===HADES PARADOX FAQ=== Version 1.0 Date: 04/10/06 Cheers. My name is Tom Davison and this is my first FAQ. Excuse the formatting, and absorb the tasty information contained herein. =) "Kingdom Hearts 2" and all pertinent characters and events are copyright Square Enix and Disney. This FAQ is copyright myself. Sections: Intro Walkthrough Questions Or Thoughts You May Or May Not Have Outro Search for numbers from 1 to 50 in your browser's Find/Search feature to locate the round you need. --Intro-- This is an attempt to help fellow gamers with this difficult tournament, both to complete it, and to achieve the score quota. It assumes several things. I will not be instructing you on how to perform moves, where to level up, where to level your Forms, or giving enemy descriptions. These things can be found elsewhere; this is a FAQ on the tournament itself. That being said, we'll start with an overview. The Hades Paradox Cup is a fifty-round endurance test, and required for Journal completion in Standard difficulty. It is available in the latter half of the game after Hades retires to his chamber. To reach him from the Underworld: Entrance, take the southwest exit to Cave of the Dead: Entrance. Head south through the only exit into Cave of the Dead: Passage. Follow the winding tunnel all the way south. It doesn't matter which fork you take as there is only the one exit. They even give you a nice skateboard! Exit south to Cave of the Dead: Inner Chamber. Exiting southeast leads you to Valley of the Dead. Ascend the rocky platforms, using the skateboard they give you here, too, and exit north to Hades' Chamber to speak to the blue ninny. He offers three other cups, all Paradox, including Pain and Panic, Cerberus, and Titan, so if you want any of those, there you are. HADES PARADOX - 50 rounds, varying rule sets, 15,000 point score quota for Jiminy's Journal. I strongly advise you to be on level 99 and with the highest Defence, Strength, and Magic you can have. My favourite setup is Ultima Weapon, and Fencer Earring, Moon Amulet, and Cosmic Arts in Accessories. I toss in six Elixirs for Items. As for abilities, equip as many Combo and Air Combo Plusses as you have, as well as all available MP abilities (Rage, Haste.) You'll have MP Hastega courtesy of Ultima Weapon. Defender, Second Chance, and Once More can save you over and over, so don't forget those. Leaf Bracer is necessary so you don't die whilst trying to heal. Tick Combination Boost so your Stitch Summon (you'll be using Stitch a lot!) will last longer. You should have two Form Boost abilities, Finishing Plus, Retaliating Slash, all of the Level 3 Growth Abilities, Trinity Limit, and all Aerial Abilities. That's my personal setup. You can add or subtract anything you like, hey, it's your game, in'it. The enemies in this tournament have been supercharged. Let a Dancer grab you by the head and see how much more HP it sucks out of you. Let a few Living Bones spam you with their spinning moves and see if you make it out alive at all. I'm not kidding; your enemies are STRONG, so never forget that. They also have much longer HP bars, particularly the Nobodies and bosses. You, however, are no stronger than any other time, so you can find yourself at a disadvantage. To help sway things back into your favour, learn to enjoy the wonderful Magnega spell. It will scoop every enemy, aside from bosses and Trick Ghosts, into the air for long enough for you to back off and heal, or get the first attack on them. You will see me direct you to Magnega many, many times because it's a beautiful spell. Something I don't talk a lot about is Trinity Limit, but having it is a very good idea. It is toned down if Sora is alone; think of it like Ars Arcanum, dealing a lot of quick hits in succession whilst Sora is invincible. The difference here is that with Combination Boost, you can get up to three attack cycles out of it. If you're getting swarmed and have MP to spare, this is a good tactic to get you some revenge. Just be careful not to be caught in the midst of a group of enemies when the Limit runs out. The final tactic you will need to learn and make use of is gliding away (don't you just love those Growth Abilities?) from your enemies until you can heal and let your MP recharge. There are very few rounds in which this is anything but perfectly easy. A couple times, Living Bones will make your gliding life hell, but for the most part, glide, heal, and recharge, and do it every time you need to. The major exception is the Round 31-40 set in which you are timed, but the strategies there should be helpful to get around that. A note on the score requirement: 15,000 points seems daunting until you understand that Stitch is a lovely creature. Summon him in every round where Summons are available, select his "Ohana!" Limit, and mash the Square button for Ukulele. The score orbs will pop out of the enemies at a remarkable pace, making that quota a lot less scary. I usually have around 16,000 by Round 30 or so, so this is actually the easiest part of the Cup. ---Walkthrough--- The walkthrough! Just like it says, I'll be outlining strategies for the different rounds, going into more detail where I thought it was necessary. These are the strategies and enemy observations I personally found to work, tempered by a bit of information from other gamers. Someone put it to me that my descriptions seem more grave than the actual difficulty feels when played, and to this I can only say that I would rather make readers feel overprepared than under. I have outlined the specific enemy sets in an attempt to be helpful, as this was one thing I felt the official strategy guide from Bradygames was lacking. They are vague about this entire Cup, hence this FAQ. And just in case someone out there wanted to know, I made a "Dark Round" note on the three or four rounds that are played in the dark. Now, with no further ado, or at least, only a small amount of....ado, on to the Rounds! FIGHT! ROUNDS 1-10: No restrictions. You are not timed, and you have access to Drives, Summons, and your allies. Round 1 - Three Shadows and three Soldiers. (This couldn't be easier. Get your score orbs and destroy these chaps in any way you choose; you shouldn't even get hit, or at least not very much.) Round 2 - Four Driller Moles and two Hook Bats. (Take out the Bats and be mindful that the Driller Moles don't hit you with their drilling and emerging move. Other than that, this is as easy as they come.) Round 3 - Three Rapid Thrusters and two Surveillance Robots. (For a laugh, try for the Snag/Sparkle Ray Reaction Command from the Robots. This is another round you should be able to do without taking damage.) Round 4 - Five Rabid Dogs and two Creeper Plants. (Creeper Plants are a wonderful thing to see in any round, because if you clear out the other enemies, you can stand on the other side of the arena and write a book if you like, because their projectile range is