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 Post subject: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:21 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
Dr. Biruford Perfect Selection endeavours to turn absolute beginners into confident no-missers. Beyond that is mystery. Image [v1.0]

[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

SWEAR IN THE NAME OF FATHER.

Awakened to the truth, young TSUKIKAGE vows to destroy his family's murderers: the heretic clan who raised him. Tearing headlong through an army of foes, karma beckons THE LAST SHINOBI into a howling sea of blood.

"A HARD-BOILED NINJA STORY."


SAIGO NO NINDOU ("The Last Shinobi"): A sidescroller of equal shooter/slasher persuasions, combining The Legend of Kage's Wuxia action with Contra's extreme firepower. Gradius's Option shadowplay and bullet-cancelling also feature heavily! Saigo debuted on IREM's M72 arcade platform. Its first accurate home console version, and the basis of this guide, is Hamster's Arcade Archives release. This guide applies to both the PS4 and Switch versions, as well as the original PCB, in addition to MAME or any other quality emulator.

The international version, Ninja Spirit, adds more checkpoints and powerup drops. I'm unsure of differences beyond that. Note that, while the Arcade Archives release uses this title in relevant regions, it contains the Japanese version exclusively. While the PC Engine conversion remains a beloved classic, it diverges significantly. See this post for a more detailed AC/PCE comparison. If you can survive the AC version, you will be in fine form to do the same on PCE.

Any recommendation of Saigo must mention its infamous 11th-hour pratfall, The Ninja Pit. Please see its dedicated section for a comprehensive obliteration. Image

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Tsukikage wields enough firepower to make the Contras envious. Just like them, he dies in one hit. Unlike them, only enemy attacks will kill Tsuki - he can overlap freely with foes, provided he evades their weapons.

Can't inja this ninja!
Spoiler: show
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The only exception are two enemies whose weapon is contact: White Rain, the flying shinobi wolf, and Hitodama, a ball of flame.

PLAYER/NINJA INTERFACE: [Eight-way digital stick] [Button 1: Switch Weapon] [Button 2: Attack] [Button 3: Jump]

ATTACKING: Tsuki can attack in eight directions, with blades and projectiles alike. Contra fans will find this setup instantly familiar.

AUTOFIRE? Generally speaking, autofire isn't very helpful in Saigo. Tsuki cannot run and attack simultaneously, nor can he jump and attack simultaneously; attacks always take priority. You don't want to accidentally cancel a life-saving jump! Furthermore, Saigo's shot rate is generous, and its autofire ceiling is low - even leisurely tapping will max it, for an impressive wall of fire. The Stage 3 and 5 Boss speedkills (seen below) illustrate perfectly - mild tapping will get both every time, but no amount of hammering will produce quicker kills.

JUMPING: Tsuki can jump very high, almost to the top of the screen. He can also jump quite low, and anywhere in-between, depending on the duration of your button press.

While you can bend Tsuki's jumps significantly, his air handling is heavy, and unsuited to twitch dodging; cancelling bullets is strongly preferable to dodging them. If you need forward momentum, make sure you're moving at takeoff! Jumping from a standstill will leave you stalling.

Real Wuxia Action.
Spoiler: show
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JUMP CONTROL IS CRITICAL. Saigo's subtle height and momentum control is paramount to authoritative play. Bunnyhopping is a particularly important technique, enabling Tsuki to advance at top speed while attacking continuously.

Bunnyhopped Shadow Kusarigama, an essential counter-offensive technique.
Spoiler: show
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Bunnyhopped Shadow Grenades, the ultimate offensive advance.
Spoiler: show
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Moreover, jumps have profound counter-offensive utility - several deadly foes are directly manipulable by Tsuki's Y-axis value. A deft hop may bait out a whiff, or a wasteful leap. Vaulting over the fray outright is not the escape a novice might assume! See Section IV: Art Of War for much more on this topic.

Axis Trigger & Terrain Launcher expertise will avert this.
Spoiler: show
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SHADOW PLAY

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Collect blue orbs to summon up to two Shadows. These guys are your "Options," to borrow a Gradius term. They'll trace Tsuki's movements, a moment behind, while attacking in sync with him. NB they always face the same direction as Tsuki - shooting "backwards" isn't possible, though focus fire is well-served.

Shadows are much more than a power multiplier - they also massively expand your reach and screen coverage. As shown above, advancing at full speed will form a Shadow Train; combined with bunnyhops, you can generate massive forward momentum, shredding oncoming, pursuing and overhead targets. Slipping past tough enemies as the Shadow Train pulverises them is another staple technique.

Evade! Deceive! Destroy! That is... NINDOU. Image
Spoiler: show
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Boss battles invite Gradius-style formation tactics, showcasing the Shadows' gravity-defying ability.

Stage 3 Boss speedkill: a bayonetting formation to bypass his shielding greatsword.
Spoiler: show
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Stage 5 Boss speedkill: the column formation annihilates his troops while inflicting fatal damage.
Spoiler: show
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Stage 7 Boss technique: lets you deal heavy damage from a position awkward for his homing lightning to reach.
Spoiler: show
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CEILINGS: Tsuki is fully capable of standing and running on ceilings. Just jump into them - no additional command required. He handles exactly the same, with the only exception of his vertical controls inverting - so to fire on the ground from above, aim [down]. Pressing [jump] again will instantly drop him to the floor. Ceiling battle is an integral mechanic in Stages 4-1, 4-2, and 7-1.

If you're especially keen to maintain fire on a target, note that the direction Tsuki is facing inverts when he goes between the floor and ceiling. In other words, if you're firing on a ceiling-bound enemy, while leaping up there yourself - hold [towards] them as you latch on, to ensure an unbroken attack. A tiny optimisation, but good to know - particularly in Stage 7-1's tense midboss battle.

