Thanks to NIS America for the review code
Title: Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle
System: Nintendo Switch/PS4
Release Date: 10/10/2017
When rumors spread that Reimu is causing havoc, Reimu and her friends each go out to investigate the cause, only to find that it’s a weird giant head thingy. That’s pretty much everyone’s story in a nutshell, and the story modes are so short and simple that they might as well have never made a story out of this.
When it comes to visuals on both platforms, the game looks average, using really basic 3D models that look a lot worse than what both systems are capable of, (Especially after having just played Pokken Tournament DX on the Switch) along with some equally basic looking stage designs. (of which there’s only five total in the game, at least from what the few hours I played) At the very least, the character models aren’t as ugly as they were in the Genso Wanderer Intro, but they do look rather plain, and fairly basic. Thankfully, the story mode cutscenes and the character select menu are in 2D which looks much better than the actual game.
Another major problem related to the visuals is the camera, which loves to get delayed even with the ability to use the right analog stick to tilt it, so if you happen to dash too quickly to get away from your opponent, good look during the few seconds you have to wait in order to target them again, as the opponent can easily get a cheap shot on you. Regardless of which version of the game you’re playing, they both have the same horrible issues with the camera, so there’s no escape from this fault. There’s also optional VR support exclusive to the PS4 Version, but as I have no PSVR, I have no way of testing it out, but thankfully it’s entirely optional. On the other hand, the Switch version’s exclusive feature comes from the ability to play the entire game in handheld mode, which looks just as good as it does while docked. (Which isn’t honestly saying too much, but the resolution and framerate looks the same as it does on the big screen) That being said, the framerate loves to dip on the Scarlet Mansion stage in this version of the game.
When it comes to how the musical score of this game, it’s a mixed bag, with a couple tracks standing out while a lot of them just sound boring. Both versions of the game also feature Japanese voice acting for all the characters, and they range from incredibly irritating with some characters to standard acting. I will note that as I played the Switch version of the game, a fuzzy crackle randomly popped up and wouldn’t stop playing through my speakers, which persisted throughout every single mode and menu until I quit the entire application. (as the Home Menu and other places were not affected)
When you begin the game on either version, you’ll have access to all three of the major single player modes this game has to offer. Story Mode, which is a small set of battles that each of the characters go through one after another, (you can’t select a character for this mode at first, as it’ll force you to go through the first three stories in sequential order) Arcade Mode, which is a mode that tasks you to beat up opponents over and over until you get the highest KO count, and Score Attack, which is the exact same thing as the Arcade Mode, with a focus on getting the highest Score instead of the highest amount of KOs. There’s a few multiplayer modes included as well, which include a standard training mode against a CPU dummy, a VS COM mode with seven difficulty levels, a local multiplayer mode where you and a friend can have a ton of fun together, and a seemingly misleading online mode. (More on that later)
No matter which mode you choose, battles will revolve around the same main goal: Depleting the opponent’s health bar with a range of attacks. Using a combination of the L, R, and both buttons along with the Y, X and A buttons to perform specific attacks for each character. Each of the three face buttons has their own cooldown meter, and once it runs out you have to wait for it to recharge before you can fire again. Alternatively, you can have all three of them turn into melee attacks when you get up close to an opponent, although none of these work as well as the ranged attacks, since some of them can be insanely overpowered. For example, a character named Marisa that I grew to adapt to really quickly has an easy to pull off beam attack, done by simply pressing the X button, (for reference, you have to hold R and A/O to do the same with Reimu, and other characters have their own weaker variations) and since it recharges rather quickly and her other attacks are pretty good, (Especially her Spell Card special attack done by pressing X & A/Triangle/O when the Charge meter is full, allowing her to shoot an even bigger Laser that pierces and acts like a OHKO) it led to me having no problem taking down lots of enemies in Arcade mode and even VS Com players on the highest setting, solely due to the insane amount of damage it would deal to the opponents.
