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Ninja Gaiden
XBOX

Revision 7.0

Shockwave (shockwave_xpow@hotmail.com)
Copyright 2004 by shockwave
All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
their respective trademark and copyright holders.

None of this information can be reposted anywhere outside of gamefaqs
without my express permission.  
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===   TABLE OF CONTENTS
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I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  BASICS
    A. Blocking
    B. Jumping
    C. Charged Attacks

III. WEAPONS
    A. Common Attacks
    B. Dragon Sword
    C. Dabilahro
    D. Unlabored Flawlessness
    E. Kitetsu
    F. Vigoorian Flail

III. OTHER ATTACKS
    A. Projectiles
    B. Ninpo

IV.  ENEMIES
    A. Ninja Types
    B. Samurai Types
    C. Vigoorian Types
    D. Dragon Types
    E. Imp Types
    F. Zombie Types
    G. Flyer Types
    H. Swimmer Types

V.   BOSSES
    A. Murai
    B. Mounted Horsemen
    C. Samurai Horseman

VI.  WALKTHROUGH TRICKS
    A. Save Points
    B. Infinite Money
    C. Fiend Challenges

VII. CONCLUSIONS

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=== I. INTRODUCTION
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==================================================

Ninja Gaiden is one of the tougher console games I've encountered.
While it is easy to button mash and do o.k. initially, this strategy
is not beneficial in the long run even on normal mode, and I found
that the difficulty of enemies increased as fast as I was learning.
For example, when I finally figured out how to block effectively, the
enemies I encountered would shoot through that or throw me.  Adding to
this is the incredible wealth of moves, abilities, and weapons in
Ninja Gaiden, and the corresponding lack of good information on how to
use all of them.  You only get one lesson in the beginning, from
Murai, and the rest is up to you to figure out.  This is both part of
the charm and frustration of the game -- it's exciting to discover new
moves on your own, but the less astute among us can go through the
entire game without having learned some of the better strategies.
Ninja Gaiden is definitely one of those games you can get into a
conversation with friends about to share strategy.

Hopefully this guide will shortcut some of those difficulties and
prevent you from dying repeatedly, particularly in the beginning as I
did even on normal difficulty.  If you enjoy self-discovery, chances
are that you wouldn't have come to this site in the first place, so
I'm going to just reveal the entire breadth of knowledge that I have
(however small that is) in hopes of benefitting you as much as
possible.  As a disclaimer, I certainly do not claim to know all the
most effective techniques since I have not played this game
exhaustively, so feel free to offer suggestions and I'll include them
in the guide with whatever due credit you'd like to ask for.

Hopefully this can become a repository for useful combat suggestions.

This is for normal difficulty.

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=== II. Basics
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==================================================

Here's first some useful techniques that every good Ninja should get 
familiar with.

******************************
A. Blocking
******************************

The first thing to learn about Ninja Gaiden is that blocking is good.
With the exception of a few attacks (tank machine guns, explosive
projectiles, etc.), Ryu will infallibly block any attack coming from
any direction from any weapon.  The largest threat from blocking is
getting thrown since blocking does not stop throws.  Learn early which
enemies throw and which do not.  Some enemies such as the "wolverines"
have no ability to get through a block and you can tape down the block
button while getting a sandwich and Ryu will be healthy when you get
back.  Others such as the black ninjas have only limited abilities by
using projectile weapons.

For enemies with throws, some throws hurt more than others.  Fiends
and bosses tend to munch on you, this usually results in severe
damage.  Other enemies such as "ninjas" will slit your throat or flip
you, these cause relatively little damage.  For the latter, it may be
worth using a blocking strategy anyway and taking a bit of minor
damage once in a while versus play aggressively and get hit by attacks
that really hurt.

While blocking, you can "reverse wind" to roll around.  This is an
incredibly useful move, it leaves you only vulnerable for a brief time
during the end of the roll so for all practical purposes it is a safe
way to move around.  You can also interrupt your roll midway by
jumping.  This becomes very handy because there are certain boss
attacks such as "Alma"'s pillar strikes and projectile attacks that
are near impossible to dodge without using a roll-then-jump technique.
More typically, though, you'll want to use an interrupted roll to
setup a flying swallow attack a weapon that supports this (such as the
dragon sword) on a nearby enemy.  As I'll mention later, the X+A "wind
run" attack, which jumps you towards the nearest target, plus Y
"flying swallow" or "guillotine throw" (depending on distance) is one
of the best ways to eliminate enemies safely.  When facing enemies at
range, it's fairly easy to put up your block, roll towards them, jump
towards them in the middle of your roll, then use "flying swallow".
This allows you to close distance quickly and safely.  Rolling is also
a good way to prevent yourself from being thrown.  Most enemies, with
the exception of bosses and "fiend officers", are not aggressive about
coming up and throwing you, they'll only do when you've been
stationary in a block.

Some enemies such as the early "ninjas" attack using a sequence of
hits, if you roll around or through them during this, then you can end
up on their back side and unload on them before they even finish their
attack.

You can roll when hit to interrupt your block stun animation.  This is
useful for faster recovery from attacks that you block.

Some enemies have strong enough attacks that they can make you reel
from a block.  Examples are the "horseman, pikeman" and "tank" machine
gun.  In general there's really nothing you can do about it, just be
aware of it.  For example, against the "tank", you'll want to try
evading by rolling sometimes versus just standing there with your
block button down.  Against the "pikemen", this is no big deal
since the attack that causes you to reel is their charge attack
and they can't follow up while you're reeling anyway.

******************************
B. Jumping
******************************

Jumping is a very useful technique.  Most enemies are not great at
hitting you while you're in the air.  This is a great way to avoid
slow projectiles such as rockets.  Whenever I'm fighting a hoarde of
enemies that can throw, I'll try to spend as much time in the air as
possible, only landing on the ground to execute quick attacks.  Being
in the air is somewhat akin to blocking -- it leaves you relatively
safe from harm.  One of the absolute best games in the move, which
you'll have starting at the beginning of the game and which is
available for all weapons, is double jump Y "diving cicada slash"
move.  Jump to a wall, then off of it for a "flying bird flip", then
hit Y and Ryu will first elevate slightly, then bring his sword down
for pretty good damage as well as splash, with fairly good recovery
time.  This is great for damaging crowds of enemies, and the recovery
time is good enough such that you can get out of there before enemies
can retaliate.  This is for example the easiest way to beat Murai in
the beginning: just keep launching off of walls using diving Y and
jumping back to the wall after you hit him.

Walls are your friends.  When closing distance to projectile enemies
such as rocket launchers, jump and run along the walls.  If you're
trying to get extra height, hit Y at the apex of your jump since Ryu
elevates slightly during the "diving cicada" move.

******************************
C. Charged Attacks
******************************

Charged attacks require you to hold down Y.  You can absorb up to 2
levels worth of charge to do an impressive essence or "ultimate"
attack.  Charged attacks do tons of damage and also yield more essence
if they kill enemies.  You should use them at all opportunities.  The
2-charge "ultimate" attack does more damage and yields more essence
than the 1-charge.

Start practicing this on early enemies so that you're comfortable
enough with the mechanics and knowing how to do this safely.  Once you
learn it, you'll be able to use it effectively through the game.  I'll
give some hints here.

Essences do not get absorbed if you're blocking.  Nor do they get
absorbed naturally if you are far enough away from them.  While doing
1-charge attacks is fine, usually the trick is to figure out how to
absorb 2 charges for an ultimate since this is far superior in damage
and returned essence.  The easiest way is to kill two or more
opponents at once.  But there are ways to get two essences even if you
can't manage this:

Generally after I kill some enemies, I'll want the essences to float
around so I can draw enough of them in for an ultimate charged attack.
This means leaving down my block and rolling far enough away from them
that they won't be attracted to them.  When you charge, all essence
anywhere gets sucked in very rapidly.  Don't let the essences float
around for too long or they'll dissipate, although they have a pretty
large life so I wouldn't worry too much about this.  However, pretty
much everytime I kill an enemy, I'll jump or roll away so I'm out of
range of the natural essence absorb range, then look for an
opportunity to charge up for the next.

Particularly look for opportunities to kill multiple essences with
either ultimates, since all kills will yield extra essence.  If you
don't kill an enemy with an attack, though, there is no benefit, so
don't waste this on enemies that may not die such as "zombies".

For an ultimate attack, you need two yellow essences, or just a single
blue or red.  It does not matter what size these are.  So if you kill
a puny "bat" and get a small blue essence, then your next attack will
be a full ultimate.  Hence, generally don't bother using essence that
you got from an ultimate attack for another, this doesn't give you
much benefit since you're sacrificing a pretty large essence, unless
you're able to kill multiple enemies with it.  Instead, the pattern to
use is: kill two enemies normally, use their essence to kill another,
absorb that essence naturally, start over.

Some enemies, such as "fiend officers", killed by ultimate attacks
will yield two yellow essences, this can be a good setup for launching
another ultimate attack.  Again, I usually don't do this though unless
I'm sure my ultimate attack will hit and kill multiple enemies,
otherwise you're just exchanging one pair of big essences for another.