HITBOXES: Tsuki's hitbox is quite small - well within the boundaries of his sprite. Generally, the same goes for enemy weapons and projectiles. You can survive some pretty hair-raising scrapes:

Taken from a practice session - this isn't a situation you want happening in a real run!
Spoiler: show
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However, it's typically preferable to cancel bullets, rather than dodge them. As noted, Tsuki's heavy air handling isn't suited to twitch evasion. If wielding projectiles, you should use their range to speedkill enemies before they can fire, while macroing around them as much as possible.

GRAVITY KILLS: Tsuki not only jumps higher than the average sidescroller character - he also falls slower. Combined with Saigo's often unruly terrain, this makes even tiny drops a deadlier concern than you may expect. You can't jump while airborne, hampering your evasive ability.

There are four obscured gaps in Saigo, which can cause a nasty surprise if you cross them at a critical moment: specifically in Stages 3-1, 6-1 and 7-1. These are each marked and discussed in further detail, within their stages' walkthroughs.

3-1, first gap:
Spoiler: show
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3-1, second gap:
Spoiler: show
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6-1 gap:
Spoiler: show
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7-1 gap:
Spoiler: show
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_________________
Image
光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Jan 27, 2023 1:26 am, edited 67 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:21 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


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Tsuki's weapons are freely cycled with Button 1. Each can be upgraded once, for a massive boost in potency. As with many three-button action games, the cycle is one-way, wrap-around. If there's a pair you use frequently, try to memorise the intervening number of button taps - the sound effect helps. EG, Kusarigama to Grenades is "tap-tap-tap;" Grenades to Kusarigama is "tap."

Saigo does not demand switch-happy play; you will typically find a weapon of choice for each stage section. Switching is not without its potential complications, either - unexploded Landmines are a lethal source of "dead man's click." Quick switching is best reserved for well-rehearsed routes. EG, I like to fight my way into Stage 3's boss arena with Katana, switching to Kusarigama to clear out pursuers, before finally equipping Grenades for the boss himself.

Why are certain weapon icons flashing? This is Saigo's onboard spidey sense. Basically, the flashing weapon is the designers' recommended choice for your current stage section. I don't put much stock in this, frankly - some of the staff picks feel way off. Still, it's certainly a very cute touch on IREM's part!

[THE SLASHER VS SHOOTER]

Your weapons fall into two camps: Slashing and Shooting. Slashing has lower damage output and reach, but wider coverage and, most critically of all, will cancel enemy projectiles. Shooting leaves you vulnerable to flak, but can inflict enormous damage at long range.

In balance terms, each camp has a major and a minor representative. For compatibility with gameplay, let's look at the weapons in selection order.

KATANA ("Righteous Cloud"): Minor Slashing Weapon

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POW adds a hefty ring laser, bolstering its already wide coverage.

GOOD: Excellent cover from incoming zako and projectiles. Drives back charging Monks.
BAD: Saigo's weakest DPS, by far. Don't rely on it to kill heavies; either they'll get you, or something else will.

Raw power: not the Katana's forte.
Spoiler: show
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DEFLECTION: Uniquely, the Katana can drive back certain enemy blades - specifically Gold/Brown katanas, Purple kusarigamas, and Ryuichi's longsword. Unfortunately, with Saigo's intensity, it's simply not worth the time.

Pointless, but fun.
Spoiler: show
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Much more important is its ability to repel charging Monks, and their thrown canes. Any Katana strike will suffice - just keep clear of the returning cane!

The Katana's counter-offensive power excels in Stage 3-2.
Spoiler: show
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DOWNTHRUST: While on the ground, [down+ATK] will cause Tsuki to plunge his sword downward. This is a distantly peripheral mechanic, even moreso than Deflection - its presumed targets, the crawlspace-inhabiting Earth Ninjas and Grey Katanas, are far more efficiently dealt with via Grenade splash. Cute animation, though. It can also do some interesting, though generally not optimal things. :wink:

Erectric Hydro Brade!
Spoiler: show
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Author's Verdict: At both Rank50 and Rank100, I use the Katana in Stage 3-2's besieged marsh. With both Shadows in play, even sans POW, no enemy nor projectile can get close. I'll use it in Stage 4-3 as well, for tight personal defense versus enemy grenades.

SHURIKEN ("Swirling Leaves"): Minor Shooting Weapon.

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POW turns its single stream into a formidable spreadshot.

GOOD: Raw shotgun power. Saigo's highest DPS - great at shredding charging Ryuichis, who can power through Grenade barrages.
BAD: No splash, making them useless against enemies behind shields, terrain, or other enemies. Aim lag gives swarming zako a nasty in.

Shuriken enjoy a small but potentially life-saving DPS advantage over Grenades.
Spoiler: show
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16-Way Shot: A Dubious Gift. Shuriken technically aim in sixteen directions, as opposed to the other weapons' eight. As with the arcade Contras, this introduces the unfortunate side-effect of aim lag; those extra directions are slow to cycle through.

Grenades / 8-way Shot: Defending this tree is a snap!
Spoiler: show
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Shuriken / 16-way Shot: Expert handling required to avoid a complimentary hardwood enema!
Spoiler: show
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Again like the AC Contras, you can counteract this by sticking to cardinal directions. With the Shurikens' wide spread, it's actually not much of a sacrifice.

Snap vertical adjust: go from [neutral] to [up] or [down].
Spoiler: show
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Author's Verdict: Between their difficult aiming and lack of splash, Shuriken are generally inferior to Grenades. At Rank50, with Grenades killing tough enemies promptly, I avoid them altogether. At Rank100, I'll use them to puncture Stage 7-1's dangerously fast and tough Ryuichis. Additionally, with a little finesse, Shuriken can powerfully control Stage 4-2. In both areas, the main threats can be hit with simple horizontal shots, neutralising the aim lag.

