Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet, or as it’s known in Japan as Genso Rondo, is a top down bullet hell shooter which is combined with the fighting game genre to create a unique experience. Taking place in the Touhou universe, this game caters to fans that truly enjoy a game that’s fast paced, uniquely refreshing, and endless fun that you can have with friends online. While the setting may not be suitable for everyone, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet really throws you into many directions with a plethora of colors on the screen, forcing the player to keep an eye on just about everything that comes their way, especially deep in battle. Bullet Hell Shooters are generally known for their very difficult and sometimes frustrating missions, but Touhou Genso Rondo brings it down just a notch and adds a genuine twist by throwing in some fighting game elements.
What to expect
The great aspect about Touhou Genso Rondo is just how creative it is in terms of how it’s played. You’re thrown into frantic battles which can take quite some time to beat if you aren’t too familiar with bullet hell type games, but it really becomes a joy to play once you get a grip on how to play properly. The game features quite a good chunk to choose from such as the story mode, where you can choose from 10 different cute touhou styled characters, all of which come equipped with their own special attributes. Other modes that can be played are the arcade mode, tutorial, vs. com, boss rush mode, and the online mode. All of them can be accessed via the title screen, and we must say everything has been colored in a vibrant way to keep the eyes glued to what’s happening.
Each character within the game has their own unique storyline which takes the player on various journeys depending on who they decide to use. Once you’ve chosen your desired character you’re granted with somewhat of a visual novel sequence where you have your character interacting with another character, discussing issues pertaining to their story. Once you’ve finished with all of the chit chat you’re then thrown into the heat of battle, where you must outmaneuver your opponents vast array of colorful bullets and try to score a knockdown before time runs out.
Outside of this, however, and there’s nothing much left to do after you’ve completed your character’s story. We found this to feel a little disheartening because with such a wonderfully designed game, it would’ve been great to have a story with a little more refinement behind it. We managed to complete Sanae’s story relatively quickly, roughly 25-30 minutes if you don’t die. Of course, each character’s story ending will differ so we encourage you to play through the entire cast to see what happens! You do receive trophies for your performance, but there really isn’t a bonus feature or massive reward given after beating the game with each character which again felt a little bland. If you start to feel a little bored, however, you do have other various forms of gameplay to keep you amused.
Boss Rush Mode
The boss rush mode pits you up against all of the various bosses in the game, which acts as sort of a survival mode to see how long you can withstand a beating from your adversary. We recommend playing this mode after you’ve spent some time in the tutorial since the bosses can give you a hard time if you aren’t too keen on how to play bullet hell style shooters, but also the movement of the game can be intimidating to some at first.
This is where the game starts to get to you a little bit, not so much in the gameplay itself, but rather how long it takes to actually complete this mode. It felt as if we were being forced into learning every little detail, which perhaps isn’t a terrible thing if you’re new to the genre, but for those who are just curious about how the system works it may take you around 8-10 minutes alone just to complete it. We did enjoy the cute little discussions and informative style that CUBETYPE implemented, but we would’ve liked if there was a chance to skip some parts of the tutorial that maybe we felt weren’t too necessary to learn.
It took away time from wanting to actually get our hands wet and dive right in. The controls aren’t too difficult to get used to, and with a little trial and error, the game starts to feel a little more down to earth and not too overwhelming. Using various buttons in sequence can create cool looking spell combos that can rack up massive damage over time.
Arcade Mode is your standard mode in which you dive straight into battle and fight for the highest points on the ladder, seeing how fast you can defeat the CPU before time diminishes. There really isn’t much else in the mode itself outside of receiving a trophy for your efforts. Of course, if that is something tickles your fancy, then by all means collect and enjoy the satisfaction of growing your Touhou Genso trophy collection.
We imagine that once everything is fully released that much of the online structure will improve over time, but from the time we had with it, there wasn’t much to do since not a lot of people were online to duke it out with. You can achieve battle points that accumulate over time as you win more battles with a selected character, while player points act as a culmination of the actual player’s performance in the entire game. If you’re new to the game and don’t want to get pummeled right away, there’s the option to choose the level of your opponent based on rank, so that way you’re not running into high-level players which may take away your overall experience and enjoyment of the game.
Overall the mode felt very bare bones and didn’t really stand out as a remarkable achievement as far as online fighting game standards go, which takes away from the experience a little. Perhaps once things have been fleshed out a little more, we may see a spectator option or large lobby for people to chat in, but in the version we had, it was extremely bland and nothing more than the aforementioned.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet surely allows the player to prance around the screen with beautifully colored bullets to entice the mind. There’s definitely a lot lacking with regards to the overall package since we felt that it could’ve truly used a lot more juice, especially with how polished the character designs are in the character select screen. Dialogue to us felt really silly and didn’t really come across as intriguing, but we definitely felt attached to the character while playing through the story. What really surprised us was that, unlike many of the popular titles currently out, this game didn’t come with an opening trailer or anything of the sort which was a letdown. With such emphasis placed on character detail and background, that very same effort could’ve been showcased in a very anime like intro for everyone to admire. We really liked the spell feature of the game, where you have a certain period of time to counter your opponent’s spell attacks and kill them as quickly as possible before they do. The movement, however, did feel somewhat rigid at times, but it’s forgiving once you start to shoot constant bullets at your opponent and laugh at their misery.
With a lacking story mode and very little to do after completing each character’s story, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet comes onto stage dressed in its very beautifully polished touhou styled ballet outfit, but shoots itself in the foot with its own bullets because it just didn’t put in enough practice to really stand out.
Great character design and attention to detail
The mixture of fighting game and bullet hell/shoot em’ up was a unique experience.
A great cast selection all with their own unique abilities.
The story mode is very short and bland.
Bare bone online features.
Rigid controls can sometimes be a distraction.
Lacks more game modes.
Overwhelmingly long tutorial.
Honey's Final Verdict:
As we stated earlier in the review, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet will not be for everyone, and will generally cater to those who find these genres alluring and entertaining. If you’re new to these types of games, it may entice you at first but be forewarned that the tutorial will take away a lot of your time. In spite of that, Bullet Ballet is a genuine game that combines two different gaming elements into one to create an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. We’d like to hear what you think as well, so be sure to let us know how you feel in the comments section down below, and be sure to like, share, and retweet our articles to support us!
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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!