Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom, known in Japan as Touhou Youyoumu (東方妖々夢 Tōhō Yōyōmu , lit. Bewitching Eastern Dream), is a 1993 maniac shooter arcade game and the seventh installment in the Touhou Project series developed by the Team Shanghai Alice branch at Drillimation Studios and published by Namco. The game was released the arcades in January 1993, followed by a home console release on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, and home computers in Japan in July 1993, followed by an international release in August 1993. Nintendo released a port for the Game Boy Advance on August 11, 2003.
Created as the spiritual successor of the highly-successful Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, this sequel introduced a third playable character, more bullet patterns and sprites, and a phantasm stage. The game received universal acclaim upon release and was highly regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made.
- "Where is the spring season?"
- - Official attention grabber
It's May already, and no sign of spring has shown up yet. That's right - you're stuck in the middle of an endless winter. Think about this: the temperature is always freezing when it's winter, and this might affect your life at the Hakurei Shrine. Armed with new spell cards, you'll be going head-to-head with new faces with new barrage patterns with sights and sounds you've never seen or heard before in this bewitching eastern dream. But forge on! If you told your shrine master that you're going on an adventure, things will get pretty wicked as you progress.
In the end, the barrier that separates Gensokyo and the Netherworld have been weakened, and the boundary is home to a princess who will do what you request. But making the request isn't easy! It will take a bomb or two in a massive duel, so keep your stake sharp!
Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom features three different playable characters to choose from, with two different attack types each. Reimu Hakurei can weave through the smallest gaps with ease, and her attacks deal low to decent damage, depending on which type is used. Marisa Kirisame relies on her speed and power to compensate for her thin attack area, but the amount of power she wields is very considerable. Sakuya Izayoi has even wider and more versatile attacks than Reimu, but can be quite tricky to use and maneuver.
The largest change Perfect Cherry Blossom introduces over its predecessor The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil is the addition of the "Cherry" scoring system. Almost every part of the game is linked with the "Cherry Meter": shooting enemies increases Cherry points, bombing or dying decreases Cherry points, reaching 50,000 Cherry+ points gives a temporary shield. The higher the Cherry Gauge becomes, the more points the player can gain from Point Items.
Other important gameplay changes introduced in Perfect Cherry Blossom are the appearance of the player character's hitbox while being focused (by holding the Shift key), a change in the properties of the player's attacks depending on whether the player is normal or focused, and a helpful cursor on the bottom margin during a boss battle which tells the player where the boss is currently located.
Only in Perfect Cherry Blossom is there a "Phantasm Stage" after the "Extra Stage", which is a harder version of the Extra Stage and contains the final conclusion to the story of Perfect Cherry Blossom.
In the spring of the 119th season in 1693, there occurred an incident called the Spring Snow Incident (春雪異変 Shunsetsu Ihen , lit. Accident in spring snow). In the hidden realm of Gensokyo, people relax and bask in the calm of a winter without end. Spring showed no sign of arriving even though it's already May, and in fact, the snowstorms were continually getting worse. The three heroines, each for their own reasons, set out to do something about the extended winter. Depending on who the player chooses, only one of these three heroines actually goes out and investigates. Canonically, Reimu is the one that resolves this incident.
Reaching above the clouds, from where the cherry blossoms fall, the heroine enters the gate of the Netherworld (冥界 Meikai ). There she is confronted by human-ghost gardener Youmu Konpaku. Youmu explains that she had been stealing the essence of "Spring" throughout Gensokyo in order to make the Saigyō Ayakashi (西行妖), a youkai cherry tree, bloom perfectly as per her master's orders. The heroine defeats Youmu and hurries to Hakugyokurō (白玉楼), where the tree is, to get Gensokyo's spring back. There the ghost princess of Hakugyokurō, Yuyuko Saigyouji reveals that she had an interest in a corpse sleeping beneath the Saigyou Ayakashi from before her existence. In order to break the seal, the youkai cherry blossom tree needed to bloom fully and completely. Yuyuko and the heroine wage a fierce battle, to get the last "spring" contained in the heroine needed for the Perfect Cherry Blossom, and to reclaim Gensokyo's spring, respectively. After the heroine defeats Yuyuko, the Saigyou Ayakashi starts to lose its health. However, the seal has been weakened from the near-complete bloom, and the sealed soul is temporarily unleashed. The soul is revealed to be Yuyuko's, and the heroine dodges attack after attack until Yuyuko's soul is finally sealed once more. As a result of the Spring Snow Incident, since the arrival of spring was late, the hanami season became short, and was also the trigger for Suika Ibuki to an incident in a later game.
