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Embodiment of Scarlet Devil: Strategy

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The 6th game in the Touhou series features a much simpler scoring system than the later ones do. It does not have the exponential increase in scoring potential as the stages progress. Also, it does not have the high penalties for bombing that the other games do.

These are the primary non-obvious goals for obtaining a high score:

  1. Collecting the point items above the Point of collection
  2. Defeating boss attack patterns while many bullets are on screen
  3. Grazing

Spell Card bonuses and the end-game Clear bonus are not included because they are accomplished through not dying and not bombing during bosses, both of which are instinctually done. The same goes for power item bonuses.

Point items

This will be the major part of your score (about 60-70%). The key to collecting these items is the POC, a point about 1/4-1/5 of the way down the screen where the point items are maximized. When you go into full power mode, going above this line automatically attracts all items on the screen to you, although not instantaneously. The difference between collecting an item above this line and just missing is about 33%. For example, on Hard you get 150,000 for collecting an item above the POC, but only 100,000 for just missing. The value keeps shrinking as you go down the screen, until it is almost not worth it to collect the item.

So what do you do? Make a concerted effort to collect every single point item above the POC. Obviously this is not possible on stage 1 and the beginning of stage 2, and the later stages make it extremely difficult to do this at times. However, you should always be thinking of a way to shoot everything AND move up to the top whenever possible. This can be facilitated through the use of bombs, which help you safely move and hang around above the POC while still shooting down enemies. You should identify points where bombs will get a lot of points compared to trying to move up there yourself.

Timing boss takedowns

In Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, the Enemy Bullet bonus (awarded for the number of on-screen bullets at the moment of taking out a boss healthbar) can be quite substantial, sometimes earning double or triple the Spell Card bonus. This means it is imperative to defeat the boss only at certain times. Many of the bosses attack in waves of bullets, so you must time your shot to finish the boss in the middle of a wave. Also, if you happen to use a bomb during a boss, you must wait for the screen to fill before defeating the boss so you can salvage those points.

Only attacks which involve emptying a life bar give you the Enemy Bullet bonus. This includes all Spell Cards and some midbosses.


The score increase from grazing itself is not as important as the other factors, but you should try to graze as much as you can without recklessly endangering yourself. In particular, there are various spots with bullet clouds that can be grazed for a high reward/risk ratio. Collecting star items in conjunction with a high amount of graze attained has the potential to outweigh the scoring benefits offered by point items and end-of-game bonuses. This means every opportunity to produce star items should be taken to make the most of the large graze count. Such sources come from ending attacks at key moments, taking advantage of the full power bonus, destroying certain enemies in stage four, and even bombing.

Some places that can be supergrazed with minimal risk and no sacrifices, such as Cirno's opener, stage 3 kunai throwing fairies, fairies just before Sakuya stage 5 midboss, Sakuya's stage 5 normal attack, Sakuya stage 6 midboss card "Eternal Meek".

There are also some instances that supergrazing needs bombs and suicides, such as Patchouli's extra stage "Silent Selene" and Hong Meiling's "Wind Chime of Colorful Rainbow".


This section contains advice on specific areas of the game. Beware of spoilers.

Stage 1

The main thing to work for is to get as many power items as possible. There is a threshold, around 60 power, where you activate a big item to give you 8 points. If you don't reach it, you will start stage 2 with less power than you should have. Also, you will have to balance collecting every point item with collecting them as high as possible. Sometimes it is better to let one or two drop so that you can collect a power item or collect a point item above the POC.

Spell Card #3: Here is an example of a grazing opportunity.

Stage 2

In this stage, you will want to concentrate on reaching your maximum shot power in order to start accumulating point bonuses for the power items. Since you won't be at max power for part of this stage, you will have to work harder to collect those point items.

The best way to collect items at the very beginning of the stage is to use a bomb. A bomb will automatically draw any item on screen towards you. Try to time your bomb so that you maximize the number of items you collect. Remember the POC!

Stage 3

Experiment with weaving through the bullet waves to reach the POC during the left/right blue fairy waves.

Meirin has a very good grazing opportunity on her (1) lifebar.

Stage 4

Just before the boss, when 3 bullet-clearing fairies come combined with lots of spokes, is a good time to use a bomb above the POC.

