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In order to obtain powerups, one option is the collection of UFO tokens. If three UFO tokens of the same type, or one of each type is collected, a UFO is summoned. The player then has a limited amount of time to defeat the summoned UFO in order to collect a powerup specific to each type. An additional powerup is awarded if the player allows the UFO to collect a large number of powerups from defeated enemies before destroying it. A ring surrounding the UFO is an indicator of its satiation with items; as soon as it becomes filled, the UFO releases an additional reward.
If a UFO token has a white outline, it will change color every few seconds. During dialog, UFOs and tokens will vanish off the sides of the screens. It is possible to prevent these tokens from changing colors (e.g. a token is currently blue but you want to wait a few seconds for a large enemy attack before summoning a blue UFO) by staying about 1 character sprite away from it. The timer used to change colors stops when you are this close. This is indicated by the UFO temporarily losing its white outline. The color changes work as follows: Blue -> Green -> Red -> Blue
Summoning any UFO will clear enemy bullets around the UFO. The UFO will then begin drawing in all point and power items on the screen; you will be unable to collect items by going above the POC while a UFO is summoned, but you can still manually collect items by flying over them. This is usually not necessary, except perhaps to prevent some point items from being converted to power items by a blinking UFO. Destroying a UFO will clear all of the bullets on the screen, release a Multi UFO token that begins as the same color as the UFO (i.e. a Red UFO will release a Red UFO token, after a few seconds it will become Blue), and create an item bundle of every item in the UFO that is automatically collected by your character. Because UFOs can be used to automatically collect items and cancel bullets, even a Blue UFO can be of benefit to a player that is ignoring score.
Types and rewards
- Green type
- Summoned when the player has collected three green UFO tokens.
- Maximum multiplier: x2.0.
- Destruction reward: a bomb fragment that grants a player 1/3 of an additional bomb, and additional green UFO token.
- Item satiation reward: a full bomb item.
- Blue type
- Summoned when a player has collected three blue UFO tokens.
- Maximum multiplier: x8.0.
- Destruction reward: an additional blue UFO token.
- Red type
- Summoned when a player has collected three red UFO tokens.
- Maximum multiplier: x1.0 or x2.0.
- Destruction reward: a life fragment that grants a player 1/4 of an additional life, an additional red UFO token.
- Item satiation reward: an additional life fragment.
- Flashing/multicolored type
- Summoned when a player has collected three UFO tokens: one of each color.
- Maximum multiplier: x4.0. Swaps power items for point items and vice versa.
- Destruction reward: a UFO token that changes color.
- Item satiation reward: an additional UFO token that changes color.
- For scoring
Summoning UFOs is the key element of the game's scoring system. First and foremost, it allows multiplying the point items' point worth by as much as 8x, giving a sizable boost to your score. Another key advantage is the ability to collect freefalling items at maximum value without the need to cross the point of collection, which becomes especially prominent on high difficulties.
As such, UFOs shouldn't be summoned at every opportunity, but at exact places with a large amount of items or enemies that drop them. There are several critical points in the game with high point item density; they must be memorized in order to take advantage of blue UFO multiplier.
The game also has a lot more power item drops than any prior installment of the series. While normally useless in a high score attempt, they can be converted into point items when collected by a multicolored UFO. Likewise, there are critical points with high power item density that must be memorized as well.
- For survival
Green and red UFOs, while generally useless in high score runs, are able to provide a less experienced player with a sufficient life and bomb supply, as well as clear the screen of bullets in a bomb-like fashion. Be wary that they should still be satiated with items before destruction in order to take full advantage of their summoning.
Also note that it is slightly more beneficial to summon green UFOs compared to red:
- 1 green UFO = 1.33 bombs. 1 red UFO = 0.5 lives.
- Each green UFO gives at least one immediately useful full bomb item.
- 6 green UFOs = 8 bombs. 6 red UFOs = 3 lives (6 full bombs).
- If a player uses all of their bombs before dying, going for green UFOs potentially gives them 33% more full bombs.
