Ninja Gaiden Black Karma System FAQ
by Yebyosh ( yebyosh_at_hotmail_._com )
Version 1.0 ( 24 April 2006 )    
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( Please view with courier fonts )

History
-------

v1.0      24 Apr 2006      Created this document
v1.1      17 May 2006      Corrected typos, and added some more information.

Contents
--------

1. Story Mode Karma System
   a. Overview
   b. In-game : Combo
   c. In-game : Essence Techniques
   d. In-game : Encounter Time
   e. In-game : Encounter Kills
   f. End of chapter : Time
   g. End of chapter : Kills
   h. End of chapter : Essence
   i. End of chapter : Ninpo
   j. Chapter 16 End Game Bonuses
   k. Decent Karma Run Scores
   l. Q & A
2. Mission Mode Karma System
   a. Overview
   b. In-game : Combo
   c. In-game : Essence Techniques
   d. End-game : Time
   e. End-game : Kills
   f. End-game : Ninpo
   g. End-game : Healing Items
   h. End-game : Health
   i. End-game : Essence
   j. End-game : Mission Difficulty
   k. Descent of the Fiends 5 Karma System
   l. Eternal Legend Karma System
   m. Q & A
3. Q & A
4. Credits


1. Story Mode Karma System
--------------------------

   a. Overview

      Your accumulate karma in Story Mode in two stages, in the game ( in-game
      ) and at the end of each chapter bonuses ( end of chapter ).  In the
      game, you can see your current accumulated karma by bringing up the karma
      window.  To do this, simply tap the white controller button ( if you are
      using the standard X-Box controller and have yet to change the button
      assignments ), the karma window will appear right below your health bar,
      just below the ki slots.

      Karma will be added in the game for doing combos, performing successful
      essence techniques, killing foes, and completing encounters within the
      designated time.

      In-game karma is only awarded for timed encounters.  Encounters are only
      timed for first time unique encounters.  A timer will appear below your
      karma score ( karma window ) whenever you get involved in a timed
      encounter.  You will know if you had fully ran away from a timed 
      encounter when the karma window flashes and summarises your results of
      the fight.

      However if you run away from a timed encounter, and come back to it, you
      will never receive a score from it ( the timer never comes up ).  This
      also applies to the subsequent respawns of a respawning encounter.  So
      after completing an ecounter the first time, it is perfectly okay to
      ignore its respawns.

      When you complete a chapter, karma bonuses are added based on the
      completion time, number of kills, unspent essence accumulated, and number 
      of ki slots filled.

      The threshold for the end of chapter bonuses are nicely summarised by
      Bigalski in his 100K Clear Times and Kills Per Level & Chapter Word
      document, which can be found at

      http://www.iberianwarrior.com/walkthrough_guides_ngb.htm
      http://iberiansninjagaiden.com/ngbfaqs.htm
      http://weibull760.dyndns.org:8989/NinjaGaidenVids/FAQs_&_Guides/

   b. In-game : Combos

      If you managed to land 2 or more successful consecutive hits within a
      certain time frame, you have executed a combo.  You can increase the
      number of combos by continuing to execute successful hits, as long as
      you never get hit ( a blocked attack is considered being hit ), or the
      time between your attacks is short.

      When your combo is ended ( by getting hit or the time frame expires ),
      karma is awarded to you.  Each hit is worth just 10 points.  Thus a
      10-hit combo is worth 100 points while a 999-hit combo is 9,990 points.

      Note that waiting for the time frame to expire is quite long.  Getting
      hit will immediately end the combo and award the score to you.

      Warning!  If you change equipment, or consume anything in your equipment
      menu, your combo meter will be reseted to 0.  So if you want to keep your
      combo going, never change stuff or drink elixirs ( it is okay to enter
      the equipment menu without touching anything else ). 

   c. In-game : Essence Techniques

      Essence Techniques, also known as charged attacks, are executed by
      holding down the 'Y' button ( on default ) to charge up attacks.

      There are two levels of essence techniques, level 1 ( which we will
      conveniently use the acronym of its namesake, ET ) and level 2 ( Ultimate
      Technique, UT ).

      The charging take some time.  To charge up to ET requires 2.0 seconds, UT
      requires 4.0 seconds.  Wearing Armlet of Celerity will drop this to 1.5
      seconds and 3.0 seconds respectively.  While charging, you are open to
      any attacks.