Smaller fiends such as "bats" are good practice for essence.  You can
easily kill two bats using your shurikens, then charge up for an
ultimate against the rest.  This yields a considerable amount of gold
for little effort and risk.  And since "bats" always regenerate when
you revisit an area, you can do this indefinitely to get lots of gold
and health.

Charged attacks always yield gold, so don't use them if you're low on
health or ninpo and are hoping to get some appropriate essence to
replenish.  However, they yeild a ton of gold, around five times as
much as if you killed the enemy normally, so it's often worth taking
damage just to get an ultimate off since you can always use some of
the gold rewarded to buy more elixers.

Charged attacks leave you mostly invulnerable.  The sword charged
attacks can be interrupted if someone hits you with a projectile or
what not while you're flashing towards them.  If you actually connect,
you'll continue throw an opponent and that portion is invulnerable, so
this is useful against bosses such as the "horsemen" mini-bosses: wait
until a horse is nearly open you, charge Y and you'll go right through
it.  This works whether you've absorbed essences or not.

For some weapons' charged attacks such as Dabilahro's, Ryu will launch
into the air and come down with his weapon.  I find these to be
superior because there is less chance of interruption.  In other
words, even if that "Fiend Officer" is lining up to blast you with a
fireball, you can use Dabilahro's charged attack to hop over that and
clobber him.

Some weapons have multiple types of charged attacks.  The Dragon Sword
has a spin charged attack that is a bit harder to use but is effective
in various situations such as when fighting bats or surrounded by many
enemies.

Charged attacks are auto-aiming.  They will always target the nearest
enemy, regardless of what direction you're facing.  You can charge
them up and then unleash them even when you can't see anything from
your point of view.  As long as something is nearby, Ryu will attempt
to hit it.

Charged attacks cannot be blocked.


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=== III. Weapons
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The nice part about learning moves and techniques is that you can
practice almost all of them, with the exception of throws and essence
attacks, without any enemies around.  Pick a large room and play
around with your techniques until you're comfortable executing them,
then find an enemy and practice on it.  When you pick up a weapon, or
when you upgrade it, take a look at the moves list and see what's
available, then practice until you're comfortable.  I mainly use the
Dragon Sword and Unlabored Flawlessness, so I'll focus on those.

Weapon upgrades should generally be prioritized since they make
a pretty substantial improvement.  However, if you're not in need
of using the particular weapon, you can hold off.  For example,
you can go through the whole game just using the Dragon Sword,
there is never a situation where you absolutely need to equip another
weapon nor one where it is even obviously beneficial to do so.  So,
you can leave your other weapons unupgraded, but definitely get
your Dragon Sword upgrades as soon as they are available.

******************************
A. Common Attacks
******************************

(While blocking) Y or X, X : "Counter attacks techniques" 
This is a great, nearly foolproof way of attacking enemies while
keeping yourself safe.  If there's space between or after an attack
that you blocked, Ryu will execute a fairly nice counter move.
Sometimes you're not able to counter if there are multiple enemies
attacking at once.  No problem, just keep mashing Y or X until you get
it off.  Some weapons' counters leave you less exposed than others.
For example, the heavy weapons tend to just do a single hard swing
versus a combo that can get interrupted by nearby enemies.  The
"Unlabored Flawlessness" for example uses a simple one swing counter
that does pretty massive damage.

Note that while countering, you typically won't absorb nearby essence.
This provides an easy way to rack up essence for your ultimate techniques:
kill one enemy, then keep down block and counter another one to death,
then you have two essences to use against a third enemy.

If you're having trouble countering, try to hit the Y button right before
the enemy connects with his attack.  Don't just mash it frantically or
Ryu will tend not to counter.  Instead, you just need to practice hitting
it at the right time.  Experiment against enemies that don't throw such
as "black ninjas" until you're comfortable with it.

X, Y, X, X, X, Y : "Izuna Drop" 
This is a nice attack that ends with a throw that does area effect
damage as well as good damage to the target.  You can do this to any
enemey that can be launched through X,Y.  In the air, press X for
three more slash attacks, then Y and Ryu will grab the target and pile
drive it into the ground.  You can't practice the throw part of this
move without an enemy, but you can certainly practice the rest of it
to get the timing down.  For the Dragon Sword, I believe you can't
actually get 3 slashes off in the air without a target, but this does
work with the Unlabored Flawlessness and other weapons.  

There's little drawback to using this move, so I'd just do it at every
opportunity.  It does a lot of damage and will down your enemy so that
if your enemy is for some reason not dead at the end, you can finish
him off with "fiend sealer".

Some enemies can hit you out of the air so be careful though when doing 
this around multiple enemies that have leaping attacks.  However, in
general, you are safer in the air than on the ground since fewer enemies
can attack you in the air and those attacks tend to be inaccurate.  So
totally abuse "Izuna Drop", it is one of the safest combos to perform
while in a crowd.  

"Izuna Drop" will does area effect damage when you land, knocking down
and even killing weaker enemies in the same way as "diving cicada". 
Because of this, Ryu is relatively safe when he finishes the combo,
just hold down block or roll away from counterattacks.

"Izuna Drop" will also put you at head level with some of the larger
enemies such as dragons and bosses so that you can hit them even while
they're on the ground and even though you can't launch them into the
air.  Many large enemies don't have effective air attacks, so this
leaves you relatively safe.

(While jumping up) X, X, X, X : "Blade of Nirrti" (lvl2)
This and its cousin, X X X Y, are basically the aerial equivalents of
the Izuna drop where your target is already in the air.  Most enemies
don't spend much time in the air so this may seem of limited
usefulness.  

The Unlabored Flawlessness can perform the full combo (without the
throw at the end though) in the air even if there is no target.  For
the swords, you'll only do the first slash and then land if you didn't
hit anything with it.  Some enemies are tall enough that you can hit
them with them with some or all of the attacks even when they're on
the ground.  You of course won't be able to throw them with the final
Y if you are doing that version, but you can do pretty massive damage.
I particularly like using this with the Unlabored Flawlessness against
"dragons", "cyclops", and bosses.  It's a far safer way to execute a
combo because while you're in the air, nearby enemies can have trouble
hitting you.

(While jumping over enemy) Y : "Gullotine Throw" 
This grabs a target and flips it into the ground.  You can often
follow up by pressing Y next to the downed target for the "fiend
sealer" move and kill it.  I usually prefer "flying swallow" to this,
so this only comes out accidentally on its own when I'm trying to
"flying swallow."  That said, it's not a bad move.

(After flying bird flip) Y : "Diving Cicada Slash" 
As explained above, you can execute this after a jump or "flying bird
flip", it is one of the best moves in the game since it does good
damage, enemies rarely block it, and the recovery time is good enough
that you can get outta there before something counter attacks you.  I
like using this particularly against big enemeis such as dragons, or
whenever I'm fighting a swarm of enemies such as "beetles" or groups
of "wolverines".  This is also good for clearing out a shaft of bats:
jump into the shaft, then hit Y to plunge down through it with your
sword downward killing everything in your path.

(While next to downed enemy) Y : "Fiend Sealer" 
This is a good finishing move for killing a downed enemy.  I've seen
enemies get up after this attack, although it's rare.  The attack is
fairly slow though and sometimes Ryu will do "azure dragon" (a normal
attack when you press Y near a standing target) against another
target.  You can also hit downed enemies with normal attacks so
sometimes that's a better option since it doesn't leave you so
exposed.

If you down multiple targets, you can often hit Y in quick succession
to finish them each off.

This attack doesn't always kill a target, particularly in very
hard mode.  However, it'll bring your target back down and you
can "fiend sealer" him again until dead.  

(While blocking) Any Direction : "Reverse Wind"
As mentioned above, this is a great way to dodge opponents' attacks,
cut short your block stun after you block an attack, and generally
move around while defending.  Since rolling is about as fast as
walking, and you can roll in any direction and in succession, there's
often no good reason to be running around normally during combat when
you could be rolling.  Remember that you can jump out of a roll.

(While jumping near enemy) A : "Wind Path" 
This lets you bounce off an enemy's head and keep going, using it like
a spring.  It doesn't do damage, but is useful for getting around
enemies or for setting up attacks.  For example, you can bounce off an
enemy and then do "diving cicada slash" right back into it.

(While on a wall) A : "Flying Bird Flip"
This is a double jump maneuver that gets you more height.  I'll often
use this for setting up "diving cicada slash."

X+A : "Wind Run" 
This jumps you towards the nearest enemy, or forwards as if you had
just hit A if there is none nearby.  You can differentiate this from a
nomrmal jump because Ryu will make a noise while jumping.  Great for
setting up "flying swallow."

******************************
B. Dragon Sword
******************************

You can get through the whole game just using your Dragon Sword, it's
a good weapon with a lot of powerful techniques and it only gets
better as it upgrades through the game.

