There are two major versions of the game: C67 and C74.
The basic controls and characters are the same for both versions, but the gameplay is much different. Each section will distinguish the two.
The keyboard controls are as follows:
- The arrow keys move the character
- Press Z to fire normal shots; autofire if held
- Press X to use a bomb
- Hold shift to activate slow mode
- Press ESC to pause the game and bring up the in-game menu
While watching a replay, it is possible to:
- Hold space to speed up the replay
- Hold shift to slow down the replay
- Press numbers 1 to 6 to start watching a specific stage, if applicable
Both versions of Banshiryuu are vertically scrolling danmaku shooting games, in which your character shoots down enemy ships that fire numerous bullets and lasers that have to be dodged. Every stage ends with a boss battle and most stages also have a midboss that appears at some point during the stage.
Like in the Touhou Project series, there are four main difficulties: Easy, Normal, Hard and Lunatic. The difficulty level affects the number of bullets, the bullet speed and the number of patterns used by the bosses.
The game has a total of 6 stages, which are played in order. In the C74 version, there is also a separate Extra Stage. To unlock the Extra Stage for a specific shottype, the game has to be cleared with that specific shottype without using any continues, to be done on at least Normal difficulty. There are two different Stages 4 and which one you get depends on the character you chose; the boss of the stage will be the other character, similarly to how Stage 4 works in Lotus Land Story and Imperishable Night.
A character's "shot" is the player's primary method of attacking enemies. The shot's area of effect and behavior varies depending on the character and shottype the player has chosen. Each character has two different shottypes. The shot is forward focus by default, while if slow mode is active, the shot will automatically aim at enemies. Whether the normal shot or the aimed shot is more powerful depends on the shottype selected.
- Shottypes (C67)
- Wide Type (ワイドタイプ)
- Forward shot: Death Crimson, power 75
- Aimed shot: Rapid Thorns, power 125
- Bomb: Meteoric Swarm, power 235
- Laser Type (レーザータイプ)
- Forward shot: Star Illumination, power 175
- Aimed shot: Octet Star, power 80
- Bomb: StarDust Extinction, power 450
- Sunlight (日光)
- Extreme Speed (神速)
- Forward shot: Lone Sound Arrow (孤音矢), power 195
- Aimed shot: Dry Azure Swallow (干燕蒼), power 50
- Bomb: Talisman Grief Mark (符哀印), power 25
- Moonlight (月光)
- Zero Style (零式)
- Forward shot: Steel Eye Flame (鉄瞳炎), power 150
- Aimed shot: Zero Storm (零嵐), power 180
- Bomb: Lightning Fang (雷牙), power 512
Interestingly, VIVIT-r's shot and bomb names are in English, while Hirano's are in Japanese instead, as well as being exclusively kanji. Her shottype name and description are also exclusively in kanji, while VIVIT-r's are in English and katakana.
Hirano-S has the fastest movement speed, as is indicated by the shottype title, with VIVIT-A being a close second and VIVIT-W being third. Hirano-O has the slowest movement speed in the game. It should also be noted that Hirano-S's bomb is in fact extremely powerful if used on top of an enemy, at which point it deals damage way beyond any other bomb in the game; it is listed as low power by the game due to the damage it deals when used from afar.
A bomb is a powerful attack that the player can use. Bombs are different depending on which character and which shottype you are using; some may be screen-wide and others may be concentrated. Enemies will take damage until they are destroyed, making bombing a good option when it is difficult to avoid bullets. Bombing will cause your character to automatically collect all items currently on the screen.
In the C67 version, the player is invincible during a bomb, similarly to the Touhou games; the bombs do not cancel out any bullets, however. You are given 2 starting bombs and this number can be customized using the options menu.