very short and only in front of them. Take out the Dogs with some quick blade work, and go for the Creepers' Reaction Command if you see it, because it explodes a good portion of the stage around you.) Round 5 - Volcanic Lord and two Soldiers. (The Soldiers are immaterial. They practically don't exist, and Donald and Goofy will probably make sure of that for you at some point anyway. Just beat him to death with aerial combos. He shouldn't cause you too much trouble until he starts his belly bounce tactic that leaves the melted spots in its wake. The Reaction Command here is the same as when you fought him along with Blizzard Lord in Agrabah, but its only good use here is to cut short his bouncing tantrum. As I write this, I have just finished him off with Final Form, but you don't have to; it will take less time, but it's not exactly difficult to beat him up normally and heal if you need.) Round 6 - Three Cannon Guns and two Silver Rocks. (Dark Round.) (The Guns are barely a threat, and you can and should dispose of them immediately with a couple good combos. The Silver Rocks can be annoying, but there are only two of them here, and they have a Reaction Command to counter their "ball of light" trick. I usually kill them before they can make use of it.) Round 7 - Three Icy Cubes and four Shadows, followed by eight Minute Bombs. (The Cubes die as easily as in Agrabah. The Bombs actually continue to spawn to a certain point, so it is more than eight, but the first wave is eight. I couldn't tell exactly how many there were in total, but just deal with them with a shot of Magnega so you don't have several of them reaching the end of their countdowns and exploding quite so much.) Round 8 - Three Soldiers and two Silver Rocks, followed by more of the same spawning in, followed by four Armored Knights, followed by one Large Body. (Another one where it's hard to tell how many enemies spawn after the initial ones. Good thing it's easy enemies this time. They don't spawn very many more, I just can't be bothered to count them. Deal with them like you did in other rounds. The Knights are easy in such small numbers, and you can use the Rising Sun Reaction Command if you get the chance. The single Large Body can be dangerous if you let it, but a good, solid aerial combo to its back can lay it out stunned, plus it tends to give you the Full Swing Reaction Command to do further damage. Fight wisely and get good at this one, because there will be more than one Large Body to deal with at once later on.) Round 9 - Four Creepers and one Samurai. (Nobodies already? This is just a taste of the horrors to come in the later rounds. The Creepers can be taken out easily with some Keyblade pressure, but watch that Samurai. I highly dislike these Nobodies because they hit you three times VERY quickly, and can interrupt your combo. I needed to heal during this, and fortunately there's only one Samurai here, so getting away isn't difficult. Hah, enjoy the luxury now, because you won't have it later. Try opening with an aerial combo, preferably after Goofy and Donald bear the brunt of the Samurai's attack.) Round 10 - Tifa and Yuffie. (You have the luxury of Final Form here, so use it! Yuffie seems to be more annoying here than she is in Round 49, because she'll interrupt you when you're trying to smack Tifa about. Try to bait Tifa into attacking you, and do whatever you can to get behind her, but do not stay out in front. Final Heaven HURTS, and she can use it as a combo finisher whenever she wants. Let her spend her energy and punish her when she's through, but watch out for Yuffie. Of course, if you enter this round with enough Drive Gauge to go into Final Form, then go nuts on the both of them. I find that I deal enough damage quickly enough that even the beating they give me isn't going to ruin my day. Again, enjoy it now, because you'll damn well wish you had it in Round 49.) ROUNDS 11-20: Titan Cup rules. Sora fights alone, and cannot use Drives, but Summons and Trinity Limit are available. This also means you're under the Damage Points restriction too, and 500 points just isn't as much as it used to be. BE CAREFUL HERE! You can't afford a careless step, because even the less dangerous enemies can make you suffer with this rule in play. Round 11 - Five Rapid Thrusters and three Aeroplanes. (The Rapid Thrusters are negligible, except when they are a distraction to get you in the air so the Aeroplanes can knock you about, something they like to do repeatedly when there are several of them. Lift them up where they belong with a Magnega sphere, and try to take them out before the relatively harmless Thrusters.) Round 12 - Four Minute Bombs, one Magnum Loader, and two Air Pirates. (Magnega makes this round a right walk in the park. Get up there and swing like you're really bad at golf.) Round 13 - Three Luna Bandits and two Armored Moles. (Be cautious here. Luna Bandits are agile with their attacks, which include sword swipes and a leaping, downward swing, and in a group even this small, can be a pain. Don't get caught in the centre of the group, or you're going to be hearing the warning siren in short order, and you'll be severely down on Damage Points. Engage them one at a time if possible, and glide off to heal when needed. This isn't a difficult round if you play it safe, which you're going to need to do more and more from this point on.) Round 14 - Two Lance Soldiers, two Tornado Steps, and two Armored Knights. (Magnega is good again, but try for the Rising Sun Reaction Command from the Armored Knights. I've taken out all six enemies with it. It's an easy battle, at any rate.) Round 15 - Blizzard Lord. (You'd think they would have just put him with his brother, aye? He's even more of a pushover than Volcanic Lord, because he doesn't do the belly bounce move. He'll blow icy mist all over the place, but generally, you can lay massive, repeated combos on him. I suggest landing one or two combos and falling back so you don't get caught in the ice. He also creates ice crystals on the floor that will freeze you if you contact them, leaving you vulnerable to more hits. Do not let this happen! It's too easy to avoid, and you'll feel poorly if you lose Damage Points to it. Some of that Trinity Limit spam would go well on biscuits here. Perhaps with a bit of nice peppered cheese and tea.) Round 16 - Four Soldiers and two Wight Knights. (Again, the Soldiers are barely a threat, although possibly a tad bit more than before. It's the Wight Knights you need to be wary of, because they can hit multiple times and make you lose a lot of Damage Points. Put a Magnega sphere out and try to combo the Knights as soon as they fall out, or just snare them right back up in the Magnega magic again.) Round 17 - Four Strafers and four Neoshadows followed by four Aerial Knockers. (As long as you don't get caught off guard by the Strafers' slow-moving magic ring projectiles, this one starts off