In a post on his blog on April 22nd 2015, ZUN announced the fifteenth game, Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom as well as the distribution of a demo version at Reitaisai 12 on May 12th 2015.
The game was released several months later at Comiket 88 on August 14th, 2 years after the last mainline entry in the franchise.
As common in the Touhou franchise, Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom continues the standard vertical bullet hell shooter gameplay of the previous games, whilst making some slight but significant changes and adding some new systems.
There are two main changes to the gameplay in Touhou 15:
In Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, the normal stages are additionally subdivided into "Chapters" which give the player a rating after clearing each one and even rewarding them with items depending on their performance. Chapters end at fixed points in the stages, as well as after each boss attack. In addition the to the traditional gameplay in the so called "Legacy Mode" the game offers an alternative "Point-Device Mode" within which the life system is replaced by the ability to retry from the beginning of the current chapter. This is basically equivalent to a check-point system and was inspired by games such as I Wanna Be the Guy. When playing in Point-Device Mode the game even allows the player to continue from their last chapter even after closing the game, thus Touhou 15 it is the only mainline game in the franchise that allows the player to complete a run over multiple play-sessions.
Since the life are disabled in Point-Device Mode, all life pieces turn into Bomb pieces. Bombs become a much more valuable resource in this mode, since they are the only way to skip a part of the game that the player has trouble clearing as death will simply restart them back at the beginning of the chapter. The game saves the bomb stock at the beginning of each chapter, so running out of bombs means the player will absolutely have to clear the next chapter without getting hit to advance the game.
Grazing, that is getting dangerously close to a bullet without getting hit, has been changed greatly in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. It takes a much more prominent role in the game as it impacts the chapter finish bonus, the most prominent way of gaining bomb and life fragments. When the player is grazing a bullet in this game, a small aura appears around the player as long as this aura is out, all items will fall more slowly, giving the player additional time to collect them, or even reach the "Point of Collection" (A line around the top third of the screen passing which automatically collects all items on screen which is present in most Touhou games). In this game, a bullet can increase the graze counter up to five times as long as one remains close to it.
Once the end of the chapter is reached, depending on the player's performance the game awards the player with the "Chapter Finish Bonus". This bonus is a score calculated by the following formula:
(Number of grazes within the chapter) * (Percentage of enemies shot down in the chapter) * 50
If the score total of the Chapter Finish Bonus is over 1 million, the player is additionally awarded a bomb piece in Point-Device Mode and a life piece in Legacy Mode. This becomes exceedingly important both in terms of clearing the game as well as in achieving high scores.
The game features 4 different playable characters, with one shot type each. They all possess different bombs and shot types as well as different dialogue and endings. Additionally, they all possess separate Point-Device Mode save files. Clearing the game with one with unlock the Extra Stage for that character. While unlockable through Point-Device mode, the Extra stage only offers a Legacy Mode version. The playable characters and their in game descriptions are:
Mysterious Shrine Maiden
Story Description: The soldiers from the Pure Land finally made an entrance. Their flawlessness rejected the life and death of living creatures.
Wide Shot: Homing Amulet
Focused Shot: Persuasion Needle
Spell Card: Sprit Sign: "Fantasy Seal"
An Ordinary Magician
Story Description: The Lunar Capital's Power Stone appeared before anyone knew it. It held a power that could throw Gensokyo's society into chaos.
Wide Shot: Illusion Laser
Focused Shot: Magic Missile
Spell Card: Love Sign: "Master Spark"
Miraculous Living God Residing on the Mountain
Story Description: A metallic spider appeared over the Youkai Mountain. To her, it looked like the Mars rover, Curiosity.
Wide Shot: Cobalt Spread
Focused Shot: Sky Serpent
Spell Card: Frog Sign: "Wily Toad"
Reisen Udongein Inaba
Moon Rabbit on Earth
Story Description: The only thing that can oppose the Moon's power is the Moon's power itself. Eirin's drug had the power to experience the future.