GRENADES ("Bamboo Thunder"): Major Shooting Weapon.

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POW lifts its strict projectile limit, enabling rapid-fire carnage.

GOOD: Easier to aim than Shuriken, almost as powerful, and able to pierce shields, terrain and bodies via splash damage.
BAD: Explosions can obscure your vision; go easy on the trigger. Damage is dealt via tick; beware double KOs from hard targets.

Keep yer eyes peeled!
Spoiler: show
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LANDMINE: Executed with [down+ATK] while on the ground. Enemies will be blown up on contact, the mines otherwise self-detonating. This is actually more liability than asset; if you drop mines, then switch to another weapon, you'll be barred from attacking until they're gone. This is easy enough to avoid for Tsuki himself. However, if you fire downward while airborne, while your Shadows are on the ground, they will instead place mines. Beware!

WTF? Dammit!
Spoiler: show
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Author's Verdict: Grenades are great! Their snap aim and splash damage are huge advantages over Shuriken. While they are marginally slower to kill, it's simple to compensate with good spacing. Don't stand still in front of a charging heavy, eating his dying attack; stay out of striking range as fatal damage ticks up. I use Grenades to kill all seven bosses, and in the majority of shooting scenarios at both Rank50 and Rank100.

KUSARIGAMA ("Rising Dragon"): Major Slashing Weapon.

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POW enables a 360' command swing, shredding zako and flak with windshield-wiping efficiency.

GOOD: Incredible defensive coverage, with enough power to handle even the toughest regular enemies.
BAD: Attack frames have a small but potentially deadly glitch, which you'll need to muscle-memorise around.

POW SWING: Invaluable, and easy to execute. Contrary to the official arcade instruction sheet, you do not need to spin the stick in quarter/full-circle motions - this is inefficient, and therefore dangerous. Instead, after launching an attack, hit any adjacent direction to execute the POW Swing. So, if you're attacking [right], either [up/right] or [down/right] will work. Second-nearest neighbours work, too; [up] or [down] will execute from a horizontal attack, and [left] or [right] will execute from vertical.

Handily, a Kusarigama strike with the stick in neutral requires only a tap of [up] or [down] to execute the POW Swing. This applies whether Tsuki is on the ground, or airborne. This is extremely useful when paired to bunnyhops - allowing you to not only sweep the vicinity of zako, but also land rapid strikes on pursuing heavies, all while advancing at top speed.

The Swing will terminate when it hits ground, typically giving 180' coverage; if you (and your Shadows) are high enough up, it'll wrap around for a full 360' sweep.

POINTBLANK ATTACK: A mechanic that'll be familiar to any STG or run/gun fan. Unlike the Katana, which shears through enemies, the Kusarigama will rebound on impact, instantly readying another strike. At close range, this lets you launch flurries, racking up big damage fast. An especially useful tactic is to get your Shadows overlapping a hard target, before letting rip - not even heavies will survive this battering for long.

Slip past the target, then pulverise them with your Shadow Train.
Spoiler: show
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AUTOGUARD: Yet another huge asset exclusive to the Kusarigama. During its attack frames, both ground and air, Tsuki gains full-body invincibility to projectiles (as well as White Rains). All will shatter on contact, as if they'd been struck by the weapon itself. Don't abuse this mechanic - you should always maintain situational awareness - but know it's got you covered while you're negotiating the fray.

The name is "Shoryu," but the autoguard is OROCHINAGI Image Image
Spoiler: show
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"NANIII?!"
Spoiler: show
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Author's Verdict: The Kusarigama's balance of speed, power and reach makes it Saigo's best overall weapon. While Grenades are the clear pick for bosses, the Kusarigama dominates most stages outside of 4 and 7.

Unparalleled versatility.
Spoiler: show
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Image GLITCH ALERT: Uniquely among weapons, the Kusarigama immobilises Tsuki during its attack frames - both straight strikes and POW Swings. Jumps input during an attack will be buffered, executing after it completes. Sound good - except the jump will be forced in the direction Tsuki was facing during the attack. This is obviously not good, and can send you straight into something you were intending to leap clear of.

VIDEO GUIDE: All About POW Swing Glitch Jumps (enable Closed Captions for detailed commentary)

Fortunately, it's a snap to avoid when you know about it. Let the attack terminate - then hit [Jump]. As shown in the above video, the required wait period for a clean jump is tiny. This will readily enter muscle memory with a little practice - the only time I see the glitch nowadays is if I've been away from Saigo for months on end.
_________________
Image
光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Tue May 24, 2022 1:44 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:22 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

All items are found in consistent stage sectors, dropped by Gold Katana Runners or Lurkers. Note that, while the sector they appear in is set, the side of the screen that Golds run in from is random. This is an ongoing concern in Rank-controlled play.

Image Image Image Image

WEAPON POWER UP ("POW")
Flashing orb upgrades your currently-equipped weapon. If that weapon is already powered up, the boost will go to the next un-upgraded weapon in line. +25 Rank per POW.

SHADOW
Blue orb summons an invaluable Shadow, up to two. No Rank effect. (?)

AURA
Gold orb gives a temporary, fiery aura to Tsuki and his Shadows. Don't think of it as a shield! It offers no protection from enemy blades or projectiles, which will pass straight through (even lowly Brown Katanas can kill this way). Instead, consider it a counter-offensive weapon. Combined with the Shadow Train, it can decimate crowds, and devastate stubborn pursuers. +25 Rank while active.

BOMB
Pink orb deals rapidly fatal damage to all enemies onscreen. NB it's not an "enemy eraser" - while zako will perish instantly, heavies may survive long enough for a final attack. The blast persists for a second or so, a good time to press onward. No Rank effect. (?)

RANK: What I Know.

Rank is a common term for dynamic difficulty. It's famously associated with STGs, but appears in all manner of arcade games, and console ones modelled on them.

