Control Is The Key:
Double-tap in any direction to do a quick step, or while crouching to roll quietly. If you quickstep forward and press X, you do a long jump. Pressing X in a crouch will turn you 180 degrees, and you can also attack from this position. Turning around can be frustrating. To turn around fast, hold Down on the D-pad as well as the direction you wish to turn. This also helps you to turn while crouching, which is otherwise impossible. Remember that you can perform a Lara Croft roll by ducking and pressing X. Tap Down, Up, X for a turn around jump, great for getting behind your attackers.
Know The Moves:
Ayame is smaller, faster and weaker than her male counterpart. She is good for furious flurries that give her opponent no time to retaliate. Her four-hit combo has a blisteringly quick opening, but if the enemy blocks the last strike she is left open to a painful counterattack. Only ever hit three times with her. Maybe, if the third strike connects, add the fourth. The length of her swords means she needs to be very close to her enemies to do damage. Block, then advance and attack. Repeat a hundred times.
Rikimaru is bigger and stronger than Ayame, but his combos are harder and slower to perform. Still, when pulled off successfully, they do a whopping amount of damage and often leave the opponent staggering, giving you a chance to strike again before they can fight back. The regular triple hit is his trustiest attack. The right-left combo is good for close range, and the left-right for a medium distance. If a guard is on a slope, & you therefore cannot perform a stealth kill, use the crouch attack for a relatively neat butchering.
The first time you are spotted, you lose 120 points, and a further twenty points each time thereafter. This puts a heavy emphasis on avoiding all violence, & simply doing the missions without being seen at all. If you want to kill people, that's up to you, but for Gohda's sake try to make it neat. Undetected kills reap twenty points apiece, whereas detected deaths score mere five points. Never kill the innocent, as you will lose thirty points for each one, and not ten as it states in the instruction booklet.
The gauge in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen is the most essential tool in the whole game. It measures the distance from the enemy to you, & it tells you what sort of mood they are in. When the gauge is blank, you are perfectly safe, because it means that there are no (living) guards within your visual boundaries.
A blue square with a question mark indicates the presence of an unsuspecting guard, somewhere within your field of vision. The number beside it, ranging from 1 to 99, acts as a kind of hot/cold device for the distance between you & the enemy. The higher the number, the nearer the enemy. Bear in mind, however that it only operates on a horizontal basis. That is, you could be on the third storey of a building, directly above a bad guy on the ground floor, and the number will still read 99.
A yellow triangle with an exclamation mark means that you have caught someone's eye, but not their full attention. When this happens, crouch immediately and try to find your foe. If they aren't already in full view, press X to turn around. Once you've located them, roll away from them. Usually, ducking loses them first off, but sometimes the guard approaches you slowly, trying to see what you are. This is why it is important to back off.
A pink diamond with a question mark and an exclamation mark could signify a few things. It basically means that the enemy suspects you, but cannot see you. If you are spotted and make a successful getaway, the danger sign will revert to a pink diamond. Sometimes, an innocent blue circle can change suddenly into a pink diamond. Whatever the case, the thing to do is keep out of sight for a few seconds until all the excitement dies down.
Two exclamation marks in a flashing star is the danger sign. This says that you're a careless buffoon and someone has spotted you. In this case there are only two options: run or fight. If you can get up high, do so. If there are a few small buildings around, run among them until your pursuer is confused. Otherwise, you might just have more fun by hacking into them with your sword(s).
How To Fight:
These guys rarely attack 3 times in a combo. Wait until they throw a couple of swings at you, block them, & then strike back. If they raise their sword above their head, dont worry. This looks like an aggressive stance, but they never attack from it. Use it as a cue to repeatedly drive your steel blade into their flesh, before they lower it again.
Bowmen are pretty easy to kill, because they have no defense (With the exception of Minister Kataoka). The only problem could be their cowardice. If you approach them, they back away from you, often leading you towards other sentries. Dont fall for it. Run at them, sidestepping when you hear the bowstring creak. If youre a bold hero you might not dodge the arrows, just knock 'em down with your sword (& some heavenly timing).