Wide Shot: Lunatic Gun
Focused Shot: Mind Wave
Spell Card: "Barrier Wave (Evil Undulation)"
Unlike within some of the other games, all bosses outside the Extra Stage represent their own mid-bosses. The only exception is the extra stage, whose mid-boss is the Stage 3 Boss, Doremy Sweet. Stages 5 and 6 skip mid-boss battles entirely while Stage 1 has two mid-boss battles.
Similar to previous games in the Touhou franchise, in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom ZUN mixes mythology and his own world Gensokyo to create the characters and story for the game.
Before the game begins
The game's backstory starts with a probe of Lunar origin crashing into a Youkai mountain. Reimu and Sanae investigate it and find out that it's withering away plants wherever it passes. The late-game boss characters of Imperishable Night, Kaguya and Eirin both of Lunar origin themselves realise that the day when the Lunarians would attack Gensokyo had come. Now on Gensokyo's side themselves, they prepare a special medicine, the Ultramarine Orb Elixir, which they have Reisen deliver to the other playable characters. This elixir would enable them to experience the immediate future and thus purify the from death. This is the in-game explanation for the Point-Device mode, drinking the potion lets the character experience the immediate future, if resulting in death, they are able to try again until they have found the way past the obstacle in their way. If the player chooses Legacy mode, they decline drinking the elixir and dying even once changes the outcome of the story, defaulting one to the bad ending.
The heroine encounters Seiran, part of the "Eagle Ravi" Earth Recon Unit that has come down to purify the earth to make it habitable for the Lunarians. Seiran tries to stop them from advancing further to the lake but the player manages to defeat her and she lets her base know of the incoming opponent and slips the location of their forward base at the mountain lake accidentally.
The character moves on to the mountain lake, encountering Ringo the one responsible for Information management in the unit. Ringo also alludes to the no-mistake theme of the game in her dialogue saying that "the Lunarian style of fighting would not even allow for a single mistake". After being defeated, Ringo reveals their plans of purifying Gensokyo but not their clear reasons as to why. Instead, she sends the player further to the Lunar Capital.
The player passes on through the Dream World and encounters Doremy Sweet. Dormer Sweet is at first clearly surprised to see them hear and even more in awe at them having entered the dream world with their physical body, concluding that they have fallen into a trap. After being defeated Doremy explains that she is the Ruler of Dreams and that beyond in the Lunar capital an even bigger nightmare awaits. She lets the player pass on to the Lunar Capital, which is somehow connected to Gensokyo through the Dream World.
Having arrived at the Lunar Capital, it seems desolate, like a frozen city. Sagume Kishin arrives to oppose the intruder while being anything but talkative. She does confirm that she is the one behind the invasion of Gensokyo but doesn't say much more until she is defeated. Sagume explains her lack of communication before by explaining that she has the power to change the outcomes of situations by speaking of them and did not want to talk about their plans when they still had the upper hand.
Sagume reveals that the Lunar Capital itself is under attack in a way that Lunarians were not able to do anything about it and that the reason they were invading Gensokyo was to try and migrate there to continue existence. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the moon were not aware of this migration occurring at all, since they were using a dream world version of the Lunar Capital to accomplish this. Through there power of reversing the situation's outcome, she accepts their plans being unrealised but instead that an earthling, the player would end up saving the Lunar Capital, them being the only ones able to defeat the attackers against whom the Lunarians were powerless.
She instructs the the player on to the enemies base, the Sea of Tranquility.
The normally desolate Sea of Tranquility is overrun by fairies and their leader, Clownpiece introduces herself as a fairy from hell. She tells the player that this land was gifted to her and the other fairies by an honourable friend. This friend had also instructed them to attack anyone coming from the Lunar Capital, so she attacks the player.
After suffering defeat, she questions how it came to this outcome, since she was told Lunarians shouldn't be able to do anything about the fairies as they are symbols of life. Clown piece reveals that she was instructed by her master to help the honourable friend but having suffered defeat she guides the player to the honourable friend.
