Perfect Cherry Blossom
〜 Perfect Cherry Blossom
|Developer(s)||Team Shanghai Alice|
|Publisher(s)||Team Shanghai Alice|
|Release date(s)||August 17, 2003|
|Genre(s)||Vertical scrolling shooter, Maniac shooter|
Touhou Youyoumu ~ Perfect Cherry Blossom (東方妖々夢 〜 Perfect Cherry Blossom lit. Bewitching Eastern Dream ) is a vertical-scrolling manic shooter made by Team Shanghai Alice, and is the seventh official game of the Touhou Project. The full game was first released on August 17, 2003, in the 64th Comiket in Japan.
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 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, there occurred an incident called the Spring Snow Incident (春雪異変). 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 enter the gate of the Netherworld (冥界). 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 (白玉樓), 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 favour. 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.
The Village of Cats (猫の棲む里), or Mayohiga (マヨヒガ), was the setting of the second stage.
Stages 5 and 6 took place in the Netherworld, which is the place where the yuurei who have been ordered to reincarnation or nirvana are stationed. It is not said that the spirits of insects are also here, and living plants are mixed in with growing spirits of plants. Since heaven is at full capacity, those who await nirvana have overflowed, and since this caused a problem with the yuurei making a ruckus by moving to the outside world, the netherworld expanded its capacity that it became a large and spacious place. It is separated from the present world by a barrier, but this boundary disappeared due to the spring snow incident, making it easy to go between Gensokyo and the Netherworld. Due to Yukari, the boundary between the pure land and hell also became hazy, it is said that it became a lawless place dominated by oni. A graveyard in the Netherworld also became the location of a later game, Immaterial and Missing Power, as Youmu's stage.
The Ruined Western Mansion (廃洋館) is the Prismriver estate close to the Misty Lake, and is a poltergeist mansion in a direction separate from the Scarlet Devil Mansion, in which live the Prismriver Sisters. This estate was originally from the Outside World, and was the estate of Count Prismriver.
- Playable characters
- Reimu Hakurei (博麗 霊夢) - A shrine maiden of the Hakurei Shrine, she is tired of being cold day in and day out and wants to find the source of this unnatural weather. She attacks with homing amulets and needles.
- Marisa Kirisame (霧雨 魔理沙) - A black-clothed magician, she sees a cherry blossom petal float down outside her warm house and wonders if spring is happening somewhere else. She attacks with magic missiles and lasers.
- Sakuya Izayoi (十六夜 咲夜) - The head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, she knows that their winter supplies are diminishing quickly, and wants to end the prolonged winter before they run out completely. She attacks with homing knives and misdirected knives.
- Boss characters
- Cirno (チルノ) - Returning from stage 2 of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Cirno is now a mid-boss of the first stage in Perfect Cherry Blossom. She still uses icicle-based attacks, but she has no dialogue in this game.
- Letty Whiterock (レティ・ホワイトロック) - Stage one boss, Letty is a type of yuki-onna who is only active during the winter. Mistaken for the mastermind behind the unending winter, she was attacked by the heroines.
- Chen (橙) - Stage two boss and Extra Stage mid-boss. A cat keeping watch in the lost village of Mayohiga, Chen is actually a shikigami of Ran Yakumo, who bestowed her with the powers of sorcery.
- Alice Margatroid (アリス・マーガトロイド) - Returning from Mystic Square, the redesigned Alice is the third stage mid-boss and boss. She attacks using puppetry, a departure from her old magic-styled attacks.
- Lily White (リリーホワイト) - The mid-boss of stage four who communicates her excitement of spring with not words but barrages of bullets.
- Lunasa Prismriver (ルナサ・プリズムリバー) - The main stage four boss when playing as Reimu. Her attacks relate to violins.
- Lyrica Prismriver (リリカ・プリズムリバー) - The main stage four boss when playing as Marisa. Her attacks relate to keyboards.
- Merlin Prismriver (メルラン・プリズムリバー) - The main stage four boss when playing as Sakuya. Her attacks relate to trumpets.
- Youmu Konpaku (魂魄 妖夢) - The stage five mid-boss and boss as well as a stage six mid-boss, a subordinate of Yuyuko who tends her garden. With her supreme concentration, her sword slashes can appear to slow time or blink at an instant.
- Yuyuko Saigyouji (西行寺 幽々子) - Final boss, the ghostly princess of Hakugyokurō who unwittingly lures her victims to their deaths.
- Ran Yakumo (八雲 藍) - The kitsune shikigami of Yukari. She is the Extra Stage boss as well as the phantasm stage mid-boss. She works for Yukari when Yukari is sleeping, and hence fights the heroines before Yukari wakes up.
- Yukari Yakumo (八雲 紫) - An ancient youkai being who has control over the boundaries of all things. Boss of the Phantasm Stage after the Extra Stage.
The first demo of Perfect Cherry Blossom was released at the 63rd Comiket on December 30, 2002. Another demo with only the MIDI soundtrack was released freely on the web on January 26, 2003. The final version was released on August 17, 2003, in the 64th Comiket, while distribution in doujin shops started on September 7 of that year. ZUN, the only member of Team Shanghai Alice, made another version of the game for the first Reitaisai, held on April 18, 2004, where a score attack tournament was held. The version features changed dialogue and background music for the Phantasm stage. The new track is included in the doujin CD Cradle -tōhō gegakushi den- (Cradle -東方幻樂祀典-) by Sound Sepher.
ZUN states that Perfect Cherry Blossom is not a very smart game, saying that since many new people are playing his games, it would be nice to have more fan service, but it is just more of the same. He says that this is on purpose, since doujin games gives him the freedom to create what he likes as opposed to game companies where the main goal is to attract new customers.
British comedian and satirist Charlie Brooker, in his video game review show Gameswipe, presents Perfect Cherry Blossom as an example of the shoot 'em up genre that "masochistic maniacs actively enjoy dipping into". He described the game as "sort of resembles a firework display being sick".