fine, and gets nasty if you stay in the air when the Knockers fly around. They will punch you repeatedly with their magically enlarging fists, and that's no good for Damage Points. I spent at least three Magnega charges here, but I recommend using it until you're through. It's better to need to regenerate MP than to need to cure.) Round 18 - Two Luna Bandits and two Air Pirates, followed by three Creeper Plants, followed by three Wight Knights after one Plant is dead. (I am really starting to hate Luna Bandits. They will continuously slash you, and peel off dozens of Damage Points here. You wouldn't think two small enemies would be this annoying, but bloody hell these are. Destroy them first, at all costs. Magnega, Thundaga, Trinity Limit, whatever you can do to them, just get them out of your hair. The Air Pirates have never been a problem for me, but you need to be careful with the Creeper Plants. In a later round, when there are only two of them, you can safely stand anywhere out of range of their seed attacks, but there is only one side of the arena they can't reach in this round, so don't assume you're safe until you find it. When you do, it's still a good spot to regenerate MP, but only until you kill off one of the plants. Then you have the Wight Squad to deal with, and they don't stand still. Carefully work through this set, because you've got projectiles mixed with physical attacks, and it can be a handful.) Round 19 - Two Dusks, two Assassins, and one Dragoon. (Ugh! I really don't like this round. As I was writing this, I died due to Damage Point depletion, and it was that bloody Dragoon that did it. The other Nobodies in this round pale in comparison. I tend to lose at least 50 Damage Points in this round, and it can be frustrating near the end of the round set to lose for this reason. Magnega doesn't last long enough for you to kill it, or its mates, but use it anyway. It it great for an aerial combo starter. The Dragoon specifically must be dealt with as quickly as you can. It will curl up in a ball before launching straight up and coming down with its lance, which, aside from being shockingly damaging, also makes a shock wave. Break out the Trinity Limit here if you're running low on Points, but mind that you might not hit the Dragoon at all if you're not close enough or targeting it, and one Limit won't be enough to kill it. It's very dangerous, even when you glide away to regenerate MP. The other Nobodies here are relative pushovers. Deal with the Dusks and keep the Assassins at a distance while you regenerate or heal, then clean up with Magnega and air combos.) Round 20 - Pete. (Is anyone else actually happy that Pete is in this game? I honestly like what they did with his character. Anyway, he's about as easy to fight as bosses come, if you play it safe. Use Trinity Limit like it's not going to be there tomorrow. You should be able to get three seperate combos out of it, and knock at least a full HP bar off of Pete. Follow this up with a ground combo, Guard Break, and Explosion finishers, and then get away from him because he'll retaliate with a punch or his trademark rolling bombs. He can also rush you, which he telegraphs by yelling, "get outta my way!" Several times during the battle, usually when you're off regenerating MP, he surrounds himself in a magic sphere and yells something like, "look out, kids, Pete's invincible!" He isn't joking; attacking during the next several seconds will only get you beaten into a cocked hat. He also regenerates HP during this phase, though thankfully it isn't very much. Certainly, it isn't enough to save him from further Trinity attacks. You can attack him without Trinity, it's just much, much faster to use it, and it's a very safe method of fighting him. I've gotten through this without a scratch doing that.) ROUNDS 21-30: Pain and Panic Cup rules. Your Drive Gauge is locked, but Summons and Allies are available and Limits consume less MP than usual. Round 21 - Three Gargoyle Knights (Sword) and three Armored Knights. (This is a delightfully easy round because none of these enemies, in my experience at least, have interrupted any of my combos, and it's little bother to scatter them over the battlefield and deal with them one by one. You also have opportunities to use the lovely Rising Sun Reaction Command, making things even easier. I open as usual with Magnega, then get to slashing.) Round 22 - Two Fortune Tellers, two Trick Ghosts, and one Aeroplane. (Again, the Fortune Tellers can pester you with long-distance ice shots. This is compounded by the Ghosts and their plasma balls. The Ghosts, by the way, are immune to Magnega, so keep that in mind. You might want to ensnare the other three enemies and take the Ghosts out before proceeding, because the aerial bombardment can get tricky here. The single Aeroplane is less of a threat than when those enemies are in groups, but don't stay out in front of it long enough for it to strafe you with gunfire. Get up close and personal with aerial combos to cut the bombing runs short.) Round 23 - Two Soldiers, two Creeper Plants, and two Shamans. (I. Hate. Shamans! Without them, this would be a lovely round entirely. Try to enter this round with at least enough MP for a Magnega charge, because these two are highly annoying with their rampant spellcasting. The Soldiers are, as always, pushovers, but don't let them linger too long and start punching you. They have a nice Reaction Command called Cyclone which spins Sora like a missile through the air, so use it if you can. Once you're down to the Creeper Plants, you can back off, heal, regenerate your MP, have a nap, go off for tea, and go on holiday. It looks like they decide to lean over and have a snooze in cases like this. They can't touch you at a fair distance, and Donald and Goofy tend to back off with me, so you needn't worry about them killing the Plants if you don't want them to.) Round 24 - Three Bulky Vendors. (This is the equivalent of the round in the original Hades Cup when you had to face the Blue Fungus enemies. Which is to say, enjoy this breath of fresh air and regenerate any HP or MP you want. Don't even bother with waiting for their HP to lower, because you recieve no prizes in the tournament. If you are so inclined, you can simply wait whilst the Vendors' HP drains out of them at an astonishing rate of its own accord.) Round 25 - Cloud and Tifa. (This feels like a hint of things to come in Round 49. Tifa is tenacious, please do not underestimate her because she will badger you to no end. Whereas Cloud likes to stab around everywhere, Tifa will track you and come to say hello at the worst times. Her finisher, a huge wave of blue explosions in front of her, can come after she says, "don't say I didn't warn you!" or if you hear her shout, "aaaaah!" I don't think it's Final Heaven, because she identifies that move by saying its name, but it hurts nonetheless. Bait her and dodge her