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The game may be played using either a keyboard or a gamepad. Keyboard controls are as follows:
- The Arrow Keys move the character (VIVIT) around
- Z causes a short barrage of shots to be fired; it may be held down for rapidfire
- X releases a bomb, presuming that any are left in the inventory
- 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
Shuusou Gyoku plays like a fairly typical vertically-scrolling danmaku shoot 'em up in resemblance to a typical Touhou Project 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 each 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 intensity of enemy attacks used.
The player will traverse 6 increasingly harrowing stages through the course of a regular game.
Once the game has been completed on any difficulty, regardless of the used continues, an Extra Stage is unlocked, available for play with any character type that has accomplished that feat. The Extra Stage features significantly stronger and faster enemies, two extremely difficult boss battles, and no option to continue if all lives are lost.
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 type the player has chosen. The shot powers up as you deal damage to enemies.
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. VIVIT will become invincible during and for a short time after the bomb's effect wears off. By default, at the beginning of the game, and any time your character respawns, you will start off with 2 bombs. Bomb items will increase your current stock by one.
You start off the game 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 not clearly marked on the sprite, but it is possible to approximate its location well by looking at the end og VIVIT's long hair. If the hit box of VIVIT's sprite comes into contact with the hit box of an enemy bullet, laser, or the enemy itself, then you have been hit, and thus loose a life.
The player is awarded extra lives by collecting 1-up items. These are dropped by each midboss, or after the final regular enemy in Stage 6.
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 + the number of times you have continued and you will no longer able to unlock the Extra stage. You may continue up to 4 times.
- Wide Shot
- Main Shot: fires a cone of concave bullets upward. Once you reach the second power level your main shot constantly alternates between shooting straight to about thirty degrees to the right or left. Fires up to five bullets simultaneously.
- Wide shot: fires bullets diagonally upwards. Fires up to eight bullets simultaneously.
- Bomb: fires stars in all directions. A cut-out of VIVIT appears onscreen.
- Homing Missile
- Main Shot: Fires a cone of arrow shaped bullets upward. Your main shot constantly alternates between shooting straight to about thirty degrees to the right or left. Once you reach the second power level the main shot shoots straight at all times. Fires up to four bullets simultaneously.
- Homing missile: fires homing missiles that seek enemies from either side of the player. Fires up to four missiles simultaneously.
- Bomb: fires several homing missiles.
- Main shot: Fires a cone of bullets upward. Fires up to five bullets simultaneously.
- Laser: Fires two lasers one on each side of the player. As power level increases the duration, opacity and power of the lasers increases.
- Bomb: fires lasers in all directions they then converge into two large lasers front of the player.
The overall layout of the screen is different compared to a typical Touhou Project game. This is what's shown on the right image:
- Lives remaining
- Appears at both the top and the right of the screen
- Bombs remaining
- Appears at both the top and the right of the screen
- Graze gauge and graze counter
- Boss health gauge
- Only appears when fighting a boss
- Continues remaining
Current date and current time also appear on the top right side of the screen, taken directly from your operating system's date and time.
Destroying stage enemies will award you points (merely damaging enemies will not award you anything). The points earned from this are around the range of hundreds to thousands of points per enemy; this is not a significant amount at all. However, enemies shoot bullets for you to "evade" and release items for you to collect, and those are very important for scoring as covered below.
"Evaing a bullet" means to have a bullet or laser come dangerously close to your hitbox, just like "grazing" in the Touhou Project. Each evade will add a certain number of points to your score, specific to the difficulty setting, and will increase your "Evade number" by 1, which is used to calculate the Clear bonus.
You can only evade a bullet once, so you won't gain any additional points or evade by following a bullet. Shot lasers count for 3 evades, while wide lasers can be evaded continuously.
The combo ends when the gauge empties, or when the combo reaches 999, at which point combo × (combo + 1) × 10 points are awarded.
These are the major source of points in the game. The higher up on the screen you collect them, the more points they are worth.
The base value of the star item ranges from almost zero to over 70000 points. In addition, an amount equal to Evade × 640 is added to the base value. This is critical to attaining high scores, since at very high combos this can amount to over 600000 points, which can be over 10 times the base value.
Enemy Bullet Bonus
When you defeat a stage midboss or clear an attack pattern of a boss (by depleting a portion of their health bar), all enemy bullets on screen are tallied up and contributed to an Enemy Bullet Bonus. Each eliminated bullet is worth a bonus number of points equal to 15000 + 100 × (Evade Combo). This is also critical to attaining high scores, given that this can total many tens of millions of points.
- On some occasions, the MIDI music will not play in the background, whether you're in the music room or playing the game.
Running on the latest computers
This game doesn't run correctly on Windows Vista/7/8, possibly not on XP as well as it has a hard time running in full 60fps for most cases on newer PCs. The following might help on how to run it properly, so in order to play it if the game appears to be going slow, do the following:
- Run 秋霜玉.exe and go to the Graphics options in-game. Change the 8-bit colors to 16-bit and then change the FPS to 30fps or 20fps.
- Play the game, but if just doing the above doesn't work, continue with the following.
- Right click on 秋霜玉.exe and click on properties. Go to the compatibility tab and tick the box under compatibility and change it to Windows NT 4.0, then click OK.
- This is optional, but tick the box Run in 256 colors under settings as it may improve gameplay, then click OK.
- Play the game!
That will make it run more smoother on any newer (2003+) machine, but it may skip a frame at time to keep with the correct speed. It may also go faster than usual. However, the option above doesn't work on some machines, but there is another way to run game at full 60fps by doing the following:
- Click on Start, then click/type Run and type "dxdiag", then click OK.
- Click on the Screen tab and disable DirectDraw Acceleration, then click Apply (just in case).
- Play the game!
The game should now run at full 60fps, but remember to run DDA after playing as it's vital. For reasons, users with Windows 7 are unavailable to disable DirectDraw Acceleration due to becoming a needed type of hardware.. If you found a way to disable DDA on Windows 7, please add and explain.
There is an alternative that ought to work on all machines however. Apparently according to one source, this game isn't made to run at fullscreen and only in windowed mode, even though it hasn't got that option. In order to correct this, do the following:
- Download the "D3DWindower" application form this link.
- Unzip the .rar file with an extractor, open it, click the '+' button and search for your 秋霜玉.exe file.
- Click the button that has a folder with an hammer on it, and tick 'Use Background Priority'. Make sure 'Use Windowed Mode' is also ticked, and you needn't add values for height and width since that's done automatically. If you want to double the game's screen in size, add 1280 and 960 respectively.
- Click on "Browse...". Here, you need to find the "D3dHook.dll" file that ought to be in your D3DWindower folder.
- Go to the "Window Mode" tab, untick "DirectX8-9 (Direct" and click OK.
- Run the game by clicking the button with a computer on it.
- In-game, go to "config". You've got two options:
- Go to "Graphics" and have BitDepth to "8Bit". There's hardly a difference in appearance between this and 16Bit, but the most obvious one is that 8Bit may make some of your graphics look a bit weird, especially with the fight against Gates as the background may look like a giant golf course rather than sky, but that's expected.
- Again in "Graphics", change the DrawMode to at least 30Fps. This may run the game at the correct speed, but it may lag.
- Play the game!
Note: The 16-bit graphics mode leads to broken graphics with nVidia Forceware Driver 295.51 and newer. The latest WHQL certified driver with playable 16-bit graphics mode is 285.58, the latest beta driver is 290.53.