PAX East 2019: Gensou Skydrift

In case any of the friends I was roaming the expo floor with happen to see this– sorry I abandoned you. I saw Touhou and had to take a look. I’m a fan of bullet hell games, even though I’m not very good at them, and while racing games aren’t my go-to I still enjoy a good game of Mario Kart. These two genres may or may not be mutually exclusive. Gensou Skydrift, originally released as a fangame a couple years back, is a double-dash style racing game featuring the main characters from the Touhou series.

While there’s no danmaku-dodging action in Skydrift, spell cards do make an appearance as power-ups. Rather than retrieving items from item boxes a-la Mario Kart, you instead build your mana meter by flying through boost rings. Once your meter reaches a certain threshold, you can choose to draw a spell card. This is where the strategy of Skydrift comes into play. You select not one, but two characters to race as, each with their own set of stats and set of spell cards. One will fly across the course, and the other will surf on their back. No, it doesn’t look quite as weird as it sounds. When you draw a spell card, you’ll get a spell associated with whoever’s currently riding. However, you might a spell card from the other character. Much like in Double Dash, you can switch who’s riding and who’s using items. This means that after you fill your spell meter, you can quickly switch characters to get one of their spell cards.

I could only play one quick round, but I definitely enjoyed myself. The controls took a lap or so to get used to, but the physics work and the characters do what you tell them to, so there’s not much to complain about there. The graphics could use some polish, the textures seemed very “mid 2010’s fangame”, but there’s still time for them to clean it up a bit before release, which will be sometime this year on Switch and PS4.


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