Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem Review – Touhouvania Revival

Koumajou Remilia II: A Upgrade Challenge on Modern Hardware

There’s no shortage of fanmade Touhou titles. Some are better than others, but the characters and world lend themselves to multiple genres and experiences. The Koumajou Remilia series first emerged in 2009, but I didn’t have the chance to play the game until the remastered release. Now, Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem is getting the same treatment, and while it features some updates, I can’t help but wish for a true modern sequel. On the other hand, this is one of the most challenging bullet-hell action platformers that I’ve played in quite some time.

Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem takes place following the conclusion of the first game. Players assume the role of Sakuya Izayoi, who comes to discover that all of her comrades have gone missing. Her goal is to head to the Scarlet Devil Castle in search of Remilia and everyone else. While each stage introduces a boss-type antagonist, there is a clear enemy that reveals herself throughout the story. As action-centric as this game is, it does take its time with the narrative to at least keep you invested in Sakuya’s adventure.

Navigating the Bullet-Hell Action of Koumajou Remilia II

The journey through the Scarlet Devil Castle resembles the story of Dante’s Inferno as you push through gothic environments while getting further and further from what anyone would deem reality. This is mirrored by the challenging enemies who await you in each room. The setting matches the tone of the narrative and keeps you trekking forward, even though you may suffer a few Game Overs from time to time.

Koumajou Remilia II Strangers Requiem 1

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem is getting the same treatment, and while it features some updates, I can’t help but wish for a true modern sequel.[/perfectpullquote]

Koumajou Remilia II is a very challenging game. I don’t advise newcomers to even attempt the Normal playthrough unless they raise the lives to 20. Each environement is separated into Stages, providing a classic Castlevania appeal as you march deeper and deeper into this hellish castle. Once you’ve completed the game on a lower difficulty, it’s time to play through the new epilogue added to this release. Given that I hadn’t played the game before, I don’t know what the experience is without this added context, but I’ll admit that it was a nice touch to cap off the story.

Exploring the Gothic World and Intricate Stage Design

The gameplay also received some touch-ups to refine the controls. It did take some time for me to understand the controls, but there’s a decent tutorial available on the Main Menu. I say decent because it’s really easy to miss tips presented in the tutorial, but you can play it as many times as you want. Anyway, the real gameplay takes on a more arcadey approach where before each stage, you can equip weapons or Touhou girls to lend some assistance in the fights. Sadly, there weren’t details on the attack style of the various Touhou characters; you’ll just have to use them in battle to find out what they do, which is only a negative because none of their attacks are very straightforward.

Stage design begins fairly linear, but the later stages have maze-like paths that lead to secrets. Regardless of what path you take, you’ll eventually get to a boss only to get your ass handed to you within seconds. You see, this is a very difficult game. Over the years, these types of games encourage a more aggressive playstyle with fast dodges and attacks. However, Koumajou Remilia II is all about understanding the enemy attacks, which aren’t telegraphed at all, and planning out the best strategy to take them out. The bosses take the Touhou bullet hell systems and bring it to the 2D platformer world. I can’t tell you how many times I died, but what likely kept me playing through all the frustration was how quickly the game resets to the checkpoint. You’re not really given a chance to think, and in a boss fight, you’re pretty much through back into the bullet-hell nightmare.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This is one of the most challenging bullet-hell action platformers that I’ve played in quite some time.[/perfectpullquote]

Mastering the Gameplay and Boss Battles in Koumajou Remilia II

To assist with survival, you have a backdash and ground stomp, your equipped weapons, and a special on a cool down. While you do have a basic attack, utilizing the entire moveset is key. One of the toughest features that I had to learn and utilize correctly was the flying ability. It’s useful to avoid enemies and damage, but I forgot it was there sometimes my first time playing. I didn’t find the button layout easy to get the hang of, but I eventually felt comfortable playing on harder difficulties.

Koumajou Remilia II Strangers Requiem 2

At times during a stage, you’ll be surrounded by enemies whose only goal is to take you down. While there’s a large number of enemy types, I didn’t particularly like that some of the flying enemies could hide underneath the floor; it just made them a bit more annoying to take out. Still, each stage will introduce new enemies, who will take time to understand in hopes that you don’t take damage. The game becomes skill-based over time as you push your understanding of Sakuya’s abilities and utilize them to avoid damage. The boss battles are an extension of the enemies you face across the adventure, but they are turned up to 11. Even after clearing the game three times, there were some attack patterns that I couldn’t avoid, but I was up for the challenge.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem is now preserved on modern hardware… the challenge is up there for any masochist who wants to take on.[/perfectpullquote]

Upon clearing, new modes are unlocked along with a new playable character, so there’s reason to continue your adventure. Playing on the Switch allowed me to take on challenging stages in bite-sized portions in hopes that my frustration wouldn’t get the best of me. While I found the pixel art to be decent, I would have liked to see that area of the presentation updated, but the illustrations of the character from Banpai Akira really add quality to the adventure. It’s capped off by an awesome soundtrack that immerses you in this gothic world. And while the translation could use some work, it’s miles better than its predecessor was.

Assessing the Remastered Experience of Koumajou Remilia II

Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger’s Requiem is now preserved on modern hardware. The good and bad of it is that it hasn’t aged too well, but the challenge is up there for any masochist who wants to take on. But on that same note, you can play through on a lesser difficulty and enjoy the beautiful illustrations and gothic narrative. It’s rare to find a new gaming experience that borrows from early Castlevania titles, so if you’re eager to test your 2D action skills, you’ll find more than a few moments of fun here.

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A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger's Requiem (Switch)

Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger's Requiem offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for fans of bullet-hell action platformers. This remastered title on modern hardware maintains its tough gameplay, which may not appeal to everyone but certainly satisfies those looking for a demanding test of skill. The game's intricate stage design, coupled with the need for strategic combat and mastery of Sakuya's diverse abilities, including flying, provides a deep and engaging playthrough. Despite some frustration with enemy designs and a control scheme that takes time to get accustomed to, the game's quick checkpoint resets keep the action fast-paced and addictive. The pixel art and character illustrations add charm to the gothic setting, complemented by an immersive soundtrack. While the translation shows improvement, there's still room for refinement.

The Good

  • Challenging Gameplay: The game is recognized for its high difficulty, especially in bullet-hell action platforming, appealing to players who enjoy a challenge.
  • Gothic Aesthetic and Soundtrack: The game features a gothic aesthetic and an immersive soundtrack, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Post-Completion Content: New modes and a playable character unlock upon completing the game, offering additional replay value.

The Bad

  • Steep Learning Curve: The high difficulty level, especially for newcomers, and the need to understand enemy attacks without telegraphs can be daunting.
  • Underwhelming Visual Upgrades: While the pixel art is decent, there's a wish for more updated visuals in the remastered version.
  • Translation Quality: Although better than its predecessor, the translation quality could still use improvement.
  • Control Scheme Complexity: Some players may find the control layout unintuitive, requiring time to get accustomed to.