Shoot the Bullet

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Shoot the Bullet
Shoot the Bullet
Developer(s)Team Shanghai Alice
Publisher(s)Team Shanghai Alice
SeriesTouhou Project
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseDecember 30, 2005
Genre(s)Shoot 'em up photography

Touhou Bunkachou ~ Shoot the Bullet. (Japanese: 東方文花帖 〜 Shoot the Bullet., lit. "Oriental Cultural Album") is a shoot 'em up photography game, and is the 9.5th official game in the Touhou Project by the dōjin circle Team Shanghai Alice. It was first released in the 69th Comiket on December 30, 2005. In English-speaking circles, the game's title is often shortened to just Shoot the Bullet, and abbreviated to StB.


In Shoot the Bullet, unlike other shoot 'em ups in the franchise, the player cannot shoot projectiles at enemies; instead, Aya, the main character, must shoot photographs to clear the screen of bullets and take down bosses (hence "Shoot" the Bullet). Scores are determined by the aesthetics of each photograph taken, such as colours and bullet density, and the risk taken to take these photos. For each "scene", Aya is only given one life to complete the objective — to take a certain number of pictures of the boss without being hit in a limited amount of time.

Aya photographing Alice's danmaku.

To take pictures, the film must be fully loaded into the camera (100%). The player can move at three speeds, the normal speed, the focused speed, and a super-focused speed which also allows for high-speed film loading. When taking pictures, the player can hold the shoot button to control the viewfinder while the picture frame shrinks — this can be used to zoom in on the boss. During this time, all bullets on screen are slowed down and Aya cannot move. If the shoot button is held for too long, the film will get overexposed and Aya would have to reload the film. The player can also press the shoot button once without holding to take a snapshot around Aya. For every picture taken, Aya will need to reload the film from 0% again before she can take another picture. Only photos that contain an image of the boss ("Success" pictures) will be taken into account when tallying up the score.


Aya Shameimaru is the tengu reporter of the Gensokyo newspaper Bunbunmaru Shinbun, which she self-manages. Aya goes to search for suitable news topics by taking pictures of bullet patterns with her analog camera. She decides not to shoot subjects herself, because she doesn't want her own bullets in the picture. No one actually knows what she does with these pictures except herself.

Apart from the game's synopsis, there is no traditional plot to follow. Aya faces a majority of bosses from past Touhou Project installments in levels featuring their Spell Cards. After reaching a preset score, she will leave a scene-specific comment of that Spell Card.

The list of characters that Aya encounters are, in this order, Rumia, Wriggle Nightbug, Cirno, Letty Whiterock, Alice Margatroid, Keine Kamishirasawa, Reisen U. Inaba, Medicine Melancholy, Tewi Inaba, Hong Meiling, Patchouli Knowledge, Chen, Youmu Konpaku, Sakuya Izayoi, Remilia Scarlet, Ran Yakumo, Yuyuko Saigyouji, Eirin Yagokoro, Kaguya Houraisan, Komachi Onozuka, Shikieiki Yamaxanadu, Flandre Scarlet, Yukari Yakumo, Fujiwara no Mokou, and Suika Ibuki.


The only member of Team Shanghai Alice, who goes by the pseudonym "ZUN", recognized that all past installments of the Touhou Project drew inspiration from arcade games, so he wanted to turn all that around and make an experimental PC game that throws arcade conventions aside.[1]

The idea of a danmaku photography game first came to ZUN when he was taking snapshots of bullet patterns during the production of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil so that he could name them into "spell cards" to distinguish one pattern from another. He realized that taking snapshots was quite fun, and the idea should make a good game. After Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, ZUN tried to incorporate this idea into a new weapon type for Reimu Hakurei (the main character of the Touhou Project) where she would take pictures and seal away bullets. However, ZUN felt that he was forcing a totally new idea into the game unnaturally, since none of the characters in the games had a reason to shoot photos; so he filed the idea away for two years until after Imperishable Night was released.[2]

ZUN decided that in order to introduce the idea naturally, he needed a character who actually had a reason to shoot photographs. Thus, he created the reporter girl Aya Shameimaru and planned to introduce her in the upcoming game Phantasmagoria of Flower View so that she can become the main character of a future photography game without being too abrupt. During this process, the manga publisher Ichijinsha was planning a manga anthology of Touhou Project dōjinshi, but ZUN decided that he can use this opportunity to introduce Aya, and negotiated with Ichijinsha to turn the anthology into a fanbook that contains samplings of Aya's newspaper. The result was Touhou Bunkachou ~ Bohemian Archive in Japanese Red., which was released three days before Phantasmagoria of Flower View. ZUN had originally planned to include the photography game along with the fanbook, but ZUN did not have enough time to make that happen. Even so, ZUN continued to use the name "Touhou Bunkachou" for his photography game without Ichijinsha's authorization (although Ichijinsha later agreed to let ZUN use the name). Development took a month and a half to finish,[2] and the game Touhou Bunkachou ~ Shoot the Bullet. was finally released on December 30, 2005. The game was also released on Steam on June 18, 2021.[3]


On January 9, 2006, ZUN added an empty level called "Gōgai" (号外, "Extra" in the newspaper sense) after Level Ex with the version 1.01a patch, with the promise that he would add playable stages in it at a later time.[4] On October 16, 2006, however, ZUN announced that he will not make the "Gōgai" stages since he does not have the time, and he would rather move forward onto new projects,[5] thus leaving an empty level hanging in Shoot the Bullet.

In addition to being a standalone game, Shoot the Bullet became something of a game engine on which ZUN's future games base. Mountain of Faith[6] and Uwabami Breakers (Drinking Party, 2007)[7] are two games which use Shoot the Bullet as their prototype.

On March 14, 2010, Shoot the Bullet's sequel Double Spoiler was released. It retains the gameplay of Shoot the Bullet with renewed characters.


  1. ^ 「東方」制作者インタビュー「シューティングの方法論」第3回. Retrieved on 2008-6-05.
  2. ^ a b ZUN, "Shanghai Alice Correspondence Vol.7". Shoot the Bullet Afterword. 2005-12-30.
  3. ^ "Touhou Bunkachou ~ Shoot the Bullet". Steam. Archived from the original on 2021-05-31.
  4. ^ Shoot the Bullet ver1.01a. Invisible Games and Japanese. 2006-1-09.
  5. ^ "October Resurrection". Invisible Games and Japanese. 2006-10-16.
  6. ^ "神主ZUN、『風神録』についてかく話りき!", Chara Mel, Ichijinsha, p. 106, 2007-11-10
  7. ^ ルー後書き.txt. Uwabami Breakers: Staff Notes. Retrieved on 2008-6-10.

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