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Hidden Star in Four Seasons/Gameplay

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Title screen of the game

This article describes the overall gameplay and background information for Hidden Star in Four Seasons.



The game may be played using either a keyboard or a gamepad. Keyboard controls are as follows:

  • The Arrow Keys move the character around
  • Z causes a short barrage of shots to be fired; it may be held down for rapid fire
  • X releases a bomb, also known as a spell card or spiritual attack (presuming you have bombs left)
  • C releases your collected sub-seasons
  •  Shift slows the character's movement, and changes the nature of the character's shot; it generally makes your attacks more focused.
  • Esc pauses the game and brings you to the in-game menu
  • Q returns you to the title screen when the game is paused
  • R returns you to the beginning of stage 1 when the game is paused
  •  Shift+C in the pause screen returns you to the title screen.
  • Ctrl fast-forwards through any dialogue and replays
  • Home or P produces a .bmp screenshot in the /snapshot directory. (Only works in 32-bit color mode.)

Basic Gameplay

Hidden Star in Four Seasons plays like a fairly typical vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting game like the rest of the Touhou Project games, in which the player's character is always facing towards the top of the screen, shooting at anything that moves, avoiding and weaving between enemy bullets, and confronting difficult bosses at the end of a stage.

There are 4 levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Lunatic. Each difficulty level features differences in the number of bullets fired by each enemy, rate of fire, variations in the bullets' pattern of movement, and the number and type of enemy spell cards used.


A character's "shot" is the player's primary method of attacking enemies. The shot's attack area and behavior varies depending on the character and attack type the player has chosen, as well as the player's power level and whether the player is focused or unfocused.

Point of Collection

Like previous Touhou games, there's a line most of the way up the screen called the point of collection. If you move your character at or above this line, all items on the screen will be drawn to your character. As with Mountain of Faith onward, you don't need to have full power or focus to use the POC – it's always available.

Bomb (Player Spell Card)

Like its predecessors, the game features bombs (actually spell cards) with distinctive visual styles that differ between characters. A character's "bomb" is the player's limited-use method of getting out of difficult situations. A bomb's attack area, duration, and power varies depending on the character type the player has chosen, but it typically deals heavy damage to every enemy it touches, in addition to canceling out any bullets in the bomb's way, as well as automatically collecting every item on screen.

At the beginning of the game, you will start off with 3 bombs. Extra bombs are obtained by collecting bomb fragments, which are dropped by boss attacks (provided you don't die or bomb) and certain enemies, and bomb items, which are dropped by the midbosses of Stage 2, Stage 4, the Extra Stage, as well as certain enemies. Five fragments are required per bomb.

You can carry up to a maximum of 8 bombs at a time. If you collect a bomb fragment when you already have 8 bombs, that bomb fragment will be lost. Like in the earlier Touhou games, on dying the number of bombs will reset to the initial value of 3 bombs. Accumulated bomb fragments are preserved when the player loses a life. The counter is reset to 0 upon continuing after a game over, however.

As usual, deathbombing is here. After being hit by a bullet, the player is given a very brief window of time to bomb and negate their death. The "death" sound effect will play, and the bomb will then activate.


The hit box for your character is quite small in comparison to your on-screen sprite, approximately only 5×5 in pixel size. If you hold Shift, a colored dot will appear, showing the hitbox precisely. If the hit box of a character comes into contact with the hit box of an enemy bullet, laser, or the enemy itself, then you have been hit.

You start off the game with 3 lives (that is, 2 extra lives). You can lose a life by getting "hit" by an enemy attack.

In this game, the player's life stock is represented by a health bar with hearts. Extra lives are obtained by collecting 1up items, which are dropped by the midbosses of Stage 3 (as long as the player doesn't die on the spell card), Stage 5, and the Extra Stage. Extra lives are also awarded at 5, 10, 20, 40, 70, 100, 150, 250, 500 million and 1 billion points for the regular game. For the Extra Stage, the scores are 10, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 million points.

You can carry up to a maximum of 8 extra lives at a time. If you receive an extra life when you already have the maximum, that life will be lost.

When you lose a life, you also lose 0.50 Power points (0.07 are scattered for you to collect); however, your power can't decrease below 1.00. Also, all the bullets on the screen are cleared, and you become invulnerable for a short period of time.

