Game Review of 紅魔城伝説Ⅱ 妖幻の鎮魂歌 (Koumajou Densetsu II: Stranger’s Requiem)
See. Told you I’m going to write a game review on this blog, one day. And what’s a batter game to first review than an obscure indie Castlevania-inspired Touhou-based platformer?
… Great. Now I’m not sure how to describe the game anymore. Castlevania-inspired Touhou-based platformer is as far as I can get.
Koumajou Densetsu, also more popularly called Touhouvania in the west, is a dualogy of fangames for the Touhou Project made by Frontier Aja. The game is made very similar to the Castlevania series, and pay many homages and Shout Out to it.
The gameplay is also mostly the same to Castlevania. It’s a 2D platformer with more focus on combat than on jumping and trying not to fall. As you progress through the games, enemies become progressively stronger and more numerous. Your goal is to get to the end of the level, whether or not you beat any regular monsters, and defeat the boss.
Now, I’ve never actually played Castlevania before, so I can’t really compare anything. But the gameplay for Touhouvania 2 is pretty straightforward. You can slash with one button, jump with another, use a special attack, and cycle through your list of specials. Four buttons, with space bar to pause. The enemies aren’t ridiculous either. The first levels are easy, but they get harder as you get to the next. Combat is more about patience and tactic (when to jump, when to run) than random button-mashing or dashing, which I like.
The boss battles at the end of every level features danmaku, bullets strewn about in beautiful pattern, trademark of Touhou. Each boss move and attack in a unique pattern, and to win you’ve gotta figure it out, put it into your strategy, and attack accordingly. But it doesn’t get bland and repetitive. The danmaku patterns themselves are beautiful and nice to look at. Once you’ve figured it out, and have the patience to execute the right plan, they’ll go down easily.
The patience part, I mostly fail at.
Anyway, as the gameplay itself was pretty straightforward and nothing new, I’d like to give the highest praise for the game’s… atmosphere. Its artwork, both portraits and in gameplay has a unique badass feel to it, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has this bit of a darker and edgier theme to it, but with an artistic feel. And this is supported by the brilliant music, which fit the surrounding very very well.
The story and the writing itself is interesting, although nothing quite remarkable. This should be familiar to those who already know Touhou. Izayoi Sakuya, maid and servant to the vampire Remilia Scarlet, went home after an errand to discover that her mistress was gone. Instead she found the magnificent bastard Yakumo Yukari in her place, giving her hints of Remilia’s whereabouts. Sakuya then proceed to looking for her mistress, and found a castle just like their old destroyed mansion.
It follows the event of the first game, though you don’t need to play that first. I don’t, and highly suggest you start with the second game first. It’s by far a lot more polished.
Anyway, the story as it is, isn’t quite the game’s best feature, but it stands fine on its own. You’ll probably progress through the game curious more for its artistic feeling than the story. And for the badassness, of course.
Unlike the first game, Touhouvania 2 is also very polished. Everything works great, and its appearance is very classy. It also has voice acting done by professional Japanese voice actors, which sounds perfect and fitting for the character and the game’s atmosphere.
It is also a short game. Something you can beat in one sitting. Something you should beat in one sitting, as there’s no save function. You can continue from the start of any level that you’ve been to, however. Considering the game’s nature, it’s really more of a plus than a flaw.
So if you enjoy Touhou, Castlevania, indie games, platformer, or just obscure Japanese games, and doesn’t have that much time to invest on a game, I do highly suggest Koumajou Densetsu II. It might be to your liking. It comes with official English and French translation. Down below in this page for details on that.
‘Course, it’s a Japanese game. And you might be tempted to find a more… unsavory source of getting it than messing with imports. I say, better to get it than not at all, although if you like it, and have a means to do it, go and support the developers!