At Reitaisai 7, ZUN did something he hadn’t done before; he released his second side-game in a row. Granted, whilst Soku did come out with UFO, chronological order meant that his new game was the first case of him releasing side games back-to-back. This, though, was a rehashing of an old concept, updated for the much-changed modern era of Touhou. Following up from Shoot the Bullet, ZUN released its modern equivalent, Double Spoiler.
The cover kind of gives it away – this was, to all intents and purposes, Shoot the Bullet ‘Again!’ Mind you, it doesn’t give the title away. It’s missing an L.
Apart from it being much the same thing shoved into the latest Touhou engine (StB was the last to use the original, DS would prove likewise for this one too), the only real change in the gameplay was the ability to change the orientation of the camera, a useful factor that could help as the situation applied. Previously you were stuck in landscape with Aya.
Speaking of Aya, she was also still the main character, back yet again for this game. As an aside, the only game Aya had missed since her debut to this point had been UFO. That’s just ridiculous… Thankfully, this is where ZUN’s love-in with Aya would end, for the most part. And the good news is that this time, she was not alone; a new playable character could be unlocked upon defeating her, and her name was Hatate Himekaidou. However, by and large, her gameplay was about the same as Aya’s, with the differences being small boosts to charging and bonuses, less zoom and different frames, and starting with her orientation in portrait. Obviously anyone with a phone knows that’s a terrible idea now, but Hatate has a flip phone straight out of 2004 so with her it’s probably fine.
A somewhat interesting start theme, with the rain coming back yet again, but the theme isn’t really to the standards of most Touhou games.
Obviously, the real factor with DS is that it brings in a large majority of the characters introduced between MoF and UFO to this type of game. That means several new and interesting attacks, but all of them are still doing very much the same thing as before – trying to invent new and exciting ways to kill you.
Sadly, as with StB, this means a player of my calibre is not really qualified to give a judgement on playing the game itself. Because I’m not very good at any of it. Even some of Hatate’s supposed advantages couldn’t help. I just can’t dodge this many bullets. Actually, a few of the spells I tried just cut the middle man out and killed me instantly. Thanks, Tenshi and Reimu, among others.
Mostly it’s all the same ridiculous spell cards as before, both ridiculous to witness and dodge. I suppose it’s all pretty fun if you can actually play it well, but even then I’m aware some levels are just plain sadistic. As is always the way with this type of game, of course.
Mind you, there is at least a little more substance to the rest of the game than StB had. I still enjoy both Aya and Hatate’s dialogues on each character. Especially Hatate, who speaks like the kind of teenager who would have had a flip phone in 2003. She’s great fun as a character and her fight is also pretty funny, as she turns your own tactic against you. Going pi-chuun~ because someone took a picture of you is very silly.
The way the music was done was the same as before, though – just 4 themes for every three levels, plus the Spoiler stage theme, which was one taken from times past. But unlike Wind God Girl, which was left untouched, The Youkai Mountain ~ Mysterious Mountain was given a nice touch-up, which is cool given that it was already a very good song. The other songs aren’t really noteworthy, though. Mind you, there’s a good ending theme in there somewhere.
Really, DS on the whole was just a little diversion whilst everyone waited on the next, proper game to come around. It was only announced 11 days before it was released, and there’s even a few notable bugs lying around the sole version of the game. It probably didn’t take much effort, but it was something to keep fans all occupied – a small filler of a game. On the whole though, it was nothing more than an additive to the original concept. Most, I suspect, would rather ZUN cracked on making the next proper game.