      However if you charge when essences are in range, you will absorb them
      and can ignore the charging time.  Absorbing one yellow essence will
      instantly give you ET status.  Absorbing two or more yellow essences, or
      one blue or red essence will give you UT status.

      If you unleash your essence technique and it successfully connects with
      an opponent, you will receive 2,000 points for each ET and 5,000 points
      for each UT.

      Points for essence techniques will only be awarded if the timer has yet
      to expire.  Once the timer has expired, no points will be awarded.

      There is also a limit for the number of times you are awarded points for
      successful essence techniques in each encounter.  You will only be
      awarded 50 times, whether they be for ETs or UTs.  If you are looking to
      maximise karma, you will want them to be all for UTs.

   d. In-game : Encounter Time

      A timed encounter will have a timer counting down.  If you managed to
      kill and have every foe's body dissolving before the timer has expired,
      you will receive 10,000 points as a time bonus.

   e. In-game : Encounter Kills

      For every foe you killed in an encounter, you will be awarded 1,000
      points when the encounter's results are tallied.  This award is affected
      by the time at which the encounter's results are tallied.  Having the
      results tallied before the timer expires will give a better score for the
      encounter.

      Killing a boss is worth 100,000 points ( exception : Fiend Ryus are worth
      only 1,000 points; Murai on chapter 1 is worth only 10,000 points ).

         Encounter Kill Bonus = [ 1,000 * ( Regular kills ) + 100,000
                                * ( Boss Kills ) ] * [ 1 + ( Time Remaining )
                                / ( Allocated Time ) ]

      E.g.  A timed encounter allocates you 20.0 seconds to kill 5 foes.  If
            you managed to do so with 5 seconds left on the clock, the
            Encounter Kill Bonus will be 6,250.  If you did it with 15 seconds
            left, you will get  8,750.

      However if you run away from an encounter, the Encounter Kill Bonus is
      tallied at that instant, and only 1/10th is awarded to you.

      E.g. Chapter 14's 1st ghost fish encounter.  There are supposed to be 46
           ghost fish with a 42 second time limit.  You decide to run past them
           killing only some on your way.  You killed only 4 and managed to get
           pass the encounter with the timer at 31.55 seconds.  The score you
           would receive from your escape is 

           1/10 * [ 1 + ( 31.55 / 42 ) ] * 4 * 1000 = 700

   f. End of chapter : Time

      Each chapter is allocated a certain amount of time for you to complete.
      Completing the chapter within the allocated amount of time will earn
      you an end of chapter bonus of 100,000 points.

      However, if you exceeded the time, you will receive only

         Failed end of chapter time bonus = [ ( 600 - No. of seconds exceeded )
                                            / 600 ] * 50,000

      Effectively, you are allowed 10 minutes of excess time to gain something
      out of this bonus before you get a big zero...

   g. End of chapter : Kills

      If you killed a certain number of enemies in a chapter, you will be
      awarded 100,000 points.

      If you killed less than the amount designated, you will receive less than
      half of that.

         Failed end of chapter kill bonus = ( no. of kills / designated kills )
                                            * 50,000

      Itagaki and Team Ninja have designed the system such that if you have
      successfully cleared all the desginated timed encounters in a chapter,
      you will have attained the necessary kills for 100,000 points.  So if you
      have missed the kill bonus, you have missed a timed encounter, or spared
      some boss' minions.

      You can recompensate for this by killing foes in a respawned encounter.

   h. End of chapter : Essence

      Itagaki and Team Ninja encourage you to save up for a rainy day.  For
      each essence you have at the end of the chapter above your starting
      amount, you gain 5 points.  This is capped at 10,000 points.

         End of chapter essence bonus = ( ending essence - starting essence )
                                        * 5

      What this means is you only need 2,000 excess essence of what you started
      out with to gain the full bonus.  Any higher amount is wasted.

      Also this means that if you have 98,000 essence at the start of a
      chapter, you will never gain the full 10,000 bonus for essence in that
      chapter.

   i. End of chapter : Ninpo

      If all of your ki slots are full at the end of the chapter, you will
      receive 100,000 points.  Otherwise...