- Note, however, that dying will also clear the screen of bullets. Thus, a player who has summoned 6 red UFOs can fail to dodge 9 times compared with the green player's 8. This is usually a less attractive option because of power loss and reduced versatility.
Barring some exceptions, a character's bomb is generally powerful enough to quickly deplete the HP of most spellcards. By methodically summoning green UFOs, a player should be able to bomb through (nearly) every problematic attack, allowing an easier victory. Green UFOs also allow a marginally better score increase, although it's pointless to use them for that purpose. However, if a player is inexperienced with both deciding a good bombing opportunity and using bombs reactively (deathbombing), going for red UFOs instead may have its merit.
UFO Appearance Sequence
Here is the list of UFO-attached fairies' appearance in sequence order:
- Stage 1 - Red + B-Multi, R-Multi, Blue + G-Multi, B-Multi, Red + B-Multi (Drop from boss), Green, G-Multi
- Stage 2 - Blue, B-Multi, R-Multi + B-Multi (Hidden), B-Multi * 2, Blue + B-Multi (Drop from boss), R-Multi + B-Multi, R-Multi + B-Multi
- Stage 3 - R-Multi, Blue + B-Multi, Green, G-Multi, B-Multi, R-Multi + Blue, R-Multi, R-Multi, B-Multi, G-Multi
- Stage 4 - R-Multi, Green, Blue, Red, Blue, B-Multi + Blue, G-Multi, B-Multi, Blue * 2, B-Multi + G-Multi, Red, B-Multi, Red + Blue, G-Multi, G-Multi, G-Multi, Green
- Stage 5 - R-Multi * 2, R-Multi, Red + Green, Blue, R-Multi + B-Multi, R-Multi + B-Multi (Drop from boss), Green * 2, Red * 2, Blue * 2
- Stage 6 - Green * 3, G-Multi + R-Multi, B-Multi + G-Multi, Blue, Blue, Blue, G-Multi, Blue, G-Multi, Blue
- Extra Stage - Blue + Green + Red, Red + Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Blue, Green, Green, R-Multi, Red, Blue + Green + Red, G-Multi / R-Multi (see note), Blue, Blue, Green, Green, Red, Red, Green, Blue
The appearance of different colored UFOs from fairies that enter the screen at the same time are listed as they show up from left to right.
In stage 5, the UFOs after the midboss drop from bonus enemies, and some or all of them may fail to spawn if you don't kill the midboss quickly enough.
The second section after the Extra midboss will feature large UFO-carrying fairies alternating between these two drops. They appear after destroying four regular large fairies and will spawn as quickly as you can destroy them.
There are two ways to increase the base point item value beyond its default: grazing and collecting UFO tokens while a UFO is on screen.
Not unlike Subterranean Animism, grazing increases the point value in increments of 10 for every 10 graze points. Although the game doesn't provide as many opportunities for supergrazing as some of the prior installments, it offsets it with a more significant value increase per bullet grazed. Good opportunities for grazing include Nazrin's spells #3/#4, boss Ichirin's opening attack, and Shou's 3rd attack (on Lunatic), as well as any other attack involving slow-moving lasers or grids of bullets.
When a bullet is cancelled as a result of a UFO being summoned or destroyed, bomb usage, or a boss attack ending, it will turn into an item that is automatically collected. Collecting large numbers of these items will increase the point value in increments of 10 points. Note that Grazing and cancelled bullets will increment the same counter, so 5 grazes and sufficient bullets will increase the point value by 10.
Picking up a UFO token during an active UFO summon increases the point value by 1,000, allowing to boost it by several thousands per stage. However, it is always a compromise, as it also denies an opportunity to summon more UFOs.