In the C74 version, bombs are referred to as Special Equipment attacks in this version, or SE for short, and you are not invincible while the SE is in effect; more durable enemies can pass through the attack and still hit you. Any bullets or lasers that come within the area of effect will be cancelled. You start out with 3 SEs and can gain more by collecting items. There does not appear to be a reachable limit to how many SEs you can have, as you are given 70 of them at the start of the Extra Stage.
The player is given 3 starting lives by default, indicated by pink hearts at the bottom right of the screen (C67) or the top right of the screen (C74). You are also given 3 credits (C67) or 5 credits (C74) that you can use to continue when all of your hearts are used up. The number of starting lives can be customised using the options menu. The C67 version shows the player's current extra lives on the right, similarly to Touhou games, while the C74 version shows the player's current lives, thus including the one that is in use at that time.
In the C67 version, whenever you lose a heart or continue, you are given 2 bombs. In the C74 version, you reset to 3 SEs instead of 2 when you continue.
Throughout the game, you may pick up 1-up items that increase the number of hearts by 1. In the C67 version, there are two 1-up items, one of which is given by the Stage 2 midboss and the other by the Stage 6 midboss. In the C74 version, the former 1-up is awarded by the boss of Stage 2 rather than the midboss.
In the C67 version, bosses have a single health bar and use both unnamed patterns and named patterns, the named patterns being called Special Equipment attacks, or SE for short. SEs are announced by the boss and have a set duration, indicated by a red bar that indicates how much time is left, without displaying the actual number of seconds. While the SE lasts, the health bar of the boss will be frozen in place, as is indicated by the text saying "-- ABSOLUTE DEFEND --", shown on top of the health bar. They are essentially similar to survival Spell Cards in Touhou, which you cannot damage and have to time out. In this game however, SEs can in fact be damaged, without affecting the boss's actual health bar, and doing so is very important for scoring. Some SE attacks are used when a specific part of the boss's health bar is reached, while others are used only if a non-SE pattern, used in between SEs and at the start of a battle, ends. The latter can be skipped by reaching the specific part of the health bar required for the next SE to start. When the boss healthbar becomes empty, they will use their final SE, which has the special property of having its own health bar, which will say "-- OVER KILL --" when empty, indicating that much damage has been dealt to the attack. If the player does not deal enough damage to a final SE, the boss will fly off screen and will not award any item. This also happens if an earlier pattern, non-SE, is stalled for too long. If "-- OVER KILL-- " is reached, the boss will award the player an extra bomb when exploding, except for the Stage 2 and 6 midbosses, which award a 1-up item instead, and the Stage 6 boss, Yuitia, who never awards an item. Her battle is unique in the game, as she uses exclusively SE attacks, regardless of how the player performs on her final SE. Her health bar cannot be emptied and it will automatically empty when her final SE ends, which causes her to explode, without awarding any item. She also always uses all of her SE attacks, making skipping or repeating any of them impossible.
In the C74 version, bosses have one health bar for every pattern, and all patterns are unnamed and unannounced. The patterns are not referred to as SEs, as this is what the player's bombs are called instead, which means that it refers to bombs and boss attacks in a way that is opposite to C67.
- Player character
- High score
- Lives remaining
- Bombs remaining
- Difficulty level
- Boss health
- Only when boss is on screen
- Current date, current time and the time the game has been running for
Enemies and bosses give fixed numbers of points when hit by your shots and when destroyed. The score gain from having your shots hit an enemy hitbox is equal to damage x 10. This formula implies that, unlike most games in the genre, the score gain from shooting enemies and bosses is in fact quite significant. Scores for destroying regular enemies remain small, although bosses still give a notable amount. In the C67 version, the points awarded for the destroying the stage bosses are as follows:
Erich: 200,000 Yuuta Kirishima: 200,000 The Tri Stars: 1,000,000 VIVIT-r: 5,000 Hirano Sakurasaki: 5,000 Lagunas: 1,000,000 Yuitia: 1,000,000
Interestingly, both Stage 4 bosses, the player characters themselves, award only very few points for being destroyed.