Shiver writes that the True Dragon Sword (fully upgraded sword)
does as much damage per strike as the Dabilahro so it's quite 
powerful even compared to heavy weapons.

X, X, X : "Crimson Slash" 
This is a basic combo.  Nothing much to speak of here, it's short
enough that you can execute it often without getting interrupted by
another enemy or against a target that doesn't flinch.

X, X, Y : "Tiger Roar" 
This is a basic combo that I usually only do accidentally when I'm
trying for the longer "Blade of the Dragon's Tail" (which starts off
with these attacks) or the Izuna Drop (if I hit X twice accidentally).
Because this combo is short, it's useful against enemies that don't
flinch such as bosses and "dragons" because you can often block before 
they counter. 

X, X, Right X, Y : "Fiend's Bane Kick" 
An interesting looking combo that ends with 3 kicks.  However, since
the kicks never knock down the target unless it is killed, I shy away
from using it because it is a long combo that ends you close to an
opponent.  I do use this against "Mounted Samurai", see the "Bosses"
section for more information.

Right X, X, Forward Y : (No name)
Pushing right and hitting X gives a different attack than running
right then hitting X.  You can practice this against no target to
get a feel for how to execute each type of attack.  Since there
is no indication of this in the moves list, it can initially be
a bit confusing.

This is either a pseudo combo or an unlisted combo.  It is very useful
though against mobile enemies such as "Mounted Horsemen" or enemies
that are at low/medium range since the first attack is a half-roll
towards your target.  The second X does a slash through the target and
continues your forward motion, the third can either be X, Y, or
forward Y depending on whether you want a light slash, heavy slash, or
"Thunderclap Kick" double forward kick.  Again, the main benefit of
this attack is that it has a lot of reach since you're moving forward
during each attack.  This is also great when you've rolled away from
an enemy and want to immediately counterattack (e.g. you'll do this
a lot against the Vigoorian Commando).

X, Y, X, Y : (No name)
For whatever reason, this combo is not listed in the techniques of the
Dragon Sword when you start the game, so it has no name.  This is a
smaller version of the "Izuna Drop" that I almost exclusively use in
early game before I have access to Izuna Drop.  The Y launches the
opponent into the air, this is followed by one slash in the air and
then a plunge downward.  This attack sends the enemy to the ground so
if for some reason it's not dead, you can finish it off quickly using
the "Fiend Sealer" Y attack.  I use this all the time during level 1,
the fact that half the hits are in the air makes this fairly safe to
use even in crowds.

Enemies tend not to be good about blocking attacks that come
from the air, so this is a useful combo to execute in its entirety
even if the enemy blocks the first X, Y hit.  Just cut it short
and do X, Y, Y, and usually the downward Y will hit them even
on the hardest difficulty level.

X, X, Y, Y, Y : "Blade of the Dragon's Tail" (lvl3)
This is my favorite on-the-ground move.  It does a series of slashes
ending with one that hits enemies in all directions.  The drawback is
that this is a fairly long combo and can be interrupted by enemies
nearby or by an enemy that does not flinch, and it may not knock down
the opponent.  I'll use this against isolated enemies, and against
"dragons" as long as I see them start to flinch from the first blows
(otherwise I'll abort and jump out of the way since they'll probably
throw me out of it).

X, Hold Y, Y : "Blade of the Twin Dragons" (lvl4)
Another long chain that does a lot of damage.  Press X for the first
slash, then press and hold Y for a longer attack, release Y when
that's done and press it again for a series of kicks and blows.  A
good attack but it takes a while to execute, I look at it more as a
novelty particularly since it's not as easy to pull off.

Hold Y : "Charged attack" 
Charged attacks will allow you to pass through enemies, even if you
have 0 essence, so you can damage some bosses safely this way through
certain attacks.  However, charged attacks with zero essence are
blockable.  Still, they have pretty good range, automatically hone
in on the closest enemy, and can damage multiple enemies.  Charged
attacks can also decapitate "zombies".

You can get off a charged attack after jumping if you press Y right
before you land.  This does a very quick charge and is sometimes
safeer than charging while on the ground.  I'll often do this while
coming down from a combo in the air.

Circle, Hold Y : "Charged attack"
These spin Ryu in a whirlwind, doing pretty massive damage to
everything around particularly for the ultimate.  You don't have to do
the circle quickly, just rotate your controller counterclockwise one
revolution then press (or press and hold for charged attack) Y.  I
save these for "beetles" and "bats" since those will often get to
fairly close proximity or be above me such that a normal ultimate
attack may miss them.  This is sometimes fairly difficult to pull off
in the heat of battle.

X, Y, X, X, X, (delay), Y
This isn't a true combo, but still is relatively useful to learn.
As mentioned above, pressing Y right before you land gives a quick
charge.  Sometimes I'll pop one enemy into the air and start the
Izuna drop, but not finish with the last Y, instead using it for
the quick charge when I land.  Since enemies tend to gather
around while you're in the air, this becomes very effective for
doing massive damage or for a quick ultimate.  You can of course
do this with just X, Y, X, (delay), Y if you want to cut the
combo short or are in early game before you have the combo
available.

(While jumping towards enemy) Y : "Flying Swallow" (lvl2)
This is one of the most useful moves in the game and against bosses.
Once you have this available early in the game when you upgrade
your sword to level 2, you will use it *all the time*.  It makes
some enemies, even including the final boss, trivially easy to
kill.  This is the reason to get your lvl2 upgrade as soon as
possible, i.e. get it at the start of level 3.

Ryu will shoot through an opponent, doing pretty good damage and
ending on the other side at a fair distance.  This move can be blocked
although enemies infrequently do so.  Once your weapon is at level 2,
use this almost exclusively to take down enemies safely.  The only
drawback is that there is a recovery time where you're vulnerable from
other enemies, so be careful about using this if your target is in
front of other enemies.

The other thing to watch for is that if you're not close enough to an
enemy when you do this, then Ryu will execut the lame "Helmet
Splitter" technique, which is a normal jumping Y where he thrusts his
sword upward.  This usually means that you'll get hit pretty hard when
you come down since that attack is not going to hit your opponent.  I
mitigate this by using "flying swallow" in conjunction with the
"reverse wind" and "wind run" techniques, as I mentioned above.  First
roll towards an enemy by moving towards him while blocking, then hit
X+A to jump towards him, then hit Y to execute this attack.  You're
far more likely to be within range of an enemy that started in the
distance than if you, say, just jumped towards the target without
first rolling in his direction.

(While jumping) Forward X : "Air Destruction Slash"
This is a useful attack for hitting things in the air, and is
absolutely critical when you're facing the "pirahnas" near end game.
It has a pretty good area of effect, and the recovery time is decent
such that you can continue keep performing it back to back.  One of
the nice features of this attack is that it pretty much hits
everything around you, hence you're reasonably safe from enemies in
the air while executing this.  You're only exposed when you hit the
ground and are recovering.

******************************
C. Dabilahro
******************************

This is a good heavy hitter weapon to use against certain opponents
until you get Unlabored Flawlessness.  The weapon both sounds
impressive and does good damage, it has some nice ground combos that
will kill even dragons in one sequence.  As soon as you get this,
upgrade it to level 3.  

Combos for heavy weapons take a while to start off and execute, so
generally you'll want to start swinging this weapon after you block or
roll out of an attack.  Ryu has to first grab the weapon off his back
before he starts the attacks, so you're most vulnerable when starting
off any attack.  For example, against dragons, I'll wait until I see
them start to swipe, "reverse wind" to roll away from it, then
immediately start a combo while the dragon is still finishing off its
attack.  

If you press towards an enemy while starting a technique, Ryu will
start off thrusting the sword in the direction of the enemy and
closing the distance.  This is one of the safer ways to execute
combos, because you can start off at a relative safe range from an
enemy and then do the combo into the enemy.  Also, you don't need to
do the full combo in order to be effective.  If you're worried about
getting hit while drawing your sword during the start of a combo, back
off and do the combo.  The first couple of swings will hit air but
this will also move you towards your opponent and the other swings
will connect.

Generally these techniques have enough area effect that they'll hit
multiple enemies if some are nearby even while you're targetting only
one explicitly.  And once the combo is started, the next attacks come
out fairly quickly for most heavy weapons.  If you kill one in the
middle of a combo, Ryu will immediately finish the combo off
on the next.

X, X, X, X : "Destroyer of Armies"
A basic attack, but why use this when there are better chains when 
the weapon is upgraded.

X, X, X, X : "Flaming Hell Slash"
Better than the above but the level3 attacks are superior in general 
unless you want a shorter combo.

X, X, X, X, X : "Whirling Empire Blade" (Lvl 3)
Better than the basic attack, but you might as well finish off with 
Y for the "Flaming Hell Slash".

X, X, X, X, X, Y : "Flaming Hell Slash" (Lvl 3)
A great technique that will finish off even most large enemies such 
as "dragons" if you get the whole thing off.  I favor using this combo.

