Touhou Genso Wanderer review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Mediascape/Team Shanghai Alice
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the Touhou games are renowned for their fast-paced bullet hell action. A virtual walk through Touhou YouTube videos shows the series to be explosions of flashing lights and frenetic action. They look like shmups on steroids.

So, naturally, the first two Touhou games to arrive on the Vita in North America are Touhou Double Focus, a Metroidvania platformer, and Touhou Genso Wanderer, a roguelike dungeon-crawler.

Much like Touhou Double Focus before it, Touhou Genso Wanderer never really justifies its existence for anyone other than diehard fans of the franchise. In fact, that even diehard fans would be into it is pure speculation on my part, and assumes that Touhou fans are as fond of lengthy exposition as they are of constant explosions.

Because seriously, if there’s one thing that defines Genso Wanderer, it’s constant streams of information. Tutorials are used as excuses for screen after screen of information and explanations. Every new interaction leads to extremely long, incredibly inane conversations; to call them exercises in exposition would be to drastically overstate the usefulness of what you learn, since nearly all of it is mindless prattle.

I’d like to say that things improve once you get beyond the dialogue and the tutorials and start dungeon-crawling — or, at the very least, that the dungeon-crawling experience justifies the endless explanations — but that would be a lie. This is about as standard a roguelike dungeon crawler as you could possibly imagine: you enter a dungeon, you fight a few enemies and uncover various traps and treasures, and you find the exit to the next floor. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There are hints, here and there, of Genso Wanderer’s origins. Every so often you get overwhelmed by enemies coming from all direction, and you (and your party) have to fight them off, which requires some pretty fancy footwork, not to mention juggling between a couple of different attacks. In those brief moments, you get the sense that something really cool and unique could’ve happened had Genso Wanderer taken a page from some of the other Touhou titles. I mean, a bullet hell/dungeon crawler mash-up? Who wouldn’t want to play that?

But, alas, this is not that game. Touhou Genso Wanderer is a middling dungeon crawler that wants to talk your ear off, and you’re better off not giving it a chance to do that.

Grade: C-