Saigo's Rank mechanism seems simple, and its effects fairly minor: Every POW you collect raises heavy enemy and boss HP slightly. The Aura causes a similar bump while active. This dynamic goes both ways - you will note that, after dying at max power and respawning, heavy enemies are falling fast to your base weaponry.

I currently describe Rank in 25% increments, according to the number of POWs collected. No POWs = Rank00. Two POWs = Rank50. Four POWs = Rank100.

RANK: What I Don't Know.

-Do all weapon upgrades raise rank equally?
-Do Shadows affect rank?
-Do Bombs?
-Can the Aura temporarily push Rank above maximum?
-Are there other contributors, like survival time, or score?
-Are any other factors besides heavy enemy HP affected? (spawn frequency, movement speed, etc)

Strictly offhand: I would guess the answers are a "yes," followed by all "nos."

Author's Recommendation: After getting my first one-life clears at Rank100, I enjoyed Rank50 for a long time (POW Grenades & Kusarigama). The base Katana is more than good enough for its one featured area, Stage 3-2; and while POW Grenades lose stopping power at Rank100, they are shatteringly potent at Rank50.

However: maintaining Rank requires experience, to avoid unwanted POWs. I suggest new players ignore Rank, initially. Death is part of any good action game's learning process, and will regulate sufficiently. Expect to be around Rank50 to Rank75 while learning the ropes. Once the basic layout and mechanics are grasped, with a 1CC in sight, Rank control becomes feasible.

Lately, I've returned to Rank100 - both for a little additional pressure, and the simple fun of using my full arsenal. The penalty is not overly harsh; anyone who can consistently survive Rank50 will require only subtle modifications to do the same. The primary tradeoff is at the final boss, a fiendishly dangerous fight which will be prolonged for a handful of perilous seconds.

Playing at Rank25 or lower is overkill, in my opinion; more handicap than aid. An experimental 1LC maintaining Rank25 until late in Stage 7 can be found here.
_________________
Image
光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Sat Jan 15, 2022 2:19 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread under construction, no post pls <333
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:22 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

ADAPT AND OUTPLAY.

Saigo's deadliest trait is its unpredictable enemy spawning. No two runs will go quite the same, making adaptability just as important as route memorisation. This established: you are not dealing with pure chaos. This is a common misconception, one that promotes despair and blind gambling.

While enemies appear at random times and places within their sectors, their behaviour is carved in granite, and further restrained by spawn limits. You will never have a Ryuichi ignore your baiting hop, or escape a Ghost only to find another blocking you. These are the guard-rails IREM use to ensure a harrowingly volatile yet scrupulously fair battlefield.

Rather than chaos, you're negotiating random arrays of set parts, with set solutions. The challenge is in adapting these solutions on the fly. The more skilled the player, the less relevant the RNG - there is no situation an expert cannot comprehensively outplay.

1. THE ABSOLUTE BASICS

SPAWNING:
Enemies are assigned to specific stage sectors, randomly spawning therein. While stages are divided by a single checkpoint apiece (6-1 vs 6-2), enemy distribution is sometimes more granular (6A/B/C/D).

RESPAWNING: Enemies respawn indefinitely, within their sectors. Generally, zako respawn faster than heavies. In Stage 3-1, Brown Katanas and Shinobi Muskets are replaced virtually as fast as you kill them. Ghosts, on the other hand, can vanish for seconds at a time before respawning.

SPAWN LIMIT: Each enemy type has a spawn limit. Generally speaking, don't worry about zako numbers - just repel the swarm as it encroaches. Heavies, conversely, are often best kept alive and at safe distance, blocking spawn slots. A pair of deadly pursuers at your back is no bad thing, when they're ensuring none can spring up in front - particularly if you've strategically whittled them for easy dispatch, once they finally catch up! This is a key tactic in Stage 6-2, with its complex terrain and fierce heavy numbers.

BOSS ASSIST: Common enemies will happily pursue you into boss arenas - a potentially fatal complication. Note that only Stage 3's boss has actively respawning help - the rest are reliant on stragglers. This is mostly a threat in Stage 6, where the boss arena is reached amidst a fierce pursuit.

CONTACT DAMAGE: The vast majority of foes are armed, and limited to killing Tsuki with their weapons. Otherwise, they are harmless to overlap. This is of extreme importance versus Monks, Ryuichis and Ghosts, all of whom are deadly and tough, yet vulnerable to deft outplaying via Axis Trigger (see immediately below). The only contact-killers are White Rain, a vicious shinobi wolf, and Hitodama, a fiery spectre.

Contra-influenced, but Metal Slug-prefiguring! Get comfy being at overlap range.
Spoiler: show
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2. ADVANCED TECHNIQUES: FEINTING & MISDIRECTION

While Tsuki's weaponry is impressive, it alone cannot ensure consistent victory. You'll see the following two techniques referenced frequently in the walkthrough - it's no exaggeration to say that mastering them separates mere survivors from authoritative clearers. Think of them as the "unarmed combat" component of your skill set.

AXIS TRIGGER: All warfare is based on deception! Saigo's heavy enemies launch attacks based on Tsuki's XY position. However, they only track one axis. For Ghosts and Ryuichis, this is X, or horizontal. For Monks, it's Y, or vertical.

Firepower alone is not enough!
Spoiler: show
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Feinting enemies is an essential complement to killing them outright. You are not fighting in a vacuum; with countless foes assailing your position, focusing on a single target will soon see you swamped. Consider slipping past with a deft feint, forging ahead while the Shadow Train mops up.

Scenario: pincered by a pair of Jumpslashers, with a Ghost to the rear. A high jump in either direction will likely be cut down. Retreating is certain death at Ghost's longsword. There's no time to kill them before the horde closes in.