punches, which is sometimes easier said than done, especially with Cloud attacking you as well. As for Cloud, remember that he is most vulnerable just after this three-stage sword combo, definitely moreso than following his lunge attacks. I've also found how useful Reflega can be in this battle. If you have it on your shortcut and mash the button, it can protect you from combos from either opponent, and set you up beautifully for a retaliating combo. Reflega will actually hurt the both of them, if you spam it throughout one of their combos! This expends a lot of MP, but it seems to injure them a lot more than it should while keeping you relatively safe, so make use of it if you want to lay on some heavy damage with a followup combo whilst they're recovering from their attack stance. Thanks to everyone who suggested Reflega; this was a strategy I had not considered previously. Barring this, bait and dodge, retaliating with your own combos, either ground or air, but remembering that Guard Break and Explosion are lovely for piling on the damage and can hit multiple targets in proximity. You will likely need to heal during this if you get caught in a couple attacks. Aquire and foster a healthful respect for the Final Fantasy characters' power and speed, because it will keep you alive later.) Round 26 - Two Bolt Towers, two Hammer Frames, and one Neoshadow. (It is almost surprising what a useful spell Magnega is, and the vast majority of enemies on which it works. Even the Bolt Towers will get sucked in by it. Be careful of staying on the ground whilst the Hammer Frames are alive, because they love making shock waves. You should spend a good amount of this round in the air anyway, taking on the Bolt Towers. If you get caught in the lightning spheres from these enemies, consider it a blessing and mash Triangle for their Reaction Command. The ensuing explosion can kill other monsters. Focus on the Towers, not only because they're the largest targets, but because they have both a ranged physical attack and a shock wave of their own.) Round 27 - Two Gargoyle Warriors (Axe) and four Rabid Dogs, followed by four Nightwalkers. (What is it with this game and enemies rapidly spinning at you? The opening move should be your trusty Magnega, followed by lots of blade time to start aerial combos. I have never had much trouble with Rabid Dogs, and consider them a baby version of Living Bones in that all they can do is bite you, which even in this tournament doesn't hurt too much. Take out the Gargoyles first if you can, and beware of their spinning attack, which sends them like tops over several metres of space. They don't use it a lot, though, and are just as easy to dispatch as their sword-wielding brethren. The Nightwalkers also love to spin, but they also succumb to faithful Magnega, so you can clean them up exactly like the Gargoyles, keeping in mind that they will gang up on you more than those.) Round 28 - Two Bookmasters and two Emerald Blues followed by three Shamans, followed by at least one Emerald Blues and at least three Silver Rocks. (Another difficult round when you get towards the end. Bookmasters are powerful spellcasters, but as long as you get up close with aerial combos, you can control them with little sweat. The Blues have their trademark tornado move, as well as an Aeroga-like spell they use to bash into you repeatedly. The Shamans are horrible, I cannot stress how highly I dislike them. They love their blue fire spells, but that's all they have, so get up close and shred them with the Keyblade. In this particular round, I have only seen them use one version of their spell, the one that sends plumes of fire upward from the floor. The other iteration will be outlined in a later round. Unfortunately, the spacing of the three of them makes Magnega difficult to use to full effect, and you might get fried by the remaining Shaman's spells in the meanwhile. I always need to cure sometime in this battle, so don't feel ashamed of it. Once they're gone, it's back to the swarm of mage-type enemies. I tried to count the exact number and type of them, but they zip about like insects and it's difficult to ascertain. Make use of the Rock's Reaction Commands, because it can rid you of them one at a time from a good distance. Treat the Blues like always. To a right solid beating. Round 29 - Two Gamblers and two Snipers. (I. HATE. NOBODIES! Gamblers in particular can be loathsome creatures, especially if they linger for a while. They have large dice they'll roll after you, card attacks, and if you're really unfortunate, you can be turned INTO a die, left to do nothing but bounce around and wait for a Drive Gauge to deplete slowly and return you to normal form. Take them out as quickly as you possibly can because they make the Snipers seem tame by comparison. You also have the Warp Snipe Reaction Command for those, which further makes them seem like puppies. Don't forget that Magnega even words on Nobodies, so enjoy it yet again.) Round 30 - Hades. (Dark Round.) (Hades seems more annoying here than he does 20 rounds from now. He will use Firaga Ball almost exclusively, telegraphed by him saying, "feel the heat." This move is trickier than it appears, and can hit you at times when you don't think it can. He'll use it repeatedly, and it knocks you backward, so don't underestimate it. It can be knocked back at him by guarding or attacking, though it won't damage Hades. Reflega can absorb it, but I wouldn't waste the MP. If you are in the midst of a Slide Dash attack to close distance to him, you will often go right through a Firaga Ball without taking damage, so there are numerous ways to counter it, just be sure -to- counter it if you can't dodge. Aside from that, Hades has a one-two flaming punch attack when he says, "take THAT!" but you won't see it too often, nor is it particularly powerful. One nice thing here is that you can catch him with extra attacks off of a finished combo; Hades is not quick on his feet when he's being beaten up. His only counter is to poof out of the way and rematerialise a couple metres away, when he says, "is that all you got?" This will annoy you because he does it A LOT, usually just before you get to land that nice Explosion finisher. Just keep on him. He's much less dangerous when you stay close to him, because Firaga Ball is largely a ranged attack. Trinity Limit might be nice here, but I usually just combo him to death.) ROUNDS 31-40: Cerberus Cup rules. You have Forms available to you, and Drive metres fill much faster than normal. You have a ten-minute timer that will make you very thankful for those Forms. Round 31 - Two Samurai, two Creepers, and one Berserker. (This set of ten rounds is possibly more difficult, albeit in a steady, unrelenting way, than all but one of the 41-50 set. At the very least, it requires more endurance, in my opinion. I hate Nobodies. