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PC-98

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The NEC PC-9801 (PC-98 for short) is a common computer in Japan in the 90s. They are similar to the IBM computers in America and it played in 16-bit color graphics.

All the Touhou games from Highly Responsive to Prayers (TH01) to Mystic Square (TH05) were developed for this platform. They are distinguished from "the Windows games" (from TH06 and on) for having been distributed by Amusement Makers.

The term 旧作品 or more usually 旧作 is what ZUN and everyone else uses to refer to PC-98 games, meaning "former works." In Touhou, it means specifically the five games listed below. The character itself means "old" or "former," but almost always means "former" in the sense that it is no longer considered "in use."

On September 2002, the games stopped being sold, and support from the creator also stopped. Except for Highly Responsive to Prayers it was still possible to download the trial versions of the games, but compared to the windows versions their circulation is very small, and it is extremely difficult to obtain them.[1][2]

Upon ZUN's graduation and subsequent employment, upon his fifth work Mystic Square, the works of Touhou Project temporarily ceased.

Games for this platform

Additional Information

Relation to canon

In ZUN's reply to a question on Gensou Bulletin Board on 2003/05, there was the question as the following:

Q: I do not know much about the PC-98 games, but what was in Reimu and Alice's past?
A: Fundamentally, that which is related to the story is all from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil onwards.
For once, everything canon is a clean sweep starting from Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, and it is therefore like a new series.
... is what I think (^^;

Additionally, in two of ZUN's reply to a question on Gensou Bulletin Board on 2003/08, there were questions to which ZUN gave answers as the following:

Q: Has it been that from the new series (Embodiment of Scarlet Devil onwards) everything canon has been swept clean?
A: Please think of it that what is canon is fundamentally in the newest work's fine details.
Fundamentally, before Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, the world view is the same, but to see those as having nothing canon
and to enjoy works from now on is the way to go.
Q: Do the canon of the PC-98 games still live?
A: Definitely they have not changed.
Nevertheless this is not to say that there is nothing canon other than what is said in the game, within the game
please think only that what is present is only bringing it to the surface.

Furthermore, ZUN's E-mails stated that the PC-98 games can be ignored just like derivative works. Of course, there are still obviously many portions from the PC-98 are carried over windows. However, exactly how much the windows story-line that carried over a portion of PC-98 and the PC-98 story-line itself are related is unclear.

Trivia

  • All five games use FM (Frequency Modulation) Synthesis for music. The only game to also use MIDI is Story of Eastern Wonderland. ZUN could have used MIDI for all the games, but it's assumed that he didn't either because he lacked experience with MIDI at the time or because of his love for FM Synthesis (as stated in his comments for Akyu's Untouched Score vol.3). However, ZUN did later create arrange music using MIDI and uploaded them to his old website.
  • ZUN has stated in Akyu's Untouched Score vol.3 that he loves FM music and would continue to create FM music in the modern world, but he won't go back to 16-color graphics.
  • It has been shown in an interview that ZUN still owns a PC-98 computer, where he played Highly Responsive to Prayers for the first time in years. He felt nostalgic.
  • ZUN has stated in an interview that the reason why the PC-98 Characters are not seen in Touhou anymore is because he finds it weird to fit them into a story. Basically, saying he can't think of a story for these characters, as Reimu doesn't need Genjii anymore to fly and Yuuka doesn't seem to have a big part in Phantasmagoria of Flower View.
    • However, he also stated in the same interview while talking about not having Sakuya in Mountain of Faith because it would be weird if characters from previous game are not gone and just don't get to be shown on game screen. See Makai for example.
  • All the PC-98 characters have the same hair and eye color (except for SinGyoku's "male" form, Elis and Konngara). This is due to the 16-color limit the PC-98 has.

Fandom

  • Among the fan community, the term "PC-98 games" refers specifically to these first five games.
  • Some newbies of Touhou have often referred to the PC-98 games as the "NES" (or the "SNES") of Touhou due to the music and graphics.
  • Because PC-98 computers are no longer sold, many fans use an Emulator to play these games on modern PCs. The only ones known to run these games properly are Anex86 and T98-Next, as well as Neko Project 21 (though it is advised to use the unofficial builds that are reposted here instead).
  • Different from westerners, Japanese people take a different view on downloading things illegally, thinking of it as a crime no matter what the circumstance, even for things like the PC-98 games. Thus, their small circulation is a big hindrance from it becoming well-known no matter how much it has been promoted.

References

  1. According to a twitter message on 2010 February 11, the circulation of Lotus Land Story is only about 200 to 300.
  2. According to a post by ZUN on 2005 April 01, fewer than half as many copies of Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream as Lotus Land Story have been sold].