Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Shoot'em up Fighter
Developer: CUBETYPE
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS4
Tested on: PS4

Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet – Review

Site Score
Good: Bright, Colourful and Well Done
Bad: Repetitive, Acquired Taste
User Score
(3 votes)
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Rating: 4.3/10 (3 votes cast)

What do you get when you mix cute anime girls and magic with a barrage of bullets? You get a crazy cute shoot em up like Touhou Genso Rondo – CUBETYPE’s action packed bullet blaster featuring remastered takes on characters from ZUN’s Touhou universe. The developers and their fans have been anticipating the release of this game as it will finally bring the Touhou world to not only consoles rather than solely PC, but also to the western world.

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Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet takes place on a normal day in Gensokyo, a place described as somewhere in Japan, separated from the rest of the world by the Great Hakurei Barrier. It contains both a Heaven and a Hell, and it is said this land contains the forgotten things from the outside world. Gensokyo is inhabited by both humans and yokais (spirits, monster and demons in Japanese folklore.) Although they both share this world, it is not a peaceful existence. The yokais cause trouble and there are constant disputes between them and the humans across the land. In an attempt to resolve the issues, a system that allows humans and yokais to fight fairly against each other has been put in place. These are known as “Spell Card Rules.” However, the yokais cause more trouble because of the rules, and these problems have to be dealt with daily. Each playable character’s story is of their own typical day in Gensokyo.

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The menus, story and dialog screens of Touhou Genso Rondo are made up of gorgeous anime art style drawings, with each girl getting her own unchanging portrait you will see throughout dialog while the battle graphics show 3D versions of the characters fighting over a CGI background. The battle characters are mini 3D versions of the portrait drawings and are simple yet very well polished and cute.The attacking animations are well polished with no notable jitters. Most of the view will be top down or from behind, or moving rather fast paced and surrounded by bright neon bullet barrages. It’s easy to get lost among the flurry of bright and colourful bullet displays, but it really is nice to look at. It’s also hard not to appreciate the way the bullet barrages dance around and swirl and twirl all over the battlefield.


There is no voice acting in Touhou, with all of the dialog being text based. The only real sound effects within the battles are simple sounds to represent the bullets being fired. Most of the sound in Touhou Genso Rondo is the music, which really feels like it belongs in an adorable game about magic filled fights. The menus and stories play sweet and simple melodies that have a real anime feel while the battle music is full of upbeat techno tunes that match the fast pace of the bullet shooting action, and the arcade mode features arcade style music which really adds to the feel.

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Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet is an action packed shoot em up style fighting game, with a typical 1v1 fighting game arcade feel. You select your character from the 9 available characters (plus 1 purchasable DLC and 2 proposed free characters coming within the next few weeks – totaling 12 all together) each possessing their own stories, supernatural type, powers and abilities. For newcomers the tutorial mode is a must, which will teach you everything there is to know about fighting. The only downside to the rather long and detailed tutorial is that there is no point that you get to try anything you have learned. The entire tutorial is videos and dialog, with no interaction. The tutorial will explain everything regarding your interface, movement and attacks.

The games interface has a lot of different things to remember, all of them important to your gameplay. As well as displaying your health and your game timer, the main screen shows your number of bombs and your charge bar, which when full allows you to use your charge attacks. You can charge this bar using a technique the game refers to as “grazing” – which refers to you narrowly missing your enemies bullets. This part of the display also shows the number of power ups you have collected, which you can collect during various stages of battle and are displayed by a red P.

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You also have gauges which are located on each side of your screen. The red bar shows how much stamina you have for your main attacks, while the blue bar is your sub attacks. Once depleted the bar will recharge, however you can not use an attack while the corresponding bar is charging up.
You character is surrounded by two rings, one red and one blue, which are to make you aware of your attacks range. The blue ring actually represents your main, and the red represents your sub (which seems strange since the gauges are the opposite colour base.)
There is a lot to take in during the tutorial, which could be a slight downside for newcomers just looking to jump in and fight away. The game play is slightly more complex than it would appear at first glance to people unfamiliar to the game and you could find yourself very lost if you skip this.

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The aim of the battles in this game is simple. You need to dodge your enemies danmaku (meaning curtain fire or barrage of bullets) and then hit them with yours until their health bar Is depleted. You have main attacks, special attacks and bomb attacks in your arsenal to dish out serious damage to your opponents. You also have charge attacks, which can do things such as launch a special attack, or grant you reduced damage. Depending on the type of movement speed you are using, the attack list changes.

After you’ve finished watching the tutorial you can select the mode you would like to play from the list. There aren’t an awful lot of ways to play, and the mode list is rather short. There is story mode, which takes you through a small story about your chosen character that consists of 8 battles. There is a bit of dialog exchanged before and after each fight, with each girl having their own signature win/lose catchphrase. Some of this dialog can feel a little boring and cringe-worthy, and some of the win/lose catchphrases seem a little bizarre. This mode is over rather quickly as each story is short, however each girl has her own unique story for you to play through. The mode list also features arcade mode, bosh rush mode, vs com mode, online battles and split screen battles.

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CUBETYPE has done a decent job here of bringing Touhou Genso Rondo to consoles and the western world, however it may not be the title that wins over a large amount of newcomers. The game is done beautifully and is bright, cute and colourful with simple stories and lots of bullet blasting goodness which does have a fun charm to it as you blast your way to a neon dazzled victory. However the tutorial that talks you through rather than letting you try it out is off putting, especially since there is so much to grasp at once. The game play may also start to feel repetitive very quickly, and unless you enjoy the modes it provides you will run out of ways to play in a short period of time, which may be discouraging. All in all this game has its cute charms, but you need to have the taste for it to get a lot of enjoyment for a long period of time. And it does seem to take a bit of an acquired taste.


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Rating: 4.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet - Review, 4.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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