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 rapidfire
- X releases a bomb, also known as a Spell Card (presuming that any are left)
- Shift slows the character's movement and focuses their shots into a tighter area
- Esc pauses the game and brings you to the in-game menu
- Ctrl fast-forwards through any dialogue
Marine Benefit plays like a fairly typical vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting game, 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.
The player will traverse 6 increasingly harrowing stages through the course of a regular game.
Once the game has been completed without continuing on Normal or higher difficulty, an Extra Stage is unlocked, available for any character that has accomplished that feat.
A character's "shot" is the player's primary method of attacking enemies. While the shot's attack area and behaviour varies depending on the character type the player has chosen, the shot can be powered up by filling up the Power Level by collecting power items.
Special Ability: bombs last longer, oxygen meter increase more easiliy
- Forward-Focus Type (前方集中装備)
- Shot: Infrared Detector (「インフラレッドディテクター」)
- Bomb: Red Sign "Outer Red Boundary" (赤符「赤外結界」)
- Homing Type (自動照準装備)
- Shot: Homing Laser Sight (「ホーミングレーザーサイト」)
- Bomb: Crimson Sign "Crimson Fantasy" (朱符「夢想妙朱」)
- Infinite Flowering Type (無限花序装備)
- Shot: Scarlet Flame (「スカーレットフレーム」)
- Bomb: Scarlet Sign "Scarlet Yin-yang Orbs" (緋符「陰陽緋玉」)
Special Ability: item collection area is wider, hydrogen meter increases more easily
- Trailing-option type (追尾配置装備)
- Shot: Star Imprinting (「スターインプリンティング」)
- Bomb: Blue Sign "Sirius Movement" (青符「シリウスムーヴメンド」)
- Light Speed Piercing Type (光速貫通装備)
- Shot: Constellation Laser (「コンステレーションレーザー」)
- Bomb: Indigo Sign "Blue Spark" (藍符「ブルースバーク」)
- Direction-switching Type (方向回転装備)
- Shot: Sky Illumination (「スカイイルミネーション」)
- Bomb: Sky Blue Sign "Blue Sky Sunlight" (蒼符「ブルースカイサンライト」)
Special Ability: main shot is stronger, gains back power more easily
- Wide Narrow Dual Type (広狭二種装備)
- Shot: Kanako's Divine Virtue (「神奈子様の神徳」)
- Bomb: Green Sign "Spring East Wind" (緑符「スプリングイーストウィンド」)
- Superwide Type (超広範囲装備)
- Shot: Suwako's Iron Rings (「諏訪子様の鉄の輪」)
- Bomb: Jade Sign "Jade-colored Sea" (翠符「翡翠色の海」)
- Thermonuclear Explosion Type (熱核爆弾装備)
- Shot: Submarine Sun (「サブマリンサン」)
- Bomb: Emerald Sign "Green Flash" (碧符「グリーンフラッシュ」)
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 cancelling out any bullets in the bomb's way. The player's character becomes invincible during and for a short time after the bomb's effect wears off. At the beginning of the game and any time your character respawns, you will start off with 2 bombs or whatever the number you had before (whichever is bigger).
Extra bombs are obtained through collecting Hydrogen items. The small H item increases (moves it down) the hydrogen meter by 1 point. The large H item increases the hydrogen meter by 12 points. The increase in H meter is twice as much for Marisa. When the meter reaches the lower blue mark (224/256/288/320 items) the player gains an extra bomb and the meter resets.
As of the 2013 version, the player is limited to 8 bombs; if a bomb is collected when the player already has the maximum it is simply lost.
With default settings, you will start off with 3 lives. You can lose a life by getting "hit" by an enemy attack.
The hit box for your character is quite small in comparison to your on-screen sprite, approximately only 5 pixels by 5 pixels in size. It is marked by the red dot.
If you have bombs in stock and the Bomb key is pressed within a short time of the player's character being hit, then the hit can be negated and countered with a bomb. This deathbomb time interval only lasts about 0.1 seconds, after which you will lose a life as normal.
