Don't let this game hijack your money.
Prior to reviewing Touhou Kobuto V, I knew of the Touhou series in broad strokes. Aside from one song that's popular among the pre-Mario Maker designers of automatic Super Mario levels, I knew it was a doujin (Japanese fan creation) series associated with bullet hell shooters. For its first Switch adventure, the girls of Touhou engaged in what is theoretically a fighting game. What the Burst Battle actually is, however, is an exercise in frustration.
Kobuto is a six button fighter, which is theoretically perfect for two Joycon play. As one of the nine playable female characters – a tenth is US$0.50 DLC – the battles take place in one of a few arenas based on the Touhou girls. The controls are simple: three attack buttons on the face, a fourth that serves as a dodge/jump/recenter the camera button, and two shoulder buttons vary the attacks and block. There's a bit of Pokkén as the attack button does ranged attacks unless the opponent is in the range that a melee attack would connect. The controls are easily picked up, and my roommate was able to beat me handily after a few seconds of practice. One major source of frustration in the game will be the camera; especially in two player mode, I had to constantly jump to see where the opponent was standing. There's no manual camera control, aside from jumping, which leads to a lot of cheap contact. A super move can be triggered with a full “Charge” meter by hitting all three attack buttons simultaneously, but I had about a 1-in-3 chance of actually triggering it.
Fighting games have expectations for the included modes, and Kobuto checks them off in a fashion. There is a story mode, but there's no way to pick which character to play in it, and all of the characters have insipid dialogue. Without skipping the dialogue, a Story mode can be cleared in about ten to fifteen minutes. If you elect to skip the dialogue, this can go down to five minutes. There is an arcade mode which does the skipping for you, a score attack mode, and local or online multiplayer. The local multiplayer ran fine aside from the aforementioned need to reset the camera. Despite multiple attempts to test the online play, there was nobody playing the game so I could not see how the netcode holds up.
Kobuto attempts to bring the fan-created motif of Touhou into a modern console, and sadly it fails miserably. The characters are short and squat – aside from the big giant head that serves as the last boss in arcade mode. And with one exception, all of the characters end up with panty shots despite having the appearance of being 13 years old. The backgrounds and arenas could have been pulled off on the Wii, HD or not, and the look is just as bad in handheld mode as it was on the TV. The music is solid, with “U. N. Owen Was Her” a standout track.
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle originally started out as a PlayStation Vita game, and would have released there a few months ago but for NIS America's desire to do a simultaneous multiplatform release. A game of this quality wouldn't have been acceptable on the Vita, and being on the Switch is only serving to expose its myriad flaws to more people. If you need to see girls beat the snot out of each other on the Switch, there's already plenty of better options.