The Making of the Touhou 5: Mystic Square NES Demake

The Touhou 5: Mystic Square NES Demake is the final game to complete the Touhou Project NES Demakes series, which consists of NES-style adaptations of the five PC-98 Touhou Project games designed for PC so that all mainline Touhou Project games are easily accessible. We knew from the start that the PC-98 games wanted to be remade for newer hardware. This series was started in January 2020 with the release of Touhou 1: The Highly Responsive to Prayers NES Demake. It quickly became Drillimation’s most popular game and thanks to that success, the rest of the PC-98 saga followed.

This game had the shortest, sweetest development time for any game in Drillimation’s history. The main campaign was done in only two weeks, and the entire game was done in only a month. That’s because it ran on the same engine as Touhou 4: Lotus Land Story NES Demake. All we had to do was provide a new soundtrack alongside new sprites.

The Mystic Square demake almost never got made, and that was due to one barrier: lack of MIDI files. YouTuber Blargzargo Hlaaluington did MIDI transcriptions for the first four Touhou Project games’ soundtracks, but not Mystic Square. We needed them so that we can transcribe the soundtrack to the Nintendo Sound Format (NSF for short) for use by the game’s sound engine. The entire soundtrack was done in FamiTracker and exported to NSF.

Thankfully, Discord user YoshiLightStar saved the day and lent us his converter that we can use to convert the original .M files of the original to MIDI. It happened to work pretty well; the only thing it didn’t export was the percussion, meaning we had to record it and add it directly to the outputted MIDI files. We were grateful that we completed the project while Chuhou Joutai 3: Three Nights of Scarlet Abscess was still in development.

Being entrusted to port the PC-98 Touhou Project games to PC was a very special experience while we were making the Chuhou Joutai trilogy. We truly thank all of you who anticipated its completion and release, those who helped spread the word, and all of the players.

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