The player is awarded extra lives by collecting Oxygen items and grazing. The large O item increases (moves it down) the oxygen meter by 2 points, and the small O item increases the oxygen meter by 1 point. The increase in oxygen meter is twice as much for Reimu. The oxygen meter can also be increased by grazing (see below). An extra life is awarded when the oxygen meter reaches a certain point (marked by the lower orange arrow, equal to 64 oxygen items) and the meter resets.
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. You may continue as many times as you like. If you choose to continue, you will start over from the beginning of the stage, but with 5 lives and 4 bombs, instead of the normal 3 lives and 2 bombs.
As of the 2013 version, the player is limited to 8 lives in stock (i.e. 9 lives total); if a life is collected when the player already has the maximum it is simply lost.
The main challenge and the main attraction. Each boss has multiple lives, which are represented by multiple health bars. Bosses normally alternate between attacking normally and attacking with Spell Cards, switching once with each life bar.
Normal attacks are 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 character's attack pattern to self-destruct may be enough to beat them, but mere survival won't earn the player any score bonuses.
Scoring works similar to many other Touhou games in many aspects. Listed below are the details for how points are given in Marine Benefit.
Any damage you deal to any enemy, whether it be caused by your shots or your bombs, will cause your score to increase very slightly. Actually destroying enemies will not award you any extra points, but they will release items for you to collect.
"Grazing a bullet" means to have a bullet or laser come dangerously close to your hitbox. Each bullet grazed is worth 10 points; in addition, grazing also increases the oxygen meter. The amount of graze required to increment the oxygen meter by 1 is listed below:
You can only graze a bullet once, so you won't gain any additional points or graze by following a bullet.
As the name implies, point items are a source of points in the game. The value of a point item is equal to 100 + (10 * oxygen meter), which is considerably less than in most Touhou games.
While your shot is not fully powered up, you can collect power items. The small power item gives 0.05 power, and the big power item gives 1.00 power. The F item, dropped upon continue, or upon death at 4.00 power if using Sanae, gives you full power. At full power, all power items are changed into small Hydrogen items.
Small hydrogen items are worth 10 points and large hydrogen items are worth 100 points.
Below is the number of items required to fill the meter on each difficulty. Since the lower marker is not affected by difficulty, this means that the marker will start higher on the screen on higher difficulties, and return to a higher point when the meter is filled.
Small oxygen items are worth 100 points. Large oxygen items are worth 1000 points. As the oxygen meter fills, both markers on the hydrogen meter will move downwards, effectively lowering the POC without affecting the value of the hydrogen meter.
Spell Card Bonus
Occasionally, a boss will attack using a Spell Card. You will 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 healthbar 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 starting value of the bonus depends on the Spell Card used. As the time remaining decreases, the bonus decreases in value as well.
The bonus starts at out at a value equal to:
2 million * (stage number + difficulty value)
with difficulty value being:
Bonuses in Extra have a starting value of 22,000,000. Bonuses for Omniverse have a starting value of 8,000,000.
Except for Megumi Yaobi's final Spell Card and Otohime Kanpukugu's 7th and 8th Spell Cards for each character, the bonus decreases over time, starting 5 seconds after the spell card starts. The bonus decreases at a constant rate of:
0.75*(starting value)/(time limit in seconds - 5) per second
A clear bonus is added to the score at the end of each stage. The bonus is based on the stage number and the lives remaining at the end of that stage regardless of the difficulty, it is calculated as follows:
(1 million * stage number) + (1 million * lives in stock)
There is a good and bad ending for each character.
To unlock a stage to practice in "Practice Start" 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.
To unlock the Extra stage for a specific character and type, you must beat the entire game without continuing on Normal or higher difficulties with that same character and type.
To unlock Omniverse spell cards (equivalent to Last Words in Imperishable Night or Overdrive in Ten Desires) for all player characters and shot types, clear the Extra stage once with any character and type. (Only in March 2013 version)