Official Website: http://neetpia.sakura.ne.jp/works/GensoukyouDefenders/en/index.html
Players: Single Player, Online Co-op [2 Players]
Who it Caters to
The Tower Defense genre hasn’t really made much of an impact these past few years, with more players opting for other gameplay options that allow for more entertainment. That isn’t to say that the genre is bad by any means, but with the current high influx of new titles hitting the gaming market frequently this year, there are more choices than ever before. Now of course if you’re anything like us and do find enjoyment in the genre, then Gensokyo Defenders may be a nice treat for you this holiday season. Gensokyo Defenders is an indie title developed by Neetpia and focuses much of its gameplay on a combination of classic shmup elements tied with tower defense strategy, in order to eliminate the enemy and protect what’s rightfully yours. Much of the game is based off of the popular Touhou universe, and so anyone who enjoys that genre as well may find Gensokyo Defenders to be a exciting ordeal.
What to Expect
Much of the gameplay behind Gensokyo Defenders revolves around protecting your base and using the correct spells to cast away the enemy, building barriers to further slow down the approach. There are a variety of ways to play the game, so creative thinking is certainly encouraging while you’re engaging in combat. You’re able to select from 15 different adorable Touhou-based characters, and also take your skills online via two-player co-op to conquer the 19 fierce bosses that await you ahead. While the fun factor is certainly there, no game is ever truly perfect, so we’re going to provide you with both pros and cons to ensure that your experience is worthwhile.
The Nintendo Switch is a very sophisticated console that can render a lot of visuals in a beautiful way, giving the game a polished feel. In Gensokyo Defenders, the game doesn’t necessarily look bad but it’s not groundbreaking either. It looks clean and the overall presentation is satisfactory at best, which shouldn’t discredit the gameplay by any means. Not every fun game needs visuals to win you over, and in this case, Gensokyo Defenders certainly makes up for its lack of visual charm for its gameplay, which we’ll dive into momentarily. The menu screen is pretty straightforward and offers you the option to choose single player, online, options, and the manual. Nothing too special in this category as we feel the main focus on the game is definitely the action itself.
Gensokyo Defenders provides a nice cheerful music selection as you play, and doesn’t rob you of the experience in any single way. One gripe however is the fact that the music does loop very often and you can even notice when it stops, then loops again. The music though is very fitting of the Touhou aesthetic, which is a plus because it only shows us that attention to detail was given, and the team didn’t just throw in a bunch of random songs to appease a crowd. In that regard, extra points are certainly given and are deserved. We would’ve liked however, to hear more variety in terms of music because things started to feel a bit repetitive as you kept playing. For lack of a better term, the in-game music felt rather bland and could use some extra spice, especially for a popular genre like Touhou, which is known for having a very upbeat and uplifting selection of music.
While Gensokyo Defenders does have its fun moments, it does hit a wall at some point and starts to wane in fun factor. One main reason for this is due to the bare bones approach to how the game mechanics work, and that most of the characters kind of feel the same. We understand that perhaps the team tried to focus on maintaining a simplistic approach in order to appeal to a wider audience, but we feel that hardcore fans of the genre may very well be turned off by its lackluster options. The hordes of enemies that you fight against aren’t that hard to deal with once you come up with a very strong strategy, and they don’t really pose much of a major threat anyways. Another gripe is that we feel the character creativity, with regards to the enemy, is somewhat basic, since a lot of the time your enemy is either a large rolling ball or another Touhou based fairy foe.
That may sound a bit nitpicky but it sure would’ve been great if we could see a bit more variety in terms of the enemies you’re fighting, and at the very least give them some cool techniques to really challenge the player. A lot of the time the enemies would just run towards you and your barriers, not really putting up a fight in any way, and your spells are just so strong that they don’t really stand a chance once they’re powered up.
We were able to breeze through the game rather quickly without there being much content to fall back on, which was unfortunate because in spite of the game lacking in areas, it still felt fun to us, which at the end of the day is the main reason why we play anyway. If there were more options available and not just the online co-op portion of it, Gensokyo Defenders would be a lot more satisfying. The lack of difficulty options also hinders the game in a way, because what if we wanted to raise the stakes a little? The options menu only allows you to change the SFX, BGM volume along with the voice volume.
Control-wise, the game fortunately doesn’t feel all too bad, allowing you to quickly build barriers and traps by tapping the ZL/ZR buttons to swap between your options, then laying them down with L/R. Each trap and barrier costs currency, which you earn by defeating the enemy and clearing each round. Spells can quickly be dispelled by using the arrow buttons, and your regular attack comes out automatically, which saves you time and energy.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall, Gensokyo Defenders is really a budget tower defense game, or at least it feels that way. It doesn’t quite hit the mark in a lot of areas, but what saves it from being casted away is its cheerful music and simple approach. It’s not overwhelming or intimidating, which of course is a plus for any newcomer to the genre, but with the lack of creativity and options available, the game doesn't last too long. If you’re really skilled at tower defense titles you can get through this game rather quickly, and since it lacks in replay value, it’s one of those titles where once you’re finished it’s time to move on. It serves its purpose for the time that you play it and then poof, all of that adorable Touhou magic is gone. Be that as it may, we do encourage Touhou fans to at least pick it up and try it, just to see how they feel.
Voice acting is quite nice and does fit the Touhou theme well.
Fun, simple gameplay.
The 3D aspect of the game is perhaps what hurts it in the gameplay area, since framerate drops do happen.
Lack of gameplay options leaves you wanting more.
The game lacks difficulty settings so those skilled in this area may find it to be too easy.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Well that about does it for Gensokyo Defenders for the Nintendo Switch. We hope that you found this review to be an insightful one, and that it provided you with information needed to make your purchase decision a bit less taxing. Be sure to of course follow us here on Honey’s Anime for more game reviews, and follow us on our social media accounts to stay in the know about any upcoming titles!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!