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it. The Berserker in this group is thankfully just that, singular. If you can manage to make it drop its hammer, and are fortunate enough not to get attacked on your way to it, grab that sodding thing and use it to the best of your ability. Get rid of that Berserker at any rate, and do it quickly, because I'm willing to bet that if you eat an entire combo from one of them complete with shock wave finisher, you'll either be dead or clinging to your last hit point. The two Samurai are nearly as dangerous. You can only endure a couple of four-swipe sword attacks here before going critical, and either one of them can perform them consecutively. Don't rely on the Reaction Commands either; Duel Stance is an elegant and beautiful way to kill a Samurai, but the penalty for making a mistake here is much worse than in a normal setting. I love Magnega for these, as well as any of the more dangerous Nobodies. Fire off a sphere and catch them when they're falling down with an aerial combo. They aren't dangerous if you keep them at a distance, but that leaves you with only the option to chip at their HP with magic. You need to get in close, but be careful when you do. I've had them interrupt my combos with their own. The Creepers are laughable by comparison, so just kill them with combos before they have a chance to morph into swords and swipe at you. I would try to hold off on Final Form here, just because the earlier you use it, the more chance you have to run out at a moment when you really don't want to later. Even though the metre charges faster, you still have a few moments between one Form change and the next, and Leon and Cloud in the last round will take advantage of that.) Round 32 - Three strange musical notes in water form and three Dancers. (Demyx isn't around, but you get these water forms just like he uses, only they're in the shape of musical notes, and they carry the same Wild Dance Reaction Commands. I haven't yet found a threat from these. The real danger is the Dancers. Something is a bit wrong with the damage output they programmed for these Nobodies in this tournament. If they manage to grab you by the head and swing you around, you'll lose 30 percent of your HP. Do anything you can think of to prevent this. I've noticed that in groups, they interrupt my combos a lot and do that head grab. By itself, a single Dancer is easier to attack, so get out your Magnega, strike them until it fades, and single out whichever enemy is the farthest away. I personally just go for more Magnega. That head grab is lethal, not to mention frustrating, and I'd rather have to regenerate MP no matter what round it is. I even had difficulty fighting them in Final Form, because getting up close to them prompts more of that awful head grabbing and tossing. If you're already in Final Form, get them in a Magnega sphere before attacking them unless you have one cornered and no others are around.) Round 33 - Four Samurai. (These bastards are horrible in a ground like this, and they stick together and attack in sync, which is even worse. Often, if you think you're far enough away, they'll slide forward with their arms spread and manage to hit you anyway. If you're not already in Final Form, this is a great place to start. I usually get hit once or twice whilst attacking them, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as normal Sora being hit by them. It might be helpful to get them with Magnega and then attack, Final Form or not. It can save you some pain. Round 34 - Two Sorcerers. (As soon as the round starts, they tend to instantly surround you with their floating cubes. Final Form will make very short work of these two, but lifting them off the floor with your trusty Magnet magic beforehand makes even shorter work of them. A relatively easy round.) Round 35 - Rapid Thrusters. LOTS OF THEM. (This is just like the top of Pride Rock, only you're alone and you have that bloody timer to contend with. This is the round that takes me the longest, aside from Leon and Cloud, and possibly even more at times. The best thing you can do is to immediately shift into Final Form, toss a couple Magnega spheres skyward, and mash the X button like you're trying to break it. Expend your MP on Magnega and then wait for your Drive Gauge to deplete. Now is when that whole "gauges fill faster" caveat is truly great. You can go from level 2 to a full level 7 in literally three or four seconds if you just keep smacking the enemies about, which isn't difficult because there are so many of them. Immediately go back into Final Form, which will refill your MP, and start Magnega again. It might not seem to help, but every little dent you can make is a good dent. This one will feel like it takes forever, and you may start to worry about the timer. Just mash your attack button as fast as you can. This round takes me about two and a half minutes, making it all the more imperative to use Final Form to the fullest in the other rounds. I think the only really good thing about this round is that it's nearly impossible to get hurt when Sora is a silver whirling death dealer with two weapons. I love Final Form.) Round 36 - Three Berserkers. (Final Form is wonderful here, but even better is being able to grab one of their hammers and kill two or all three of them simultaneously. I've never done more than two, as that last one always seems to decide to do its hammer tantrum just then. If you'll notice, they shrink when they jump on the hammer. The gangly little sods look silly but are harder to hit that way, though you'll probably still hit them in Final Form. Just watch that last hit with the shock wave, as it will knock a chunk of HP from you. I suggest Magnega, then attacking in Final Form, then grabbing the nearest hammer and enjoying that and mopping up the last Berserker with the Keyblades. It makes the round go by very quickly.) Round 37 - Three Assassins and two Snipers, followed by four Dragoons. (The initial set is easy enough with Final Form, but it seems like a lot of the Nobodies don't stay in Magnega spheres for very long at all, popping out almost instantly. I don't know if that's just here, or everywhere. The first five enemies is, nonetheless, simple to dispatch, just keep on them and use Warp Snipe if it becomes available. When the Dragoons teleport in, a few of them will do it via their damaging lance dive move, so watch the centre of the arena. They are just as susceptible to the sustained pressure of Final Form though, so don't waste any time in ending their lives. If you see them curl into a ball, take those specific ones out before they can lance dive again.) Round 38 - Six Dusks, followed by three Dancers, followed by three Samurai, followed by four Gamblers, followed by one Sorcerer. (Dusks are as easy as they come and shouldn't give any trouble, even out of Final Form. Now, the Dancers, Samurai, and Gamblers overlap with their spawn times. Once you kill one or two of the Dancers, the