A few days later, Yuyuko asks the heroine for a favor. The magic boundary between Gensokyo and the Netherworld was weakened by Yukari Yakumo, one of Yuyuko's friends, to make stealing Gensokyo's spring easier, which resulted in many yuurei being seen in Gensokyo. Yuyuko asks the heroine to find her friend, who would be preparing for the flower-viewing event during this time, and remind her to repair the boundary. The Extra Mode tells of the heroine's effort in trying to find Yukari. Instead, the heroine meets Chen, the stage 2 boss, again. It turns out that Chen was the shikigami of Ran Yakumo, and an angry Ran comes to fight the heroine after Chen is defeated again. Ran reveals that she is also a shikigami and that she will not let any troublemakers disturb her master. The heroine figures that defeating Ran will get the attention of Yuyuko's friend, and after a fierce battle, Ran is defeated.
Surprisingly, Ran's master, Yukari, doesn't appear, and Ran tells the heroine that she should try coming back at night since her master sleeps less often during the night. In the Phantasm Mode, the heroine returns that night and defeats a weakened Ran again, after which Yukari finally emerges to greet the heroine. Yukari is quite surprised at the heroine's ability and decides to continue where Ran left off. After a vicious fight, Yukari is defeated and quickly uses her abilities to do the heroine's request. However, as this was not resolved and continue for a time, Youmu went to Gensokyo with and gathered back the yuurei with a hitodama light.
Perfect Cherry Blossom began development immediately after the release of Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil in the arcades. ZUN had taken a week off from Drillimation for a vacation after its release and after ZUN returned, Hiroshi Takajima ordered ZUN to make the seventh Touhou Project game in the series. ZUN was told to write the entire script for the game. Development of Perfect Cherry Blossom was tiring for ZUN, as each stage generally takes 2 – 4 weeks to write. ZUN was able to hit the deadline, writing all six stages within 16 weeks.
Creating the Extra and Phantasm stages were not left until the end of development, as these stages were developed within a period of 5 weeks after the arcade version was released. What caused all of this hard work was Hiroshi Takajima asking ZUN to add a third playable character and an even tougher extra stage. These requests were to make sure Perfect Cherry Blossom achieved that immediate success worldwide.
Demo versions of the game were released on December 10, 1992, for PC-98 and IBM Compatible machines. However, the arcade version only had the MIDI soundtrack, as the Impulse Tracker version had not been finalized yet. The arcade version was released worldwide on January 26, 1993. The final arcade version, as well as the Super Nintendo, Genesis, and PC ports of the game, were released on August 17, 1993. Drillimation made a modified version for the first Reitaisai convention on April 18, 1994, where a score attack tournament was held. However, this version had different backgrounds for the Phantasm Stage, with some new voiceover clips for new dialogue that was written.
Perfect Cherry Blossom went on to become an immediate success worldwide, with ZUN states that it isn't a very smart game and that since many new people are playing his games, but would be nice to have a larger fanbase, but it is just more of the same. He says that this is on purpose since Drillimation gave him the freedom to create what he likes as opposed to other game studios where the main goal is to attract new players.
After the release of the Super Nintendo, Genesis, and MS-DOS ports, commercials for the game began airing on Saturday Morning Blocks, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon in North America. The game was heavily promoted by Miyuki Takara during the airings of Lucky Star episodes on ABC's Saturday Morning block, where she dressed in her Lucky Star Kingdom dress robes and discussed the game to the viewers. However, an off-screen voice of Yukari Yakumo (voiced by Karen Strassman) asks Miyuki who she is, and replies with "Your descendant."
