads to either Makai or Hell to find and punish the culprit.
  • Gainax Ending: In part due to the barebones story and the almost nonexistent dialogue, none of the endings make any sense. In the bad ending, the yin-yang orb blows up the world, except it didn't and Reimu was joking; in Hell's good ending the orb turns into a round creature with legs that starts thrashing the shrine, leaving Reimu just as confused as the audience; and in Makai's good ending, the orb transforms into a wish-granting fairy, Reimu starts making wishes with the last one being the destruction of the Earth, making the fairy question why she'd ask for that.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: There's a crash that can happen if the player defeats a boss while diagonal lasers are still up... under very specific circumstances that most PC-98 emulators ignore.
  • Here We Go Again!: The events of the game started because someone wrecked the Hakurei Shrine. In the Hell route's good ending, the Yin-Yang Orb grows legs and starts thrashing the shrine by itself all over again.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Making contact with your own orb will cost you a life, unless it happens while you're sliding, bombing, swinging your rod, or doing a flip kick.
  • Kaizo Trap: There is a slight delay between clearing the stage and the score screen. A careless or unlucky player could lose a life over getting hit by the Yin-yang orb or enemy shots. Thankfully boss battles avert this.
  • Parrying Bullets: You can swing your rod or perform a flip kick to clear bullets. Doing this repeatedly doesn't work too well if the bullets keep coming quickly enough.
  • Pictorial Speech-Bubble: In the Makai route's good ending, the yin-yang orb turns into a wish-granting fairy. Reimu's wishes are then represented as pictures inside a thought bubble. Downplayed for her last two wishes, where the picture is accompanied by text describing the wish.
  • Shoot the Bullet: If one of your amulets hits a bullet, both projectiles are destroyed.
  • Shout-Out: The track "The Legend of KAGE", intended to have a "ninja-ish" feel, is named for the Taito videogame.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The title screen reads "The Highly Responsive to Prayers".
  • Stalked by the Bell: There's random bullets shooting at you if the clock runs out on any stage.
  • To Hell and Back: The Hell route. Reimu heads there to find and punish whoever messed up her shrine, then goes back home.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: According to the manual, Reimu is normally a Brilliant, but Lazy martial artist with strong spiritual powers. However, the Yin-Yang Orb is the only one of her weapons that's still effective against enemies on the other side of the gate.

Alternative Title(s): Highly Responsive To Prayers