What is this? I’ve liked many things throughout the years. While some have fallen out of my attention, others remain firmly cemented in my memories and feelings. So, I’ve decided to start a mini-series where each week (hopefully), I pick something random that I like or have liked and discuss it, why I like it, and its impact on me. These things can be varied, and range from more trivial matters such as my favourite animal, to books, games, and movies I’ve liked, to topics that have shaped who I am as a person. The posts, accordingly, will vary in length. See my rating system here.

This week’s item is a smaller one, from a specific game I like.

Touhou 11 (Subterranean Animism) is the 11th game in the Touhou bullet hell series, known for its great music and high difficulty towards beginners. As I discuss the stage, I’ll make references to timestamps in the following playthrough of the stage. I suggest you watch it from the beginning all the way to 3:10 to get a sense of what I’m talking about!

Stage 5 takes place in a burning hot location underground called Former Hell. The stage opens just with howling wind and spirits that don’t even attack until they explode into a bunch of aimed bullets (0:00). I love how ZUN always times the title card of the stage to appear only when the melody gets going (0:25).

The music itself is quite good, but the best part of the stage comes in the middle (what’s known as the midboss in Touhou). The midboss enters the screen and begins attacking just as the soundtrack enters a sort-of bridge section (1:07). If the player is skilled enough to deal sufficient damage quickly, which this player is, the music hits the key change and climax right as the midboss casts her spell, which is a simply sublime moment (1:25). The music stays strong then quiets down, ending the stage in a similar manner as it started: wind and self-destructing enemies.

Some Touhou fans don’t really notice or care for music-gameplay sync ups, but I’m a huge sucker for these kinds of moments. SA Stage V is in my opinion one of the “best-orchestrated” stages in the series for this reason.

See you in the next one!

TIL Rating: 3. Touhou as a series itself would have a higher rating (befitting a later post), but this work on it’s own is still quite good