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 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:
- 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.
- Early Installment Weirdness: 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.
- Expy: Reimu to Sayo from Kiki Kai Kai, a game from the company where ZUN had worked. She would grow out of it in later games.
- Kaizo Trap: There is a slight delay between clearing the stage and the score screen. A careless or unlucky could lose a life over getting hit by the Yin-yang orb or enemy shots. Thankfully boss battles avert this.
- Shout-Out: The track "The Legend of KAGE", intended to have a "ninja-ish" feel, is named for the Taito videogame.
- Stalked by the Bell: There's random bullets shooting at you if the clock runs out on any stage.
- 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.