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What's a sure solution?
Spoiler: show
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Bingo! Now you're thinking with axes. All threats neutralised with a single button-tap, the way ahead opened. With experience, you'll develop an intuition for devising and executing these tactics - even multiple overlapping tactics.

TERRAIN LAUNCHER: Enemies lack Tsuki's fine jump control; when they hit an obstruction, they'll overcome it by leaping long and high into the air.

These chumps neglected their fundamentals!
Spoiler: show
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Enemies are generally harmless during these vaults - with the major exception of Monks, who become airborne battering rams. Still, even they are flung well out of your path - and a Monk at distance is easily kept there via Axis Trigger.

Ryuichi rushing in for the kill? Not quite.
Spoiler: show
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Just like Axis Trigger, this is a vital addition to your tactical repertoire. Expert players will know when a would-be charger is doomed to a long, wasteful detour from the fight. If you're pinned down with a heavy rushing in - not uncommon in the formidable Stage 6 - know when you've got the terrain on your side, obviating a riskier breakout.
_________________
Image
光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Tue Oct 04, 2022 7:54 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread under construction, no post pls <333
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:23 pm 


User avatar

Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

ZAKO-TYPE (in order of appearance)

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All of the below die to a single hit, with two exceptions: Muskets and Wind Demons, who can survive a tick more. In classic form, their numbers are the primary threat; combined with their rapid respawns, they are quasi-omnipresent. They also provide deadly support for Heavy-Types, most notably in the crucible of Stage 6-1.

To the uninitiated, Saigo's most zako-infested straits may seem impossibly busy and chaotic. Don't waste valuable braintime tracking these units individually. Instead, think of them as a collective swarm, to be swatted back by your trusty blades as needed.

Saigo's battlefield in a nutshell. Annihilate zako, outfox heavies.
Spoiler: show
Image


GOLD KATANA

Image Image

Saigo's item carrier. Comes in "Runner" and "Lurker" varieties. Gold Runners approach Tsuki, stopping when in striking range. After a pause, they'll launch an overhead chop. The pause is long enough that they actually can't hit fleeing players, though they'll just barely catch ones attempting to run through them. A small but potentially life-saving edge, particularly on the crowded ceilings of Stage 4-2.

Zako Katana's delayed attack
Spoiler: show
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(Golds run faster than their Brown Katana counterparts, but are otherwise identical; hence these GIFs starring the latter)

Zako Katana Meetup
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^ Note that the chop does not kill on contact - rather, it strikes the floor, then "rebounds," after which a hit will finally register. Note also their additional quirk: a Runner who's already attacked will freeze for several seconds before attacking again - regardless of whether Tsuki is still nearby or not. Knowledge is power. Image

You can also deflect the chop with your own Katana - though you're really better off just killing the buggers.

Katana deflection, fun but pointless.
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While Gold Runners spawn in pre-set stage sectors, carrying pre-set items, the direction they run in from is random. This unpredictability is an ongoing concern in Rank-controlled play.

Gold Lurkers, found clinging to walls, are totally harmless - unless you grab an unwanted POW from one! They spawn in after a slight delay, once you've reached their location. If you're on the run and relying on one's pickup, factor in this wait.

BROWN KATANA

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Comes in visually identical "Runner" and "Jumper" varieties. Runners are identical to their Gold counterparts, just a bit slower. Jumpers are more dangerous - shortly after entering, they'll vault high into the air, chopping at Tsuki when in range. Trivial if spotted, but deadly to the distracted.

Runners are capable of traversing Stage 4-2's ceiling, from where they drop down to commence attack. However, they can't follow you back up.

GREEN KUNAI

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Sniper/turret type. Comes in "Lurker" and "Jumper" varieties. Lurkers cling to Stage 1's walls, flinging slow kunai. Jumpers spring up from their hiding places, loosing an unaimed, semi-circular clockwise spread at their peak. Though near-harmless in Stage 1's mild straits, their spreadfire is a major threat on 6-1's fierce battlefield. The Kusarigama's POW Swing will deftly slice them and their kunai in one swoop.

EARTH NINJA [Limit x 1]

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Scurries in crawlspaces, attempting to spear Tsuki through the floorboards. Mostly harmless in Stage 1-1's plain sight, particularly with their long attack delay and easily-bypassed range - they're powerless to hit a nearby Tsuki. However, Stage 4-2's bamboo spikes (and much higher intensity) can obscure them dangerously. Periodically carpet-bombing the floors will keep them at bay.

RED GRENADIER

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Functionally similar to Green Lurkers. However, their grenades will explode on contact with Tsuki, or when slashed. While being struck by a grenade is instantly fatal, note that a slashed grenade's explosion is not. The subsequent conflagaration kills, but the detonating "pop" is harmless to pass through. If you're on a collision course with a grenade, and you've got momentum on your side, bust straight through it. This works from both below (while jumping), or above (during freefall).

Nice! :cool:
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Just don't screw up and eat the grenade, ok? :shock:
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In one of Saigo's many nods to STG convention, Reds are also pointblank-safe. They can't attack at overlap, so don't worry if you find yourself in close proximity.

Thanks Toaplan!
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WHITE RAIN

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The flying ninja dog! Dives in from a sharp overhead angle, lands, then bounds away at much the same. Lethal to touch while in flight. Like the Brown Jumpers, while they're easily shredded en masse via Shadow Katana or Kusarigama, they can blindside distracted players. Since they dive in from offscreen, they're also deadly to players occupying the upper reaches.

Fortunately, their diving angle makes it all but impossible for them to hit an advancing Tsuki - an easy trick is to run straight past their initial strike, snuffing them with a deft bunnyhopped Kusarigama.

Poor accuracy, but A+ for effort.
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Saigo seems to consider White Rain a projectile, in certain regards. Besides being fatal to touch while in flight, they'll also die to the Kusarigama's Autoguard. The Aura also has some difficulty killing White Rains, though it will reliably stop them.