         Failed end of chapter ninpo bonus = ( full ki slots / max. ki slots )
                                             * 50,000

      E.g. You currently have a maximum of 4 ki slots.  You end the chapter
           with 1 full slot but 3 empty ones.  So you will only receive
           12,500 points as your end of chapter ninpo bonus.

   j. Chapter 16 End Game Bonuses

      When you finish chapter 16, it is considered the end of the game.  As
      such, the end of chapter bonuses considers the game as a whole, i.e. the
      total completion time, the total number of kills throughout, the essence
      you have at the end versus the essence you have right at the beginning (
      which is 0 ), and the number of ninpos you have remaining.

   k. Decent Karma Run Scores

      If you are interested in trying to get as much karma in Story Mode as
      possible, I have calculated the following scores.  They are based on
      getting encounter's time limits, and every end of chapter bonuses.

      Normal       - 11,285,000
      Hard         - 12,016,000
      Very Hard    - 12,314,000
      Master Ninja - 12,491,000

      If you get these scores or slightly above, I think you have done decently
      in your karma run ( an 'average' score ).  Since I have excluded the
      scoring of UTs and fast kills on bosses, there is much more to be gotten.

   l. Q & A

      Q. Help!  I keep killing the foes within the time limits but they take
         forever to dissolve, thereby missing it.  Is there any way I can make
         them dissolve faster or to tally the score faster?
      A. Sadly, there is no way to do what you want all the time.  However
         there is an occasional method to make the score be tallied faster.  In
         some encounters, there are objects nearby to be picked up, or closed
         chests to be opened ( these require the "press 'X' to ...." ).  Once
         you have killed the final foe, and he starts dissolving, just pick up
         the item, or open the chest, and... Voila!  The score is tallied up
         instantly.

         Now if only there were closed chests or items to be picked up in every
         encounter...

      Q. So if I want karma, I should be killing everything within the time
         limit?
      A. Most of the time, yes.  However on Hard and above, you may want to
         kill off a boss as fast as possible, ignoring the minions.  The reason
         being that bosses are worth 100,000 points.  If you kill him quickly,
         the mutiplier might be worth an additional 90% which would be hard to
         compensate for even if you had UTed every minion.

         Furthermore, the Holy Vigoor Emperor's second form can unleash more
         than 250 skulls if you keep the damage low.  That will be worth 350k
         total in Encounter Kill Bonus even if you overshot the allocated time.

         So there are occasions where missing the time limit or missing out
         some kills can mean greater karma gains.

      Q. ...but I will be missing the end of chapter kill bonus if I spare the
         minions, right?
      A. True, but you can make up for them by killing enough foes from
         respawned encounters.

      Q. I am seeing 23 mil as the highest score for Master Ninja.  How is this
         possible?
      A. That is the highest legitimate score for Master Ninja so far.  It is
         possible by squeezing in as much UTs as possible in each encounter.
         For example, an ogre can take as much as 7 full Nunchaku UTs before
         dying.  If you really want to score as much karma as possible, learn
         the intricacies of UTs, how to set them up, the encounter times, and
         geography of the battlefield.  It is quite a difficult task to get
         those points.


2. Mission Mode Karma System
----------------------------

   a. Overview

      The karma system in Mission Mode is quite different from Story Mode as
      you are mostly playing effectively a single encounter in each mission.
      You still earn point in game for combos and essence techniques but
      everything else is tallied when you have completed the mission.  There
      are other karma factors that were never considered in Story Mode, like
      health, healing items, mission difficulty, etc.

   b. In-game : Combo

      This is exactly the same as in Story Mode.  You gain 10 points for each
      hit if you managed a 2-hit and above combo.

   c. In-game : Essence Techniques

      This is exactly the same as in Story Mode.  You gain 2,000 points for
      each ET and 5,000 points for each UT.  You also face a limit of 50
      essence technique awards.

   d. End-game : Time

      The timer in Mission Mode starts from 0 and counts up to a maximum of
      999.99 seconds.  Once it reaches 999.99 seconds, you will receive 0 karma
      for your mission, regardless of all other factors.  So even if you have
      gotten 50 UTs in the mission, you will still get 0 if you complete the
      mission at 999.99 seconds.