Samurai will come, and one or two seem to drop into the arena as you're fighting, so it might be more than three. One Gambler shows up, and three more in short order, and it's all a steady reason for you to get those Dancers and Samurai out of there so you can combo without being interrupted. Gamblers are easier to combo than Dancers and Samurai, even in a group. I guess they move a lot more slowly. The Sorcerer is just like before, but easier as there's just one this time, so kill it and move on.) Round 39 - Five Dragoons. (The fifth seems to come in sometime during the fight, but I can't be certain. Thankfully, this is another species you can generally do continuous combo damage to, which is important near the end of this particular set of rounds. Speed is of the utmost importance. If you fall out of Final Form, do your best to land enough blows to refill the metre because you'll need it in a minute. Again, thankfully, that task takes about five seconds.) Round 40 - Leon and Cloud. (I haven't been bothered to find a strategy for this outside of berserk mashing of Final Form's attacks. It might help a bit to jump before you attack, as it sometimes evades one or two of their sword swings. Doing the round this way will get you hurt, but it will get you through it in time, which is much more important. You probably won't have the luxury of gliding off to regain MP, but that's what Form changing is for. When your Drive metre depletes, and it will, continue your assault. You need to get back into Final Form at all costs. Heal if you need to, you have a free MP recharge coming in mere seconds. Don't let up on them, no matter what. They will hit you, possibly a lot, but Final Form will hurt them more, and faster. I make it through this round in about one minute forty seconds, so if you make it here with around two minutes left, you should be golden.) ROUNDS 41-50: No Summons, no Drives, no friends, just your Keyblade, magic, and Trinity Limit Round 41 - Two Toy Soldiers and two Graveyards. (This isn't too scary as long as you don't engage them at point-blank range for long. Both enemy types have attacks that will juggle or immobilise you while you eat damage like yummy chocolate. Have a chat with your friend Magnega, and his girlfriend Aerial Combo. This round should be pretty easy. Glide away and heal if you must.) Round 42 - Two Fortune Tellers and one Living Bone. (Do not underestimate these enemies' range! The Fortune Tellers can cast an ice spell at you even if they're off-camera, and the Living Bone is capable of huge leaps with bites at the end, not to mention the spinning move. I recommend killing the Fortune Tellers first, because their icy attacks from the sky will keep you pinned so the Bone can bash your brains out. The Bone itself is much less dangerous when it's just you and it; it is a large target, and you can keep an eye on it more effectively when you glide off to heal.) Round 43 - Two Morningstars and two Large Bodies. (One that I've seen a lot of people having problems with. I seem to have a lot more success with aerial combos on the Morningstars. If you think you can make it in time, try a ground combo and Explosion, but MAKE SURE you have the clearance, because even if you think you do, you usually don't. If you land a full combo on a Morningstar, it will be stunned for a couple precious seconds, which you can use to best suit your situation, be it beating it down some more, or getting away from there, usually the latter. And don't forget the very useful Reaction Command when a Morning Star leaps over your head. It can deal massive damage to it, and possibly any enemies very close by, though I haven't tested this. The Large Bodies are easier, in my opinion. They will occasionally pause to think things over, and you should have no compunction with scooping out their guts from behind to punish them for it. I suggest keeping them at a healthful distance to ascertain what they're up to before trying to attack. Doing this keeps you safe from both their jumping shockwave and punching moves, and lets you see their belly slide coming a mile away. Be sure to jump and glide away from this, instead of simply jumping once, because the belly slide doesn't necessarily end when the Large Body hits a wall; it will continue for the duration of the move, and it's frustrating to get hit in the back after evading it. Once you do get away from it, though, they seem to pause for a bit, so get them whilst the getting is good. This move also bears a Reaction Command to help you evade or guard, but I don't rely on it because if you make a mistake, the Large Body will hit you three times with impunity, something you do NOT want happening in this tournament. Use your own judgement on this, and do the Reaction Command if you feel better with that. It will stun the Large Body and leave it on its stomach, though not for very long, and they seem harder to hit than when they're standing. Again, aerial combos are what I like to use, but with Large Bodies, you seem to have a bit more time to attack before they hit you, at least more time than those accursed Morningstars. Explosion is a wonderful finisher if you can get it safely, but only if.) Round 44 - Three Living Bones, two of the headless variety with Shaman riders, and one normal one. (Again with the spinning maneuver? I recall something about Monty Python vikings singing about a canned meat product. Anyway, this one is difficult because not only will they all spin over the arena, but they like to run after you before doing it, making it much harder to glide away and catch your breath. I noticed the ones with the Shaman riders doing this annoying tactic a lot more than the normal Living Bone, by the way. Do not underestimate this trio of enemies, because they will kill you in five seconds if they pin you down. They are particularly vicious, and will even attack you as a group the second the round starts. In a nutshell, this round is ANNOYING! I died just getting this information to include here. I cannot stress this enough, for the entire tournament, but especially this round, MAGNEGA IS YOUR FRIEND. Say it, learn it, and repeat it like a mantra, because it will save your life and buy you precious time to heal or get your bearings, not to mention some free damage opportunities. Magnega will take care of all three of these sodding things, but not for long, so make good use of it. Be very careful; I tend to fall into a pattern of getting caught with the spinning tails and needing to heal, thus having no MP for Magnega, and getting myself beaten to a pulp whilst my MP is recharging. Try to have a Magnega sphere in the air before you use Curaga, you'll be glad you did. I must stress once more how vicious this particular enemy set is. The Living Bone with the head on will use that head to bite you repeatedly, and it isn't afraid to leap in the air to grab you if you're gliding or jumping too low. And the lot of