A clever Ninja Doggo gets going while the going's good.
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SHINOBI MUSKET CORPS

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Saigo's first really nasty enemy will intimidate newcomers to Stage 3. However, while their shots are much faster than Greens' and Reds' throwing weapons, they're just as easily swatted by the Kusarigama. As usual, aim to destroy, rather than dodge their fire. The standing Kusarigama will mow straight through the bullet and its sender alike - no need to crouch!

Don't dodge bullets. Destroy them and their senders in one strike.
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Muskets are far deadlier to Tsuki while he's high in the air; keep to the grass in Stage 3-1, where they'll go for easily-countered prone shots.

Kusarigama Autoguard would help, here...
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They can also be trivially baited into a whiffed anti-air via approaching bunnyhop:

Muskets' horizontal and 45-degree ranges, in brief.
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GREY KATANA

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Patrols the attic spaces of Stages 4-1 and 4-2, attempting to stab Tsuki through the ceiling. Very vulnerable to Grenade splash, and moreover, is heavily outplayable.

The perils of tracking prey by sound.
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As shown, they can't hit a stationary player, nor a running one. It's hesitantly creeping forward that'll get you stabbed. Don't feel forced into a one-way trip to the spike-pit! As with their opposite number, the Earth Ninja, periodic Grenade splashings will keep their numbers down.

WIND DEMON SOLDIER [Limit x3] Exclusive to Stage 6-2.

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Mobile turret type. Pursues while firing targeted three-kunai spreads. While they are technically Heavy enemies, taking a few hits to kill, they are more practically regarded as zako units, in support of Stage 6-2's unprecedented horde. NB they cannot fire until they've been onscreen a moment, and also, their tendency to cause slowdown - on crowded screens, their spreadfire makes the M72 hardware chug. Don't let them in too close, particularly air-to-air, but consider allowing them to chase a while.

HEAVY-TYPE (in order of appearance)

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These enemies have significant HP, and present deadly threats all on their own. Remember: their onscreen numbers are strictly limited, and they're also spawned at a lower frequency than zako types.

WANDERING MONK (RED) [Limit x1] Exclusive to Stage 1-2.

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This itinerant disciple runs at Tsuki, whirling his cane in a lethal bulldozer charge. This doubles as a shield, blocking Shuriken, though not Grenade splash. He will execute a screen-high vertical leap under two conditions: either you jump over him, or he sustains critical damage.

While the tougher Grey Monks demand more sophisticated tactics, attacking in tandem on deadlier ground, the lonesome Red is easily bunnysmashed via POW Kusarigama or Grenades. Downstrikes will more than suffice, if you find yourself above one.

HITODAMA [Limit x3] Exclusive to Stage 2-2.

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Descends from above, pursuing Tsuki slowly through Stage 2. Takes significant damage to kill, but is trivial to outrun, and an easy target for your trailing shadows.

GHOST OF FUGITIVE WARRIOR [Limit x1]

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Juggernaut type. Materialises at random spots, advancing relentlessly on Tsuki through any and all terrain. Once in range, it'll unleash a lightning-quick slash; being caught in its arc is near-certain death. Luckily, they are easily Axis Triggered via jump, after which they'll enter a lengthy cooldown. A reliable tack is to trigger their slash with a descending, moderate-height jump, before landing and promptly moving on.

Tough, though not indestructible. However, they never appear without fierce support, making protracted engagement risky. It's tactically best to whittle Ghosts down, rather than kill them outright - they are limited to one onscreen, and slow. Thus, hustling past a damaged Ghost will defuse the immediate threat, and their unpredictable respawn, while leaving them easily dispatched as needed. This tactic is invaluable in Stage 6-2, where Ghosts are paired with Jumpslasher Ryuichis, forming potential screen-high walls of death. Keep the Ghost well behind you to preclude these lethal barricades.

WANDERING MONK (GREY) [Limit x2]

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Hardier than his Red counterparts, fought in tougher surroundings, and usually paired with a comrade. On the ground, he too rushes Tsuki with his Shuriken-blocking cane. However, he lacks the Reds' counter-jump. Instead, if your Y-axis beats his, either due to jumping or simply standing on higher ground, he will halt and throw his cane, boomerang-style.

This is an easy Axis Trigger - the tiniest bunnyhop will suffice - and one of the most valuable. Not only does it halt his charge... and not only is the cane powerless to hit grounded players... but the Monk himself is completely neutralised during the throw, and for a tick after the cane's return! Total tactical carte blanche. As with Ghosts, I recommend hustling past, whittling them as you go.

The Katana is uniquely suited to controlling Monks - it'll instantly repel a flying cane, as well as drive back their bulldozer charge.

Stage 3-2's marsh: an outstanding showcase for the Righteous Cloud.
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Terrain can modify the Grey's bulldozer charge to deadly effect. In Stage 3-2, he may spawn up a tree. Your options here are to either superjump over him and his cane alike - tricky, with zako filling the air - or back off, as he charges down from his perch. What you can't do is stay put - the Flying Shaolin Bulldozer is among Saigo's most unstoppable forces. Stage 6's shoals and rocks, meanwhile, will launch Greys high overhead, in long arcs - generally helpful, but beware, lest you begin a superjump only to find yourself on a collision course.

PURPLE KUSARIGAMA Exclusive to Stage 4-1.

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A nasty sentry type, combining the numbers of zako with the toughness of heavies. Just like Greens and Reds, they appear in set locations, but at random timings, and will respawn indefinitely. They're tough, requiring a couple direct Grenades to kill - don't overdo it, as excessive splash can dangerously obscure their compact sprites.

