Unseeable in life; unseeable again in death.
Touhou Youyoumunote ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom is a video game created by Team Shanghai Alice for Windows computers in 2003. It's the seventh installment in the Touhou Project franchise.
It's May, and Gensokyo is gripped by an unnaturally long winter. But cherry blossoms float on the wind, meaning somewhere is still experiencing spring. Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame and Sakuya Izayoi set out to follow the trail to its source, gathering every drop of spring they can find along the way.
While Embodiment of Scarlet Devil is the start of the Windows series, it's Perfect Cherry Blossom that gives Touhou a defined setting and kicks off its Myth Arc, differentiating it from the anything-goes days of the PC-98 games.
The game features the Cherry Points mechanic. Shooting enemies gives Cherry Points, bombing or dying reduces them, and getting 50000 of them grants a temporary shield.
The game's official website can be found here (in Japanese).
This game provides examples of:
- Artistic License – History: Yuyuko's father, all but directly stated to be the real-life poet Saigyou Hoshi, is generally agreed to have lived in the 12th century. This would place Yuyuko's timeline over a century out of sync, given that she supposedly died as an adult over 1000 years ago.
- Ascended Glitch: The deathbomb, previously a bug in EOSD, was made a standard gameplay mechanic in this release.
- Boss-Altering Consequence: In the Stage 4 boss fight, the Prismriver sister you damaged most during the 1st spell card will attack you alone for the 2nd spell card, with each sister having a different attack pattern.
- Cherry Blossoms: Present here, of course. They apparently contain the power of spring. Some of the bosses charge their spell cards by absorbing cherry blossoms.
- Continuity Creep: PCB marks the start of Touhou's switch to heavier worldbuilding.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- Cirno is referred to as an ice youkai in her character profile. Her being an especially powerful fairy, and indeed that being something separate from a Youkai, wouldn't be established until Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
- Yukari is treated as a regular Youkai who just happens to have the power to manipulate boundaries, and it's implied she and Reimu aren't personally familiar with each other. Her role as Gensokyo's leading founder and Reimu's Stealth Mentor wouldn't be established until the following game.
- Endless Winter: Yuyuko steals spring to feed a giant monstrous cherry tree in the ghost world, causing perpetual winter in the land of Gensokyo.
- Establishing Character Music: Used to show the relationship between Yukari and her shikigami Ran. Ran's theme Maiden's Illusionary Funeral ~ Necro-Fantasy has a simple, restrained rhythm broken up by a trumpet chorus. Yukari's theme Necrofantasia is a more fast-paced, chaotic and eerie version of this chorus.
- Foil: Sets up the contrasting duos of Reimu/Yukari, Marisa/Alice, Sakuya/Remilia and Youmu/Yuyuko, as preparation for the next game.
- Game-Breaking Bug: The Prismriver sisters' glitch, that was unexplained until 2022; precisely timed pattern clears with Sakuya lead to stack overflow that causes Merlin to fail to transition properly into the final spellcard and continue to attack the player — causing the player to lose lives even after the battle has ended. This bug has been mercilessly ridiculed by doujin artists.
- Hell Gate: Due to the boundary between Gensokyo and the Netherworld being weakened, phantoms have started to leak out into Gensokyo, becoming noticeable by the time of the Extra Stage. Downplayed since they don't do much harm other than make their surroundings colder.
- Hitbox Dissonance: In addition to characters' hitboxes being smaller than their sprite, this game marks the introduction of Reimu having a smaller hitbox than other characters.
- Leave the Camera Running: When you arrive at the end of Stage 4, it takes a while for the pre-boss cutscene to begin, and even longer for said boss (or rather, bosses), to actually appear. When playing as Reimu, she actually lampshades, "Doesn't someone usually pop out with a response at a time like this?", and only then does Lunasa Prismriver present herself.
- Promoted to Playable: Sakuya, returning from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil.
- Recurring Boss: Chen first appears as the Stage 2 boss, then in powered-up form as the midboss of the Extra Stage. Likewise for Ran appearing first as the Extra Stage boss, then as the Phantasm Stage midboss.
- Recurring Riff: Parts of Mystic Square Stage 3 theme Romantic Children get reused in this game's Stage 3 Boss theme Doll Judgement; fittingly enough, Alice was originally the Stage 3 boss in that game, as well.
- Red Herring: The demo ends with Stage 3 boss Alice Margatroid, a redesigned version of Alice from Mystic Square, who greets the protagonist as an old friend. Sounds like another returning PC-98 character will be behind the incident? Nope, and this Alice turns out to have a completely different Back Story from her PC-98 incarnation.
- Seal the Breach: The Extra and Phantasm Stages are about the Player Character seeking out Yukari Yakumo and reminding her of her promise to repair the barrier between Gensokyo and the Netherworld.
- Superboss: As usual, completing the game will unlock the Extra Stage, where the player faces Ran Yakumo. However, completing PCB's Extra Stage and capturing (Beat without bombing or dying) 60 unique spellcards across all 3 heroines will unlock the Phantasm Stage, where the player fights Ran's master Yukari Yakumo.
- There Was a Door: Instead of flying over the barrier to the Netherworld like Marisa and Sakuya, Reimu breaks it. She then complains that it was too weak and anyone could wander in by mistake, much to Youmu's annoyance.
- Underground Monkey: Yukari fights like a more difficult version of Ran and even has similar theme music, justified by her being Ran's "programmer" and the source of her power. By Word of God, Ran should be taken as a weaker version of Yukari rather than the other way around.
- Wolf Pack Boss: The Prismriver sisters of Stage 4, who fight as a trio.
- The Worf Effect: Ran Yakumo is a nine-tailed fox, one of the most powerful classes of Youkai, and is capable of binding lesser youkai as shikigami. But Ran herself is Yukari's shikigami, which hypes up Yukari as being stronger still.
- Worldbuilding: While the setting was first named "Gensokyo" ("Land of Illusions") in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil,note Perfect Cherry Blossom is the first installment to expand it beyond "a remote place in the mountains of Japan", introducing concepts like the Great Hakurei Barrier and the unusual relationship between humans and youkai. ZUN claims that introducing a character like Yukari literally "set the boundaries" for the first time of what would fit in the setting and what wouldn't.