- "In El Kadsre and Minecraftia, this is the most popular arcade game series played by nearly everyone."
- - Ryan Tenmetsu, describing it to Driller
Touhou Project (東方プロジェクト Tōhō Purojekuto ), also referred to as the Touhou Series or Project Shrine Maiden, is a series of maniac shooters developed by a one-man development team at Drillimation Studios called Team Shanghai Alice. The series was created by Jun'ya "ZUN" Ohta at the now defunct Amusement Software in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System before moving to arcades in the early 1990's. The series was originally published by Drillimation in Japan and Nintendo in the United States, but the distribution rights were turned over to Namco in 1992.
The games follow the adventures of a young shrine maiden named Reimu Hakurei and a friendly magician named Marisa Kirisame who adventure on quests to stop sources of evil from taking over a fantasy-based land named Gensokyo, which is ruled by humanoids and youkai. It is the only game series from Drillimation to feature a more realistic art style instead of the standard "cartoony" art style that most Drillimation games use. As of 2016, the series has sold a total of 100 million copies worldwide.
Driller Engine 1 Era
The first entry of the Touhou Series, released in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System. It is not a vertical top-down shooter like most other games in the series and is similar to Arkanoid instead. Reimu Hakurei, the perpetual protagonist, was introduced in this game. Reimu Hakurei enters through the gateway into another world, intent on locating and punishing the one responsible for destroying her shrine during the First Battle of Gensokyo. Players direct a yin-yang orb with amulets to break away blocks and the level is over once all of them are gone. If the player runs out of time on a level, bullets will rain down until the player completes the level or dies. Bosses are defeated by hitting the orb into them until their life is fully depleted.
The second entry of the Touhou Series released in August 1987. This is the first danmaku game of the series, and also marks the first appearance of Marisa Kirisame (here as the second-to-last boss), the second major player character of the series. The resident shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei returns from a training session in the mountains only to find the Hakurei Shrine overrun by a contingent of ghosts and youkai. Excited at the opportunity to test her fledgling abilities, she takes the powerful Hakurei Yin-Yang Orbs and takes off on the back of her turtle Genji to seek out the source of the invasion. The gameplay is generally the same as Eastern Wonderland throughout the rest of the series.
A two-player versus-type shooter played similar to Gaplus, the game is labeled as the third entry in the Touhou Series, released in December 1987. Reimu Hakurei discovers that some mysterious ruins have suddenly appeared just outside the Hakurei Shrine. She joins in a violent competition with the other people who want to explore them—it is said that the one who reaches the heart of the ruins first will win a prize.
The fourth entry of the series, released in August 1988. This game introduces the focus mode, a staple of the series hereafter, that slows the sprite's movement to facilitate dodging bullets. Following the events of the previous games, the Eastern Country is once again at peace until youkai begin to swarm the Hakurei Shrine and a tremendous power surge from beneath a lake high in the mountains. The shrine maiden Reimu Hakurei once again seeks out and eliminates the source of the disturbance - only, on this occasion, she is unwittingly joined by an old rival. According to ZUN, only 2 - 3 million copies of the game were sold worldwide at the time. The game's title used the caption "Gensokyo", but the world's name is not used until Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil.
The fifth and final entry in the Touhou Series for the Famicom Disk System, released in December 1988. Mima and Yuka Kazami, final bosses of Touhou 2: The Story of Eastern Wonderland and Touhou 4: Lotus Land Story respectively, return as playable characters in this game. As so often is the case in Touhou games, something is amiss within the Eastern Country. A massive quantity of demons is pouring from a cave high within the mountains. Seeking the source of this invasion, Reimu Hakurei and others must travel through Makai to the one behind the problem. In the game's extra endings for Reimu and Marisa, both of them cut their hair short and change outfits permanently, transforming themselves into what the fans know today.
The logo for Japanese releases simply has the name in kanji followed by the English subtitle. Furigana is also displayed above the kanji so younger players can get an idea of what the game's name is. In international releases, the logo displays the game's Japanese title in both kanji and romaji with the game's number in front of it. Around three typefaces are used for the logos: the kanji uses an East Asian font, the romaji and English names use the same font on the Nintendo Entertainment System logo, and the third for the English subtitle is defined with a variety of typefaces, with one used for each game.
