There have been a few Touhou fighters made available in the west for console yet here's the first true 2D one and it's quite solid.
I've been playing and reviewing Touhou games for years and find the franchise to be quite charming. So far, I've enjoyed the fighting game spin-offs Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet with its shmup-inspired battles and Touhou Sky Arena: Matsuri Climax with its air-based combat. I also played Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle but that one left a lot to be desired. Anyway, Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers is much more similar to a traditional 2D fighter as the combat is very melee-focused although there are some projectile-spawning attacks that resemble something you'd see in a shoot 'em up. Overall, this formula works well as it creates an entertaining gameplay dynamic that makes executing all sorts of devastating attacks a treat. With that being said, it does have its issues.
Believe it or not, the biggest problem with Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers is that it completely lacks any sort of tutorial and there are no move lists to be found either. I find this extremely strange for a modern fighting game. All you get is the options screen where you can see what the various buttons do which includes melee, shot, and skill attacks as well as the various combinations of these 3 buttons. There is also a button to dash and one to tag in your partner. You can also unleash Possession Spellcards, use Perfect Possession, and break your opponent's Perfect Possession but figuring out how to perform such actions is all on you. Plus, the various onscreen gauges are depleted while using different attacks and again, you'll have to figure that out on your own, too.
On the plus side, Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers becomes fun once you get into the groove which may take quite a long time due to the lack of explanations but it's worth it in the end. What makes it even more enjoyable is its stellar presentation which features lovely character art and superbly-animated sprites that really pop off the screen. The audio is excellent as well with satisfying sound effects and a pitch-perfect soundtrack that ranges from dramatic pieces to catchy upbeat tunes.
Another aspect that's well-handled is the multiplayer portion which allows you to play matches against the computer, a local chum, or online via random matches or by entering room numbers. Even though I didn't get to play online because I couldn't find any matches, the local multiplayer is fun for a quick fix of chaotic 2D fighting. I also liked that you could practice against a dummy which helps with learning each of the 19 characters' move sets. I mean; a tutorial would have definitely been much better but I digress.
Although I enjoyed the local multiplayer component, the only single player content in Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers involves working through bite-sized story campaigns where you fight a handful of battles while watching silly dialogue scenes between each fight. This got fairly boring for me because it's the same thing over and over again so I wish that there were additional solo modes to add more variety. Also, there aren't really any unlockables (at least, none that I noticed) which would have added replay value.
As a more traditional 2D fighter, Touhou Hyouibana: Antinomy of Common Flowers will scratch your itch for 1-on-1 combat and it features a lovely presentation as well. However, the lack of content and instructions is surely a tough pill to swallow.
- + Enjoyable fighting gameplay that feels both unconventional and exciting
- + Lovely art, sprite animations, and music
- + Solid multiplayer modes
- - Could use a tutorial as well as move lists
- - Single player content gets kind of boring
- - Doesn't have any rewarding unlockables