The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil is a vertical scrolling shoot em' up game developed and published by Team Shanghai Alice for the PC on August 11, 2002. It is the sixth game of the Touhou Project series and the first to be released on the PC. The game stars Reimu Hakurei and Marisa Kirisame, two little girls with a LOT of power.
You have two primary attack buttons as you move with the arrow keys. Z allows you to fire your normal based weapon at targets and X activates a bomb that covers more ground and deflects in-coming attacks. You can only have up to three bombs at any one time. The goal of the game is to make it to the end of the stage, defeat the boss, score as many points as you can and avoid the obstacles that get in your way. Sounds easy enough right? Right?
The player character and the enemy can be taken out with one hit, with the exception of bosses that have a life gauge. Each enemy you take out leaves a power-up that strengthens your attack until you max out your power. The game has six stages overall with only five being available if you choose easy. The player has their choice between Reimu and Marisa, each character having two spell cards (the name for their bombs) to choose from. Reimu attacks are weak but cover a wider range of the field while Marisa attacks are stronger, but thinner. Marisa is also faster than Reimu.
When you reach the end of the stage the character will have a discussion with the boss before they fight. The conversations are... weird, to say the least. I'm guessing this is a reoccurring experience with Touhou games, but I don't know what the hell is going on. They'll say things voided of any and all sense and leave you with a “What the hell?” expression on your face. So if that's what they were going for they passed with flying colors.
During the boss fight there is a countdown that begins on the top right corner of your screen. When the countdown finishes the screen changes to incorporate the 'attack phase' that can grant you bonus points if do a certain amount of damage before the timer runs out.
This game is a pain in the ass even on the easiest difficulty. Obstacles explode all over the place and you have to maneuver like you flew your spaceship into an asteroid field. One misstep and you're dead. Move too fast? You're dead. Move too slow? You're dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead! I'm confident I died as many times as I did in Spelunky and Dark Souls. Despite this, the game is as enjoyable as it is challenging and it knows how to leave you wanting more.
Cons: I don't like that you can't access all the stages in easy mode. The game is still challenging in that mode and just because a player wants easy doesn't mean they should be denied the whole game. There's no reason for it.
The writing is terrible. It has no rhyme or reason to it. I don't know how much of it is the original game and how much of it has to do with the fan translation, but somebody screwed up somewhere. Apart from that there isn't much wrong with it. It's a straightforward game with a straightforward objective.
Conclusion: If you enjoy vertical shooters it's certainly worth picking up.
Final Score: 8/10