An item is released when an enemy is destroyed. Items increase your score, and in the C74 version, you receive an additional SE for every 200 items you collect. The number of points that are added to your score depends on the point item value. Initially, this value is equal to 100. Items are a major scoring mechanic in both versions of the game, contributing to a large percentage of the total score.
In the C67 version, this value accumulates when you collect items successively, also causing the sprites of the items to change accordingly. The values are increased to 1,000, 6,400, 12,800 and eventually 51,200, the maximum value. Items are automatically collected if an enemy is destroyed at point blank range. If you are below an enemy and it is destroyed from slightly too far away, their item will be dropped but not automatically collected; if it happens to drop below the bottom of the screen, the point item value will be reset to 100. In case an enemy is destroyed from very far away, also with you below them, it will not drop any item at all. If you are above an enemy, however, and kill it with either the aimed shot or a bomb, the item will drop, and a bomb will also automatically collect it.
In the C74 version, the point item value appears in the top-right corner of the screen and has the maximum set to 10,000 instead. Rather than accumulating as you collect, it increases by a fixed amount when you destroy an enemy at point blank range, and the sprite is always the initial sprite from C67 (star item). Smaller enemies tend to increase the point counter by 100, while larger enemies increase it by 1,000, 2,000, or even 5,000. The point item value does not decrease while you destroy more enemies, but will go down to 100 once you stop for a few seconds.
SE Bonus (C67 only)
This is the most important scoring mechanic in the C67 version. Every SE attack a boss uses awards points based on how much damage was dealt to the attack in its duration, the points being equal to damage x 100. This damage can be dealt either by shooting or by bombing. On the Stage 6 boss, Yuitia, most of the patterns are part of two SE attacks at once, essentially giving you double SE bonuses for every pattern, which makes damage even more important. She also has a special property, namely that she is immune to bombs throughout the entire fight; shooting has to be used to damage her. The current damage dealt to an SE is shown on the right side of the screen, right below the current score.
Some SEs, namely the ones that are only used when a non-SE ends rather than at a specific point on the health bar, can be repeated a specific number of times, by not damaging the health bar enough to reach the amount of health required for the next SE. If they are repeated more often than that specific number of times, the boss will fly off screen, which will end the battle prematurely.
When slow mode is activated, a small circle will form around the character. When bullets come into this circle, you will automatically collect any items that are currently on the screen. Bullets can only be grazed once, while lasers will be continuously grazed if you stay close to them. In the C67 version, it is also possible to graze without slow mode, but the hitbox is much smaller and not displayed on screen. A graze counter also appears next to your character whenever you graze, which shows your current continuous graze as well as your total graze on the current stage. In the C74 version, the graze counter does not appear. You are given 300 points per graze in the C67 version.
Endings (C74 only)
To view the bad endings, either finish the game on Easy or finish the game with one or more continues.
To view the normal (good) endings, finish the game on Normal, Hard, or Lunatic difficulty without continuing once.
- To get Ending 3, use VIVIT-r, any type.
- To get Ending 4, use Hirano Sakurasaki, any type.
In the C67 version, the two characters only have one ending, which doesn't change based on if continues were used or not.
To unlock a stage for practicing at a specific difficulty level and for a specific character and type, you must complete that stage in the standard "Start" game mode at that same difficulty, using the same character and type. The stage will be unlocked even if you have used continues.
Extra Stage (C74 only)
The Extra Stage is a "boss rush" stage, meaning that it consists of exclusively boss fights. To unlock this Extra stage for a specific character and type, you must reach the "Good Ending" (beat the entire game without continuing on Normal or higher difficulties) with that same character and type. You are given 3 starting lives as well as 70 SE attacks to use against the 6 bosses.
- In the C67 version, one of the SEs the Stage 5 boss Lagunas uses will glitch out when repeated a third time and a fifth (last) time, as it will merge with the non-SE that is used before it, causing it to be undodgable if the player is above Lagunas.