them will use their spinning move so often it will make you swear at the television. Do not assume that you are safe from them at any point; you're not. Ignore this at your peril. Don't spend any more time on the ground than you absolutely have to, and spam those aerial combos right after they scatter from the Magnega magic. Try to kill the ones with the Shaman riders first if you can, because the Living Bone by itself seems like much less of a threat.) Round 45 - Repeat of the 1,000 Heartless Battle (Maybe there aren't quite that many, but this is exactly what it looks like. Use the same Reaction Commands and all-out offencive you used there and you should be fine. The only difference here is that you have a one minute timer that counts down, after which the round ends; you need only survive. You don't even have to fight if you don't want to, because you can glide around the outside of the stage the entire time and never be accosted. Consider this a breather round.) Round 46 - One Devastator and two Hot Rods. (The Devastator is dangerous, but not nearly as much so as the duo of Hot Rods. Get a Magnega sphere up immediately to take them out of the picture for long enough to smack the Devastator around, and repeat as necessary. As for the Hot Rods, Magnega is still your best friend, but be careful when the Hot Rods do their driving tantrum, because they're often far away from each other and Magnega will only grab one of them. Don't attempt to ground combo them much, if at all, because personally I'm never successful with it. I rely on Magnega and air combos, and you should, too. Round 47 - One Bulky Vendor, followed by one Living Bone with Shaman rider and two Lance Soldiers, followed by two Assault Riders and two Emerald Blues, followed by three Morning Stars and five Crescendos (GAH! I guess they thought it wasn't difficult enough so far, because now they lay this bloody marathon upon us. Where to begin. Well, the Shaman riding the Living Bone takes a different tactic this time, using a blue fire attack that has two versions. The first one is avoidable if you're moving, and basically sends several plumes of fire up from the ground in a line that has amazing tracking capabilities. If the first one hits you, you'll get hit by all of them, and I believe the same goes for any of the hits in the chain, so watch out. The other version is one I haven't found a way to counter at all, in which a ring of blue fireballs surrounds you for a few seconds, and then explodes into the same 8-hit chain. If anyone can let me know what to do about this, I would appreciate it. Reflega does nothing, nor does Firaga. I haven't tried any other spells. At any rate, ignore the Lance Soldiers unless they get in your face, because unless they're that close, they really can't do much to hurt you. You need that Living Bone and Shaman out of there, trust me. Magnega will trap it, so as always, use that when you can. Lay on the aerial combos as thick as you can, and try to lessen the amount of opportunities it has to trap you in that fire. The next phase with Assault Riders and Emerald Blues isn't as bad. Lots of Magnega will make you smile, because it works wonders here. Don't let the Blues swarm you with those tornadoes; in fact, I would take them out first as they're much more agile than the Assault Riders. Magega is especially good on those, because their bulk allows you to land a lot of hits when they're in the vortex. They also stun wonderfully, so have fun killing these easier enemies. After that, we have the oh so delightful army of three Morning Stars and five Crescendos, and I can't stress enough how important it is to KILL THEM FIRST! The Morning Stars are bad enough without five snotty little bastards hopping around healing them every five seconds. Crescendos are defenceless, so get yourself a clear area and a few good seconds and end their lives post haste. Do not attempt to take on the Morning Stars without doing this, or you will see what I mean by "annoying." The Morning Stars by themselves are real bruisers, but are very vulnerable in the air, so jump and swing away. They also jump a lot, giving you more opportunities to use their Reaction Commands, so if you see it, take advantage of it. Round 48 - Cerberus (Thankfully, he's only one enemy, and if you stay far enough away from him when you need to heal, he can't do too much to you unless he jumps over to you. Watch those shockwaves though! They happen EVERY TIME he jumps, and will knock a lot of HP off of you. Be careful after you leap up to attack his heads, because he likes to jump a lot, and I tend to get hit with a shockwave as I'm falling from a jump. Glide as much as you can and be off the ground when he jumps, at least as often as you can do. This isn't too difficult, but it is rather annoying simply because you don't get too many hits on him before he turns around or jumps away, so you constantly have to chase him down. All three heads bite, but that seems to be less dangerous than it was in the first game. Try to attack the centre head more often than not, because you might be fortunate enough to get Cerberus' Reaction Command, which culminates in a move that knocks him out for several seconds and lets you pound him severely.) Round 49 - Cloud, Leon, Tifa, and Yuffie. (Holy -crap.- This has got to be more difficult than taking on Sephiroth or Xaldin or Demyx. One strategy among many is to chip slowly away at everyone but Cloud using Thundaga, but ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE ROOM! Do NOT jump in there and swing the Keyblade to your heart's content. They will fillet you and serve you up on Sora Sandwiches if you try that. Thundaga is nice because it lets you fry people from a distance, but beware of several things. For one, do not use it on Cloud, because he's immune. You'll only waste MP, and even worse, you'll waste the frightfully little time it takes for one or more of them to close the distance to you. Tifa likes running after you, as does Leon, and the both of them will make you eat the arena floor if you stick around. Leon will slash four times, and the last one has a delay that has tricked me more than once, so watch out. He also has a fireball that he'll launch at you (listen for him to shout, "here goes!") that can track you to an extent. It's difficult to dodge if you underestimate it, so break out that Quick Run and dodge to either side, because it's fast and can be used at any distance. Tifa will attack with her fists in a multiple-strike combo, and of course her famous Final Heaven limit, but both Tifa and Leon seem easier to attack if you're able to get away from their initial strikes, so no matter what anyone else has said, I personally try to take those two out first. Be very careful with Tifa in particular, because often, she'll fire off a massive blue wall of fire spheres several metres in front of her as a combo finisher, and she doesn't telegraph it