- Boosting base point item value vs. cashing in on UFOs
As the critical UFO summoning spots (over 100 point/power items during a single UFO's lifetime) don't start until post-midboss stage 3, it is generally advised to maximize the point value until that point using all means available (on Easy mode, it is possible to increase the value up to as much as 37,000 upon reaching the stage 3 boss). Collecting a single UFO token while a UFO is already summoned is equivalent to 1000 graze points, and can be done within the first minute of stage 1. Because of this, Blinking UFOs are significantly better for scoring in early stages than Blue UFOs, as on satiation a Blinking UFO will release a UFO token that can be immediately collected to increase the point value by another 1000.
A quick rule of thumb here is try to minimalize UFO summon on stage 1 to 4, and to summon Blue or Rainbow UFO as much as you can on stage 5 and 6.
- Hidden UFO token in stage two
A little into stage two where red fairies drop in from both sides there is a UFO-carrying fairy to the right that does not enter the visible playing area. This fairy can be destroyed by a bomb deployed by any character shot type except for Reimu-A. Reimu-A can still destroy the fairy by suiciding, as the released death wave will reach the fairy without fail.
Every character has its own scoring abilities. For starters, Reimu has a smaller hitbox compared to Marisa and Sanae. Every character type also has unique bombs. For example, Reimu B bomb will increase her moving speed, making UFO combo easier, but will cancel every bullets around her, making her bomb useless for supergrazing bullets.
Reimu-A: Narrow, but powerful shot. Unfocused fire gains some spread as it levels. Narrow and powerful bomb with good duration that covers her entire position vertically, but slows her down somewhat. Bombing during a UFO summon will make it difficult to destroy enemies on the opposite side of the UFO without destroying the UFO first.
Reimu-B: Relatively weak homing shot. Levels increase amount of homing amulets. Fantasy Seal summons six large orbs that circle Reimu, then float toward enemies and explode. Orbs deal damage on contact and on explosion. However, bombing to clear bullets and collect the third UFO token is inadvisable without waiting a little as it might accidentally destroy the UFO right after it is summoned.
Reimu has a smaller hitbox that the other characters and the slowest movement speed.
Marisa-A: Laser Marisa has a very powerful shot type that pierces enemies. The additional lasers as it levels add respectable spread to the unfocused shot, making it easy to destroy several enemies quickly in high density areas or destroy the UFO when such high density areas would block other shot types. Master Spark is powerful and long lasting, but significantly hampers her movement speed. This makes it difficult to bomb and collect items or UFO tokens. Bombing during a UFO summon also has a large chance of accidentally destroying the UFO.
Marisa-B: Shortwave Marisa has a very weak, very rapid, and very wide shot. After Level 3, she gains the ability to shoot behind herself when firing unfocused. Focus mode brings all the shots to the front with significant spread. It is fairly powerful if all shots hit, but getting so close to bosses is obviously inadvisable. Her bomb is likewise weak and all encompassing, and the duration is rather short. A good shot type for clearing the stages and harvesting UFO's, as the spread makes it easy to destroy enemies feed the UFO meter with little risk of accidentally destroying it. However, boss fights will tend to drag out.
Marisa has the fastest movement speed of all the characters.
Sanae-A: Sanae's Sky Serpent shot fires vertically and turns when an enemy reaches its horizontal position. It is somewhat stronger that Reimu's Homing Amulets, but cannot destroy enemies behind Sanae. Focus fire increases her firing speed. Her bomb is similar to Marisa B's as it is all encompassing, but Sanae's is significantly more powerful and longer lasting.
Sanae-B: Sanae's Cobalt Spread fires frogs high spread and power. The frogs cause a splash damage when they come into contact with an enemy. Her focus shot makes them fire straight ahead, but reduces the power somewhat as some of her options fire two frogs when firing unfocused. Her bomb drops a colorful pattern at the point of activation and causes a powerful screen clearing explosion roughly four seconds later. The burn down time should always be noted when bombing to collect UFO tokens, as the explosion will invariably destroy the UFO if exposed for more than a second. Invincibility begins at the time of activation, making it easy to cause significant damage to bosses by shotgunning unfocused. A very good shot type all around.
Sanae's movement speed is faster than Reimu's, but slower than Marisa's.
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