While the games mainly focus on the adventures of bishoujo characters, Touhou Project possesses a large cast compared to other shooting games. While they aren't developed nearly to the standards of a story-based game, many players both male and female love them, and even obscure stage bosses who only appear once have a fanbase. One example is Hong Meiling, affectionately known as Chūgoku (China), the stage 3 boss of Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, who won a popularity contest in Japan out of all Touhou characters. Among the vast array of characters, only six named characters are male. One (Genjii) is a turtle, one is a cat (Sokrates), two (Youki Konpaku and Myouren Hijiri) are only mentioned in passing, one (Rinnosuke Morichika) is only featured in the serialized novel, and the last (Unzan) is a cloud-like entity. There is also one before all these (Shingyoku), but this character has three forms of different genders, so this character may not exactly be male.
Though each game features a collection of different characters, the main protagonist of the series is always Reimu Hakurei, joined by Marisa Kirisame after the second game. Exceptions to this include Touhou Shooting Gallery: Shoot the Bullet and Touhou Shooting Gallery 2: Double Spoiler (Aya Shameimaru is playable on both, and Hatate Himekaidou can become playable in Double Spoiler); Touhou Mythologies: Fairy Wars (which has Cirno as the sole playable character); and Touhou Mythologies 2: Impossible Spell Card (where only Seija Kijin is playable).
Introduced in Driller Engine 1 Era
Introduced in Driller Engine 2 Era
- Playable boss.
- Cameo appearance only.
- Was planned but scrapped. Remnants can still be found within the game's data.
Upon the release of Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, the series has been critically successful and well received by critics. Despite this, the series is also largely known for its huge array of fanworks and doujinshi. The vast scope of Touhou derivatives prompted commentary, noting that Touhou Project became an unmissable aspect of Japanese consumer generated media. These doujin activities are mostly responsible for adding original attributes to characters that ZUN and Drillimation may not have intended. ZUN, for the most part, had acknowledged, appreciated, and even encouraged these derivative works by having Drillimation imposing very few restrictions on the use of their works. The major restrictions are on unauthorized commercial distribution and the spoiling of endings; proper attribution to Team Shanghai Alice is a recommendation. The first recent publication of Touhou derivative doujinshi occurred during December 1993, following the release of Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom; seven circles first sold Touhou derivative works at Comiket 45 in December 1993. At the Comiket 54 in August 1998, a total of 885 circles had Touhou derivative works on display or for sale, out of a total of 35,000 circles participating at Comiket. At Comiket 57 (December 1999), 2,372 circles were dedicated to Touhou, which had 2,130 circles. At Comiket 65 (December 2003), Touhou was still in the lead, with 2,272 participating circles selling Touhou derivatives, far outpacing those of other franchises.
In 2003, around a decade after the release of The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Perfect Cherry Blossom, the series had an unexpected rise in popularity as an internet meme. Some of the franchises most famous memes include Yukkuri Shitette ne! and the MTV airing of Bad Apple!!
- Main article: Touhou Project: The Animated Series
A 102-episode anime by El TV Kadsre Animation was produced and aired between 1999 and 2001.
Asides from the anime, there had been several fanmade anime adaptations based on the series, with most of them generally lasting 1 - 3 episodes long.
A short film by Drillimation Studios called Touhou 5.5: Mima's Great Defeat was produced and released in 1990.
Walt Disney Pictures produced a live-action adaptation called The Touhou Project Movie of the series which was released in 2011.
|The Drillimation Series by Drillimation Studios and Bandai Namco Holdings|
|Franchises||Angry German Kid • Angry Video Game Nerd • Chuhou Joutai • Driller Engine Grand Prix • HotShots Party1 • Killer Minecraft • Lucky Star • Mr. Driller • Patry1 • Star Trigon • Super Smash Keyboards • Touhou Project|
|Developers||Edret Games • Seymour Games • Team Shanghai Alice • Twilight Frontier|
|Former/Defunct||Amusement Software • Bladesteel Games • Storer Enterprises • Tenma Games|