      If you managed to complete the mission within the time, you will receive

         Mission Mode Time Bonus = ( 999 - time completed ) * 100

      Note if you finish at 999.01 - 999.98 seconds, you will receive 0 points
      for the time bonus, but will still receive points for other factors.

   e. End-game : Kills

      In Mission Mode, all kills, whether they be bosses or minions, are worth
      3,000 points each.

      Note that in Mission Mode, if a foe is killed by something else rather
      than by your own hands, you will receive no credit nor essence for the
      death, and the foe will be respawned ( with some exceptions, e.g. ogres
      ).

   f. End-game : Ninpo

      Each full ki slot at the end of the mission is worth 20,000 points.
      Since generally you have no elixirs to replenish ki, you are well advised
      to refrain from casting ninpo if you wish to maximise karma.

   g. End-game : Healing Items

      Each unconsumed Elixir of Spiritual Life in your inventory is worth
      10,000 points.  Likewise, each unconsumed Great Spirit Elixir in your
      inventory is worth 40,000 points.

      You can pick up elixirs around in the battlefield and keep them for
      points at the end.

   h. End-game : Health

      If you have full health at the end of the mission, you get 7,200 points.

         Mission Mode Health Bonus = %age of health remaining * 7200

   i. End-game : Essence

      The amount of essence you have collected is multiplied by 2.

         Mission Mode Essence Bonus = Essence * 2

   j. End-game : Mission Difficulty

      Your above bonuses are added up, and then multiplied by the Mission
      Difficulty.

         Normal       - * 1.0
         Hard         - * 1.5
         Very Hard    - * 2.0
         Master Ninja - * 2.5

   k. Descent of the Fiends 5 Karma System

      Descent of the Fiends 5 has its own scoring system.  It is like a
      modified version of Story Mode's in-game scoring system.  There is a
      series of encounters in the whole mission, and each encounter will have
      its own time bonus, kill bonus, 50 essence technique limit, etc.  Unlike
      the other Mission Mode missions, ninpo, health, essence, and healing
      items are omitted from the scoring system.

      So the score will only depend on encounter time bonuses, encounter kill
      bonuses, essence techniques, and the mission difficulty.  Note that while
      you will still receive points for essence techniques even after the timer
      has expired, you will stop receiving them once a hidden timer has reached
      999.99 seconds.
     
      In Descent of the Fiends 5, you will receive 10 points for each hit in a
      2-hit or greater combo, 2,000 points for each ET, and 5,000 points for
      each UT.  These are added to your karma almost immediately.

      For each encounter, if you completed it within the allocated time, you
      will receive 10,000 points.

      Each minion is worth 1,000 for the kill bonus, each boss is worth
      100,000.

         Encounter Kill Bonus = [ 1,000 * ( Regular kills ) + 100,000
                                * ( Boss Kills ) ] * [ 1 + ( Time Remaining )
                                / ( Allocated Time ) ]

      The time bonus and kill bonus are only added to your karma after the
      encounter is completed.  After you have killed the final boss, Ishtaros,
      your score is then multiplied by the mission difficulty to derive your
      final score.

   l. Eternal Legend Karma System

      Eternal Legend's scoring is like Descent of the Fiends 5 with the
      following exceptions.

      - The time bonus is 50,000 points instead of 10,000.
      - Each minion is worth 5,000 points instead of 1,000.
      - Masakado, Nicchae and Ishtaros are only worth 5,000 points instead of
        100,000.

      Otherwise, the scoring system is exactly the same as Descent of the
      Fiends 5.

   m. Q & A

      Q. Is it advisable to spam UTs?
      A. Yes, if you are going for karma.  50 UTs are worth a lot on the whole.
         If you have the time and enemies to dish out 50 UTs on, do it.
         However there are plenty of missions where it is impractical to do 50
         UTs.  Use your judgement accordingly.  It is effectively pointless to
         spend more than 50 seconds ( 5,000 points ) to simply land 1 UT.

      Q. I killed someone with an UT, so I should use its essence to keep
         spamming UTs?
      A. Use your judgement ( and my Essence chart ).  You might think it is
         great to use essences to keep spamming out those UTs, but...

         A Silver Samurai spawns 3,850 essence when UTed to death.  That is
         7,700 points effectively.  If you had used it for an UT, the effective
         points is ( 3,850 / 5 * 2 ) + 5,000 = 6,540, definitely less than if
         you had simply collected the essence, and the essence would have been
         worth 9,316 points if you had collected it with Armlet of Benediction!