Upon losing all their lives, the player is given the choice to continue right where they left off. However, if you do continue, your current score will be reset back to 0, plus the number of times you have continued. The number of bomb fragments will be reset to 0, you can no longer save a replay after continuing, and will reach the "Bad Ending" if you finish the game. You may continue up to 5 times in the regular game. You may not continue in the Extra stage.


In addition to a character's main shot, the player can also select one of four sub-shots. These provide additional fire and can be used to strengthen or complement a character's main shot, or offset its weaknesses. Sub-Season shot power can be increased up to 6 by picking up season items (cherry petals for spring, green leaves for summer, red leaves for autumn, snowflakes for winter). The collected season power can then be released in the form of a mini-bomb that converts bullets in its radius into green point items that increase the point item value. The higher the season level at the time of release, the larger the items will be. Releasing during a spell card will not cause it to fail.

Season items can be produced by quickly destroying enemies, grazing bullets, destroying bullets with a season release, or dispelling a boss's attack.

Note that releasing while the player has invincibility frames will remove the frames immediately.

Boss Battles

The main challenge and the main attraction that appears at the end of each stage. Each boss has multiple lives, which are represented by stars shown at the upper left of the screen. Bosses usually alternate between attacking normally and attacking with spell cards, switching once with each health bar. Markers on the health bar indicate the start of a spell card attack when the boss' health is depleted that far.

Normal attacks are typically incrementally stronger versions of the boss character's basic attack. Spell card attacks bedazzle the player with combinations of complex patterns that often involve the use of projectiles and obstacles crafted especially for use with that spell card. If the player manages to defeat a spell card attack without getting hit or using any bombs, a substantial score bonus is rewarded for the feat.

Each attack is accompanied by a timer. When time runs out, the boss will switch to their next attack pattern even if their health bar isn't empty. Waiting for a boss's attack pattern to self-destruct may be enough to beat them, but mere survival won't earn the player any score bonuses. The exception however is when the boss is invulnerable for the duration of the spell card; in this case the player will receive the bonus on survival.

When fighting a boss, a position marker shows up on the bottom margin of the screen, indicating where the boss is on the horizontal axis. Since your target can be completely obscured by bullets or darkness at times, use this marker to help you aim your shots. The marker will dim when the boss is being hit, and will flash red when her health bar gets sufficiently depleted.


There are four characters to choose from in the game, each with one shot type referred to as a Main Season. Additionally, you can select a Sub-Season, which are downscaled versions of their respective Main Season.

Main Season Sub-Season
Reimu Hakurei (Spring) Homing cherry petals. Unlike the previous two and next two games, these are homing even while focused. Shot in a spread while unfocused, straight ahead while focused. Power increases the amount of shots. Smaller, more sporadic homing cherry petals. Season release is an instant circle whose scope increases with the season level, which gives additional invincibility as well.
Cirno (Summer) Ice shard spread shot. Power increases the total range. Focusing reduces the range. Much more sporadic ice shards in a much wider spread. Season release is a small circle that lasts for only about a second, but it only takes up one season level.
Aya Shameimaru (Autumn) Unfocused uses gusts of wind in a light spread. Focused uses a single red gust that moves straight forward and can penetrate. Power increases the spread of the unfocused shot and width of the focused shot. The same gusts of wind as the Main Season's unfocused shot, but moving straight forward. Season release is similar to Reimu C's bomb from Subterranean Animism in that the release circle follows you around. The duration of the release increases with the season level. Your movement speed also increases while releasing.
Marisa Kirisame (Winter) Illusion lasers that spread out slightly at higher power levels while unfocused, but are all concentrated straight ahead while focused. As with Ten Desires and onwards, they do not penetrate. A narrow illusion laser fired straight ahead from behind the player, becoming stronger the higher the season level is. Season release is a stationary circle that becomes larger and lasts longer the higher the season level is. Your shot power also increases while releasing.
EX Season (Dog Days) N/A Brown missile bullets, similar to Marisa B's Earth shot in Subterranean Animism, shooting backwards in a light spread. High damage output. Season release is practically identical to Summer, but the circle moves downwards as it shrinks in size.

Screen Layout

Screen layout

The layout of the overall screen is typical for a Touhou Project shoot 'em up.

