The Story of Touhou 4: Lotus Land Story NES Demake’s Development

We are only one week away from the release of the Touhou 4: Lotus Land Story NES Demake‘s release. As the game undergoes final quality assurance tests and adjustments, I would like to reflect on this game’s development.

Preproduction on this game began as early as September 2021 after Touhou 3: The Phantasmagoria of Dimensional Dreams NES Demake‘s development was completed and released. This is also the first game to use a new sound engine for music playback. In general, this game is also the first to use a premade asset with that being the sound engine. This chiptune player was created by a guy named Mick at GamePhase, who also created sound engines for the modtracker and Commodore 64 SID formats. If you are an aspiring GameMaker developer and would like to use these sound engines in your game, we do have the links if you want to download them here:

Part of the reason why we went with this sound engine was that we wanted to go old-school for this game, and we also wanted the game’s songs to loop endlessly and seamlessly, even if there is an intro to it. This chiptune player can not only play songs in the NES NSF format (expansion chips such as the Konami VRC6 and Namco N163 are also supported), but can also play songs created for the Game Boy, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, the MSX, and even the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom.

As the first Touhou Project NES Demake to use an expansion chip, we went with the Namco N163 to give the game more layers in instruments. Speaking of instruments, we went with the classic instruments that were used in Namco’s WSG used in their early arcade games from the early 1980s. Sure, the first three demakes used an expansion chip as well (Famicom Disk System), but this is the first time we used a different chip. The soundtracks are also available in NSF format, meaning it is possible to play the soundtrack on an actual NES/Famicom.

Sure, it did work, but it did have its fair share of limitations we had to overcome as with most pre-made assets. We had to study the sound engine’s source code to ensure everything was working properly. Of course, we realized we were going to run into one issue post-release. Any computer that does not meet the system requirements and slows down during gameplay can have the sound engine produce unexpected noise that could be disorienting. To solve this problem, a dedicated support page will be created for this specific issue. This is not a result of a bug in the game nor a defect.

Now onto the gameplay and graphics. If you’ve played the Touhou 2: The Story of Eastern Wonderland NES Demake, you’ll probably be familiar with the way it looks. That’s because it runs on the same engine but with minor adjustments for more powerful gameplay. The first difference is the addition of the Dream system from the original, which influences the amount of points you will receive from point items. Depending on which style you choose to play the game, playing in normal mode would drop by 100 whenever you lose a life, and in Chuhou Joutai mode it drops by ten every time you get hit.

Another noteworthy change is the addition of the spell card system from the Windows Touhou Project games. In the original, the bosses would set their amazing technicolor backdrop when they begin to attack the player. In the demake, the background only changes when they use a spell card.

We hope the development of the final Touhou Project NES Demake, Mystic Square, goes smooth and swiftly. The graphics also stay faithful to the original with near-identical sprites that were downsized to accommodate the NES/Famicom’s hardware. Sure, the danmaku may differ as difficulty balancing was one thing we heavily focused upon in the demake.


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