- Fantasy Violence
- Mild Language
- Mild Suggestive Themes
- Use of Drugs and Alcohol
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Jul 17, 2018
No. of Players: 1 player
Publisher: NIS America
Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or achieve something. Frustration can stem from many different events, ranging from the inability to have a sexual release when desired to the current job or paycheck climate many people are currently in. In gaming there is both the “good” frustration of Dark Souls games and the genre they spawned and the malignant frustration that a lot of games fall into for whatever reason. Sadly, Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded falls into the latter bracket for various reasons. The game is the definitive edition of the rougue-like RPG that was developed by Aqua Style and is being published in North America by NIS America. The first version of the game saw its original Japanese release back in 2016 before coming out West last year. This updated version has been out in Japan since late 2016, but is only now seeing a Western release.
Getting back to the game being a form of bad frustration for gamers, the first frustration a player will likely notice is that there is a conglomeration of dialogue in the game. It starts in the beginning when the player meets the adorable protagonist Reimu Harukei, who immediately becomes entranced by a golden sphere being held by Rinnosuke Morichika. She lunges after it while Rinnosuke tried to pull it away. He fails; her fingers connect with the sphere, creating the principal event for the storyline and the game is henceforth initiated. Rinnosuke is then enveloped with a mysterious dark power and turns into the game’s antagonist while cloning the local residents. This all comes off as extremely lazy in its tropes while also featuring way too much dialogue. There has to be a reason for all of it, but eventually the player is just so sick of it that they are tempted to just skip the cut screens to get back to playing the game. It is so bad that just simply walking into a shop for the first time starts a cycle of needless dialogue that lends no movement to the story.
Which is a shame as the cut screens are beautifully rendered and shows off the great artwork that the artists created for the game. With that said, the character models are a bit off, especially in regards to the mouth when a character is speaking and the overall face look and dimensions. It really takes away from one of the few bright spots of the game, which is disappointing in its own right on several different levels. Now, for the art style outside of the cut screens, it is something that I have yet to really experience before in a game. While it gets brownie points for being a bit unique, it is also a bit weird and off putting, much like the combat system. It comes off as real-time combat when in actuality it is turn-based. This actually hinders the player as the companion can get into fights but if the player is further away they begin to move much slower. It eventually causes the player to not even try to go help the companion.
For anyone a fan of the series, the aforementioned dialogue may very well be interesting. Newcomers, however, are utterly confused not just by the ongoing story arc, but also by the entire premise of the game. This is yet another frustration that the game even self-inflicts at times. A clear example of such detriment is exemplified in the explanation for the Tummy Meter. It is stated that by eating food items the meter will be filled/refilled, but what is not explicitly stated is that when it runs out Reimu starts losing HP and will eventually die if she does not eat. The informational distribution of key mechanics in relation to the informational distribution of the story is severely unbalanced. Another imbalance is that the HUD covers a ton of real estate on the screen and makes it difficult to appreciate the art and get immersed into the game. These imbalances of information really hurts the overall game, but makes it almost frustratingly unplayable for newcomers.
The biggest frustration is the fact that there is no touch screen support at all. Of course not all Nintendo Switch games need full touch screen support, especially those that are only on PC or home consoles, but these games that were originally released on the Playstation Vita not having touch controls has gone from disappointing to disgusting. The developers would rather release the same version of a game than taking some extra time and resources to implement touch screen support, even if it is just for the menus in a game. This gripe also goes for the touchpad on the PS4 controllers, but at least third-party developers have tried to implement that more. Funnily enough, these two features could be fixed together with the simple visual change of the Nintendo Switch versions not showing a cursor while- provided a player uses the PS4 touchpad- a cursor would be shown. This may not be a specific game criticism and it may even correct itself as the port craze dies down.
With all of that said, the merits of a game are based on many factors outside of touch screen support. The issue with Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded is that almost every one of those factors includes frustrating aspects that turns a promising little gem of a game, into a frustrating mess. This is ultimately disappointing as the game starts out fun enough before getting weighed down. As quickly as the player’s interest is piqued, it is wasted away while the early fun factor vanishes. This all converges into a loop that in no way helps sustain interest. In the end, the player will grow so frustrated that they will most likely just decide to put the game down and play something that will bring about way more entertainment to them. Series veterans and fans alike would be best advised to do extensive research on the game before purchasing it, but with that said the Nintendo Switch version has no technical issues with the added benefit of portability. (Ryan Williford)
Review copy provided by NIS America; reviewed on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.