Riverbed Soul Saver/Gameplay

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Title screen of the game

This article describes the overall gameplay and background information for Riverbed Soul Saver.



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). Holding this key also allows you to use hypers
  •  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.
  • Alt+Enter switches the game to full screen mode
  • Left Ctrl speeds up the game

Basic Gameplay[edit]

Riverbed Soul Saver plays like a fairly typical vertically-scrolling danmaku shooting game like any Touhou Project fangame would, 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.

The game is mechanically similar to Ten Desires, keeping a similar hyper system (trance in Ten Desires terms) in which you collect double resources mid-hyper, as well as racking up score in a similar manner. In addition, bosses and midbosses also drop spirit items which are functionally the same as in Ten Desires.

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. Also, power items will not be in this game. Instead, you remain at full power the whole time.


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 whether the player is focused or unfocused. At a close range, the player's shots do more damage.

Point of Collection[edit]

Like many 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. Like the official Touhou games from Mountain of Faith onward, you don't need to have full power or focus to use the POC – it's always available. If you were to continuously shoot down enemies, the POC (represented by a blue arrow on the left side of the screen) will be lowered temporarily. Point items count for the same amount of score in this game regardless of whether the POC is used to collect them.


Like the official games, Riverbed Soul Saver 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 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.

At the beginning of the game, you will start off with 3 bombs. Extra bombs are obtained by collecting 6 bomb fragments. Bomb fragments are obtained by green boss spirits and point item thresholds (every 500 items in which the number is not a multiple of 1000).

You can carry up to a maximum of 8 bombs at a time. If you collect a bomb piece when you already have 8 bombs, that bomb piece will be lost. Like in the earlier Touhou games, after dying the number of bombs will reset to the initial value of 3 bombs. Accumulated bomb pieces 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 a game mechanic. After being hit by a bullet, the player is given a brief window of time to bomb and negate their death. The "death" sound effect will play, and the bomb will then activate.

When using a hyper, a bomb is also consumed and used as normal.


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 life fragments from either pink boss spirits or point item thresholds (every 500 point items in which the number is a multiple of 1000). The amount of life fragments required for an extend starts at 8, then increases by 1 whenever a life extend is obtained. This value caps at 17, and once the extend for 17 life fragments is obtained, no more lives can be obtained (the counter appears as 10 fragments required when this occurs). This means the game effectively has 10 extra lives for you to obtain, not counting 1-up drops from the Stage 3 and 5 midbosses.

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, 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 bombs will be reset to its default of 3, and you can no longer save a replay after continuing.

Resource Fragments[edit]

Point items serve a unique purpose in Riverbed Soul Saver. In addition to being the primary source of score in the game, they also function as items building up to collecting precious life and bomb resources. After every 500 point items gained, a fragment is obtained, and the type of fragment (life or bomb) is determined by whether the threshold is a multiple of 1000. For example, at 1500 point items, you will obtain a bomb fragment. At 2000 point items, you will obtain a life fragment.

Additionally, spirits drop from bosses and midbosses and are triggered by different criteria. After each attack, every boss drops both a pink and green spirit, but one or both of these spirits can be lost if you die to an attack or bomb during the attack. (being in a hyper does not negate the green spirit unless you activated the hyper on that attack. This is because the hyper is activated by a bomb.) These same enemies also drop blue spirits periodically as you deal damage and appear en masse when you capture a spell card. These blue spirits are functionally similar to normal point items, but with a key difference (see: Hypers).


Hypers are the single most important mechanic in Riverbed Soul Saver for both scoring and survival. The most obvious effect is that your shots get powered up, similar in look to a CAVE-style ship type. These powered up shots have a multitude of effects, including damage increase, range increase, bosses dropping more blue spirits than normal, and several shot-specific effects (example: FutoC's hyper shot erases bullets within a certain radius, in a similar vein to DoDonPachi Resurrection hypers).

Similar bonuses occur when obtaining life and bomb fragments. Similar to Ten Desires' trance system, these resources are worth double when obtained during a hyper, making lives and bombs much easier to obtain.

Obtaining hypers is done through a couple methods, both of which revolving around the key gauge below bombs on the HUD. The gauge is filled up by collecting point items and blue spirits, the latter being much more effective. The larger the size of the point item, the more the key gauge fills up. It takes hundreds of standard point items to fill the key gauge. However, it takes tens of blue spirits dropped by bosses and midbosses to fill up the same amount. One spell card capture's worth of blue spirits is often enough to fill up your gauge entirely.

Activating a hyper is done by holding down the Bomb button for longer than a tap, and this activates the bomb at the same time. You can also death-hyper much like a deathbomb would occur.

However, hypers do have several potential consequences. You are not invincible during a hyper. If you get hit, you will lose all bombs you have in stock. Hypers are also on a timer as signified by a colorful circle around the player sprite. When the timer runs out, all bullets on screen will be cancelled, no invincibility frames are gained, your shots return to normal, and the key gauge is emptied. In addition, if your hyper ends during a spell card and the spell card is captured, the boss no longer drops all the blue spirits you would normally gain for said capture. However, this is restored upon the next nonspell.

Boss Battles[edit]

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 three characters to choose from in the game, each with three shot types. Most of the types are similar to existing shot types, particularly for Reimu and Marisa. Strangely, each character will use the same spell card for both shot types, but the hyper changes for every one of the nine shots. Each character also has a support character, which is mostly for aesthetics and dialogue.



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 slightly. Destroying enemies will award slightly more. More importantly, destroyed enemies release point 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. In this game, grazing is almost entirely trivial, as each graze is worth 10 points and no point item value.

Point Items[edit]

For score purposes, the point item value is equivalent to the amount of point items gained multiplied by 10, and this value increases after the score is gained from the item. This value has a base value of 0, unlike in other Touhou games. Collecting your first point item gives 0 score and increases the PIV by 10, the next item adds 10 to your score and increases the point item value to 20, etc. In addition, size of the point item does not matter when it comes to raw score, however big point items increase the PIV by multiple times more than a single point item.

During a hyper, point items are worth 50% more than normal.

Fragment Bonuses[edit]

Obtaining a fragment has an modest but important score bonus. This bonus goes up the more fragments you obtained, but may be cut by losing a life. This bonus is also obtained if the player is at maximum lives or bombs. This bonus is boosted by hypers by a significant amount.

Spell Card Bonus[edit]

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.

This bonus is dictated by difficulty, stage number, and a base value. Spell card bonuses are pivotal to obtaining a high score, as in later stages they can be worth hundreds of millions.

Clear Bonus[edit]

At the end of a stage, the player is awarded a clear bonus. The clear bonuses increase based on difficulty and stage number, but in the main game does not vary based on resources.

Extra's clear bonus scales based on the amount of resources left and is much larger.