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.
- 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 Chiruno?) - 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 Reti Howaitorokku?) - 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. She possesses an ability to manipulate chilliness — since this is equivalent to an ability that manipulates the winter within nature, she possesses tremendous power according to the environment, but she is pretty much powerless outside of winter. Outside of winter, she hides away in a place where not a ray of sunlight can reach.
- 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. Chen, as a bakeneko, acquires powers of a wrathful god while possessed, but since Ran is also a shikigami, her ability is fairly low. This shikigami possession is removed when she is soaked in water, and since she also hates water as a cat, she is in any case weak to water.
- Alice Margatroid (アリス・マーガトロイド Arisu Māgatoroido?) - Returning from Mystic Square, the redesigned Alice is the third stage boss. She is a magician who uses puppetry, a departure from her old magic-styled attacks. She has blond hair and has pale skin, and at one glance she has the appearance of a doll. With a personality that is indifferent to other people, she is attached to magic, and is usually confident but is also timid in one aspect. Originally a human, she became a yōkai magician upon completion of some training. It has not been long since the day she has become a magician, and because of this, she still continues human habits like eating and sleeping that became unnecessary. She has a residence in the Forest of Magic, and perhaps due to her being originally human, she gladly gives shelter to those lost in the forest. Normally aloof, she unexpectedly likes to duel others with spell cards.
- Lily White (リリーホワイト Rirī Howaito?) - The mid-boss of stage four. A fairy that heralds the arrival of spring with barrages of bullets. She is the first midboss to receive an official character profile.
- Prismriver Sisters (プリズムリバー三姉妹 Purizumuribā San-shimai?) - Bosses of stage 4. They are poltergeists in the shape of three sisters. They were originally daughters of a human noble, but an unfortunate event caused his four daughters to separate. The fourth daughter, Layla Prismriver, was unable to leave the mansion that held so many of her memories. Using her power, she conjured poltergeists with the appearance of her older sisters, then slowly became forgotten along with the mansion and the poltergeists. Even though the humans died with the passage of time, the poltergeists continue their noisy lives in that mansion to this day. The three Prismriver Sisters, now musical performers of some note, were employed by Yuyuko Saigyouji to provide entertainment for the upcoming flower-viewing. The protagonists encounter them at the gate to the netherworld.
- Lunasa Prismriver (ルナサ・プリズムリバー Runasa Purizumuribā?) - The main stage four boss when playing as Reimu. The eldest of the Prismriver Sisters. She plays the violin and prefers solo performances. Honest to a fault, she is perhaps the most well-adjusted of the sisters.
- Merlin Prismriver (メルラン・プリズムリバー Meruran Purizumuribā?) - The main stage four boss when playing as Sakuya. The middle child of the Prismriver Sisters. She plays the trumpet. Her magic is the strongest of the three sisters, but her technique is not very good. Despite this, she is cheerful and tends to obsess over things.
- Lyrica Prismriver (リリカ・プリズムリバー Ririka Purizumuribā?) - The main stage four boss when playing as Marisa. The youngest of the poltergeist Prismriver Sisters. Although skilled with all instruments, she prefers keyboard and percussion. She is clever and manipulative, usually goading her older sisters into doing her fighting rather than engaging in battle herself.
- Youmu Konpaku (魂魄 妖夢 Konpaku Yōmu?) - The stage five mid-boss and boss as well as the 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. As she is a mixture of human and yūrei, she has a half-human half-yokai existence, and the large yūrei that always follows her is the yūrei half of her body. As she has a straightforward diligent personality, she is often manipulated by those around her (espsecially Yuyuko).
- Yuyuko Saigyouji (西行寺 幽々子 Saigyōji Yuyuko?) - Final boss, the ghostly princess of the netherworld pagoda, Hakugyokurō, who unwittingly lures her victims to their deaths. This ability of hers when she was still a living human caused her to eventually commit suicide using her life to seal away an ancient evil residing in a youkai cherry blossom tree. Yuyuko, at first appearance, is a ditz; her mental processes seem to be dedicated mainly to teasing her gardener and servant, Youmu, and anticipating her next meal. However, her usual manner conceals a sharp mind and an almost prenatural depth of insight. Her danmaku are characterized by butterfly-shaped bullets.
- Ran Yakumo (八雲 藍 Yakumo Ran?) - Extra stage boss and Phantasm stage midboss. A nine-tailed fox yōkai whom Yukari Yakumo made her shikigami. She is considerably powerful even without her master's support; among other things, she uses this power to maintain her own shikigami, Chen. Since Yukari sleeps twelve hours a day, she handles the work during these times, hence she fights the heroines in the game before Yukari wakes up.
- Yukari Yakumo (八雲 紫 Yakumo Yukari?) - Boss of the Phantasm Stage after the Extra Stage. An ancient youkai being who has control over the boundaries of all things, both physical and metaphorical. She is a good friend of Yuyuko and is the self-appointed stewardess of the seal between Gensokyo and the outside world. However, she is asleep most of the time, leaving all the work to her shikigami Ran and Ran's shikigami Chen. When she isn't, she tends to amuse herself by pulling in unprepared humans from the outside world and stranding them in Gensokyo. A very irresponsible yōkai. Her calculation and mathematical skills far exceeds that of Ran.
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 "sort of resembles a firework display being sick".