The player finally encounters Junko at the Underside of the Sea of Tranquility. Depending on wether the player suffered any misses during their run the dialogue is different. If they used the Elixir (played in Point-Device Mode) or didn't suffer a single death in Legacy Mode, Junko admits defeat, sensing the purity of the run. She did not expect that the purity obsessed Lunarians would send an earthling to defeat her. Despite saying that she knows the outcome already she still fights.
If any losses had been suffered, her attitude is a different one, and she says she smells the stench of death on you and has full confidence that she will defeat you, saying that she overestimated the Lunarian as they choose someone this weak.
Junko explains her deep grudge to the Lunarians and Chang'e and depending on whether misses were suffered beating her results either in the good ending within which the attack on the capital is intercepted and order restored or the bad ending, within which moon rabbits, which don't really care that much about impurity, still continue appearing in Gensokyo, while the other Lunarians keep to the moon.
After the events of the main story, Sagume reveals that the Lunarians still haven't returned to the capital and are trapped in the dream world. The heroines leave to investigate into the dream word and encounter Doremy Sweet once more saying that their dream wasn't over yet. After being defeated, Junko appears and tells of her scheme. She had anticipated them to use the dream world and had sent her friend and Clownpiece's master, the goddess of Hell, Hecatia Lapislazuli to attack them in the dream world.
Hecatia expected Chang'e to appear instead of the player at first and was excited to see Junko finally get her revenge, however she's quite interested in battling them nonetheless. Junko and Hecatia take turns in fighting the heroine, Hecatia using all three of her bodies during this. After the Extra Stage fight, Hecatia speaks her amazement at the strength of the heroine. Junko accepts the demand that the Lunarians be released, saying that fighting the human had made her loose the will to fight. After accepting the conditions, the extra stage ends on a friendly note, with each of the characters speaking of something different with the duo. They promise to behave themselves and even make plans to visit Gensokyo with the heroine.
Unlike in previous game where you would receive a bad ending upon beating the game if continues where used, in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, a bad ending is guaranteed as soon as the player loses a single life. This means, that within Point-Device Mode, bad ends are unachievable since instead of losing a life, you restart at the beginning of the chapter while good ends are incredibly hard to perform in Legacy Mode as even a single miss immediately disqualifies one from the good end.
Each character has two possible endings, one good, the other bad. The total number of endings thus adds up to 8:
- Reimu Hakurei - Good
- Reimu Hakurei - Bad
- Marisa Kirisame - Good
- Marisa Kirisame - Bad
- Sanae Kochiya - Good
- Sanae Kochiya - Bad
- Reisen Udongein Inaba - Good
- Reisen Udongein Inaba - Bad
As with all Touhou games, a ZUN composed separate tracks for each stage and boss encounter and included a music select with a few short comments on each of the tracks.
Despite most of ZUN's tracks having English subtitles in addition to their Japanese titles, over the years he has given less and less song non-fully Japanese names. Finally, within Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom not a single song possesses an English subtitle.
Below are all the tracks provided in the music select as well as their translated titles and ZUN's translated comments.
Title Screen Theme
The Space Shrine Maiden Appears
The title screen theme.
This theme turned out a bit spacey and Japanese.
For this game, the excitement factor could be described as "unconventional."
Stage 1 Theme
Unforgettable, the Nostalgic Greenery
The first stage theme.
This song is a bit long for the first stage.
The game is pretty long as a whole, so I designed it to match.
It feels like they are making up their mind to leave their beautiful green earth for a while.
Stage 1 Boss - Seiran's Theme
The Rabbit Has Landed
I brought out the feeling of having fun with a really light-hearted battle.
Rabbits don't seem to have it in their nature to be serious.
You can't see it, but she does have a tail.
Stage 2 Theme
The Lake Reflects the Cleansed Moonlight
The second stage theme.