at all so you never know if it's coming. I realise that there is more than one strategy for this battle, and I am not claiming mine to be the best. This is one of those situations where you need to do whatever works for you. This fight, more than any other, demands that you never, EVER stay in one spot very long. You have four extremely lethal fighters running after you, and Cloud will often just rush you and let his sword tip say hello to your chest. By the way, Cloud will also perform a move that looks a lot like Omnislash, only here, he flies around the arena at a laughably ridiculous speed, so quickly that you might see him more than once as you glide along a wall. Most of this seems like it's just for show, though. He will attack you, don't think he won't, but treat it like any other threat and don't panic; just get away from there. Don't EVER stand your ground when any of the four attack you. You're not strong enough. Fight like wolves fight; strike quickly and get the hell away. Cloud has his own sword strikes on the ground, which will also shred you up badly, but his specialty is a huge leap into a downward strike that kicks up a blue shockwave, and is probably the finisher to that Omnislash flight he does. He says, "farewell" before leaping straight up and coming down into it, so you have a tiny warning, but it's probably not enough if he's very close to you when he does it. Beware if you're fighting blade to blade with him, because he has better frontal defence than a bloody Fat Bandit. Yuffie is one I would just leave for last. She is the only one who rarely threatens me when I'm fighting everyone at once. If she says, "this one's gonna hurt," she's about to make her shuriken larger and twirl it through the air, though I've never seen this attack used with nearly the range of Leon's fireball or even Tifa's fire wall. She will teleport with annoying frequency, but just keep up the pressure and get away when you need to heal. This has all been for informational purposes, mind you. Things are often very different when you're actually playing, irrespective of how much strategy you pore over. My best advice is to pick your target and engage them for as short a time as you can before getting the hell away. They WILL all attack you at once if you get careless, and good luck surviving that. Another tip is not to attempt to attack anyone during their particular string of attacks. I have yet to meet blades with anyone and actually deflect their strikes, so it's better to let them attack and just not to be in the way. It gets easier as you take out opponents. Nobody likes dodging Tifa or Cloud, only to be hit with Leon's fireball when they go to complete a nice combo. TAKE YOUR TIME! This is not a short battle, and there is nothing you can do to make it that way. Thundaga is good for chipping away at peoples' HP bars, but not if you have no MP because you just got caught in the middle of a four-way gangrape and had to heal. Chances are, if you think you have enough room to attack with a full combo, then you better have made sure nobody was rushing you beforehand. Take this fight slowly and wisely, and heal every time you think you need to. That's all the advice I can give.) (Editor's Note: since beginning this FAQ, new information regarding Reflect magic has been brought to my attention. (Credit goes to Centarox from the Gamefaqs message board for the game.) The strategy for Cloud and Tifa alone in Round 25 includes this, but I need to remind you here. Reflect is a much, much better spell than I previously believed, and Tifa in particular is susceptible to it. Be careful with using it in this battle, because you're under twice the opposition and can easily be beaten silly the instant you stop spamming Reflega to try a combo on anyone. Tifa, however, can actually be defeated entirely with Reflega; it somehow damages her greivously at the end of her combo. This will work for anyone, actually, even Cloud, so try it and see how you like it. Do not attempt to do this for long, however. You are under an assault the likes to which little else in the game can compare, and being caught off guard is lethal here. It can make your day, though, if Tifa is put out of commission a minute into the fight. Just don't rely on it exclusively. Remember to strike just after opponents finish their combos, because a good Keyblade run can do just as much damage, and Explosion hits everyone in range.) Round 50 - Hades. (It's almost funny that they chose to end this nightmare with such a relatively easy boss battle. This is the same thing as the Hades fight way back when you had Hercules to help you out, complete with Aura powers and everything. Hades gains a new attack, where he creates a circle of fire around himself, which explodes into a large flame pillar. He usually sticks to his fireballs (listen for "feel the heat" to warn you,) so treat him like you did before, save for the increased damage he'll do to you. Just heal when you need to. I can't imagine having much trouble with this battle, especially not after that last one.) --Questions And Thoughts You May Or May Not Have-- 1) I love your FAQ! Thank you! -- Oh, you're so kind. =) 2) I hate your FAQ! You're a tosser! -- Don't use it then. Write your own, but please include even more information than I have. If you can do better, maybe I'll use your FAQ instead. 3) Your strategy on <thing> is flawed! You should do it this way! -- Use the email address I have provided and send that to me. I welcome other gamers' thoughts, as evidenced in the Reflega strategy for Round 49. If someone submits a valid strategy that I try and like, I will gladly edit the FAQ to add it, and give credit to the person or persons who suggest it. This FAQ was written for all of you, so all of you have the opportunity to contribute. 4) Hades Paradox Cup sucks! -- Yes, yes it does. It bloody well does. 5) You spelled <this word> incorrectly! -- Please don't submit nitpicks like this unless I have somehow made blatant and repeated errors. I am fairly confident in my grammar and spelling, and if it bothers you that much, I will consider input, but probably less so that contributions on gameplay and strategy, the whole reason for this FAQ to exist. 6) I love your FAQ! Have my children! -- No thank you, but aren't you a sweetheart for asking. ^_^ --Outro-- And there you have it. These certainly aren't the only ways to go about this, and a lot of the enemy observations might simply be my own experience; you might have a Berserker leave you alone more than I did, or find that you'd rather jump into the centre of a group and claw your way out, if you prefer living more dangerously. I only offer these thoughts in the hope that it'll save some of my fellow gamers a little stress. Thank you for reading my FAQ, and happy battles to you! Suggestions, constructive critisism, and sweet, sweet compliments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.