******************************
D. Unlabored Flawlessness
******************************

This is the max upgrade of the Wooden Sword, it is akin to the
Dabilahro but more powerful and with more range.  Upgrading all the
way costs a lot of gold, but I find that it's worth it since you
should be racking up gold at least near the end of the game anyway.
More on getting gold later, but anyway this is a rather fun weapon to
play around with.

I won't go through the entire moves list because the strategy and
execution of moves are similar as with the Dabilahro.  Suffice to say,
just about any combo you can execute with this weapon does good damage
and has a massive area of effect.  Starting off combos is the most
difficult part but use the suggestions from Dabilahro.

This weapon is not absolutely better than the Dragon Sword in all
circumstances.  I primarily use it for fun or when tackling large
opponents such as when I'd ordinarily use Dabilharo.  Heavy weapons
in general can either be incredibly strong or incredibly frustrating.
Once you're swinging, enemies tend to fall quickly and impressively.
But if you're not careful, you can repeatedly get hit or interrupted
when starting off your combos.  One of the biggest drawbacks of
heavy weapons is that you won't have your bread and butter "flying
swallow" move available.  That said, you can get fairly proficient
with Dabilahro or Unlabored Flawlessness, it just takes a slightly
different mindset and more care against enemies with projectiles
and throws.

******************************
E. Kitetsu
******************************

This is similar to the Dragon Sword, has some more interesting moves,
but drains life when equipped.  You can use the Armlet of Tranquility
to cancel out the life draining effects.  Or later on as your health
bar gets bigger, the life drain is not as noticeable so it becomes
more worth using even without Tranquility.  I haven't experimented
around with this to a large extent but I'll share what I've learned.

One interesting visual effect is that your sword actually turns into
two for some combos, such that Ryu uses two swords and then merges
them back into one.  Very cool.

X, X, Forward X, X, X, X, X, X, X, X : "Dead Soul Bind"
This is your life sucking move.  The forward X impales the weapon into
your opponent, then hit X rapidly afterward to start sucking life.
You're invulnerable during this move.  This is a fairly decent way to
regain health.

Y : "Stab of Extinction"
This throws your sword at a nearby opponent, it works the same way as
the Windmill Shuriken in that your sword is still in your possession
after use.  It's a slow but fairly decent ranged attack.

(While jumping towards enemy) Y : "Flying Swallow"
Remember that you can do "flying swallow" with this weapon as well as
the Dragon Sword, it's just as useful here.

******************************
F. Vigoorian Flail
******************************

The Flail and Nunchakus function similarly, with the flail being
slightly slower but packing more power.  Both do relatively little
damage, but look impressive and can be used to setup large chains
of combos.  I never use the Nunchakus because the damage is not
appreciable enough.  The Flail is good in a variety of situations
but never critical.  It is particularly effective against small
enemies since in those situations the damage output is not an 
important factor.  For example, if for some reason you don't
want to use the swords against "pirahnas", the Flail works decently
well too on the ground.  The Flail is also useful in the Vigoorian
Emperor fight for smashing all those skulls that it sends at you.
 _____________________________
| "Trung" writes:
If you do the regular XXXXXX combo, omit the last hit because it is 
pretty laggy and leaves you open, whereas if you just do the first 5, 
you have an advantage of speed and can still finish off anyway you 
want, usually with the XXY or XY combo.
______________________________|
 _____________________________
| "phayte" writes:
I find that the nunchucks and flails are awesome at defeating the
black spider ninjas. Every encounter with them (after some practice)
they could not touch me for the simple fact that the flails hit all 3
or 4 of them so they had no time to attack me.  If one happens to jump
away then you jump away and they cannot do their jump attack(which
always hit me). Then, when they are all together again start with the
flail. When there are only 1 or 2 left and they start backing off a
lot then hit them with the windmill shuriken. After some practice I
got good at this method and I absolutely murder them.
______________________________|

The only caution I have against black ninjas is that while you're
attacking one with your flail, others will tend to stick incendiary
shurikens on you.  I personally find that the dragon sword is much
more trustworthy.  Against black ninjas, I don't like to let go
of the block button for too long.

"Shiver" writes that the Vigoorian Flail is great in missions 8 and
9 against Vigoorian marines, given that it does have a flying
swallow and a good chaining combo using forward X.

In general, I find that the nunchakus and flails work best against
single human-sized enemies.  You can just keep mashing the X button
and they won't have an opportunity to get in an attack, regardless
of whether they block the first hits.  Other than that, I find that
they don't do enough damage and leave you too exposed to enemies
not being immediately hit by your attack.

==================================================
=== III. OTHER ATTACKS
==================================================
==================================================

******************************
A. Projectiles
******************************

Projectiles are fairly self explanatory.  All are auto-aiming, some
such as bows can be manually targetted and zoomed.  I don't make heavy
use of projectiles.  In all cases where you'll have to use projectiles
against bosses, there will be an unlimited stash nearby.  Examples
include level 2 in the horseman mini-boss arena, and later against the
tank and helicopter mini-bosses.

Some projectiles need to be aimed in order to be effective.  For
example, against "Alma" incarnation #2, if you just shoot at her then
it'll hit an area that is protected.  If you aim, you can do some
damage, but this is hardly ever worth it unless you are using the
explosive or core arrows.

Normal shuriken
------------------------------
Does little or no damage to most enemies.  Is marginally useful against 
some bosses if you don't want to waste other ammo.  The best use is 
against bats, just jump and hit B a few times and the shurikens will
kill them quickly.

Windmill shuriken
------------------------------
Does decent damage, has mediocre range.  Often worth shooting off when 
enemies first appear at range, or when jumping towards an enemy.  Useful 
against bats and some bosses such as "Eels".  

Incendiary shuriken
------------------------------
Does pretty good damage, I neither favor these or not.  These are sometimes
useful against "zombies" on ledges if I can't hit them with the bow, because
you can throw the incendiary shuriken while jumping whereas you can't
shoot the bow while jumping.

Normal arrows
------------------------------
Practically free, the only drawback is that you can only carry 15.
Ryu has pretty good aim with these so they work well against most
targets, particularly the various "horsemen" in level 2.  Arrows are
very useful against the "fire dragons" you'll find standing in the lava
in the magma caverns.  Those enemies are immoblie and can only attack with 
their breath, so you can safely stand away and pick them off with arrows.

Explosive arrows
------------------------------
Like normal arrows but these do more damage and cost more.  Very useful 
against most bosses.  

APFSDS cores
------------------------------
Even better than explosive arrows, these do significant damage but are
also more expensive.  I typically only use these against the
mini-bosses where they are needed and can be replenished, such as
"tanks" and "helicopters".  Later on in the game, when you're fighting
big bosses that stay at range and have lots of money racked up, you
can use cores fairly indiscriminately.

******************************
B. Ninpo
******************************

Ninpo magic is very strong, and hence you only get a limited supply of
it and the replenishment items are rather expensive.  Ninpo is
refilled after every level so I don't mind being liberal with my use
of them.  You'll get fewer bonus points at the end from exhausting
ninpo but that's only a minor drawback.

You'll get enough upgrades to max out all your Ninpos eventually
through the game.  I tend to stick with the Inferno and Inazuma.  Here
is my basic summary: 
1) Don't use Fire Wheels unless it's the only Ninpo you have available.
2) Use Inferno against bosses and tough single enemies.
3) Use Ice Storm when surrounded by multiple tough enemies.
4) Use Inazuma when you need to hit many weak or medium enemies.

1. Types
------------------------------
Fire Wheels
This is only useful until you get Inferno, i.e. you'll use it
when it's the only thing available and then never touch it for
the remainder of the game.  Its duration is fairly short, and it
can't be upgraded.

Inferno 
This does fire damage to immediately surrounding enemies, then blasts
one target with a large fireball for pretty massive damage.  When you
get this, you should start using it until you have Inazuma, then you
should largely use Inazuma afterward except against bosses.

Ice Storm
I rarely use this Ninpo.  Generally either Inferno or Inazuma are
superior, and you should definitely upgrade those first.  Once
you have lvl 3 ice storm, though, it is not a bad option when you
are surrounded by more powerful enemies.  Inazuma doesn't seem to
pack as much damage against enemies so tougher ones such as "cyclops"
and the "dragons" will tend to survive a casting.  However, ice storm
does fairly appreciable damage.  

Inazuma
This, like Inferno, does damage to immediately surrounding enemies
while you're in the casting animation, then blasts all enemies on the
screen for good damage.  This typically will kill all enemies around
you except for particularly tough ones such as the "Cyclops".

So, Inazuma does damage against a lot of enemies, and Inferno is good
for damaging single enemies.  Hence, use Inferno against bosses.  Note
that Inferno can be dodged, so you don't want to be reckless about
firing it off.  Against bosses, wait until you're fairly close so that
they get hit and stunned by the casting animation, then blasted by the
fireball.  This is particularly useful against the "Alma"
incarnations.