The guys with Tridents or Halberds are the strongest & sturdiest of all, so it is best to dispose of them unawares. They only ever poke you once at a time, so be sure to block it when they do. If you want to run away, jump backwards a couple of times before turning around. They have an annoyingly long reach.
These demon ninja are good fighters & adequate blockers. Their attacks are obvious & slow, but irregular. Better to run than to fight.
The best blockers in the game, the only way to hurt them in a duel is to strike just as they are striking. Or you could chuck some grenades at them.
Ayame's doubles are hard to fight, as they are proficient at both attack & defense. It'll be a long battle if you stick around.
These guys have no protection, & they run straight at you. They provide great fun as hacking bags, but be sure not to let them breathe on you, or youll lose 50 hit points.
Dont be scared. Most dogs are as easy to kill angered as placid.
It is best to get to them before they see you, as they take 2 strikes to die.
How To Hunt:
If there is a blue circle and question mark on the screen,
1. Hold down R1 or circle, and don't let go.
2. Determine whether the enemy is stationary or moving by watching the Stealth-O-Meter.
3. Find out where the enemy is by moving around a bit in each direction.
4. Roll in that direction until you can see them by using the Look button.
5. Observe their pattern with patience.
How To Kill:
There are three ways to silently slaughter the enemy. Firstly, you can sneak up behind them and slit their throat. No doubt you've already discovered this most excellent form of murder in the first. The second execution is performed by facing away from them, you must be very close, and have your back turned against them. If you get it right you will break their neck without using your weaponry. Thirdly, you can impale them on your sword(s). To do this you must be in front of them, facing them. This method is slightly trickier, as you must still take them by surprise to pull it off. Sleeping enemies are a rare treat. Nudge them awake, and be stationary as you press the button for a neat execution. True ninjas will learn, however, that the best way to dispose of an enemy is to slash them from arm's reach. The fancy executions are all very groovy, but they can waste time. Rikimaru's third fatality is the worst, as he poses for about five seconds, whilst nearby guards notice him. Slashing carelessly allows you to keep running the instant you kill.
Know Your Wall:
It is important to understand walls, and the way you apply yourself to them. When stealthily attaching yourself to a wall, there are two ways to do it, depending on what direction you're facing when you attach. It affects the view you get & the way you move while attached, as well as the direction you will be facing when you detach.
- If you are facing a wall, and are therefore perpendicular to it when you hug it, then you will come off it so. This is the more annoying and useless way to do it, as you will be directly facing the wall when you come off it.
- If you are running along beside a wall, and are therefore parallel with it when you cling to it, you will come off it so. A parallel attachment allows you to leave the wall in a run, which is good for getting those deranged cultists coming around the corner.
- If you're confused, look at your ninja's head. Their head always faces according to the way they are attached. If you want to get on top of a low wall quickly, stand parallel with it, jump straight up, & then move sideways onto it. This will save you wasting time grabbing on and hauling yourself up.
Inflicting relatively little damage, the shuriken's greatest attribute is the distance they can cover, giving you good chances of using them without being seen. They will do nothing but aggravate guards, unless they are already quite hurt, so they are best used on dogs and unsuspecting wolves. Just be careful not to throw them straight down or in front of a wall, because you could hit yourself. They can also be used to soften up or finish off the bosses. Up close, directly facing the enemy is the only way to get them. If you are too far away from them, they are likely to dodge the Shuriken. Bear in mind, however, that this can be a good thing if the enemy is near a bottomless drop. If there is a precipice on their left and you aim for, say, their right shoulder, chances are they will mindlessly throw themselves off the cliff to avoid your little ninja star. NOTE: If you want to throw more than one star at a target, hold the Look button while aiming. If you don't release the Look button, your view will not straighten after you throw the first star.
