Among the various non-anime/manga otaku-related things I follow is the Touhou series. This series of doujin danmaku (a.k.a. "there are too many bullets on the screen!") shoot-'em-up games is known for three things: the blistering difficult games with lots of fancy patterns, the large cast of girls based on youkai and other aspects of Japanese (and Western) mythology and the sheer amount of fan art produced for it, and some of the best video game music tracks ever created entirely by one person, plus the sheer extent to which said music gets remixed.
I haven't done too much with the games themselves (I've played some of the 8th game, Imperishable Night, but still can't do anything higher than Easy), so there I mostly just watch gameplay videos on YouTube of people far better than I am. Take, for example, the following person clearing the 12th game, Undefined Fantastic Object, on the hardest difficulty level, like a boss:
If you're watching the video, remember to enjoy the music; that final boss music, in particular, is one of my absolute favorite pieces of music from anywhere.
The various girls are also interesting, mainly for the greater lore that they all are a part of. Touhou might not be a heavyweight in terms of storytelling, but it does do a lot in terms of worldbuilding to make the land of Gensokyo appealing and interesting, and the stories themselves are fairly interesting as a result. Aesthetically, while the girls might not look that well-drawn in the games themselves (chalk that up to the creator, ZUN, not being particularly skilled in art), they are well-designed, which allows for the legions of fan artists to craft up some great fan art.
|Hina Kagiyama, Stage 2 boss of Mountain of Faith. Art by apple da-ze.|
Anyways, I bring this up because the 14th game (not including side games), Double Dealing Character, came out earlier this week. There's lots of interesting stuff in here. The story involves the heroines' weapons going berserk and a bunch of weaker youkai becoming aggressive and looking to overturn the society where the strong rule. There's a neat cast of characters here, including a mermaid, a werewolf, a descendent of a race of little people, and two sisters who are animate musical instruments.
|Benben and Yatsuhashi Tsukumo, a biwa and a koto, respectively. Art by hourai ninjin.|
There's even a shout-out to Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan):
|The name of this attack just replaces the kanji for "huge person" with that for "small person".|
1cc on Lunatic (hardest difficulty)
Extra Stage (a bonus level with a marathon boss)
Playlist with the game's music