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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Touhou Corner: the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil

Touhou Koumakyou (lit. 'Scarlet Devil Land') ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil (東方紅魔郷 ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil) is the first game of the series to be released on Windows platforms (and 6th entry overall). It was announced by ZUN roughly three years after the last PC-98 era game (Mystic Square) and after several trial versions it was released on August 11, 2002 for the 62nd Comiket.

With the story setting finally established on being in Gensokyo, the land has been enveloped in a thick and unnatural scarlet mist, which blocks great part of the sun rays' power and renders a dark and cold atmosphere everywhere in return. With the player being in control of either Reimu or Marisa, only one of the two heroines will go out to investigate the causes of the 'Incident', with Reimu looking to block its source in order not to mantle planet Earth's atmosphere and Marisa simply looking for interesting items that the spell caster may eventually hold in order to perform such an impacting act. Both investigations will lead to the Scarlet Devil Mansion, its unusual maid/service staff and its owner Remilia Scarlet, who cast the scarlet mist so that she -a Vampire- could leisurely walk out of the mansion during the day hours.

This title has been one of the biggest transitions for the main series, due to a number of reasons that leap beyond the hardware changes from the PC-98 games. While the game's lore is set up to mostly be a continuation of the former titles starring little to none of the formerly-introduced characters and relations (with a few exceptions), ZUN's goal for the game was more of a 'return to the roots' for the bullet hell shmup genre from the other shooters of the time, relying on over-complicated systems that may cloud the player's enjoyment of just dodging the attacks. The duo of recurrent playable characters are back with their individual stats from the former games, while the entities of Gensokyo as a whole -players and foes alike- are launching their attacks with the usage of spell cards, constituting in bombs/other items for the player and many different sets of special attacks with different effects for the enemies. During production, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil's original title was going to be Touhou Kouchakan (東方紅茶館 lit. "Touhou Teahouse") which, while being one of the final game's stage themes, was ultimately scrapped out for a more plot-related title.

While ZUN had to sacrifice some features in order to make the game playable under the DirectX libraries for time constrains such as unique grunt enemy illustrations and a third playable character in Satsuki Rin (冴月麟), the built-from-scratch game engine was proven to be successful enough to be used in the next three main-line Touhou games. Other fan-favorite aspects from this game include the jazz-fusion inspired soundtrack and the brand-new characters, most of which quickly became recurrent personalities in later games as well as the reason behind Taiko gaming's original Touhou quintet of custom dancers for Touhou songs!

EoSD tracks in Taiko gaming happen to be one of the most representative selection of the series, with all of the currently-released tracks being playable in publicly-available Taiko titles between arcade and console releases. The bulk of the arrangements come from the two tracks that ZUN himself dubbed as representative of the first Windows game as a whole, with Septette for the Dead Princess (亡き王女の為のセプテット) getting a NAMCO SOUNDS-fueled arrangement piece and the always-popular U.N. Owen Was Her? (U.N.オーエンは彼女なのか?) getting a trio of songs.

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-Embodiment of Scarlet Devil songs-




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