Obviously one of the most useful things to take with you, these are also the most frequently found items in the game. Taking into account the fact that you aren't supposed to get into any fights with any guards, and the fact that they are found in every layout of every level, it is purely up to your own judgement how many to take on a mission. Old-time veteran grand masters won't take them on any missions. If you die, you can always reset with Start and Select, or simply remove the memory card, to prevent the items that you took with you from being lost forever. As a precaution you might take a few with you on the levels with multiple bosses, the final in particular, or if you're trying a stage for the first time.
These are one of the most useless items to take along, considering that if you need to use them, you have already been spotted. Like the smoke bombs, they are only good for losing pursuers. The plus side is that they actually do a small amount of damage to brainless guards. The minus is that you can also hurt yourself if you are careless enough to step on them, which isn't hard as they are almost invisible in the dark.
These things are great fun. They do a lot of damage and are easy to use, but they don't travel very far. Also, you need fairly good aim to hit a target, as there is no pointer like with the grappling hook and Shuriken. When throwing them, use the Look button, and line up your target in the dead centre of the screen. Use them to finish off a wounded enemy, or take ten or so to kill any bosses with ease. Just remember to keep a couple of metres between you both, and always let them stand before throwing another.
Like the Caltraps, if you have to use these then you've been spotted already. They can do no damage in any circumstance, but are extremely helpful when you are surrounded, because they blind the enemies and not yourself. Use them to escape multiple attackers or to gain the advantage with a level boss. These could come in handy when Delivering The Secret Message or Reclaiming The Castle, as those stages have many unpredictable enemies.
Mines are fantastic, but you rarely get a good opportunity to use them. They do oodles of damage, and you can be miles away by the time the sucker steps on them. If a guard has a particularly long path to follow, lay a couple of mines at one end of it and then hide somewhere you can see them. If you feel like it, you can even drop mines on top of people from the edge of a rooftop or tree branch. Also, any boss can easily be tricked into walking onto mine after mine until they die. Just make sure that you are a good distance away when you lay the first one, or youll get hurt. Lay and jump backwards repeatedly, and be entertained by the stupidity of your foe as they willfully walk over all of your explosives.
The most useless item there is, this pretty rice is for those who are afraid of getting lost in a level. How that is possible with the map at hand I don't know. You don't even need to mark your path when Delivering The Secret Message like it tells you to. It is a waste of carrying capacity.
One of the 3 most helpful items in the game, the poisoned rice has the advantage of being used many times. Any unsuspecting foe will be drawn to the rice if you place it in their field of vision, and as a result it is invaluable when there are two or more enemies together. Get up above them or behind some large thing, and throw the rice away from them. As soon as they've passed you by, sneak up behind them and quietly cut their head off before they even get to the rice. If they eat it and begin to convulse, they could attract unwanted attention - and you've lost some good rice!
Not very useful even in the worst of times, these eight stars tend to fire straight into the nearest wall. Lacking the aiming cursor of the grappling hook and Shuriken, the Super Shuriken require much open space to start to heat-seek, which is what they're supposed to do. Use the Look button to aim them before firing, and hope for the best. They are unlikely to kill anything but small animals.
These are best used in conjunction with the Chameleon Spell, because without it the Lightfoot Scroll will undoubtedly get you into hot water. Use it to Deliver The Secret Message quickly, to get that stage out of the way. With the Chameleon Spell, a Stage 2 Grand Master job is a cinch.
Fire Eater Scroll:
This one is all show. You can use it on unwary foes for an amusing kill, or try your luck on a boss. The problem here is the fact that you are immobilised during its execution. Therefore, if your enemy doesn't walk right into it, it's wasted. If successful though, it takes off fifty hit points.
Take this with you only if you expect to sustain a little pain, or if you want to show off the new look to your friends. Consider it when freeing The Princess, or in any level where you face Onikage. Funnily enough, Ayame's outfit looks a lot less protective on her than Rikimaru's, but they are both the same.
This spell can travel a large distance in a straight line, and it is wise to utilize the Look button before discharging. It can be used on any guard so you can pass them undetected. If you sedate an angered guard, they won't be easily killed even during their short sleep, but it'll make a sitting duck of an unsuspecting sentry.
