Tower defense games, and in general games where a horde of enemies comes at you, all have the same principle where you set up defenses to mow them down before they get to you. Gensokyo Defenders tries to change this up a few ways, but generally falls into average-ness.
I don’t even know where to begin with the story. It’s Touhou, obviously, but beyond that this is what I pieced together. The ice fairy is getting power, and is mad. Aya, the player character (and also a journalist), doesn’t like this. With the help of other Touhou characters, you must beat the bad fairies and others as they attack in waves. I realize while writing this that this sounds very disjointed and feels like I pieced this together while at the same time plowing forward in repetition. And, shoot, I just gave away the rest of the review.
Ever play Plants Vs. Zombies? Good, you have the controls down. Being 3D gives the controls a bit of a twist, since different buttons place down different defensive items for the oncoming waves, but basic logic takes over. You're working with basic click-and-drop controls here.
Graphics are a bit all over the place. You have the "circa 2005 with a hint of 2018" 3D graphics going on, along with manga stills and beginning screens taken straight out of kids games. To its credit, when setting up for waves, it does give a pretty good visual overlay (in the form of checkerboard like grids) to help guide you. The spells and fighting effects are standard, and enemies are hit or miss. But the mix of art and graphics are pretty much what you expect from anime-style games, so pretty average marks here.
Again, it’s Plants Vs. Zombies style tower defense going on, but with the twist of being able to move around more. I actually like it. Waves of enemies come forward, but you don’t have to wait until the traps activate. You can get out there and fight enemies yourself, and when you retreat, then the traps come into play. There was something really fun about rushing out, fighting tooth and nail, and then going back in to collect yourself while your defenses take care of everything. It’s a fair twist on the concept, but in the long run it does get repetitive.
Quick, think of a typical anime fantasy song! Well, you just thought up the soundtrack to Gensokyo Defenders. There's nothing wrong with it per se, but it was just so expected they would use it. And it felt largely the same, like playing the demo disk of a JRPG where all the music kinks haven’t been worked out yet. Voice work had that audio book quality when it was at its best, but it also sounds oddly distant. It works for what it is, but it almost feels out of place.
The frame rate was pretty decent. The 3D had that bouncy quality where you could tell instantly, and it played fine. There were some long load times on the other end of the spectrum, and it did glitch once with the traps, but otherwise it performed nicely throughout.
Gensokyo Defenders has some good parts, but it mostly piggybacks on what has been done before, and doesn't do it as well. It’s still fun and still challenging, but other games have done what it’s doing better.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.