  1. Your character
  2. Player Score
    • High Score: your highest score for the current character, type, and difficulty
    • Score: your current score
  3. The number of remaining lives and bombs / The approximate location of the point of collection
    • Right numbers: score required to reach for the next extra life / fragments needed for an extra bomb
  4. Player Status
    • Power: your shot power level, maxing out at 4.00
    • Point value: the maximum points achievable of the point items
    • Graze: the number of enemy shots that have grazed your hit box during the game
  5. Enemy Status
    • Stars: the number of health bars the enemy has left
    • Middle number: the amount of time left before the enemy's attack spell fails (self-destructs)
    • Circular health bar during one star
  6. Spell Card Status
    • Title: the name of the spell card being used
    • Bonus: the constantly-updating value of the Spell Card Bonus
    • History: the number of times you have "captured" the spell card currently being used, and the number of times you have faced it.
  7. The boss enemy
  8. Sub-Season gauge

Unlockable Features

  • Stage Practice: This feature allows a character to practice a stage that they have reached in a full game run. You begin with 9 lives and full power. If you lose all your lives, you can't continue.
  • Extra Stage: By beating the game on any difficulty with a certain character, no matter the season, the Extra Stage is unlocked for said character.

Full Unlock Code

To unlock all unlockable content at once, navigate to the Extra Marisa records in Player Data and type out ilovebeer. If done correctly, the 1up sound effect will play and the practice mode stages as well as the Extra Stage will be unlocked for all shottypes.



Any damage you deal to any stage enemy, whether it'd be caused by your shots or your bombs, will cause your score to increase very slightly. Actually destroying enemies will award you slightly more points, but the points earned from this are around the range of hundreds to thousands of points per enemy. This isn't a significant amount at all. However, destroyed enemies release items for you to collect, and those are very important for scoring as covered below.


"Grazing" is the act of having a bullet pass near one's hitbox. You can only graze a bullet once, so you won't gain any additional points or graze by following a bullet. Lasers can be continually grazed throughout their duration, but once again, moving around will not gain you any additional points or graze.

Point Items

As its name implies, point items are the major source of points in the game. The higher up on the screen you collect them, the more points they're worth, up to a defined maximum. You can easily tell when you are collecting point items for their maximum value, since they'll show the value in yellow text. The auto-item-collect line is the same height as the height where point items reach their maximum value, so take advantage of this fact whenever you can for massive points. As in Undefined Fantastic Object onwards, auto-collected items are still worth their full value if you happen to leave the auto-collect area before items contact your hit box, or if they're auto-collected in another manner such as by bombing or dialogue.

The point items' starting value on all difficulties is 10,000.

The point item value is increased by collecting green point value items. These items are released by destroying enemy bullets with a season release. The higher the season level at the time of release, the larger the green point items spawned, and the larger the green point items, the more they increase the point item value:

Season level 1 2 3 4 5 6
PIV increase 5 10 20 30 40 50

In addition, every green point item collected is worth 10% of the current point item value, regardless of size. The point item value can only increase up to 500,000, regardless of difficulty level.

Power Items

Power items increase your power gauge by 0.01 and are worth 100 points. Power items collected at full power act like Point items instead.

Season Items

Each Season item collected adds 10 points to your score.

Spell Card Bonus

Occasionally, a boss will attack using a spell card. You'll know this is happening when the background changes and the spell card's name appears in the upper right corner of the screen. If the boss's health bar is depleted within the time limit and without getting hit or using a bomb, the spell card bonus will be added to your score.

The bonus starts at out at a value equal to:

1 million × stage number × difficulty value

with difficulty value being:

Easy Normal Hard Lunatic Extra (considered to be stage 7 in the formula)
0.5 1 1.5 2 1

Except for Okina Matara's ninth EX spell card, the bonus decreases over time, starting 5 seconds after the spell card starts. The bonus decreases at a constant rate of:

2 / 3 × (starting value) / (time limit in seconds - 5) per second 

Clear Bonus

At the end of a stage, the player is awarded a clear bonus.

(stage × 1 million)

At the end of the game, the player is awarded a clear bonus as well.

Base clear bonus (E/N/H/L: 6 million, EX: 7 million) + (5 million × lives) + (1 million × bombs)


Attention: This section is a stub and it needs expanding with more information related to the section's topic. If you can add to it in any way, please do so.
Two-Eyed Typhoon, Satono only
Two-Eyed Typhoon, Satono only
Two-Eyed Typhoon, Mai only
Two-Eyed Typhoon, Mai only

This is a list of known glitches, bugs or other unusual capabilities that aren't suppose to be part of the original gameplay.