Using Ninpos also leaves you invulnerable during the entire casting
time.  Some enemy attacks and throws, particularly of bosses, are hard
to dodge even if you see them coming.  You can Ninpo your way through
those instead.

2. Strategies
------------------------------
Ninpos are great ways to setup ultimate attacks since they'll kill
multiple enemies.  When fighting those swarms of regenerating
"beetles", this is a great way t rack up gold.  Unleash your Ninpo,
hold down Y so that you immediately charge up essences, wait a second
until you see or hear new "beetles" respawn, then unleash your
ultimate and hopefully kill several with it.  The "beetles" and
"wolverines" in particular can sometimes release red essence so you
have a good chance of replenishing your ki.  When doing this, wait
until you're surrounded by your enemies so that you kill as many as
possible in the casting animation.  Often when this happens, new ones
will respawn just in time to get blasted by the actual attack.  For
example, with the "beetles", I can kill 2 of them while starting up
Inazuma, then 2 will appear to take their place and get blasted by the
actual lightning attack.

Get familiar with which enemies drop red essence.  This typically has
nothing to do with how powerful the enemy is etc.; some weak enemies
drop a lot of red essence, some strong enemies never do so.  If you
are full on ki and an enemy drops red, either absorb it for an
ultimate attack (since it only takes 1 red essence to perform a lvl2
charged attack) or immediately cast a Ninpo.  Otherwise if you absorb
it, it's wasted.  This is especially critical when fighting respawning
enemies, you really want to use ki as much as you can manage to do so
and keep your essence bar full because each Imazuma will likely kill
many enemies.  For example, "pirahnas" drop a LOT of red essence.  You
can get through all "pirahna" areas just by using jumping forward X
with your Dragon Sword, but you can also take advantage of using your
Ninpo whenever you see red essence drop.  Often this creates a chain
reaction -- one red essence appears, you Ninpo and kill 5 other
"pirahnas" and one of them drops yet another red essence, etc.

Of course, fighting "pirahnas" and other enemies such as "dragons"
that drop red essence is also a great way to recharge your Ninpo.  I
rarely need to use any ki regeneration items because of this.


==================================================
=== IV. Enemies
==================================================
==================================================

******************************
A. Ninja Types
******************************

1. Ninja, Brown
------------------------------
You'll encounter them in early game, and only have trouble with them
because you're still learning the game.  Practice blocking, rolling,
and doing ultimates against them.  Just about anything works, although
X,Y,X,Y is one of the safer ways to handle them in crowds.  Since they
tend to stay near you and attack infrequently, "brown ninjas" are
great fodder for ultimates.  Even a linear level 1 charged Y attack
can take out two or three heads at once and thus net you quite a bit
of gold.

Brown ninjas tend to use single or short attacks so you can often
block their attack and then immediately let go of block and start
your own combo.  In harder difficulty levels, brown ninjas start
to throw shurikens more frequently, these can interrupt your combos
and stun you.

2. Ninja, White
------------------------------
They're stronger than "brown ninjas", but you can use the same
techniques against them as with "brown ninjas".  They tend to throw
shurikens fairly frequently, which not only does damage but also
interrupts your combos.  They have a bit more life and thus can
survive a single X,X,X or X,X,Y combo.  I like doing the X,Y,X,Y 
on them, which is a stronger knock down attack.  If they're still
alive after that, hitting Y for "fiend sealer" on top of them will
finish them off.

"White ninjas" tend to use 4-hit combos.  This gets slightly tricky
for the unwary because the fourth hit is a delayed hopping attack.
Don't let go of the block button too soon; i.e. wait until you see the
"white ninja" finish its entire attack sequence.

Since "white ninjas" often drop blue essence, and there are places
where they respawn whenever you enter the room, they're good for
replenishing health.  Blue essence also charges for an ultimate
attack, so you can use those to kill the "brown ninjas" that accompany
the "white ninjas" for lots of gold.

3. Ninja, Black
------------------------------
These are much more powerful than the brown and white varieties, and
can be extremely annoying.  They throw incendiary shurikens, these
will stick to you if you don't block and then blow up for significant
damage.  They also have fair blocking and melee attacks.  All in all,
they are quite an early game opponent.  Fortunately, like other
ninjas, they have no throw, so you can be patient and focus on
blocking until you see an opening.  Shurikens will be deflected by
your sword, so just look for when you see one land near you and roll
out of the way.  Since rolls are near invulnerable to attack, you
should rarely if ever take damage while doing this.  And most
shurikens won't land anywhere near you, so you don't have to worry
about getting away from them before they explode.

Unlike with many other enemies, I don't typically use jumping attacks
against black ninjas, apart from an occasional "flying swallow".  The
problem is that during recovery time, you'll liable to get nailed by a
shuriken.  Instead, block and counter, and let down your guard to
initiate a ground attack only once in a while when you see an opening.
Just be patient.  Against "black ninjas", I basically hold down block
and mash the Y button to counter.

******************************
B. Samurai Types
******************************

Samurai
------------------------------
Stronger than "ninjas", but with the same sorts of attacks and
weaknesses.  Block, roll, use short combos or diving Y, you know the
deal.  When "samurai horsemen" fall off, they become normal "samurai".

"Samurai" tend to attack with single slow attacks.  They use chains
less frequently.  They are in this sense not much better than brown
ninjas except that they have better blocking and take more hits to
kill.

Using X,Y,X,Y against them is useful since even if they block the X,Y
launch, they will generally not block the last Y.  Often if my target
blocks the X,Y, I finish the combo.  Instead, I'll end up doing
X,Y,wait,Y for the instant charged attack upon landing.  This works
well because it'll often cut through multiple "samurai" and they don't
tend to block it either.  Of course, if there is essence floating
around, this is a great safe way to safely use it.

When I knock down a "samurai", generally there's no time to "fiend
sealer" it with Y (and sometimes it won't die anyway esp.  in very
hard mode) since its buddies will be hacking away at you.  Typically
I'll just follow up with a X,X,Y or just a single X since the slash
will hit it when it's on the ground.  Or, I'll just start X,Y,X,Y
against the next target.

You can be patient with these guys because they don't throw.
Regardless, you're fairly safe even in very hard mode just mashing
X,Y,X,Y repeatedly.

Samurai, Mage
------------------------------
These guys can be incredibly annoying.  Whenever they can block an
attack, they instead phase out and then appear behind you.  Thus, be
careful about starting a combo when they're ready for it, you'll often
end up getting hit from behind while you whiff at empty air.  At
range, they'll attack with fireballs that can only be partially
blocked.  Fortunately they're worth a lot of essence, particularly if
you manage to get off a lvl1 or lvl2 ultimate.  I usually stick to
using the jumping Y "diving cicada slash" since it is a single
powerful attack and they often will not block it.  When on the ground
and closing distance, use block+move "reverse wind" rolls then jump as
you come out of it.  Unfortunately you won't have "flying swallow" yet
so there's no easy way to close distance and attack quickly at the
same time.

Be careful of their ground attacks, they do a quick set of slashes
that's heavily damaging.  For avoiding fireball projectiles, roll
or jump at the last instant as it's shooting the fireball.  If you
just jump or roll before the fireball is being launched, it'll
still hit you.  Blocking their fireballs isn't such a bad thing,
you'll just take minor damage.  The most annoying situation is
when you're fighting normal "samurai" and a "mage samurai" is off
in the distance repeatedly fireballing you.  In this case, I'd
roll and jump to get close to him, ignoring the regular "samurai".

When I face the "Mounted Samurai" boss, I'll use these guys' essence
to charge up ultimate attacks against the boss.  Generally this
involves me running to the end of the bridge where I can double jump
off the walls, and repeatedly performing "diving cicada" until I kill
a "mage".  Then use his essence to either kill another "mage" or
target the boss.  "Mages" often drop blue essence, remember you only
need one of those for an ultimate attack.

"Mage Samurai" have far less health than regular "samurai".  Even in
very hard mode, it often takes a single arrow to kill one.  A nice time
to pick them off is when they start a fireball -- they're stationary
and their fireball charge time is quite long so you can whip out
your bow and use the auto-aim to shoot them safely.  Since they
often travel in packs with regular "samurai", you can sometimes kill
them quickly then use their blue or red essence to ultimate one
or more of the accompanying "samurai".  Of course, it's more rewarding
to do the opposite, but a bit harder to pull off since "samurai"
drop yellow essence only.

Samurai, Horsemen
------------------------------
There are a couple of types of these.  One is archers, who run around
in a circle and shoot arrows.  The other is pikemen, who does melee
attacks including a nasty throw move where they impale you and drag
you around for considerable damage.  When you face these in the
horsemen arena, you'll have access to unlimited arrows.  Just quickly
fire off arrows, Ryu is fairly accurate even if you can't see your
opponent at all.  You can also use charged attacks to rip through the
horses.  Wait until a horse is about to run you over, then unleash
your attack and you'll go clean through it to the other side.  You can
often get off a short ground combo off such as X,X,X or X,X,Y afterward
since the horse will rear after you've hit it with the charged attack.