A great asset to take on the harder missions, especially the last, the Resurrection Leaf saves your life when you die. These will probably help you to defeat the seemingly impossible Lord Mei-oh, who attacks constantly with shifty moves straight from the Big Book of Slyness.
The Shadow Decoy can be dropped from the edge of a rooftop to attract the attention of all the nearby guards. You can then take a safe route to the mission objective without being seen. Generally speaking though, this thing creates a lot of excitement that you could do without.
A brilliant addition, this spell lasts roughly thirty seconds, or until the temptation overwhelms you and you kill someone. Beware of animals, for they are the only foes who know that you are not on their side. The Lightfoot Scroll goes hand-in-hand with this spell, allowing you to cover amazing distances in no time without being spotted.
The attack dog can be very entertaining, but doesn't do much that is helpful. They don't follow you around at all; rather, they attack any enemies in their field of vision only. Keeping out of sight, you can unleash your dog onto a lone enemy dog and watch the fight, or you can use them to hamper the bosses. Alas, these dogs are quite slow, and their Al is not to be even mumbled about. However, he'll take a lot more damage than regular dogs, just be careful not to hit him yourself or he'll disappear.
This is without doubt the most helpful item in the game, and it boasts infinite use. If the enemy is startled (a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark), one honk of the horn will calm them down again. If they hear you and get confused (a pink diamond with an exclamation mark and a question mark) one toot will settle their nerves. If an innocent is upset by your presence, hide and blow the whistle to relax them utterly. Apart from being useful, it is also amusing. In each mission the Whistle mimics a different animal call.
A Rough Play Guide
Stage 1 - Punish The Evil Merchant:
Grapple onto the white wall right in front of you. Run straight ahead with the garden on your right. Run along the wall that branches off to the right. Go ahead across the rooftops, and find the attic window on your left. Enter and drop down. After defeating the first boss, grapple up to the attic and take a right outside the window. Backtrack along that low wall, and search the storage barns on your right for Echigoya, the Evil Merchant you must Punish.
Take: Shuriken for the dogs, Poisoned Rice for the guards, a Mine or two, and Grenades for fun.
Stage 2 - Deliver The Secret Message:
This is a hard one to achieve any good status on, but fairly easy to complete quickly anyway. You begin facing the exact direction you need to go. If you want, you can take the main road all the way. You'll be crossing the bridge in around thirty seconds, far less with a Lightfoot Scroll. You'll be spotted, of course, but you can usually outrun them. The enemies are very hard to beat in a fight, and highly unpredictable in their movement. They can all get onto the rooftops, so it is best to stay on the ground. If you want to Grand Master it patience is the only way.
Take: Lightfoot Scrolls and Chameleon Spells, if you have them. Smoke Bombs come in handy here, and Poisoned Rice is always useful.
Stage 3 - Rescue The Captive Ninja:
Take some poisoned rice for the wolves & the guards. The fatter trees can make excellent accomplices to murder. Just remember to squat, & watch the number next to the question mark like a hawk. In the mines there are several possible pathways. Look at the map & head for the right-most chamber. Be wary of trap doors and bottomless pits.
Goo: Before entering the right-most chamber, there is a short steep slope. If you go up it too far, you have to fight Goo. Go halfway up or less, and jump u and down to attract the attention of Goo's bodyguards. Lead them back down the ramp and kill them first. It just makes it easier when fighting Goo.
Take: Shuriken for the wolves, Poisoned Rice for guards, Grenades for Goo, Health Potions.
Stage 4 - Cross The Checkpoint:
This is a great level. It has a terrific landscape and good characters introduced. A sister and brother fight duels with you at the front and rear gates. Basic bosses. To start, grapple up onto the wall, to the left of the torches. Observe the stationary guard inside the gate. When he is backwards, long jump down to him and . Inside, you can either go over or under the bridge. Under is definitely easier. To go under, stick to the left-hand wall all the way. Guards and wolves tend to be closely positioned in this stage, so some poisoned rice is what you need to separate them. Also, remember to make the most of all those branches up there.
Take: Poisoned Rice is all you should need, but take some Mines or Grenades for the bosses and Shuriken for the wolves.