For Patchouli, the difficulty and character type you are using will determine which of her spell cards you face:

Type Reimu-A Reimu-B Marisa-A Marisa-B
  1. Fire Sign "Agni Shine"
  2. Fire & Earth Sign "Lava Cromlech"
  1. Water Sign "Princess Undine"
  2. Water & Wood Sign "Water Elf"
  1. Wood Sign "Sylphae Horn"
  2. Wood & Fire Sign "Forest Blaze"
  1. Earth Sign "Rage Trilithon"
  2. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  1. Fire Sign "Agni Shine"
  2. Earth Sign "Rage Trilithon High Level"
  3. Fire & Earth Sign "Lava Cromlech"
  4. Metal & Water Sign "Mercury Poison"
  1. Water Sign "Princess Undine"
  2. Wood Sign "Sylphae Horn High Level"
  3. Water & Wood Sign "Water Elf"
  4. Metal & Water Sign "Mercury Poison"
  1. Wood Sign "Sylphae Horn"
  2. Fire Sign "Agni Shine High Level"
  3. Wood & Fire Sign "Forest Blaze"
  4. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  1. Earth Sign "Rage Trilithon"
  2. Metal Sign "Metal Fatigue"
  3. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  4. Water & Wood Sign "Water Elf"
Hard &
  1. Fire Sign "Agni Shine High Level"
  2. Earth Sign "Trilithon Shake"
  3. Fire & Earth Sign "Lava Cromlech"
  4. Metal & Water Sign "Mercury Poison"
  5. Wood & Fire Sign "Forest Blaze"
  1. Water Sign "Bury In Lake"
  2. Wood Sign "Green Storm"
  3. Water & Wood Sign "Water Elf"
  4. Metal & Water Sign "Mercury Poison"
  5. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  1. Wood Sign "Sylphae Horn High Level"
  2. Fire Sign "Agni Radiance"
  3. Wood & Fire Sign "Forest Blaze"
  4. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  5. Fire & Earth Sign "Lava Cromlech"
  1. Earth Sign "Rage Trilithon High Level"
  2. Metal Sign "Silver Dragon"
  3. Earth & Metal Sign "Emerald Megalith"
  4. Water & Wood Sign "Water Elf"
  5. Metal & Water Sign "Mercury Poison"

Stage 5

Someone help me with this one. I'm always stuck at the bottom watching the items drop after the midboss. (If you still have one, try using a bomb.)

Spell Card #33: Patience is the key. Move as little as possible.

Final Stage

Again, the best way to collect items at the very beginning of this stage is to use a bomb. Try to time your bomb so that you maximize the number of items you collect. Depending on your character, you might need to use 2 bombs to effectively gather all the possible items. Of course, depending on your confidence level you might wish to save your bombs for the upcoming fights.

Next, you'll face a group of enemies that fire circle spreads quickly and then leave. Depending on the effectiveness of your character's bomb in killing these enemies and your own confidence level, you may wish to use a bomb on the wave of 8 enemies just before Sakuya.

Extra Stage

Do whatever it takes to end up with full power on Patchouli's last Spell Card. That is worth about 15 million.


Master Spark

An important note about MarisaB and Master Spark: this bomb is extremely powerful, and is one of the best methods of collecting point items. In fact, I would estimate that about 7-10 million points, on Normal, are obtained purely through this bomb above and beyond what the other characters can get. This is because there are sections, namely the middle of stage 5 and the beginning of stage 6, where there are enemy waves which cannot be completely defeated without Master Spark, as they leave the screen too fast. They also happen to hold about 4-5 point items each.

Of course, there is a drawback to this power. If you use Master Spark during a boss battle, you will probably defeat her and end up with no bullet bonus. A perfect player does not care, of course, but... In any case, you should be aware of what Master Spark can do for you.

Another drawback is that there is a bug in the game. If Master Spark is on the screen when enemies are supposed to enter, occasionally the ones on the right side simply don't appear. This can be very detrimental to your score in areas where enemies containing multiple point items appear from the sides, like in Stage 6. The workaround is to try and wait for the enemies to appear before bombing.

Bonus Enemies

In Stage 1, 2, 4, and 5, defeating the midboss in a relatively quick manner will result in extra waves of enemies for you to destroy. The faster you defeat the midboss for that stage, the more bonus enemies you will see. This is usually a good thing, since the bonus enemies will usually have items for you to collect. However, for stage 5, you may want to take your time with the relatively easier Sakuya-midboss in order to spend less time facing the thick bullet barrage that the bonus enemies pump out.

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