Battle Network Goes Shanghai with Touhou Fan Game Genso Network

by Dega Vega

Keeping the Mega Man Battle Network 15th Anniversary celebration going, today we'll be showcasing a relatively new challenger to the MMBN fan gaming scene, and that challenger is "Shanghai.EXE: Genso Network": a Touhou X MMBN remake of the original Battle Network title on Game Boy Advance. 

"Genso Network", or "GN" for short, is mostly the same as the first MMBN, swapping Lan Hikari and MegaMan.EXE with Alice and Shanghai.EXE, and including several characters from the Touhou Project series. Touhou, for those not too familiar with it, is the Romanization for the kanji 東方, meaning "Eastern Way", and the Touhou Project is the product of the one-man group Team Shanghai Alice, formerly called ZUN Soft, after the name of the one-man behind it.

Touhou Project, or Project Shrine Maiden, belongs to the school of top-down shooters called "danmaku" in Japan, which means "bullet curtain", referring to the way bullets drape over the screen in dangerous patterns. This term is where we then get the Western phrase "bullet hell", emphasizing the relentless difficulty. 

Touhou began with five little known predecessor games made by ZUN and published by Amusement Makers for the Japanese PC-9801, starting in 1996. Amusement Makers, of which ZUN formed a part, is an unofficial student group of Tokyo Denki University, which later went on to make another style of danmaku games called Seihou, meaning "West" or "Western Way". ZUN, after developing the first five games, stopped working on the series and spent the next four years composing music for the Seihou games, until he finally left the group to form Team Shanghai Alice.

Under the new name, he put out the first Touhou title for the Windows platform, The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, which made the series available to a global audience. By 2010, The Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the "most prolific fan-made shooter series", citing a rich landscape of doujin music and artwork based on the series.

"Genso Network" is the third Touhou fan-game by Koki Thlal, or "Corky", who, in cooperation with Technodot, also created the fan-games Touhou-A-Live -- a Touhou clone of the Japan-only Square Enix RPG Live-A-Live--and VanishingFairy. While Touhou-A-Live is complete with an English translation, Shanghai.EXE is still in its beta phase at version 0.31, and currently lacks an English translation. Despite that, it's still very easy to play through the game. If you remember Battle Network, you ought to be familiar with where to go and what to do.

The game has been in development since as early as 2011, judging by this Nico Nico Douga video showcasing what appears to be version 0.002, and this video from 2012 by YouTube user MidniteWv4. You can download the latest version of the game here, as well as previous versions and Koki's other fan-games. You can visit his main development blog here.

The in-game controls refer to six buttons: ABSTARTSELECTL, and R. In that order, that's XZVCA, and S on the keyboard, where

·  A (X) is for interacting with the world, selecting options in dialog or the menu, advancing text, and selecting and using chips in battle;

·  B (Z) is for canceling an action or going back, holding to run, and firing or holding to charge the buster during battle;

·  START (V) is for starting the game, skipping a cutscene, bringing up the menu, or pausing during battle;

·  SELECT (C) is for selecting and skipping cutscenes;

·  L (A) is for bringing up the Battle Chip menu during battle (press it again here to run away from battle) or talking with either Alice as Shanghai.EXE or vice versa; and

·  R (S) is for bringing up the Battle Chip menu during battle (unsure what pressing it a second time does), or jacking in and out of the Genso Network.

"GN" introduces two new Elements to the original's four, not counting Neutral, and those are Poison and Earth. Poison is strong against Water and Wood, but weak to Fire and Thunder; while Earth is the inverse, being strong against Fire and Thunder, but weak to Water and Wood.

You can also get Touhou-themed Style chips from other Navis you defeat, the first one being the Witch Style from Marisa's Navi, Marisa.EXE, after speaking with her in homeroom 2-2, inside the Genso stand-in for ACDC's School: Fantasy University.

If you feel up to learning a new language, there's no time like the present! If you already know Japanese, or think you can learn it quickly, Koki included a link in the readme.txt file for the game to a forum for submitting bugs. In the meantime, you can Google-translate this website to get some step by step instructions on how to progress, as well as some cheats.

There's also a more Western-friendly guide from user Hiedaakyuu on Tumblr, currently in two-parts here and here. Lastly, you can check out Let’s Player Doicm’s Google Drive folder full of walkthrough routes for several Mega Man Battle Network games, as well as "Genso Network".

And now for an exciting taste of the action you’re in for. Enjoy!

Thanks again to MegaTuga for the news tip!