EDIT 5/16/17: Now updated for HSiS demo! Double Spoiler added, Hatate moved. Kasen moved to ULiL section, pets added. Hisoutensoku and Taisui Xingjun added, not that anyone cares. Added translations of print work titles. Minor formatting edits. “Imitation” corrected to “Vignettes,” no idea how that happened. Other old translations left untouched for posterity, even if they suck.
I found an old document that where I kept notes of their names, because I never found any adequate English translations and I can’t read 80% of the kanji. I cleaned it up because hey, some of you nerds out there might want to see it.
Note that these are just direct translations of the kanji, so any nuance brought by allusions are usually not represented; the only exception to this rule are place names, which are left as is in the poetic translation.
The format for each goes: [romanization] / [kanji] / [poetic translation, in which I try to represent the most likely intended meaning of the name in an artful manner] / [literal or snarky translation, an alternate and blatantly wrong or awkward reading.] Highlights include Aya, the entire Moriya Shrine, Kogasa, Minamitsu, and Tojiko.
紅魔郷 / Realm of Scarlet Magic ~ Embodiment of Scarlet Devil:
What do you think are the most important "ingredients" for making a great Touhou stage?
Ooh, interesting question.
First of all, a nice stage theme, where the melodies correspond to the game. You’ll notice that in Touhou stage themes, the music changes at different points in the stage i.e. when that particularly hard wave of fairies appears, when the midboss appears, when the stage is finished and you’re talking to the boss. It feels so much better when the music responds to the gameplay. An interesting boss theme is good too, but that is just the music, after all.
I think the most important thing is giving you danmaku that’s interesting, new, and fun to try and work around. A few nice examples would be SA stage 3 and the heavy focus on lasers, LoLK stage 5 with all those linked-together chains of star danmaku, stage 6 with the ‘falling rain’ danmaku, or EoSD stage 4 with the book-lasers restricting your horizontal movement. When it’s just plain dodging or streaming, it feels like the same old thing, and is less interesting to play against. A big offender is the LoLK extra stage - 90% of it is streaming, it’s not very difficult, and it just doesn’t feel very rewarding to play.
For the boss portion, it’s kind of the same thing, but to an even greater extent. My favorite Touhou bosses are ones that make you act in new unique ways: dodging Unzan’s giant fists, navigating Mystia’s darkness, Seija’s screen-flipping, Shinmyoumaru’s size-changing, Minamitsu’s anchors, even Clownpiece’s feared survival spells from hell are more challenging than your average fight, and they make for really cool fights. By contrast, there are just some fights that lack that uniqueness, and use kind of generic patterns and strategies, and feel very bland, like Nemuno or Junko (although there’s a reason for that I guess). I know not every boss can have special gimmicks, but it’s still fun when they have new kinds of patterns that haven’t been used before.
Lastly, have some prettiness! Some of my favorite Touhou stages have some of the most scenic backgrounds - the waterfall in MoF, the palace of earth spirits in SA, the shining needle castle, the space corridor in IN, it’s all really beautiful.