Where to Play the Official Touhou Project Video Games
If you want to learn how to obtain and play the games in the Touhou Project series, look no further! This page will answer your basic questions.
What is Touhou Project?
Team Shanghai Alice official website
Touhou Project is a series of bullet hell (or “danmaku”) shoot ‘em up games made by the Team Shanghai Alice, a circle consisting of one member: ZUN, the“kannushi”, or head priest.
Though the games are considered the core of the series, Touhou also consists of other materials, such as print works and music CDs.
Column: What is Touhou fan content?
Gensokyo does not belong to ZUN alone. The unique setting — with its unusual philosophy, compelling worldbuilding, and beloved characters — has earned the series a devoted following. Countless fans have been inspired to create their own art, music, stories, and games within the world of Touhou.
Derivative works created by fans are simply referred to simply as “fan content”.
Team Shanghai Alice’s official fan content guidelines can be found here:
How many games are in the series?
At the time of writing (early 2021), there are 17 “danmaku shoot ‘em up games” (or main Touhou games) made by Team Shanghai Alice. There are also five spin-off danmaku games that feature similar gameplay, but are not considered core games in the series because they follow a different format.
Additionally, there are six “danmaku action” spin-off games, which are collaborations between Team Shanghai Alice and Tasogare Frontier. These are generally referred to as fighting games in the English-speaking community.
The oldest games in the series, playable on the PC-98 (an outdated computer model), are no longer available for purchase. However, you can download trial versions on the Amusement Makers website. (Japanese only)
What do I need to play Touhou?
In order to play Touhou, you will need a computer that runs Windows.
You may also want to use a controller compatible with a PC, although Touhou can be played with a keyboard as well.
How do I obtain the games?
There are several ways to purchase the main Touhou games.
- Digital download
The easiest way to purchase Touhou games is to download them through Steam. Currently, most of the main games as well as some of the spinoff games are available on Steam. Players should note that none of the games currently have official English translations; however, there are many fan communities that have gameplay guides for English-speaking players.
Please note that not all games in the series are available for digital download. Some of the older games in the series can only be purchased in physical form. As of early 2021, this includes all of the PC-98 games, Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Perfect Cherry Blossom, Imperishable Night, and Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
- Buying physical CDs
For fans who like to own physical copies of games, or who want to play the games not available for download, all games in the series are also sold in CD form. There are currently no international retailers that print new copies of the games; however, they can be purchased from Japanese doujin retailers through proxy services. Proxy services will order goods from retailers in Japan and ship them overseas for an additional fee.
These retailers are generally supported by proxy services:
These are a few proxy services that ship from Japan, including:
*Please note that if your computer doesn’t have a CD drive, you won’t be able to install the games from CDs.
How does the gameplay work?
Because the Touhou games are in Japanese, it may be difficult for non-Japanese speakers to understand their gameplay at first. Additionally, like other shmups, Touhou games have a reputation as difficult games because new players typically can’t clear them on their first try. The basics are quite simple, however, and improvement is just a matter of practice once you’ve grasped them.
As with all shmup games, the basic goal of the game is to shoot down enemies without getting hit by enemy projectiles. Players can use the directional keys (or joystick, or d-pad) to move their character, hold the shift key to move slowly, and hold Z to shoot. The X key allows you to use one of your limited stock of spell cards, which clears enemy bullets from the screen.
Each main game in the Touhou series is divided into six stages, with a boss at the end of each stage. To successfully complete the game, players must clear every stage without losing all of their lives. By defeating enemies or increasing your score, you can obtain power items that increase the damage you deal to enemies, point items that increase your score, and extra lives and spell cards.
In addition to these basic gameplay mechanics, each game has unique extra mechanics that set them apart.. Please give different games a try to see which one you enjoy the most.
How do I know if the games will work on my computer?
Each game has a trial version, or demo, that allows you to play up to the third stage. You can download these trial versions for free. If you’re unsure whether the games will work on your computer, try downloading a trial version to see if it runs properly.
- Trial versions on Steam
Trial versions for Hidden Star in Four Seasons, Wily Beast and Weakest Creature, and Unconnected Marketeers are available on Steam.
Demo versions for Embodiment of Scarlet Devil through Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom are available on this website. However please note that this website is only available in Japanese.
Additionally, some of the older titles in the series may not work properly on Windows 10.
If you have friends who are interested in getting into Touhou but don’t know where to start, please feel free to point them to this article!