The most confusing thing about this fight is the camera angles; it's
difficult to see where your enemies are.  Just stay in motion so you
don't get impaled or run over.  If you're accurate with your bow,
you can manually aim for the riders and knock them off the horse
since this is much faster than shooting or slashing the horse to death.

See the "bosses" section on tips for beating these guys on harder
difficulty levels.

******************************
C. Vigoorian Types
******************************

Vigoorian, White
------------------------------
These are the first opponents you'll meet that will throw you through
a block, In addition, they carry pistols, which they'll use at long
range.  Use both the jumping Y "flying swallow" and jumping Y "diving
cicada slash" to get rid of them.  Once you have your windmill
shuriken, this is also a good weapon to unleash when you first see
them, it can do good damage and decapitate.  Other than that, use
basic combos, and roll while defending so you don't stay in the same
place too long for them to slit your throat.  The throw fortunately
doesn't actually hurt that much.

Usually "whites" are accompanied by a single "black".  I typically
kill the "whites" first and leave their essences behind so I can do an
ultimate on the "black".

In very hard difficulty level, whites will throw much more
aggressively, and it does significant damage.  You'll need to practice
your counters until you have them down (i.e. press the counter button
right as you block an attack).  If you miss a few chances, then you'll
probably get thrown right afterward.  Also to prevent getting thrown,
try rolling around or out of attacks.

BTW: You are generally invulnerable to gunfire while performing a
combo.

Vigoorian, Black
------------------------------
These are slightly more powerful than the whites, they wear black
uniforms and carry a shield.  They have far better blocking capability
so attempting combos when they're ready (i.e. facing you and not
recovering from an attack or in the process of performing one) usually
means you'll get countered at the end of your combo.  The same
techniques against whites works fine here, just don't do as many
ground combos unless you have an opening.  You can alternatively use
the Nunchakus or Vigoorian Flail to take care of "blacks" once they
are the only targets left.  Just keep mashing the X button and the
"black" won't have space to land a hit.

In very hard difficulty level, the blacks block extremely well and
take multiple Y "fiend sealer" attacks to kill once downed.  Still
use the same tactics against whites, although expect that for X,Y,X,Y
you'll only hit them in the last downward Y.

Vigoorian, Blue
------------------------------
These guys are dressed in blue and launch grenades at you for
significant damage.  Stay on the move and try to close the distance to
them as quickly as possible, they generally come with other MSATs but
are far more dangerous so take them out first.  Since grenades don't
explode on impact, you can just run, roll, or jump towards them until
you're in range, then dispose of them like with other "Vigoorians".
Your jumping "diving cicada" and "flying swallow" are of course useful
here.

Vigoorian, Marine
------------------------------
These have automatic weapons and a throw where they stab with a
bayonet and then throw.  The machine gun attacks can be blocked just
like normal attacks, although they can really keep you pinned down.
Use standard roll+jump+flying swallow, or wall running, to close
distance just as with other enemies that favor using projectiles.

Vigoorian, Rocket Launcher
------------------------------
These are the toughest "Vigoorians" you'll meet.  They launch rockets
with good accuracy, the rockets themselves do considerable damage and
knock you back.  When approaching them at range, I use wall running,
or roll + jump + "flying swallow".  Be very careful about the last
because if you're not in range and attempt to "flying swallow", Ryu
will jump straight up and hit nothing and get creamed by a rocket on
his way down.  Generally if you're in motion and not running directly
towards the target, it won't be able to hit you with a rocket.  Or
jump occasoinally.  Note that even at close range, they'll still blast
you with a rocket, so doing a slow attack that lands you in the middle
of these guys is not generally recommended.  You'll even get hit when
recovering from "flying swallow".

I don't have a foolproof way of killing these guys.  Staying in the
air is as usual not a bad idea.  Fortunately you don't encounter them
often.

Fiend Officer
------------------------------
These guys are tough, I put them in this section because they replace
the Vigoorians later in the same areas.  They have a projectile
attack that does a lot of damage, they have good melee attacks, they
will aggressively throw you, they block well so you cannot just
"flying swallow" them to death.  I have no consistent way of killing
them without losing health.  Just be careful not to be caught at range
because once you're fireballed, they'll repeatedly fireball you and
you will take massive damage in succession.  Use rolls and jumps to
close the distance, take advantage of flying attacks since they won't
generally hit you out of those.  You can also use Ninpo but they don't
drop red essence and they're common enough in later game that you have
to learn how to fight them the good old fashioned way eventually.

Sometimes if I'm at a loss, I'll just block and roll and let them
throw me occasionally.  Their throws don't hurt nearly as much as
their other attacks.  However, blocking also sometimes triggers them
to start fireballing, which hurts a lot more than anything else
they can do to you.  So weigh your options carefully.

******************************
D. Dragon Types
******************************

Dragon, Red
------------------------------
These guys are pretty scary when you first meet them.  They look like
red and black bipeds, a cross between a dragon and demon.  They take a
lot of damage, don't always flinch from attacks, and have a pretty
vicious throw.

As usual, "diving cicada" and "flying swallow" work well here.  When
they come in packs, try separating them so that you can focus on one
at a time.  If you do a ground combo, watch to see if the target
flinches; if it doesn't, stop your attack and jump out of the way or
you're liable to get countered.  You can also use the "Izuna Drop" or
its jumping version against them when using a heavy weapon such
as Unlabored Flawleesness, this of course won't throw them but
it'll put you in the air where it's harder for them to attack you
back.

If you're brave, or if you have one "dragon" isolated, you can also just
hold down your block and roll out of the way of its attack, then
counter.  All dragons have pretty slow attacks so you can see them
rearing up before they swing.  Roll to either side, then unleash a
full combo on them.

Dragon, Ice or Flame
------------------------------
These are similar to "red dragons" except that in addition to normal
attacks, they can also spew out a breath attack.  The breath attack
cannot be blocked, so just roll or jump out of the way.  Flame dragons
sometimes appear standing in lava and are stationary.  They make great
target practice for arrows in this case; around 5 normal arrows will
kill them outright.  Or, wait until they breathe, then run up to the
edge where they're standing and smash them before they can breathe
again.

I like using heavier weapons against dragons.  Dabilahro will normally
kill a dragon outright using a standard full combo.

******************************
E. Imp Types
******************************

Imp, Brown
------------------------------
These should be pretty easy to kill by the time you get to them.  They
do not throw, but have a habit of disappearing into the ground where
they're invulnerable and then popping up for a melee attack.  The
easiest way to kill imps is to hold down your block and counter.  The
heavier weapons work very well for countering, or you can just stab
them when they're down with "Fiend Sealer" after your counter knocks
them over if you're using the Dragon Sword.

Brown imps are good practice for ultimate combos.  They tend to just
stay at a mid distance from you, then come in for a quick attack, so
you can easily execute a charged attack at them while they're staring
at you doing nothing.

Imp, Pink
------------------------------
These are slightly stronger than their brown cousins, the techniques
to kill them are the same however.  Take out your Dabilahro, and press
X or Y madly while blocking their attacks to counter.  Or use charged
Y attacks.  Pink fiends are a thr eat because they come in hoardes and
often interrupt your combos or even your counters.  If you're using a
counter that does a combo such as with the Dragon Sword, be careful
not to counter if you're surrounded by a lot of fiends or you're
liable to get hit out of it.

Cyclops
------------------------------
These guys look like huge dark imps.  They have good melee attacks, a
nasty throw, and also a laser attack that cannot be blocked and does
heavy damage.  They are almost always accompanied by "imps".  I
generally try to close the distance and engage the "cyclops"
immediately, doing the best I can to avoid damage from the other
"imps".  Staying at range and getting pounded by their laser attack is
not good for your health.

I use either the Dragon Sword or Unlabored Flawlessness here.  The
jumping Izuna Drop attacks work fine against the "cyclops" as well as
they do on the "dragons" because both are large enough to get hit from
the air.  Be careful about using ultimates because they may not die
from the attack.

******************************
F. Zombie Types
******************************

Zombie
------------------------------
These guys are slow and take massive punishment.  They do not flinch
at all, so you'll just have to time your combos so that you jump out
of the way or block before they swing.  Zombies with heads have a
throw move where they'll tackle you.  Use "flying swallow" or charged
Y to decapitate them, this takes away that ability and will make them
sometimes swing in the wrong direction although it doesn't kill
them.  "Zombies"' attacks are all blockable even though they look
quite forceful.  Generally I like to use heavier weapons.  Doing
ultimates is risky in terms of wasting essence because they may not
die from the ultimate.

Jumping attacks such as "diving cicada" are of course effective.  
Unfortunately, projectiles such as windmill shuriken do not work against 
them.  If a "zombie" lands on you and starts eating you, mash your
buttons repeatedly to throw it off.