Making us feel uneasy with the changing situation, this song became one
that wouldn't feel out-of-place in the latter half of the game.
It seems like only a select few can see the pulse given off by the moon.
Stage 2 Boss - Ringo's Theme
Unlike Seiran, she's a rabbit who works in the background rather than a soldier.
On top of being a powerful opponent, this song depicts her doubts as to whether or not
fighting is really the right thing to do.
All those dango were enjoyed by the TV staff afterward, of course.
Stage 3 Theme
The Mysterious Shrine Maiden Flying Through Space
The third stage theme.
It looks like space, but it's actually the mental world. So it is an 'all just a dream' twist, in a sense.
The fairies and phantoms wandering around are the dreams of said creatures in reality.
It's mischievous of them to spread barrages of danmaku even in dreams.
Stage 3 Boss - Doremy Sweet's Theme
Eternal Spring Dream
Doremy Sweet's theme.
It gives off a strong sense of foreboding.
I wrote this with thoughts of "I want you to be wary from here on out,"
"I want you to have a nightmare," and so on.
Even if you have a nightmare, it'll be fine if you pray to change it. Pray to Doremy.
Stage 4 Theme
The Frozen Eternal Capital
The fourth stage theme.
It's the Lunar Capital. For a particular reason, however, it's now a ghost town.
It's a song with a calm atmosphere, but on the contrary, it evokes an image of madness.
It's music more befitting the endgame of an RPG than a shooting game. Well, it is the endgame.
Stage 4 Boss - Sagume Kishin's Theme
The Reversed Wheel of Fortune
Kishin Sagume's theme.
A theme song for a mysterious person who's not quite an enemy or an ally, a god or an oni.
Hence, I composed it with a rather mysterious mood.
Actually, she's a type of amanojaku too so that makes her the second one.
Stage 5 Theme
Faraway 380,000-Kilometer Voyage
The fifth stage theme.
Some minor variations to the mood make this a fast-paced, romantic tune.
It's a stage where you can move forward (and rack up a huge score) at a good pace.
Feels real nice.
I hope you feel a sense of flight, and the resolve to travel far.
Stage 5 Boss - Clownpiece's Theme
The Pierrot of the Star-Spangled Banner
She's the most crazy-strong fairy seen yet. Although she's pretty ordinary in the head.
Having made it gothic, Japanese, and spacey at the same time, this is a pretty odd song.
The fear of clowns is pretty widespread these days.
But this fairy clown isn't all that scary... right?
Stage 6 Theme
The Sea Where the Home Planet is Reflected
The sixth stage theme.
It's the seaaa. It's summeeerr.
This song is a subset of the final boss' theme.
I want to go to the seaaa. I want to drink beer in a beach huuut.
Stage 6 Boss - Junko's Theme
Pure Furies ~ Whereabouts of the Heart
I think this song says, "now this is unmistakably the final boss!"
I didn't try to make it too complicated, or to add cool parts, or just overthink it in general.
I hope you can enjoy her danmaku simply and purely.
Extra Stage Theme
A Never-Before-Seen World of Nightmares
The Extra Stage theme.
First the eerie intro, then it flows into the simple and usual Touhou style.
It really does have that Extra feel.
Nonetheless, is Doremy your foe this time?
Or is she your friend?
Extra Stage Boss - Hecatia Lapislazuli's Theme
Hecatia Lapislazuli's theme.
This is quite a demonic piece of music.
I actually thought about making a metal song, but I'm not well-versed in that area
and it felt like it wouldn't fit the setting, so I made it like this in the end.
My thought process was Hell -> Shinigami -> Death -> Death Metal. Pretty poor idea.
The Moon as Seen from the Shrine
The ending theme.
Well, it's the usual theme.
Because I usually write songs that are always upbeat,
I feel like novel game music and such must be a real challenge.
Staff Roll Theme
The Space Shrine Maiden Returns Home
The staff roll theme.
It's an alternate version of the title screen song.
I gave it an even spacier mood than before.
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