Their Kusarigama fires out a dangerous length before retracting, the blade snuffing any projectiles in its path - don't try outrunning it, unless you've got a good headstart. While the chain is harmless to touch, the blade is lethal from start to finish. Think of it as a short-lived gap; landing inside is fine, but hop out before the blade returns. The Katana can deflect their attack; as ever, I don't recommend you waste the time.

Their biggest weakness is their lengthy attack startup - even if you're forced into their striking range by other enemies, you'll still have a comfortable window to hop clear.

Purple Kusarigama attack timing - don't leap earlier than you need to!
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Note also that, while ceiling-bound Purples will visibly track Tsuki's position, they won't attack unless he actually latches on, being totally harmless otherwise. This is critically important, with low hops being vital to consistently surviving Stage 4-1.

RYUICHI-SAN [Limit x2]

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Saigo's single deadliest enemy, a fast and tough pursuer with a lethal attack. Rushes into striking range, before delivering a vast iaido swipe. Note that, unlike the lowly Gold and Brown Katanas, Ryuichi's sword will easily catch a fleeing player. If you're on the run, ensure you bunnyhop clear of its arc! While his swipe isn't as devastatingly fast as Ghost's, its sweep is wider, reaching far behind Ryuichi's head. It's very possible for a sloppy jump-over to get caught by its final frames.

All this said: don't panic in front of Ryuichi, and certainly don't retreat. He's every bit as X-Axis Triggerable as Ghost. Moreso, in fact. While Ghost is near-certain death to approach on the ground, Ryuichi is more than slow enough for a deft hop-over. This is a staple technique of confident Saigo play, which I dub the Ryuchi Hop.

Ryuichi Hop & Ryuchi Drop. Learn 'em!
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Slowed down for clarity.
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As noted, the second evasion illustrates the technique's descending counterpart: the Ryuichi Drop. If you can maneuver yourself into overlap range with Ryuichi, he'll be unable to hit you - and kept there by his own relentless attack rate.

Ryuichi is powerless at point-blank. You're not!
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While subtly trickier, the combination of Ryuichi's slash delay and Tsuki's small hitbox make it nowhere as harrowing as it might appear. It's a great technique to have at your disposal, should a Ryuichi rush in while you're already airborne. Beginners should focus on mastering the Hop, at which point, the Drop's timing will gradually become apparent.

Here's a Hop that deliberately rushes into Ryuichi's striking range, then waits until he begins the draw.

Ground Zero Ryuichi Hop. Tsuki's jump acceleration is king.
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There's absolutely no need to be this close, or late; jumps from outside striking range will work fine. It's merely an illustration of how powerful and consistent Saigo's mechanics are - Tsuki's jump acceleration will beat Ryuichi's draw every time.

Stand Proud!

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ZEROSHIKI Ryuichi Hop used in a real run.
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A third and final Axis Trigger technique is ideal for neutralising Ryuichi's fast run. While his blade will catch you on the ground, a deft hop will evade it every time. This is especially useful when combined with the Shadow Train, which'll hammer the whiffing Ryuichi as you advance.

Ryuichi Drop, followed by Ryuichi Hop: Evasive Type
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Note that, while Ryuichi aggressively follows you between ceilings and floors, he is totally harmless during his transitioning jumps. This is a powerful weakness to exploit, not only for escapes, but also attacks! Forcing him to break off his advance by switching, then blasting him with projectiles is a reliable tack in Stages 4-1, 4-2 and 7-1.

Raw power is not your only weapon on this battlefield!
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With Ryuichi being Saigo's deadliest attacker, nullifying him with the above techniques is key. As always, you're not fighting in a vacuum - even the best 1v1 technique must be complemented with good situational awareness. Nevertheless, learn to outplay Ryuichi, and Saigo's intimidation factor will be tamped down greatly.

RYUICHI JUMPSLASHER-TYPE [Limit x2] Exclusive to Stage 6-2.

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This visually-identical Ryuichi variant presents a subtly different threat. While you're on the ground, he will behave exactly like the common variety, right down to falling for Ryuichi Hops. However, just like Grey Monks, the instant your Y-Axis is superior to his, either via terrain or jump, he will reveal a new trick - launching a long, high leap across the screen. If you're in the air near him at any point, he'll unleash a rangy swipe.

NB he's fully capable of pivoting 180' to catch players at his back!
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Naturally, this deadly anti-air attack is also a richly exploitable Axis Trigger. If you're blocked by a Jumpslasher, simply bunnyhop to fling him up, over and far behind. If one is at your back, do the same to slow their advance, whittling them as you please.

Turn the enemy's attack against them!
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It's worth knowing that Jumpslashers cannot use their aerial attack on grounded players. They will attack instantly upon landing, but this allows a canny player to execute an overlap dodge:

NB the use of Ryuichi Hop, to advance onto the shoal without losing momentum.
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Note also that, if a Jumpslasher is caught in a Terrain Launcher (see IV: Art of War), he'll be rendered just as harmless as his regular counterparts.

A safe Terrain-Launched jump, followed by a deadly anti-air one.
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If you find yourself on a mid-air collision course with a Jumpslasher, evasion is best done by maneuvering into overlap from above or below - whichever is easier. The jumpslash's range and timing is roughly equal to its grounded counterpart, and just as powerless to connect at overlap - but naturally, with both player and enemy airborne, execution is far trickier.

A bad spot to be in.
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Frankly, this is a situation best precluded with vigilance. In the above GIF, a short hop onto the boulder would've baited out the Jumpslasher, at zero risk to me. Look before you leap, and moderate your jumps!
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Sun Feb 06, 2022 8:18 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Thread under construction, no post pls <333
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:23 pm 


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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


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Saigo's opening stage barely registers on its difficulty curve. Terrain is flat, and its zako lack heavy support until very late. Novices should use this short prelude to master their bunnyhopped POW Swings and Grenade volleys.