Stage 5 - Execute The Corrupt Minister:
This is an odd one. It would appear that as a result of both minister Kataoka's sexism and Ayame's attitude, he gets nasty with her and not with Rikimaru. Don't panic. This one's just like the first stage, but with snow and stronger enemies. It's quite congested with them, as well as plenty of the innocent, so stay on the roof and head for the opposite corner of the map to the one you started in. If you see a fat guard staring into a well, kill all other nearby guards before confronting him. After he dies, grapple up again and head for where the arrow came from. He's in the archery.
Kataoka: If you are Ayame, you must get in close and repeat the three hits. He can block and whack you with his bow, so don't hesitate.
Take: Poisoned Rice, Shuriken, Grenades & Health Potions if you're Ayame.
Stage 6 - Infiltrate The Manji Cult:
This one is full of real weirdo's who make strangle gurgling noises. You must make it to the big building without being seen. The best way is on the roof, around the map's perimeter. When you see the tall boring building, stay on the roof and pull the guard away from the big door with rice, then kill him. Crawl in, and grapple up to, but not onto, one of the side shelves. Observe the guards' patterns with a great amount of patience. When all the guards in the statue hall are dead, get onto the statue's head.
Heretic: The strange tub of lard with the iron fan is one of the slowest characters in the whole game. Triple attack him/her repeatedly without allowing it to retaliate. Don't spend all your equipment on the fat heretic, because then you face Onikage.
Onikage: See Stage 9 - Reclaim The Castle
Take: Poisoned Rice, Grenades, Health Potions.
Stage 7 - Destroy The Foreign Pirates:
This level's a laugh, especially with the Decoy Whistle. The pirates act like regular guards, but look and walk differently. Layout A begins with two of them just over the bridge. Kill the one on the left silently, and remain low. Deaden the other guy, and then head downstream. Stick with the river, and by road or rooftop come to the docks. Remain low. The first and biggest ship contains the boss, so discreetly decapitate all those with in earshot of it. Confront the big Spaniard.
Take: Poisoned Rice, Grenades, Mines, Health Potions.
Stage 8 - Cure The Princess:
Firstly, tempt the wolf with some rice. Be very careful about the, demons behind the trees. When you reach the precipice, there is a waterfall and a tree across the chasm, which you can grapple to. To fall off the edge is of course not good. Crawl all the way if you want. Basically, just get as high as you can all the way. For fun, take a bunch of Shuriken with you, and when there's a wide gulf between you and the enemy, throw them. If the demon tries to dodge them, they'll probably fall off a cliff.
Take: Shuriken, Mines, Health Potion, Caltraps.
Stage 9 - Reclaim The Castle:
This is really hard, because you must deal with at least 7 demon ninja before you can fight Onikage. You can enter the castle keep either by the front gate or by the water cellar below. The front way is much faster and just as dangerous. In the keep, your radar will be going off, because there are usually around seven demon ninjas inside. Tread carefully, and kill all of them without being spotted. Onikage is at the top. Remember that Onikage will pull out a Health Potion if you kick his arse too much. Knock it out of his hands before he drinks it. Also, he might catch your Shuriken and throw them back, so if anything, use grenades instead.
Take: Grenades, Health Potions, Poisoned Rice.
Stage 10 - Free The Princess:
This level looks scary with its bloodstained walls and explosive lava rivers, but it is actually rather basic, a lot like Stage 3. The first half is fairly one-way. It requires a lot of patience, as there is little space to run past the enemies. Make sure everything in the pillared hall dies before confronting Onikage in the first room. Follow the tunnels and look for Health Potions - you'll need them.
Mei-oh: Run towards him and attack repeatedly. If he teleports, duck and roll to the side. If he electrocutes you, jump around a lot. He can easily be killed with enough grenades, however. If one hits, he'll be knocked down for a while. Always wait until he starts to get up before throwing the next grenade, and don't stand too close.
Take: Grenades (8-10), Health Potions, Resurrection Leaves, Poisoned Rice or Shuriken.
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