Game Review: Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle

Game Review: Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle

Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is a game with an interesting premise. You play as girls from the Touhou universe in a 3D fighter, spreading your bullet-hell projectiles across the stage while avoiding your enemy’s attacks. Of particular interest to fans of the series, this is the first time a Touhou game has graced a Nintendo platform. However, newcomers to the Touhou franchise (such as myself) should know: it’s not a game from the main series. What we have here is an updated version of a fan-game from 2010.

Gameplay

Burst Battle is a projectile-heavy 3D fighter, a bit similar to the “Field Phase” in Pokken tournament. Choosing one of just 7 characters, you use the A, Y, and X button to use your various attacks. There are also alternate attacks if you hold L, R, or both while you fire your bullets. You can also jump or double-jump with B, and dash around the arena at high speeds (on ground or in the air) using the R button. Since these characters are extremely floaty in the air, you can press L to fast fall. Once you fill your Charge meter, you can unleash an insanely overpowered special attack by pressing A and X simultaneously.  There’s no block button, so dashing and dodging are your bread and butter for facing the fury of your foes.

The game offers a decent variety of modes to get your Burst Battle on. There is the Story Mode (see below), along with arcade, training, and a couple of score attack modes, where see how many enemies you can defeat in a row, or how high a score you can rack up. Note that these modes don’t have local or online leaderboards; they just show you the single top score.

Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, the battles were disappointing. The lack of a block/shield means that you’re going to be dodging a lot of bullets. And the third-person perspective of this game is not the best angle to view what’s going on. You have some control over the camera using the right stick, but it feels like you’re fighting against the camera instead of your opponent. Some attacks feel overpowered, and the winning strategy (at least against CPU opponents) seems to be to find the strongest attacks and spam them. The characters all feel a bit too similar. Likewise, each stage is an identical square, reskinned with a different environment and music.

Graphics and Sound

Heavy on particle effects and low on polygons, the graphics don’t do much to impress. A couple of the stages are visually interesting, but the majority are just ugly. Character animation feels stiff and jerky. And as mentioned before, the “bullets” are largely uninspiring particle effects. And because of these effects, the framerate can drop from time-to-time when things get too hectic. It doesn’t break the game, but it’s noticeable. The music, on the other hand is actually pretty good. You can select the song before each battle in some modes, too. The voice acting is all in Japanese, and isn’t bad, but the same few phrases are repeated often enough to get annoying.

Story

The game contains a story mode. Like that contained in most fighting games, it’s pretty brief. Don’t expect fully voiced and animated cutscenes. There’s some narration, two of the girls talk to each other for a bit, and then it’s onto the fighting. I would imagine the story is more interesting to people who are already fans of the Touhou franchise. But even then, the events seem inconsequential and the characters are flat and dull. Each character has their own story you must play through in order, each telling the events from their perspective. The events center around a head-shaped doll that was brought to life, and you must fight this giant head as the final boss to each character’s story. The moment this boss was revealed for the first time, I laughed out loud. This delightfully bizarre moment brought me more enjoyment than any of the actual gameplay.

Multiplayer

“Burst Battle” features local and online multiplayer. If you can find a friend willing to play this game with you, the game is compatible with single Joy-Con play, and pro controllers. At the time of the review, we were unable to find any online matches to test online play.

IN SUMMARY

Despite all my criticisms of the game, Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is not completely broken. As such, it might be worth a look for hardcore Touhou fans. But for anyone else, the game is difficult to recommend. There are better 3D fighters on the Switch, including ARMS and Pokken Tournament, that are more worth your time. And at $29.99, the price is far too steep for the small amount of content that the game offers.

Pros

  • Music is catchy
  • Girls are cute
  • End boss is hilarious

Cons

  • Gameplay feels clunky
  • Graphics are dated
  • Only a few characters
  • Bare-bones presentation

Soup Verdict: This overpriced soup has a bit of an acquired taste.

A review code was provided by NIS America for the purposes of this review.

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