Zombie, Archer
------------------------------
These guys do pretty good damage with their bows.  You can't
decapitate them either.  They have no throw move, so just get close
and start hacking away.  Usually they appear at the back of a group of
zombies, they are the biggest threat so ignore the zombies and go
after the archers first.  Even blocked arrows cause you to reel pretty
significantly, this can knock you off of platforms or cause you to
flinch enough that you're open to the next attack.  "Zombie archers"
also don't tend to flinch very much while you're hitting them.  In
other words, they can still load an arrow and shoot you while you're
attacking. 

******************************
G. Flyer Types
******************************

Bats
------------------------------
"Bats" are trivially easy to kill, you can use either your windmill
shuriken or normal shurikens to destroy them.  Jump away from them and
throw, Ryu will auto target them.  Once you land and see the dead bats
start to dissolve, hold down Y to charge up your ulimate.  Bats are a
great way to get gold and health regen.  Blocking does not work
against bats so try not to get stuck in the middle of them.  When you
see them, always start by jumping away.  If you want to combat them
directly, you can use jumping X with the Dragon Sword.

Wasp
------------------------------
"Wasps" are good target practice for projectile weapons.  They move
fairly slowly and will occasionally charge for a single stinger attack.
Since "wasps" come in hoardes, they are also great for Ninpo fodder,
particularly since they have a fair chance of dropping red essence.
Use the standard jumping attacks against "wasps", just be sure not to
stay still and you'll be fine.  When you see them at a distance, pull
out your windmill shuriken and start throwing away.  Ultimate attacks
are of course great against them; when they're on level ground with
you, they float low enough that you can generally hit them with an
ultimate.

Reaper
------------------------------
"Reapers" float in the air and have a variety of interesting moves.
They'll teleport next to you and immediately attack, they have a
variety of normal attacks, and they'll also do a slow charge attack
that makes the ground under you glow and then does damage if you stay
within the region.

Any jumping attacks work well on "reapers".  Once you hit them, they'll
go down on the ground, and you can finish them off with a ground
attack.  Be really careful about their teleport move.  As with "samurai
mages", they'll attack as soon as they teleport in, so hold down your
block when you see them disappear and get ready to counter.

I favor using the Dragon Sword's jumping X,X,X,Y Izuna Drop" against 
"reapers".  Of course, the Y won't throw them like it does with regular 
targets, but it'll still do significant damage.

Pirahna
------------------------------
These are skeletal fish that hang out suspended in cooridors.  They
will drift around aimlessly, then suddenly fly towards you and latch
on.  Once one latches on, all his friends will come and start biting
too until you throw them off.  You do need to wiggle your controller
actively because if you just stand there doing nothing, they'll knock
you over and continue feeding.

These enemies can be incredibly annoying because they'll suck life
very quickly away.  And areas infested with them usually have quite a
few, so you'll have to continue to kill batches of them.

Staying on the ground and doing combos is not a great way to go,
usually when you're done with your combo then the "pirahnas" will all
converge on you.  Ninpo works very well because they have a great
chance of dropping red essence.  An easy rule is that whenever you're
full on Ninpo and you see one of the pirahnas drop a red essence,
immediately Ninpo and then grab that essence.

You can try ultimate attacks on "pirahnas" both for quick killing --
particularly with the True Dragon Sword -- and lots of points.
However, I don't generally recommend this -- by the time you meet
them, you'll have a lot of excess cash anyway, and ultimate attacks
leave you dangerously exposed while charging up.  That said,
"pirahnas" don't always attack you immediately even if you're right
next to them.  You can right next to a bunch, charge up an ultimate,
and get it off if you're quick.  They seem to have some random delay
time such that they'll float around for a while then attack.

The easiest way to kill "pirahnas" is by using one of your swords and
doing jumping X.  This attack hits everything around you and has a
decent recovery time.  Just keep jumping around hitting X and you'll
kill dozens of them in no time.

Once you master this, "pirahnas" become an easy way to regenerate life
and ki, or to get gold.

******************************
H. Swimmer Types
******************************

Fish
------------------------------
Not much to say here.  When you have the spear gun, killing these guys
are incredibly simple since Ryu will auto aim and the gun does decent
damage at decent rate of fire.  If you need to fight them with your
sword, either go along side them and hit X or Y, or wait until they
charge you and hit them with the same.  Generally, though, before you
have your spear gun, you can just swim past these guys.  Or, when
you're on the surface such as when you first meet them, you can pull
out your bow and pick them off with normal arrows.


==================================================
=== V. BOSSES
==================================================
==================================================

There are undoubtedly many guides out there for defeating bosses, so
I won't be giving as much attention to this section.  I'll only be
giving hints on defeating bosses on "very hard" mode.

******************************
A. Murai
******************************

I use the same techniques in very hard as in normal against "Murai".
The first relatively safe way to kill him is to just use "diving
cicada" repeatedly: Jump on the wall, "flying bird flip" off of it,
then hit Y.  He'll often block this, but it's not a big deal because
the attack will push him away anyway so you'll be safe from his
counter.  I typically just roll out of the way afterward.
Occasionally you'll get hit out of the air since his nunchaku have a
pretty good range upward.  To stop this from happening, just make sure
you don't jump at a wall when he's very close to you.  Time your Y so
that you hit it when he's performing his combo.  After the "flying
bird flip", you'll be in the air for quite some time and can hit Y
anytime during that.  The key to getting this to work is to do
your first jump as soon or right before he starts his 3-hit 
combo.  He'll be finishing off his combo as you come down with
"diving cicada" and you'll get your hit in.

"Murai" will use a standard 3-hit combo when you're on the ground.
This is predictable and easy to block, he'll do this combo once he
gets within a certain range and as long as you're not very close, you
won't even have to block any of the combo since his hits won't reach
you.  I've tried counterattacking or rolling into range during his
combos, those seem not to work.  However, if I do a simple X,X,Y or
X,X,X combo, then I can recover in time to block afterward as long as
he doens't throw me.  This can lead to us indefinitely doing 3-hit
combos against each other with neither person inflicting damage (until
"Murai" decides to throw me).

Sometimes after a 3-hit combo, "Murai" will do a very damaging charge
attack.  This is good news because that attack is easy to block and
you can get in a counter afterward.  Sometimes the attack will
completely miss you, especially if you're rolling while he attacks,
and he'll be completely open to a counter.  But even if you do block
it, you'll typically be able to get off some hits before he can
recover.  I generally just do X,X as a counter.  You can add the third
X or Y at the end but he'll always block that.  If you're moving, you
can perform the forward X,X,Y combo where the last two hits pass
through him, this will sometimes hit him all three times.  Sometimes 
"Murai" will do the charge attack repeatedly, particularly if you're
both against a wall since his charge attack will get stopped by the
wall.  In other words, he'll sorta charge attack towards you but it
won't go very far.  This is great news since you can punish him after
each attack.  Staying against walls is good practice anyway since
you'll want to use them for your "diving cicada", just don't get stuck
in a corner.  If so, roll out and hope that you don't get hit in the
process.

Don't bother with using Shurikens, he'll block those and send them
back to you.  You can try throwing them if he's finishing his charge
attack and you're too far away to hit him, although typically I don't
bother.

In very hard mode, you have to take off more of "Murai"'s health
before the fight stops.  And the container in the room does not have
an elixer in it.  Even with all of that, you really should be able to
get through this fight without using more than one elixer.  Just stay
away from him, use jump,jump,Y to whittle away his health, and punish
him when he misses his charged attack.  Elixers are expensive in very
hard mode so you don't want to be using them frequently.  Be sure
that you're full on health before you get to him.  A good health
regeneration spot is in the room right before the save point with
the trap door.  Kill some "white ninjas" for blue essence and then
leave the room and save once you're full.  After you kill all the
"white ninjas" in the room before "Murai", you can also backtrack
to the save point since those don't respawn.

******************************
B. Mounted Horsemen
******************************

These are mini-bosses.  You'll fight a bunch of "pikemen" and
"archers" on horses in a large arena where you can replenish arrows
from a body in the center.  In very hard mode, I wouldn't bother with
arrows; they'll usually get blocked, and I find that more often than
not it causes trouble for me to try to whip out my bow versus
concentrate on a single strategy.

First, note that you can block all attacks.  So be patient with this
fight.  You can even block the throw where the "pikeman" spears you
then drags you around -- this isn't a real throw since it doesn't go
through blocks, it just looks like one and is very damaging.

Focus on taking out the "pikemen" first, they're less predictable and
far more damaging than the "archers".  Stand in the center of the
arena, keep tapping your view recenter to face the nearest enemy, and
wait until you see the "pikeman"'s horse rear up.  You'll also hear
the horse whinny during this.  This means the "pikeman" is about to
charge you.  Hold down your Y for a charged "Haze Straight Slash"
attack, then rip right through him as he gets to you.  You'll probably
have to practice the timing on this a bit; if you do this too late,
you'll likely get speared for heavy damage.  But once you have it
down, it becomes trivially easy.  When you slash through him, the
horse will rear without attacking while you'll be behind the horse,
and this gives you a good opportunity to unload a lot of punishment.
I usually do the "Early Winter Rain" X,foward X,X,Y and get off all
attacks including the kicks.  Alternatively if you're too far away,
you can do forward X,X,forward Y.  Repeat this until he's dead.

