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.

Gameplay

Controls

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.
  • C fast-forwards through any dialogue; is also used for turning the hyper shot on and off for a few shottypes in Overdrive Mode.
  •  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.
  • 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

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.

Shot

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.

Point of Collection

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. Point items count for the same amount of score in this game regardless of whether the POC is used to collect them.

Bombs

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, or 8 in Overdrive Mode. 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 when you already have 8 bombs, that bomb will be lost, however the bomb piece count is still tracked. After dying, the number of bombs will reset to 2, instead of the initial 3 when starting the game. 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.

In the options menu, an autobomb option can be toggled on and off. If activated, the player will consume a bomb when hit, however it will never be a bomb that triggers a hyper. On Easy, Normal, Hard and Extra, this consumes 1 bomb, on Lunatic and Phantasm, it consumes the entire bomb stock. Runs done with autobombs will have a text saying "AUTO BOMB" on the bottom right, next to the framerate counter.

Lives

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.

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 from the start of the stage. However, if you do continue, your current score will be reset back to 0. The number of lives and bombs will be set to their maximum amount, but you can no longer save a replay after continuing.

Resource Fragments

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

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 slows down bullets within a certain radius).

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. Interestingly, only in Extra and Phantasm, bullet cancels also fill up the key gauge, but not those generated from the player using a bomb.

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 autobomb, lose all bombs you have in stock in the process, and cancel the hyper altogether. 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.

Hypers are always active during Overdrive Mode. The bomb is always that of the hyper, and as such, you have autobombs activated no matter what. However by pressing C as MarisaC, or any of Futo's shottypes, you can toggle between having the hyper shot, or the regular shot, due to how their hypers work.

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.

Characters

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.

Scoring

Enemies

Destroyed enemies release point items for you to collect, and those are very important for scoring as covered below. Damaging bosses (but not stage enemies) will also award a very small amount of points.

Grazing

"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

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.

While the key gauge is full, point items are worth 50% more than normal. During a hyper, enemies drop double the amount of items.

Fragment Bonuses

Obtaining a fragment has a modest but important score bonus:

Point item value * 80 * difficulty multiplier

The point item value is always rounded to the nearest 500. The difficulty multiplier is x1.5 on Normal, x2 on Hard and x3 on Lunatic. In every other mode, it is set to x1.

Additionally, the bonus is multiplied by 5 if a hyper is currently active. In Overdrive, this multiplier will apply even if hyper is toggled off.

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.

This bonus decreases over time, with it always reaching 0 the moment the spell times out. In the case of timeout spells, as well as Yamatoyo no Momohime and Abe no Kiyohime's final spells, the bonus will not decrease over time and will be awarded for simply surviving to the end without dying or bombing.

The starting value of this bonus depends on the current stage:

Stage Initial value
Stage 1 spells 21,000,000
Stage 2 spells 48,000,000
Stage 3 spells 120,000,000
Stage 4 spells 240,000,000
Stage 5 spells 300,000,000
Stage 6 spells 600,000,000
Extra stage spells 210,000,000
Phantasm stage spells 255,000,000

However, certain spells do not use these values, and instead have specific values assigned to them:

Spell Card Initial value
Suitenguu no Himemiko's 4th spell (Timeout spell) 120,000,000
Yamatoyo no Momohime's 5th spell (Timeout spell) 300,000,000
Yamata no Yato's 9th spell (Timeout spell) 140,000,000
Yamata no Yato's final spell 1,008,000,000
Abe no Kiyohime's final spell 600,000,000
Abe no Kiyohime's Overdrive spell (Timeout spell) 1,000,000,000

Clear Bonus

At the end of a stage, the player is awarded a clear bonus. The clear bonuses increase based on stage number, specifically 30 million x (stage number). This applies to the Extra and Phantasm stages too, them being stages 7 and 8, respectively.