Touhou’s next fighting game is launching (nearly) direct to Steam

Touhou 15.5

Times are changing and old boundaries are coming down. It’s easy to see, thanks to the likes of the Touhou series – once nearly unobtainable outside of Japanese import services – seeing massive worldwide success on Steam.

One of the biggest spinoffs of the Japanese indie mega-franchise (which we explained the appeal of a bit here) is the fighting games, co-developed by Twilight Frontier. The very latest, Antinomy of Common Flowers (officially the 15.5th game in the mainline series), is set for its physical debut at massive indie expo Comiket in just two weeks, with a global Steam launch two weeks later.

As with the previous Steam Touhou release (the chronologically confusing 16th game), Antinomy of Common Flowers will be launched exclusively in Japanese, but don’t expect it to stay that way for long. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that there will be a full english translation patch for the physical version released within a week of launch, and it’ll be under 48 hours from the Steam launch until it’s adapted to work around whatever DRM the new version may bring.

As you can see in the gameplay trailer above, this isn’t an ordinary fighting game. For starters, there’s no ground. The fighters hover in the middle of the screen, meaning that you can ‘jump’ both up or down, making for some interesting strategies that aren’t really possible in any other series. There’s also a strong focus on projectile attacks and dash moves with invulnerability frames, making it feel (appropriately enough) like a hybrid of shmup and traditional fisticuffs elements.

If it’s anything like previous Touhou fighting games, 15.5’s story mode will play out more like a boss-rush than a traditional fighter, with your opponent escalating through waves of increasingly spectacular spells as you try to memorise their patterns, and evade long enough to chip away at their health. Unlike previous titles in the series, 15.5 is moving to a 2v2 tag-team system, which seems to be a popular move across the genre lately.

Touhou 15.5

While most of the cast of the new fighting game are returning from previous iterations, the biggest surprise (which raised quite a few cheers among dedicated Touhou fans) is Doremy Sweet, caretaker of the dream-realm. You can see her and her intensely fluffy magic (Jeff Minter approves) in the screenshot above. Not too many fighting games where you can claim to have beaten your opponent into submission with a swarm of cloud-sheep.

Touhou 15.5: Antinomy of Common Flowers will be released on Steam on January 5th, just a fortnight after its traditional Comiket debut. No western RRP has been announced, but I’m hazarding a guess at between $15-20, based on its ¥2000 Japanese price-tag. The game is set to be a Steam exclusive release, so you can wishlist it here to get informed of when it launches.


  1. KDR_11k says:

    Neat. I only have Scarlet Weather Rhapsody which still had ground and the story mode felt almost like Mega Man battles due to how you had to dodge those attacks.

  2. Baines says:

    The fighters hover in the middle of the screen, meaning that you can ‘jump’ both up or down, making for some interesting strategies that aren’t really possible in any other series.

    Multiple fighting games have done the non-grounded characters thing before. The most immediate example would be the Psychic Force series (arcade, PS1, Dreamcast, PS2). It has also been used for adapting various shmups into fighting games, with something like Cho Aniki’s SNES fighting game on one end of the scale (a fighting game with characters from a shmup) and the Senko no Ronde series on the other (a bullet hell shmup turned into something like a competitive fighting game).

    As for interesting strategic possibilities, it has been argued that permanent flight fighting games offer fewer strategic possibilities. Ground-based games almost always have some measure of vertical movement, some to extreme degrees. By going to a pure flight model you arguably remove more than you add. (Control schemes are also a factor.)

    One could also argue that 3D fighters have long offered more than free flight 2D brings to the table, as “flying” in 2D is mechanically similar to relatively free ground movement in a 3D fighter.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The big difference here is that it’s not free flight, but rather that the middle lane of air is your default ‘ground’ position. When you move upwards it’s more like a jump in either direction, moving in an arc (although allowing a little more air-control than a regular jump would) upwards or downwards until you hit center again.

      • Spacewalk says:

        Almost exactly how Astra Superstars handles it.

      • MrUnimport says:

        I think they tried a more freeform aerial maneuvering mechanic in the first Touhou fighter of this gen, but it was tricky to control so they went with this one.

        • Kitsunin says:

          There’ve been some fanmade games which used full-on free-flight.

          They weren’t very good.

  3. NetharSpinos says:

    Ruddy typical. I lose the internet for a week and ZUN tries slip one past me. I’d prefer another spin off in the vein of SWR-if only for the more comprehensive ‘grounded’ stage-but midair duels are of course far closer to the lore.

    Current lineup looks good but I don’t know who my first pair would be.

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    Drib says:

    I enjoy the toohoo fighters even if I’m super bad at them.

    So this’ll be fun. Anime girls knocking one another around with a nonsense plot. A+ work, Japan.