Another commercial for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, directed by René Matsushige-Gim, shows a first-year high school boy (played by Darren Berger) attending a prom event, waiting for his date (played by Augusta Sanchez) to arrive. When his date does arrive, she appears dressed in a gown that is nearly identical to the one worn by Yukari Yakumo in-game, minus her sleeves and hat. When the boy complains to the girl about it snowing in May, the only way it can stop is if he gives her a kiss if she wins prom queen. The girl eventually does, and when the boy delivers the kiss to the girl, one of her magic powers knocks him back and hitting a wall, and the snow getting harder. However, the entire situation was only a dream.
One of the game's major selling points was the Phantasm stage, which made the cabinets coin-hungry. One player stated, "the Phantasm Stage is not available on the select screen without entering a specific code that Drillimation implements, similar to the Konami code without A and B but an extra Left at the end." The Phantasm Stage caused the game to become so successful, selling 12 million copies and making it the second best-selling Drillimation game until 2003, where Driller Engine Grand Prix 2x2 overtook the game's position.
On March 22, 1993, around nine weeks after the game was released, American and Jewish Drillimation fans, as well as parents of those fans, complained over two of the game's spell cards, Shikigami's Shot "Ultimate Buddhist" by Ran Yakumo and Bewitching Butterfly Living in the Zen Temple by Yukari Yakumo, stating that they both had swastika-shaped lasers, even though they were actually Manjis. That symbol is considered offensive to Jewish players, due to it not only spinning during those sequences, but that symbol is associated with Nazi Germany, which its imagery and even Adolf Hitler is banned in Germany.
The next day, on CBS This Morning, both the Extra and Phantasm stages from the game were shown, but only depicted the potentially offensive spell cards. El TV Kadsre contacted Drillimation about this, saying this was inappropriate for a kid-friendly game. The American Jewish Committee contacted both the game's publisher, Namco, and its developers, Drillimation and Team Shanghai Alice about this, and ordered them to remove these potentially offensive spell cards. This led to both spell cards being censored in the international version of the game where the spell card now only spins in a windmill fashion. During the editing process, both stages were temporarily banned and was lifted once the changes were made.
- In the fourth stage, Merlin Prismriver will occasionally not team up with her sisters during the final Spell Card, "Burial Concerto", and instead will continue her previous Spell Card movement behavior. This results in a rather asymmetrical bullet pattern. Also, after the Prismriver's final segment is depleted and the fight officially ends, Merlin continues to attack during the end conversation and the Clear Bonus tally. It is completely possible to graze and get hit during this period.
- A similar glitch exists with Ran and Yukari. If the player finishes Ran's "Ultimate Buddhist" or Yukari's "Butterfly in the Zen Temple" spell cards at the precise moment where they switch between the red and blue Manji (in either direction), the fading Manji will remain on-screen. It will then power up a few moments later as usual, and then disappear completely once it powers down again. While powered up, the lasers are lethal, and the player can graze them. Interestingly, the Manji does NOT rotate, which allows the player to just sit next to it and run up the graze counter (and if the player has a Border active, their Cherry Max).
- After defeating the last or extra boss in the MS-DOS, Macintosh, or TS-UGOS versions, a cinematic slowdown is supposed to activate for a few seconds. In PCB and potentially other games, sometimes the slowdown fails to deactivate; the exact conditions for this are still unknown. The game continues to play in this state until the player saves the replay and return to the main menu. This may occur in other games as well.
- The same pause menu glitch from EoSD persists in PCB, where pausing the game exactly when the statistics screen is about to show up causes both the pause menu and the statistics screen to open up at once, giving simultaneous control of both menus. However, PCB is less tolerant of it and the game will often freeze in this state. This may require a restart of the machine through a hard shutdown and rebooting the machine.
Behind the scenes
- There is an easily known mistake on the box art for the North American and PAL Super Nintendo version. Yukari can be seen wearing a British-style crown instead of her trademark hat. While the crown resembles her hat, the designs on her hat are part of the crown. Initially, the localizers decided to do this after they learned that Yukari was a princess. The instruction manual even gives her the subtitle "The Boundary Princess", while using the art from the arcade version's instruction manual.
- The Sallyish name is simply Touhou 7 because the translators were far too lazy to translate the subtitle.
- In addition, the dialogue uses a bland-sounding actor speaking over the English translation (like most TV shows and movies are translated), again because the translators were far too lazy.