Another alternative I've been trying more recently is X,Y,X,Y after
doing "Haze Straight Slash" against the "pikeman".  The benefit of
this is that the attacks may hit the rider.  To knock off the
"horsemen", you either have to kill the "horses" -- which have a lot
of health -- or damage the riders -- which have much less health --
enough.  For example, if you're good with the bow, you can even hit
the riders while the "horses" are rearing after your attack.

This is not really as easy as it sounds though.  While you're focusing
on the "pikeman", the "archer" is shooting arrows at you that can
interrupt your charge attack.  Fortunately those arrows aren't all
that accurate, so you won't get hit most of the time even if you're
standing still.  When you see the "pikeman" rear up in preparation to
charge you, start holding down your Y as late as possible but still
early enough to get your charge up.  This leaves you minimally exposed
to the arrows.  And if you do get hit by an arrow, immediately let go
of your Y and start blocking else you'll get speared because you
typically won't have time to charge your attack before getting hit.

If you're near a "pikeman" and his horse is rearing but you haven't
hit him, then that's part of an attack.  I generally can get off X,X
but then block immediately afterward because he'll swipe.  Generally
if a "pikeman" first attack of any sort if successful and he's at
close range, he'll rear for a second or third attack.

After you kill a few "pikemen", you'll deal with two "archers".  These
guys can get really annoying because combined together, they shoot
very frequently.  They always just run in a counter clockwise fashion
while shooting arrows.  It's tough to get a charged Y going because
they're shooting so frequently, so sometimes I settle for just
standing right in the path of the "horses" and hitting them with a
ground combo.  This will typically cause them to rear, but you're
generally safe because the archer can't swipe at you.  However,
sometimes you'll get hit by the "horse" anyway.  Alternatively, if the
"archers" are somewhat overlapped or close together, you can pull out
your Inferno Ninpo (you did buy that at Murasama's shop, right?)  and
fireball them both.  This will hit the "horses" and knock the riders
off.  Make sure you're at close range, i.e. right in the path of the
"horse" and when it's right about to reach you, so that the casting
animation will hurt the "horse" and rider.  You may consider this a
waste of Ninpo but bear in mind that during the next boss battle,
you'll be facing "samurai mages" and those often give red essence.
Also, I personally feel that you can do without Ninpo in that boss
battle anyway.

If you don't want to waste your Ninpo, just do the double jump Y
"diving cicada slash" repeatedly and hope that you hit the "horseman"
as it's going by.  Alternatively, you can just block and then slash at
the "horse" as soon as it's run by you.  These hits will cause the
"horse" to rear, and you'll get more free hits in.

Note that when you kill a "horse", it'll drop yellow essence.  So will
the rider after you kill him.  So everytime you kill a "horseman",
you'll have an opportunity to grab two essences for an ultimate
attack.  I wouldn't count on this though, I only try for ultimate
attack when I'm charging against the "pikeman" anyway.  Don't force
this and don't worry if the essences disappear, they're not worth much
anyway.  The problem with doing your ultimate is that the "horses"
won't stay stationary during your attack, i.e. they don't flinch, so
they can sometimes move out of the way during the middle.  Your
ultimate will also only kill them if they're already fairly damaged,
even if they stay in range during your whole attack.

This battle takes a lot of patience.  Make sure you have either your
armlet of sun or moon (I don't have a preference over which) equipped,
and that you've bought as many elixers as possible.  You should
definitely go back to the village entrance and save before you enter
the arena.  If you end up using too many elixers, start over, because
you won't have an opportunity to get new ones before the next boss
battle.  Remember to block a lot and just take your time.

******************************
C. Samurai Horseman
******************************

This fight is easy compared to the previous one.  Concentrate on
killing the "mages" first, using standard techniques.  I.E. Either run
to the barn and do "diving cicada slash" repeatedly against the
"mages", or block their attacks then counter with X,Y,X,Y.  As before,
the "mages" have little health and will typically die after one combo.
You can ignore the "horseman" or just make sure you're only attacking
the "mages" while the "horseman" is not nearby.  Eventually the
"mages" will stop respawning, then the "horseman" is a piece of cake.
Just charge up Y while he's attacking the same way you did against the
"pikemen" from before.  You'll as usual go straight through him, then
you can attack him from the rear.  He uses his pike more aggressively,
so just be patient to get your timing and blocking right.

The "mages" typically drop red or blue essence.  You shouldn't need to
use Ninpo for this fight at all, so unless you're concerned about
getting more bonus points for saving your ki, I'd just charge up with
the red essence for an ultimate.  Whether you do this against the
"horseman" or a "mage" is up to you -- if you need more money such as
to stock up for elixers in the next level, then do ultimates against
the "mages".  If you're low on health and need more blue essence, then
target the "horseman".  There are a lot of options here so you should
primarily see this battle as a way to recharge either your ki, health,
or money.  Note of course that after this fight you'll end the level
and recharge all your health and ki.  I personaly prefer using ultimates
against the "mages" unless I'm low on health, because I'll end up spending
a lot of gold in the next level.  During the next level, you'll have
an opportunity to upgrade your sword (3000) and buy Izuna Drop (1000).
Both make getting through that level (and succeeding ones) much
easier, and it's much harder to get off ultimates against the enemies
in that level than these wimpy "mages" here.

You really should not have to use a single elixer for this battle.  


==================================================
=== VI. WALKTHROUGH TRICKS
==================================================
==================================================

Everything revolves around gold in this game.  Gold buys you elixers,
talismans of rebirth, and gives you upgrades that are instrumental for
beating the game.  There are several spots where enemies respawn, some
near save points.  You should use these as ways to up your gold
supply, you can do so indefinitely if you get good at this.

******************************
A. Save Points
******************************

First, for save points.  At some save points, if you load up the game
then you'll immediately get attacked by enemies.  Whenever this
happens, I first defeat the enemies and then either restart if I lost
too much, or save immediately.  For the latter, this means that if I
die and have to restart then I won't have lost the spoils of the
initial battle.

******************************
B. Infinite Money
******************************

There is only one place in the game that I know where you can get
health regenerated for free, this is on Pleasure Street near Han's Bar
where you find the windmill shuriken in chapter 4.  Going up to the
XBox logo completely replenishes your health (how cheesy).  Once you
get good at wall jumping, you can get up there at a moment's notice to
regen health whenever needed (simple tip -- if you're having trouble
jumping to the top, hit Y at the apex of the last jump to do the
"diving cicada slash", this gives you some extra height).

There is also a save point near there, and an area of regenerating
monesters.  These will first be "ninjas" and later "fiend officers".
That should set off a light bulb that this might be a good place to
rack up gold.  Fight once, regenerate, get the enemies to respawn, and
fight again.

An easy way to accomplish this is to wait until the door to Han's bar
is available to pass through, then enter and leave as a quick way to
respawn the enemies.  So the sequence goes: fight those "fiend
officers" or whatever's there, hop up to the X logo to regen your
health, save if you'd like, enter Han's bar, then exit.  Repeat and
rinse.  It goes without saying that you should equip your Armlet of
Benediction here to up the amount of gold you get.  As far as I can
tell, the Armlet of Benediction gives an extra 20% gold from killed
enemies.  

The "fiend officers" in particular will drop all types of essences, so
you can once in a while zap them with lightning for a quick kill, then
charge up for an ultimate to really rack in the gold.  You'll find
that you can get a few thousand gold for each session (almost enough
to buy a great spirit elixer) if you kill at least one "fiend officer"
with a lvl2 ultimate attack.

******************************
C. Fiend Challenges
******************************

There are several different points in the game where if you return to
a room that you previously cleared, a type or couple of types of
enemies will pop up seemingly ad nauseum.  One notable area is the
Arena after you fight "Doku", you'll face 60 "dragons", then in the
next area you'll face 60 "wolverines".  Killing all enemies will often
net you a Life of the Thousand Gods or something similar.  The trick
is of course to stay alive, but remember that you can always use your
Ninpo to eradicate a bunch of enemies, then switch over to your
"Armlet of Fortune" to get your ki back, and repeat.

These challenges are also a great way to practice your techniques or
experiment with different weapons, they often occur close to save
points.


==================================================
=== VII. CONCLUSIONS
==================================================
==================================================

You can email me at shockwave_xpow@hotmail.com for questions and
suggestions.  Do not expect a fast response time.  Also, do not ask me
about walkthrough questions, there are plenty of good guides for
those.  If you'd like me to include a strategy, let me know how you'd
like me to quote you and I'll put in something like: "shockwave_xpow
adds: 'You can also...'"  There is no guarantee that I'll quote you if
you ask, and I may reject or edit samples that are not properly
written.

Overall I hope that you found this guide helpful.  I wrote this
because at the time of this writing, no other detailed combat guide
existed.  That does not mean that I assume I have some special insight
into how to play this game, these are just my own findings.