If you’ve ever thought to yourself, what would happen if you took a bullet-hell game (a side-scrolling shooter with non-stop bullets coming towards you) and a cute anime fighter then merged the two together and cranked the difficulty up to 11, I believe we have just found what you were looking for – Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle!
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle isn’t like your ordinary 3D fighting game, it tries to take what Touhou games are well known for (their music, difficulty and bullet-hell gameplay) and deliver it as a 3D arena-based fighting game that wouldn’t look out of place on the PS3, maybe even the PS2.
The story is simple, when you pick ‘story mode’ you are put into the shoes of a girl and must play through her day. You have a basic story, presented as 2D images, which sets up the next battle. Once you have completed the story (which takes about 20 minutes) you can select ‘story mode’ again and you are given a new girl with a different story and order of opponents. As far as I could see, there is no choice in who you play as, it just cycles through the girls until you’ve played through them all.
Gameplay-wise, you fight against one opponent at a time in a square arena. The camera is fixed behind your character’s head and the ability to move a full 360 degrees around the arena makes it feel a lot like how Bandai Namco games operate, such as Dragon Ball Z and J-Stars. Unfortunately, the controls don’t feel as solid as those games as you will find it difficult to line up shots, dodge the constant barrages of bullets heading your way, and jump out of the way.
Each character has three attacks that are assigned to different buttons. Each attack has its own ‘stamina bar’ which restricts you from spamming one move over and over again. I found the moves to be one of the most diverse elements of the game as each character has unique attacks, each with her own strengths and weaknesses. Each girl has a melee attack, jumping attacks, and ground bullet attacks – as the story practically forces you to play through as each of the girls, it’s nice that each one plays differently, and you get to experience them all.
The base game gives you access to nine girls as you progress through the story, I also purchased a DLC character which was 39p and came with the character and a new story in ‘story mode’. For that price, I couldn’t say no! With the constant issues with microtransactions and the price of DLC, it was nice to see a game offer a decent amount of content for a very good price.
If you don’t want to play the story, you also have the option to play solo vs. the CPU, against a friend online or in split-screen, or you can play against the CPU in VR mode. I tried out this VR mode and personally, I don’t think it works as well as it should. The girls look great and it feels like you are there, but not in a good way. You are viewing the action as if you are a giant watching on, which can be good in some games but in this one, the opponent keeps running behind you which forces you to keep looking around. This results in you losing sight of your character or the opponent – I would have preferred it if it was side on and kept both characters within your point of view at all times.
Turning off the comfort mode and jumping can also make you a little queasy if you don’t like heights, as the camera shoots up into the air with the girl as she jumps!
The music is good, not exactly the same high standard we have had with older Touhou games but it’s catchy and enjoyable although maybe a tad light-hearted for a bullet-hell fighter. The graphics, although looking like a PS2 era game, are clean and crisp and really stand out with the cuteness of the characters.
Fans of Touhou games may find more enjoyment than others with Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle. If you are looking for a hard-core fighting game with solid controls, a deep story and a very active online player-base then I wouldn’t say this game was for you. If you don’t mind clunky controls and a serious challenge in completing everything the game has to offer, then this one may be for you.