         I would recommend collecting essences of UTed Silvered Samurais,
         Greater Basts, Thorn Gallas, Ogres, and Worms.  Use your own
         discretion for the rest.

      Q. The essence from Fiend Ryu in Battlefield of the Abyss 5 seems
         screwy...
      A. Yes, please refer to my Essence FAQ for the answer of why it is so.
         If you want maximum points from the encounter, kill one of the Fiend
         Ryu with an ET, and collect the essence WITHOUT Armlet of Benediction.

      Q. I killed the boss with an UT, but when I break down the final score,
         I find myself short of 5000 points. What happened?
      A. Unfortunately, the game finalises the score when the "Mission
         Completed" words come up.  Since there is a slight delay between
         landing the essence technique and adding the score to the in-game
         karma, there is a possibility of it being left out of the final score.

         This applies to essence as well if it has yet to be collected before
         "Mission Completed" comes up.

      Q. So if I want high karma, I should play 'perfectly' for every mission?
      A. Actually if you want high karma, I would advise you to do so only for
         Master Ninja difficulties.  Just play through Normal to Very Hard in a
         fast and dirty way without concern for karma ( i.e. heal when hurt,
         cast ninpo when advantageous ).  Once you are on Master Ninja, do it
         without using elixirs or ninpo.  Of course, you can still use the
         lesser difficulties as practice sessions.

      Q. What is the highest legitimate score for this Mission?
      A. For high scores of Mission Mode, I refer you to visit IberianWarrior's
         Ninja Gaiden Black Forums at

            http://iberiansninjagaiden.com/phpBB2/index.php

         You want the MM High Scores List.  You need to register to visit the
         forums though.

      Q. How do you get such a high score on xxxxxx mission?
      A. There is a compilation of tactics used to obtain high scores for
         specific missions at IberianWarrior's Ninja Gaiden Black Forums.  Use
         the above link and look for the Mission Mode High Score Almanac.


3. Q & A
--------

Q. What is a karma run?
A. A karma run is simply playing the game, trying to maximise your karma.  The
   more hardcore version will have you resetting the game every time you mess
   up squeezing the points out of the encounter.

Q. So what is the point of karma?
A. Honestly... nothing.  It is simply the scoring system employed in the game.
   Just like in football, where you shoot a ball into the oppponent's net, and
   how much money and property you own in Monopoly, karma in Ninja Gaiden Black 
   is just a score.  However it is a benchmark of how well/skilled you are in
   playing to the expectations of the game designers.

Q. So the higher your karma, the more skilled you are?
A. Not quite.  It just means you are quite capable in playing up the game
   according to the designed goal of the game.  However, getting those high
   scores legitimately does mean that the scorer has indeed mastered certain
   basics of the game.  There are others who can perform beautiful displays
   of combo attacks and such, which require deft finger-eye coordination and
   instincts but they are getting lower scores since such actions actually go
   against what the game scoring system wants.

   So a high karma player is simply a player who is skilled in Ninja Gaiden
   Black.  Whether he is a skilled gamer, or 'better' than another Ninja Gaiden
   Black player is another matter.  Clear?

Q. How do those players on X-Box Live get 999,999,999,999 and such for Ninja
   Gaiden Black?
A. Simple.  They cheated.  Since X-Box Live Ninja Gaiden Black only bothers
   authenticating X-Boxes on uploading scores, it is possible for those
   cheaters to turn off their cheats before uploading their scores.  For your
   legitimate scores, please refer to well-trusted Ninja Gaiden Black forums
   and inquire.


4. Credits
----------

- Thank you, Team Ninja for creating the best action game I have played so far.

- Thank you, IberianWarrior for hosting many great videos of many great
  players, as well as the forum for discussion ( http://iberiansninjagaiden.com 
  ).

- Thank you, Weibull760 for hosting those videos as well.

- Thank you, Bigalski for creating the 100k end of chapter bonuses table.

- Thank you, deep_blue3 for finding out the core of how Mission Mode karma
  works.

- Thank you, GameFAQs for hosting this FAQ.

If you find any mistakes or wish to clarify some data, please contact me over
email.  Thank you.