Game Review: Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle (Switch)

NIS America continues to ‘push-out’ the unexpected as the American-based-publisher bring us another Touhou game in the form of Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle and this time it arrives onto the Nintendo Switch as well as the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.  So what can one expect from this unexpected release? Well let’s take a closer look and find out in our review of the game.

Title: Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: CUBETYPE
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1 – 2
Online Players: 2
Install: YES (1GB)

Our View:

When a popular Japanese franchise, such as Touhou, is licensed for a western release it’s easy to get lost within the excitement of experiencing a new franchise; however when it comes to Touhou then that excitement can be a bit clouded due to its vast range of game types and none more so than this release of Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle.

Developed by CUBETYPE, and originally released for the PC via COMIKET 79 before being enhanced for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch; Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is fan-developed magic-battle game that sees the characters from the Touhou franchise do battle with one another in 3D environments.  You read that correctly; Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is a fan-developed game that has been ‘enhanced’ via the power of Japanese distribution service PlayDoujin before being licensed by NIS America for localisation and release within North America and Europe.

Naturally this isn’t the first time this has happened, as the same has happened with previous Touhou titles; the difference here however is the quality of the game, as even with the enhancements this Nintendo Switch version – which is said to feature similar content as the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita games – is not a good game nor an enjoyable one.

Harsh words that may be; but when you’ve got a game that looks like an upscaled PlayStation 1, Menu Designs as bad as a visual basic program and character movement as good as a train it’s not surprising. Luckily despite how the game looks and acts it does offer a fair amount of content; more so than I ever expected to receive. In this case you’ll find Story, Arcade, Score Attack, Training and Online multiplayer modes – with each offering a similar gameplay experience of doing battle with another character.

In this case battles are fought like regular arcade fighters, such as Tekken and Street Fighter, with each character having their own health bar. The difference however is that players can freely navigate around the arena to attack, dodge or defend against enemy attacks. Attacks meanwhile are done by pressing the numerous input buttons available with different input buttons doing different types of magic attacks. Surprisingly each attack is unique so no two characters will attack in the same manner; additionally by moving closer to your opponent different ‘physical’ attacks can be also be dealt.  In addition to these attacks players can charge up a gauge to perform a more destructive magical attack; an attack which some may say is overpowered for some characters. Each attack consumes a guage bar; so unlike traditional fighting games some cool-down time is needed.

Additional variety in attacks can also be had by moving the analog stick and/or holding the shoulder buttons at the same time as pressing the attack button. Doing so will see the characters magic act differently than normal with different movements offering different styles of attack. For instance Cirno’s ice attacks can change from a single line shot to a stray of attacks from different angles. From a ‘input’ perspective Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is quite technical; but it does require some time to discover these movements so it is best off heading to the training mode; that is unless you want to be destroyed by your opponent.

Speaking of gameplay modes as mentioned Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle features a variety of gameplay modes that will be familiar to fighting-game fanatics; in this case a Story, Arcade, Score Attack, Multiplayer and Training modes. Depending on what you hope to receive from this game will depend on which mode you’ll spend the most amount of time in; but for me personally the story mode is where I wanted to explore the most – and it’s a pretty good one I might add.

The story mode within Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle allows players to experience a story from each character’s perspective; however unlike the story modes found within past Street Fighter or Tekken games only one characters story is available at the start; in this case Reimu Hakurei. Reimu’s story focuses on her trying to secure more donations for her shrine and as such ventures on a quest and while doing so encounters characters that wish to do battle with her. You could say it is a simplistic story but is done in such a ‘Japanese’ fashion with visual novel styled dialogue taking up the screen before and after the fight to give a ‘detailed’ analysis on what is transpiring in the story. Simplistic it may be; but it’s nowhere near short.

Of course Reimu Hakurei’s story ends when all of the characters have been defeated and upon doing so another character’s story will become unlocked and accessible for use. As good as this is however progressing through these stories is nothing short of difficult. It’s a combination of high difficulty (with no way of reducing it) mixed with poor game design and implementation. For starters the high difficulty makes passing these fights within story mode a chore, as opponents are always able to dodge and move faster than your chosen character; additionally story mode has to be completed within a single sitting – so exiting the game (or even the mode) will result in all progress being lost. This makes story mode a chore rather than a fun experience; which is a shame as the dialogue within the story mode is fun to read.

Of course those wishing to skip the story mode and focus on battles will have Arcade, Score Attack and Multiplayer to look at. Arcade and Score Attack offer the same concept of defeating enemies until you lose; with Arcade counting the total number of victories and Score Attack counting the total score from attacks – each of which are kept on a local leaderboard found in the Archives section of the game. Multiplayer meanwhile can be played both offline and online with other players.

Online multiplayer allows players to create their own lobby or join another players lobby with each fight awarding player points to the victor. A leaderboard of who has the most player points can also be found in the archive section of the game. Offline multiplayer meanwhile allows for each Joy-Con to be used as a controller; thus allowing two people to play on one screen. Additionally two switch units can connect together to do battle with one another (so long as you each have a copy of the game).

From a content perspective Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle features everything it should to make it a half-decent anime-styled fighting game; unfortunately due to its ‘very basic’ visual appearance and limited functionality it becomes a stale game very quickly. Naturally it is an interesting choice for a game to be brought over to the Switch, and it has been done so with positive attentions; but even that doesn’t save it from being an overly disappointing experience with its only saving grace being the artwork used in the story mode.

Score: review-stars-2

Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is now available for the Nintendo Switch in both physical and digital forms. The game is also available for the PlayStation 4, with PlayStation VR support, as well as PlayStation Vita in Europe and America.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: