Touhou Sky Arena: Matsuri Climax Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Areazero

Published By: Mediascape

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Areazero for providing a review code.

The Touhou series is fairly well known to many for having a large amount of spin-offs based off the series. The series games come in many different forms from shoot em ups, to tower defense titles, and even dungeon crawlers. Today I’m going to be taking a look at the series entry into the 3D fighting genre.

Story

Touhou Sky Arena doesn’t have a concrete story, but instead offers a story that goes along with each of the characters Arcade modes. We’ll talk more about that later.

Gameplay

Touhou Sky Arena is a 3D multiplayer fighter for up to 8 players. If you’ve played other 3D fighters such as the Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi games. You may be able to draw some comparisons between the two.

Touhou Sky Arena features a wide cast of 20 characters and these characters come from the Touhou universe. They’re all fairly different from one another and I think fans of the Touhou series will appreciate the amount of options you have to choose from. There’s also DLC to unlock more should you feel inclined.

The combat is all about aerial combat dashing around and attacking with combos and skills. My first gripe about the combat would be the combo system as each character’s combos are very short. The melee attacks feel awkward and there’s a time lag, after every combo before you can perform another. I’m sure this was done to prevent combo trapping, but it makes the combat feel a slowed down and I didn’t enjoy that.

Besides melee you have a plethora of skills to use against your opponent. This aspect of the combat is where I find Touhou Sky Arena draws a lot of comparisons to the Budokai Tenkaichi series. First off you can launch projectiles at your enemy in the form of shots. These shots can be charged and launched at an opponent to do even more damage. Besides these shots, you also have a few special abilities that you can use to perform high amounts of damage.

The first special ability is your “Spell” which can also be charged to inflict more damage. These are usually longer range attacks and are your default special ability. Your Ex. Spell usually isn’t an attack, but instead provides a bonus such as boosting a stat, or creating a barrier around yourself. The next two abilities are a bit more interesting and actually lead us to talk about what makes Touhou Sky Arena stand out compared to other 3D fighters.

The “Fired Up System” is a game mechanic that relies on the use of music to dictate the tides of battle. At the top of your screen you can see the progression of the song that’s playing in the background. At different parts of the song your character’s spirit will change. There are five types of spirits you can through and they are “Low Spirit”, “Normal Spirit”, “High Spirit”, “Climax”, and “Climax Finale”. Each spirit will not only boost your abilities, but as I previously mentioned two of them unlock new skills.

Your Hi-Spirit and Climax spell can only be used once you have entered their respectful spirit in fired up mode. Hi-Spirit spells cause tons of damage, but the Climax spell is your ultimate ability. This one will cause massive damage and should be used cautiously.

Once you’ve gotten past learning the “Fired Up System” the rest of the game’s core mechanics are fairly standard. Guarding, parrying, dashing, and more are very similar to how they would work in other 3D fighters.

So once you’ve learned how to play what is there to do? Well of course, like any fighter you have your local versus, training mode, tutorials, and more to try out. The main single player game mode is the Arcade mode.

Arcade mode has you playing a series of fights against the AI while you follow your character’s story that’s laid out for them. This is similar to how fighting game’s like Soul Calibur lay out their storylines.

The single player mode that’s more unique to Touhou Sky Arena is the Sky Arena game mode. Sky Arena sees you going across a map of panels, each one being a different fight. Each fight has a requirement to complete in order to unlock the other panels. If you manage to win the fight and don’t complete the extra requirement, then you will still get to move on, but only one panel will be unlocked.

Some battles may have an extra objective that instead of unlocking extra levels they will unlock a Reigyoku. Reigyoku’s are power-ups that you can attach to a character to give them a boost.

The other game modes that are available are Survival mode which lets you face off against CPU’s until you run out of health, and online play. Sadly, online play is dead and I wasn’t able to find a single game during my playthrough. There is a LAN & local play option on Nintendo Switch however, so you can play together on multiple consoles.

Touhou Sky Arena offers a fair amount of content along with genuinely enjoyable gameplay. That doesn’t mean the game’s perfect, however. Some of the battles that you’ll have to fight, for example, in Sky Arena will have you fighting 2 against 1. This is not an easy game and so having to face off against two enemies at the same time is quite a daunting task. It ends up feeling more unfair than anything when you end up losing, because you were getting teamed up on.

The up close combat is also kind of strange as the combos don’t look all that good or work well. I found myself relying on my ranged abilities and trying to not get up close to my opponent whenever I could.

Presentation

Touhou Sky Arena is a visually pleasing game. There are over 20 stages to choose from and each one is different in its design. They all act as 3D environments, but they have a nice mixture of different color palettes and designs to keep them differentiated from one another. Each of the characters from the Touhou series is also well designed and boast a nice anime art style. Fans of the Touhou series will most likely be impressed by their design.

Now what’s really important to talk about here is the soundtrack. Since I don’t know much about the Touhou series I don’t know how well I can speak on this, but the soundtrack for me was absolutely terrific. I’m not sure if these songs come from the Touhou series, but they add a good range of different melodies to listen too and they worked really well in combination with the Fired Up System. Some may want to pick this game up for the soundtrack alone.

Technical Issues

I can happily report I experienced no technical issues, during my playthrough of Touhou Sky Arena. The frame rate stayed stable in handheld and docked mode.

Summary

While I once again must reiterate, I don’t know much about the Touhou series, I can say that this is a title that flew a bit under the radar. It’s not a perfect 3D fighter and if you’re already not a fan of the genre this definitely won’t win you over. However, for fans of 3D fighters this blends enough ideas from others in the genre with a few new concepts to create an interesting new 3D fighter. The combat is surprisingly entertaining, although the up close combat needs some polish. Sadly, the online is dead, but if you want a new 3D fighter to play with friends then this will offer a nice amount of content. Just make sure you don’t show this to any of your friends who haven’t been exposed to anime..

7/10

Pros

  • Fun Fighting Mechanics
  • Awesome Selection of Soundtracks
  • Diverse Cast of Characters
  • Great Variety of Game Modes
  • Fired Up System is a Neat Concept

Cons

  • 2 on 1 Battles Make For Unfair Challenges
  • Online Play is Non Existent
  • Most Likely Won’t be Enjoyable for Newcomers to The 3D Fighting Genre

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