On the other hand, this can also mean the CPU can use the same overpowered tactics on you, which can lead to some annoying moments. Luckily you have unlimited continues in the story mode, but you have to finish the story for your current character in one sitting, (which shouldn’t be too hard since they’re all so puny in length) though the other modes will kick you out if you lose even once, which is something to keep in mind as it makes both Arcade and Score Attack the Survival modes of this game.
And last, but certainly not least, the multiplayer modes. Since the Switch reads my Pokken Pro Pad and Hayabusa Arcade Stick as Pro Controllers, I was able to test both of them out with this game and I’m pleased to report they both feel great, especially when it comes to the Pokken Pad, which fits perfectly for this game considering how the shoulder buttons are used to pull off varying attacks, and the ZL/ZR buttons aren’t used at all, so those who own a switch will be able to take advantage of some nifty controller options, which helps when setting up a local multiplayer match. Despite the aforementioned atrocity known as this game’s camera, I had a lot more fun playing this game with a friend that came over to my house on the Switch than with the CPUs on either version, and with the Switch supporting local co-op in table top mode with the single Joy-Cons, that gives the Switch port an edge when it comes to ease of use in the VS Human mode.
Unfortunately, despite the stellar local multiplayer on the Switch, that version of the game appears to lack something the PS4 Version has, although I’m not able to confirm 100% on this until after launch. While both versions of the game have an Online mode available through the main menu, the Switch version suddenly shifts mention to a local wireless AdHoc mode when you go into it, and when I tried to make a room in this version of the game and waited for several minutes, nothing happened, and it didn’t even seem to connect to the internet when this was all going on. Confused, I checked the PS4 Version of the game, went into the Online mode and found a completely different mode with online lobbies that required internet access and worked a lot differently than it did on Switch.
For this reason, I’m a bit worried that the Switch version actually lacks Online Multiplayer, replacing it with Local AdHoc, despite the initial translation in the menus suggesting otherwise. Granted, Online Multiplayer in this game isn’t a big deal to begin with considering how you don’t even get any exclusive achievements from it and it’s fairly barebones on the PS4 version, but this would be a very unfortunate exclusion for the Switch port if my suspicious are correct, since having a local adhoc mode is entirely pointless when you can have the same local enjoyment from the VS Human Mode (as surprisingly, the split screen doesn’t ruin the framerate, even on Switch)
In conclusion, both versions of Touhou Burst Battle suffer from the same issues with the camera and odd character balance, with there not really being any major features on each version that would make the game better on another platform at first glance, outside of the PS VR support on PS4, (but that’s entirely optional and only works if you have a PSVR headset, which I currently do not) or the handheld mode on Nintendo Switch. However, since it seems through my research that the Switch version lacks an online multiplayer mode, (unless it’s coming through a sudden Day-One Patch that I wasn’t informed about, and if that happens I’ll update it promptly) that does make the PS4 version the one to buy if you had to pick between the two versions of the game, which is a bit of a shame since the Switch version even included the achievements from the PS4 version, just like Disgaea 5 Complete did many months ago.
With all that said, however, Touhou Burst Battle isn’t even that remarkable of a fighting game to begin with, since all of the single player modes consist of you fighting the entire cast with every character over and over again, getting every achievement as you do so, and the online mode is not anything to get excited over. Outside of getting every achievement in the game, this game doesn’t have much replay value outside of battling with a friend and having a silly good time, which is a bit of a shame considering how other recent fighting game titles managed to pack a lot of content in the form of collectible Titles to make up for their repetitive natures, including other Switch fighters such as Ultra Street Fighter II and Pokken Tournament DX, both of which are far superior fighters for a slightly higher price tag. Still, if you want a fighting game on a budget to have some enjoyable fighting action with some friends, this game isn’t really abysmal either, as it gets the main job done despite being so shallow on variety. I give Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle a 5 out of 10 for the Switch version of the game, and a 6 out of 10 for the PS4 version of the game.