Touhou may not have the draw it once did at the height of its power, but you’d be hard-pressed to deny that it isn’t a big deal. The bullet hell series has been an essential part of otaku culture ever since it began all the way back in 1997 and still dominates the doujin scene to this day. So even though new games in the long-running series do come like clockwork, the announcement of the Touhou 17 via series creator ZUN’s blog is nothing to be sniffed at.
Titled Touhou 17: Wily Beast and Weakest Creature, this latest slice of self-induced masochism sees three playable characters – Reimu, Marisa, and Youmu – going on a quest to subjugate “animal ghosts of hell” before they unleash a devastating attack on the surface with animal ghosts allies of their own. ZUN professes that this story will be “darker than usual,” presumably because of the heavy inclusion of hell.
The theme of “animal ghosts” seems to be the main gimmick this time around, as a screenshot on ZUN’s blog shows us a “Beast Select” screen where players can select between three different animal ghosts: a “Wolf Goast,” an “Otter Goast” and an “Eagle Goast” [sic]. These different ghosts seem to function in much the same way as subweapons have in the past, modifying your shot pattern and size to allow for a degree of customizability alongside the three different playable characters.
Other than that, you can expect the same, good old Touhou fun – beautiful but deadly bullet patterns, a great cast of characters and, of course, some absolute bangin’ OST tracks. ZUN expects to be finished with Touhou 17 this summer, with a demo version tentatively scheduled for May 5.
One thing that does interest me, however, is whether or not the game will be available on Steam. Touhou 16: Hidden Star in Four Seasons (you know, the one with tanned Cirno) released on Steam back in 2017, but the subsequent title Touhou 16.5: Violet Detector did not. While the Touhou series definitely isn’t in desperate need of new fans, it seems a shame for the series to bar itself from the world’s biggest digital distribution platform for no good reason. Plus, you know, I don’t have a disk drive anymore.
Edit (26/4/19): It has been brought to our attention that Touhou 16.5 is, in fact, available on Steam, along with a whole host of other Touhou titles. This means that Touhou 17 will most likely launch on Steam on its release this summer.