Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony is an action side-scroller based on the Touhou Project that was originally released in 2009. This enhanced version spruces up the visuals and adds brand new Japanese voice acting as well as a few other features. However, it is still a very short game, and the bullet hell-style boss battles can be frustrating for those who want a pure platforming experience. The game is definitely fun but also a niche title that will not appeal to everyone.

Gameplay: Levels are short, but the bullet hell elements and tricky bosses can sometimes be frustrating.

Graphics: The pixel art visuals have a filter applied when scaled up to modern resolutions, but the results might not be to everyone’s liking.

Sound: The soundtrack is great, and the Japanese voice acting is a welcome addition to the game

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Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony

Developer: Frontier Aja, CFK Co., Ltd. | Publisher: CFK Co., Ltd. | Release Date: 2022 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

While the Touhou Project is primarily known as a bullet hell shoot ’em up series, some spin-offs have occasionally tried something different. Koumajou Remiliar: Scarlet Symphony is an excellent example of this as it is clearly based on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Unfortunately, like many of the Touhou titles, it never received an English translation after being released on PC in 2009. Fast forward thirteen years, and Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony is now available to western audiences on both PC and Nintendo Switch.

For players unfamiliar with the original release, it centers around Reimu Hakurei, a shrine maiden of the Hakurei Shrine whose job involves getting rid of troublesome youkai. When a mysterious scarlet mist begins spreading through Gensokyo, Reimu heads out to the Scarlet Devil Mansion to investigate the disturbance. Along the way, she encounters other characters from the Touhou Project who will either try to help or hinder her quest for the truth. As far as stories go, it’s not the most unique or in-depth but offers a good excuse for the neat Gothic reinterpretation of the Touhou characters.

Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony is an action side-scroller, which, as mentioned earlier, shares more than a passing resemblance to Symphony of the Night. However, unlike the Metroidvania classic, Scarlet Symphony is a more linear affair that spans eight stages, each with a boss waiting at the end. Reimu is armed with a “Purification Wand,” which is functionally identical to the whip favored by many Castlevania protagonists. In addition, she can throw ofuda, but these are limited by the number of souls she has collected from slain foes. These souls not only power the ofuda but can also be used to summon one of three allies for a special attack. Reimu starts with one ally, Marisa, but can unlock two more after defeating them in battle. The first, Cirno, was in the original game, while Suika Ibuki is a new addition to this version. Unfortunately, the game does not feature any new weapons or upgrades, so players have to rely on the wand and ofuda for the duration of their adventure.

For the most part, Scarlet Symphony plays like a classic Castlevania game, and many levels, such as the Library and Clock Tower, look like they were ripped straight out of a Konami release. The same goes for the enemies, such as the bone-throwing skeletons, which will be very familiar to Castlevania fans.

Where things differ drastically from the Castlevania games, though, are the boss battles. Here the game adheres closer to the bullet hell roots of the Touhou Project with bosses that spew out projectiles in all directions. Although it is possible to defeat them with agile jumping and whipping, players can also take to the air for a more evenly matched battle. The only downside is that players are a little slower while flying, and it only takes a single hit to send Reimu back to the ground. Reimu is also locked into shooting in the direction she was facing when players engage her flying powers, making it tricky to hit opponents who are zipping all over the screen. Finally, Reimi can only use her ofuda when flying, which means if the souls run out, she has no choice except to continue the fight on foot. Strangely enough, the game doesn’t restrict flying to only the boss fights, and players can take to the air anytime during levels too. This makes the platforming somewhat trivial, but the game punishes players who try to fly over enemies instead of fighting them. Not fighting enemies or using the ofuda to kill them while flying also means less ofuda available during boss fights, so this system has some balance.

Scarlet Symphony is not an easy game, at least not on the default difficulty setting, but it is accommodating towards newcomers or players unfamiliar with the genre. The game has four difficulty settings to choose from, including a new “extra easy” mode. Players can also select the number of lives they have at their disposal, so in theory, everyone should be able to complete the game. Completing the eight initial stages unlocks an extra stage with more challenging enemies and bosses and some additional story content. Unfortunately, the game is very short, and players who choose the easier settings will find themselves watching the credits in no time. The inclusion of achievements provides some incentive to go back for more, but anyone expecting a sprawling Metroidvania adventure will be disappointed by how short and linear the game is.

When it was released initially, Scarlet Symphony boasted beautiful pixel art visuals that offered a great fusion between Touhou and Castlevania. This enhanced version promises HD remastered graphics, but in reality, it looks like the same art as the original with a filter applied. The art style is still charming, and the game looks decent, but not everyone will appreciate the filtering. The music is still very good, though, and once again, Castlevania fans will quickly pick up where the inspiration for many of the tracks came from. One of the biggest selling points of this enhanced version is the inclusion of full Japanese voice acting for the cast. These are all professionally done and are a great addition to the game. Also new is a gallery where players can check out character profiles, listen to the soundtrack, and view story scenes that they have already unlocked. As with most games of this type, Scarlet Symphony is best played with a controller, but even then, it felt a bit sluggish at times, especially when turning around to whip enemies coming from a different direction. This is especially annoying as players can take multiple hits in quick succession if they are not careful, which can quickly chew through your health bar. However, the game is forgiving enough that players start from the beginning of the current screen if they lose a life but lose all lives, and it’s back to the start of the level. Thankfully, the game has a stage select for players who want to practice later levels without having to complete all the earlier ones again.

There’s no doubt that Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony is a very niche title and is unlikely to appeal to everyone. However, fans of the original game will enjoy the new additions, such as the voice acting, while the new difficulty option also makes everyone a lot more accessible. Unfortunately, the game is still very short and can be pretty frustrating at times. At the end of the day, it’s a very enjoyable game when approached with the right mindset, but players looking for a more traditional platformer or a Metroidvania title are better off with something else.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8 / Windows® 8.1
  • Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-750 or 3.2 GHz AMD Phenom™ II X4 955
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD5850 (1 GB VRAM)
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound device
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows® 10
  • Processor: 3.3 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-6600 or 4.0 GHz AMD FX-8350 or better
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD AMD Radeon R9 390 or better (2 GB VRAM)
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound device

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