+Well-drawn character portraits and voice acting
+Some of the soundtrack is a solid piece for fans to enjoy
+Arcade mode is quite fun and offer a lot of replayability
-Tutorials are extremely desired for newcomers
-Visuals are a bit rough
If you aren’t familiar with the Touhou Project, a series of games, print works, and CDs that follow the series’ protagonist Reimu Hakurei as she adventures through a haunted region of japan, you are probably missing out, but that’s okay. It’s a series that you have to actually be familiar with. It’s one that is both odd, lively, and quite enjoyable all together. It’s also one that has a rather large crowd surprisingly enough.
As someone who’s been slowly introduced to it through the course of three games, a few pictures, and fanfics (as they call them), I’ve begun to grow accustomed to this odd little series. Among my slow introduction to the series, I’ve been given a chance to take up Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle a fighting game spin-off from the series. One that follows the antics of Reimu and her friend Marisa Kirisame, whom join a cast of lively characters. All of them, however, are interested in showing who can hit a bit harder than the others.
Since its arrival, the Nintendo Switch has had an outstanding run with third party titles. It’s received quite a bit of love from games such as Dragonball Xenoverse 2, DOOM, and even The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Two of the games having yet launched, but already receiving positive recognition from the press (unfortunately, we missed our chance to go hands-on with both Bethesda games). It’s also had a host of solid first party games such as ARMS and Pokkén Tournament DX, both of which have a solid fanbase, and a cult following.
Just like the latter two, Tohou Kobuto V is a 3D arena fighting game, one that mashes up both ranged and melee attacks based on the players proximity to their opponent. Attacks are combined through the use of the ‘A’ button for your main attack, ‘Y’ for your sub attack, and ‘X’ as a charged attack. All three of them also coming with their own distinct cool-down periods if used too much. If you’re a button masher, you want may want to readjust your mindset, and give the other buttons a whirl in order to avoid having downtime.
Attacks as well as the combos vary between each character, but only slightly. Due to this, you will find some characters being better suited for you in comparison to others. If you prefer close range and strong attacks, you may want to find a character for just that, but remember this one thing: they aren’t much different from one another. This allows you to find some comfort since the learning curve isn’t really there, which makes this game all the more fun, and even allows it to become a good pick-up and go title.
You will find your ability to jump, dash, and block to become a second nature, allowing you to quickly devastate your opponent in any way possible. The only downside? Blocking attacks comes with the need to know when to push the ‘L’ button. During my time with the game, I found it to be temperamental, at times, not really seemingly doing anything, but getting me KO’ed during some of my toughest fights. Just like in the previous games, fighting isn’t really that thrilling, well-polished or even accurate for the experience the game is offering.
Due to the camera not cooperating, I found myself struggling, and at times, down-right losing track of my opponent as they darted about the arena. Once they appeared, I would constantly find myself getting knocked to the ground, and rolled about. The downside here? You’re stun-locked as fighting game enthusiasts call it. You can’t do anything except one simple thing: wait it out. Unfortunately, this also means that you may find yourself getting KO’ed and having to plot out your revenge during the following round (assuming you have one to spare).
If you do manage to get up, you’ll find yourself given a temporary protection from attacks, which on its own is quite useful, but nothing to write home about. If you’re like myself, you’re accustomed to fighting games, but not ones like this. You’ve already put in your fair share of time with fighting games such as Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat X. The pacing in comparison to both, is slow, it’s sluggish, and at times it’s quite troubling.
Just as you can imagine, the games Story Mode, the mode you’ll primarily be playing if you’re like myself, is one that puts you through five fights against CPU opponents before you meet the final boss. A creature which is terrifying in both its own unique and creepy way. Once the story is completed, you’ll find yourself trekking back through it as one of the other girls, but not quite the same way. Each lady has their own story, and as suggested, each of them has their own narrative they tell leading up to the games final encounter.
Sadly, the story isn’t something I’d write home about. If anything, I’d probably hide the game like a dirty magazine, and stuff it where it will never be found again until years later. But these complaints don’t mean that Tohou Kobuto V is a bad game. It’s a unique game, but it does need a lot more to deliver to the fans if it hopes to become highly established outside of Japan. Its redeeming quality is actually in the games Arcade Mode, where I found myself at home while on the go. I found myself detaching the Joy-Cons from our Nintendo Switch, and having a go against the CPU’s while waiting on my pizza, a drink, or meal to be prepped.
What’s fun about the Arcade Mode is entirely enjoyable. It’s a mode that pits you against yourself. The ultimate goal is for you to knock your own high-score from the leader board across consecutive victories. The more victories you win, the better the score, and that’s the delightful part about this mode. It’s a stamina test to be quite honest. A lot of this is because you don’t regenerate your entire health bar. Instead you only get small bits of it back after each fight that ensues.
However, it’s not the best part at all, the Score Attack mode is. It’s the mode I’ve found myself playing the most often. It’s a mode that feels just like the Arcade mode, but discards the original approach. Your score is still tallied, but differently. Instead of accumulating points through victories, you gain points depending on your performance. The more attacks you do, the less damage you take, and the more dodges or blocks you perform, the better off you are.
Unlike most games, I’m not always down for the more chilled experiences. Because of this, I’ve not found myself taking on the “VS Com” mode, one that lets you throw down with the CPU in order to train myself in preparation for harder battles. Even though the game does offer a training mode, this mode does it just right, and will even give you a chance to learn everything you need in order to succeed. This includes turning the A.I.’s skill down, and making it so that the fight isn’t near as hard.
This will at least let you adjust to dodging, using combos, and even blocking attacks. But what’s more dumbfounding is the fact I never was explained several things. The game never gave me a chance to learn how to properly use my “Charge” or “Action Bars”. Instead, I had to go over to GameFaqs.com in order to find this out, and unfortunately, I’m still learning this mechanic. It doesn’t exactly work the way I had hoped, and is as complex as it sounds in order to ensure victory through it.
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle – PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $19.99 to $29.99
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Let alone do you have the option to learn all of this through public forums, there is one issue in particular, one that eluded me in the sense of game design and the use of social gaming in our current day. The game lacks an online component. This split-screen mode is just as it suggests (it’s also called ‘VS Online’). Players can use the same Nintendo Switch or they can connect two Nintendo Switch’s together via a pseudo ad-hoc mode.
As unique as the PvP sound is, it’s not remarkable, and it’s quite irritating for the day and age we are in, but even then, it’s nice to have a same couch brawler on the Switch. While the game itself is solid and has a great storytelling element to it, along with gorgeous menus, the game isn’t strong enough as a brawler to stand out on its own. It’s not a game that’s going to send you writing home like Street Fighter V or Mortal Kombat X. If anything, it’s a game that will keep your attention as a on-the-go title, one that you can pick up, you can play, and you can simply continue from where you left off earlier in the day.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.