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The following controls are for the keyboard, though you can probably play the game with a gamepad or controller or whatever.
- Z rotates your current piece clockwise
- X rotates your current piece counterclockwise
- C pauses the game
- Left and Right move your current piece horizontally within the playing field
- Holding Down causes your current piece to fall at a much faster pace; releasing it will cause your current piece to revert to normal fall speed
- Up declares a spellcard (if you have any yin-yang orbs available)
- Esc quits the game (you can also quit out of whatever mode you are playing on the pause screen by selecting the right option)
The game operates as per the Tetris standard. Tetromino of various shapes will slowly descend from the top of the screen and make their way toward the bottom of the playing field. The on-screen position of these tetrominoes can be manipulated via horizontal movement or rotation. When a tetromino lands on top of something (e.g. the bottom of the playing field), it will freeze there and another tetromino will start falling. (Note that you may still move the tetromino left and right for a very brief period of time after it has landed. Once an entire row of the playing field is filled with blocks (from tetrominoes or otherwise), it disappears and everything above it falls to fill the gap. If you fill multiple rows at the same time, then they will all disappear at once and any blocks above those rows will fall further. (Note that blocks will only fall as far as the number of rows you have cleared - they can and will hover over empty spaces.) Due to the geometric nature of the tetrominoes, you can fill and eliminate up to four rows at a time.
Filling rows in your half of the playing field serves a dual purpose: not only does it clear space in your playing field, but for every row you clear, a row is pushed up from the bottom into your opponent's half of the playing field (with one or two gaps so that they do not get an automatically completed row to send right back at you). If you clear multiple rows at once, then multiple incomplete rows will be pushed up from the bottom of the screen into your opponent's playing field. The push itself will only occur once your opponent's active block has been set. Your ultimate goal is to fill your opponent's half of the playing field so full of blocks that they place a falling tetromino so part or all of it is above the top of the playing field. Doing so will net you a single victory: matches are played in a best 2 out of 3 format.
It is worth noting that you and your opponent share a single well of tetrominoes, which can be seen in the upper center of the screen. When a player's current tetromino freezes, they are given the next one in line from the top of the well. The well will display the shape of the soon-to-be-used tetromino as well if it has any yin-yang orbs in it (it even tells where in the tetromino they are!). Make sure you keep track of the well, as clever manipulation of your tetrominoes' falling speeds can help you ensure you get the tetrominoes you want and avoid the ones you don't.
If the only way to attack your opponent was to send incomplete rows at them, games would last a very long time. This is where the spell card system comes in.
You will notice that some tetromino blocks have yin-yang orbs in them. If you complete a row with a yin-yang orb in it, that orb is added to your stock (visible above your character's head). If you complete a row with multiple orbs in it, you get that same number of orbs added to your stock. As the highest level spell for spell cards is 3, you may not hold more than 3 orbs at a time - any further orbs caught in complete rows are simply wasted.
Each character has three spell cards: a Level 1 card, a Level 2 card and a Level 3 card, and they correspond to the number of orbs you have in stock. When activating a spell card, you use all the orbs you have in stock. This means that if you have 3 orbs, you may not fire off 3 successive Level 1 spell cards, only a single Level 3 spell card. (You may view a brief description of your current spell card on the pause screen.)
Spell cards do various things and can be used for both offense and defense, as well as other things (hint: "other things" tend to be incredibly evil).
- Examples of offensive spell cards include Marisa's Level 1, which rains blocks down on her opponent's playing field at random, and Youmu's Level 3, which doubles the attacking power of her completed rows (e.g. completing two rows at once will push 4 incomplete rows up from the bottom of her opponent's playing field).
- Examples of defensive cards include Aya's Level 1, which pushes every block on her half of the playing field toward the middle of the screen (leaving a nice thin column on the other side just begging to be filled with a long tetromino) and Youmu's Level 1, which detects the highest row in her playing field with a block in it and destroys any and all blocks in that row and the three rows below it.
- Examples of cards with other effects are Reimu's Level 2, which steals all of her opponent's in-stock orbs and adds them to hers (!), and Reisen's Level 2, which locks her opponent's ability to rotate pieces (!!!). Also, Cirno's Level 3 freezes and kills the opponent, rendering them unable to use Spell Cards for the ENTIRE remainder of the round. See the Spell Cards pages for further information.
One other noteworthy aspect of spell card declaration is that be given the top tetromino from the well and the player that declared will be given the next one.
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