Glitches reported only in past versions:

  • Replay season bug: Replays use the last season selected while playing the game (or Spring if a replay was selected first thing after launch) as opposed to season used in the replay. Fixed as of v1.00a.

Glitches reported in the full version:

  • Mai/Satono timeout glitch: Mai and Satono's second Spell Cards, "Tanabata Star Festival" and "Behind You", last for 30 seconds, but when the timer ends, they last for an additional 10 seconds. The spells can no longer be captured during these seconds; ending them will count as having failed to capture them. The exception to this rule is the spellcard Bullet Dance "Two-Eyed Typhoon", where Satono will still shoot her pattern even if Mai is killed.
  • Spell Practice score extend bug: It is possible to obtain extends during Spell Practice, despite resources normally being disabled in that mode.
    • Spell Practice death bug: As a result of the extend glitch, it is also possible to die during Spell Practice.
  • Winter laser bug: If you gain season levels while using Winter, the lasers will stack, making your shot very powerful as it levels towards level 6. The effect ends when either you stop shooting (this includes using a bomb and dying), get a power up, or when you finish a stage.
  • Crow options glitch: Rarely, Aya will lose her crow options after bombing, making her much weaker. They will not return by dying or releasing; they only do by raising your release level again.
  • Release Point Item Value bug: On random occasions, your Point Item Value gained from a release will be cut off, only showing part of it on the screen.
  • Counterstop max lives glitch: When the score counter reaches the limit score of 9,999,999,990, the player is instantly awarded the full stock of 8 extra lives, no matter how many lives they had remaining. This is likely a result of the game having extends beyond 1 billion, which are not reachable by any other means, due to the score limit.

The following apply to multiple games, including Hidden Star in Four Seasons:

  • Slowdown glitch: If you die while the game is slowed down, you lose more power than you should. This is due to the slowdown being implemented as frames running multiple times, including the frame on which power is lost.
  • Manual glitch: If the manual is opened from the main menu 15 or more times, this has strange effects on the difficulty selection screen. After selecting a difficulty and then returning to the difficulty screen, it will be all garbled up. Selecting this garbled up difficulty and then selecting a shot causes a "run" of the Extra Stage on Hard mode to begin, in which nothing happens, or various other weird combinations.
  • Play time bug: The Play time information in Player Score is inconsistent and is usually much shorter than the actual play time.
  • Reimu gohei error: Reimu still uses her sprite from Double Dealing Character, which doesn't carry her purification rod, even though by now her rod is no longer bewitched.
  • Spell Practice instant kill glitch: When practicing the Extra Stage midboss in Spell Practice, Mai and Satono can take damage very rapidly in the short time before their Spell Card is declared. With a powerful shottype and a well-placed season release, the player has just enough time to deplete one of their life bars before the spell starts. Killing Satono this way lets Mai still start the spell on her own, but killing Mai renders Satono a sitting duck. Video footage of the glitch in action.
  • Sprintf buffer overflow: When replayed multiple times, images from one replay form an afterimage in the following replay. This will continue to darken the screen (due to the Spell Card backgrounds stacking) until new replays become imperceptible, all whilst lagging the game. The afterimages can still be seen after quitting the replay, during the loading screen. Footage of this glitch.
  • Spritesheet glitch: On very rare occasions, the game will load incorrectly, resulting in erratic behaviour during gameplay. The game will randomly and rapidly flash chunks of the entire spritesheet during play. If it occurs, the game stays this way until it's closed.
  • Survival spell bomb shield glitch: Due to the bomb shield of the boss forcibly giving the boss their hitbox back once it wears off, if the player uses a release or a bomb, the boss becomes vulnerable to damage during the survival spell card in the Extra Stage and it can be captured before it times out. Footage of this glitch.
  • Low boss i-frame bug: Due to the boss's invulnerability frames lasting less long than the pause between the previous and the next spell card, Nemuno's final spell card Blade Exhaustion Sign "Mountain Murder"/Blade Exhaustion Sign "Bloody Mountain Murder" takes heavy damage at the start, becoming skippable with two well-timed summer releases. The same applies with all of Okina's final spell cards on stage 6, where the first and nearly second phase on the fall, summer and spring ones can be skipped with a release used half a second before the spell card is declared.
  • Extra Midboss life count error: The Extra stage midboss never shows any life count, when 2 and 1 should be displayed for the first and second spellcards respectively.