My favourite Touhou music from the third Windows era (13-15)

Spirit of Avarice: Comfortably the best title theme there has ever been. I mean, how can it sound so epic?! Especially the opening. I mean, when that drops, you know you’re in for something special. Well, OK, you aren’t really, because it’s TD. But at least it makes a good immediate first impression.

Let’s Live in a Lovely Cemetery: The peak song in terms of Touhou’s turn of atmosphere from its recent past, this Stage 3 piece is a lovely, melodic tune. It comes served with TD’s methodically slow pace, and fits it well, unlike the Stage 2 theme from previous.

Desire Drive: The point at which TD suddenly turns into a rave. This is an action-packed song with a difference, and instrumentation unlike mostly any other Touhou song. This is the peak of TD’s soundtrack, a real gem among a selection of largely forgettable songs. The song was so good, it was basically the ending theme as well!

Starry Sky of Small Desires: Fortunately, Stage 6 is pretty long by Touhou standards in TD, so it gets a good semblance of a song. It’s not the very best Stage 6 song in the series, but it’s got plenty of drama and atmosphere around it. It’s a quintessential Touhou song of its era, with several of its most recognisable instruments featuring.

Hartmann’s Youkai Girl (HM): The one good song amongst a lacklustre HM soundtrack, and even then it had the benefit of already being one of Touhou’s greatest songs. But this is a strong remix, a great twist on the original, even if the instruments aren’t too dramatic. But this isn’t even the best remix it got in a fighter…

Dullahan Under the Willows: It was so, so tough to choose between this and its accompanying Stage 2 theme – both are terrific, especially when combined into the same stage. But it’s Sekibanki’s theme does it, thanks to those epic, new-to-DDC guitars. You wouldn’t guess she was a mere Stage 2 boss from this theme. You wouldn’t guess Stage 2’s theme was actually for Stage 2, either…both songs sound like they belong two stages further in a game.

Bamboo Forest of the Full Moon: A seriously epic tune, one of the most rocking in the entire Touhou series. Again, a reminder that this is only a Stage 3 song – it too sounds like it belongs more in somewhere like Stage 5. And yet it comes around as early as the midpoint, which is plain awesome, both when playing the game and for the stage itself.

Magical Storm: The best stage theme in modern times. This is nothing short of a musical wonder, and it is made even better when playing in Stage 4 itself thanks to some magical sequencing, making the song fit perfectly with the stage itself. As epic as the two stage themes before it, but it manages it with a lot more subtlety. Which is an even bigger achievement, I’d say.

Reverse Ideology: An action-packed theme befitting of a wild fight. There’s not much to this theme, there’s no frills, no spills, it’s just a plain damn good track by itself. The build-up throughout the track only serves to make it sound even more intense. And, of course, it featured again in Seija’s own game, Impossible Spell Card.

Primordial Beat ~ Pristine Beat: A classy Extra Stage boss theme for Raiko, who is otherwise one of the less remarkable Extra bosses despite having her moments. This is another one where you can just sit back and enjoy the musical greatness of it all, although such a style might be pretty bold for an Extra Stage boss. Despite that though, it works. Brilliantly.

Cheat Against the Impossible Danmaku: A surprising place to find such a good song, but the opening days of ISC have this superb song. This is the best song you’ll find in any Touhou game like this, and it’s just a shame that it’s only a song for the start of the game. It’s so intense it would work just as well in the later days of the game.

Hartmann’s Youkai Girl (ULiL): HM’s remix was strong, but this from Kishida is even better. The tempo of this song is unbelievably fast, and the song a frantic madness of rock. It’s a dramatic song, worthy of the great song it originally was. AoCF will probably give us a third great remix of Hartmann’s Youkai Girl, but can it top this?

Unforgettable, the Nostalgic Greenery: This is a great return to the exciting Stage 1 songs of Touhou’s prime, ones that get the vibes running right from the outset. This is among the very best Stage 1 songs, by virtue of having a great melody by any song’s standards, never mind a Stage 1 tune.

The Rabbit Has Landed: Here’s a similarly super-intense, super-fast song for the first boss of LoLK, Seiran. Like the song immediately before it, this stands out as a song with a surprising degree of variation in its instruments, certainly by Stage 1 boss standards. This makes for a fantastic start to LoLK, and it gets even better…

The Lake Reflects the Cleansed Moonlight: From a high-octane opener, we come to a song that is just plain epic. There’s a wide variety of instruments on show here, all used pretty much perfectly. As with DDC, this is the type of song that almost feels as if it belongs around about Stage 4, so intense is the atmosphere of this song.

Pierrot of the Star-Spangled Banner: An astonishing song, the best boss theme for many years. Clownpiece’s theme fits absolutely perfectly both with her own character and her batshit mental fight, and has a composition and instrumentation that brings to mind epic themes from a time long gone by, as far back even as PC-98, and the likes of Doll of Misery, which was also brilliant. This is just plain awesome on every level.

The Sea Where One’s Home Planet Reflects: Here’s another Stage 6 song that got plenty of effort put into it, thanks to the length of LoLK’s final stage. And what a fitting song for the stage it is. The dramatic tone of this song makes it great most of all, and not only does it match up with the wild patterns you face in the stage itself, it also serves as a perfect build-up to one of the most terrifying fights in Touhou history, and just about sums up the insanity of the adventure you’ve been on up to this point.


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