Stage 1-1 [Brown Katana Runner] [Green Kunai Lurker] [Green Kunai Jumper] [Earth Ninja x1] Best: KUSARIGAMA

A friendly start on flat ground: bottom-tier Browns, dozy Earth Ninjas, and a smattering of Greens for an easy introduction to bullet cancelling. A Gold Runner holding a POW arrives promptly; I suggest upgrading the Kusarigama, and getting used to the POW Swing's input. It'll thoroughly dominate this sector, including the subsequent Gold carrying a Shadow orb. The pond debuts Green Jumpers, perfect targets for Bunnyhopped POW Swings.

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Bunnyhopped POW Swing: [jump], then [attack], then [up] or [down]. Carve it into your soul, kid!
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RANK CONTROL: Rank50 is the highest you can attain in Stage 1. If you're going to maintain it, you'll choose your two weapon upgrades here. As mentioned previously, I strongly recommend Kusarigama.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Stage 1-2 [Brown Katana Runner] [Brown Katana Jumper] [RED MONK x1] Best: KUSARIGAMA / GRENADES

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The second and final building quickly yields your second Shadow, as well as another POW - I strongly recommend upgrading Grenades. It also debuts Brown Jumpers, mixed in with their visually identical Runner comrades. Don't be intimidated by their diving attack - a quick Shadow Train upshot from either Kusarigama or Grenades will keep them well at bay.

A bit further in, Saigo's first (and Stage 1's only) heavy enemy awaits, supported by leaping Brown Katana. Hammering Red Monks with either Kusarigama or Grenades will drop them at safe distance. If you're forced to jump over them, firing downward while advancing will evade their counter-leap, while almost certainly killing them. Browns will be interfering throughout - a small taste of the much fiercer zako+heavy mixups of later stages. Here's a simple bunnyhopping pattern that'll seamlessly destroy incoming enemies while covering your six:

Spot the Red Monk before he's pulverised by Bunnyhopped Shadow Train's POW Grenades.
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While the terrain will be more complex further into the game, this basic rhythm will serve you well. Remember, Tsuki can't run and attack simultaneously. Bunnyhopped Shadow Train is an essential part of your ninja commando repertoire.

The pre-boss zako rush is another useful early test. You can shut these guys down in a few ways. My favourite is to get into column formation, then shred them and their kunai alike with POW Swings. The slowdown feels rad. :cool:

No cover? No problem.
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Alternatively, blast them with Grenades; for a no-effort wipeout, column-fire from either screen edge. This is an easy setpiece, but its lessons on vertical Shadowplay are worth paying attention to.

RANK CONTROL: Again, there's just the one POW here - if you're going for Rank50, it should definitely be spent on Grenades.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 1: ASHURA STATUE Best: GRENADES

The first boss is visually iconic, and that's about it. You can cancel its bullets, but you're better off parking directly under its vulnerable face and hammering it with POW Grenades. Particularly with Tsuki's small hitbox, dodging them manually should present little difficulty. Alternatively, POW Kusarigama will kill him nearly as quickly as projectiles, and can easily cancel everything he throws at you.

Easy boss for an easy stage.
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Note that while you can hit him as he's rising up from the ground, he won't actually start taking damage until he's begun to attack.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:23 pm 


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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


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Stage 2 is hardly more demanding than the first. Terrain is just as flat, with platforming through its trees strictly optional. Its only heavies, Hitodama, can't keep up with Tsuki - and while its Red Grenadier and White Rain zako are not harmless, likewise, neither's much threat to an advancing player. However, just like Stage 1, it introduces concepts that'll become vital later on - namely, neutralising Grenadiers and their fire with POW Swings, and slipping past incoming White Rains.

With its exceptional ninja-funk BGM, Stage 2's enduring value is stylistic. The triple-high playfield lets you enjoy Tsuki's soaring jump with little danger, and while there's technically no need to use the branches, hurdling them at speed has a great oldschool manga aesthetic. It may even make you better at Stage 5's platforming! Enjoy this stage, it's the last easy one.

Stage 2-1 [Red Grenadier] [White Rain] Best: KUSARIGAMA

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I love hopping up the "staircase" formed by the branches - however, you're just as safe running along the floor. White Rains debut at the bridge. They can't hit an advancing player, so just hustle on, while weedwhacking with Bunnyhopped POW Swings.

Yahooo! PT1
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RIP White Rains. They'll have much better - if identically flawed - shots at you in Stages 3 and 6.
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The second grove hosts an "item store" of sorts. I sometimes take a pitstop near the end, by the bridge, waiting for the Gold Lurker holding an Aura. This is another purely stylistic touch; bunnyhopping through the final grove's trees with Aura will torch everything in your wake. If you're just looking to clear the stage, there's no reason to break your stride.

Light 'er up!
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RANK CONTROL: Minimal. A POW runner spawns early in 2-1. If he's behind you, ignore him. If he's in front, take care not to landmine yourself.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50 [Rank100]

Stage 2-2 [Red Grenadier] [White Rain] [HITODAMA x3] Best: KUSARIGAMA

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Hitodama debut at the second bridge, making their dogged but sluggish pursuit. The third and final grove offers more strictly optional platforming; for purely aesthetic benefit, I enjoy this section with "floor is lava" rules. Don't jump offscreen! As liberating as it feels, you risk instakill by Hitodama. Whether you're above or below, you'll arrive at the second boss shortly.

Yahooo! PT2
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RANK CONTROL: Again, minimal. A POW carrier will spawn at the second and final bridge. It's actually possible to despawn him, by scrolling him offscreen with a jump. An easy dodge, either way.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 2: TWIN-AXE ONI Best: GRENADES

A ticking deathclock. Oni steadily rotates in place until he's aimed at your current location, then charges at you. He'll repeat this behaviour until one of you dies. A simple boss, as long as you consistently bait his charges. Rank50 can execute an easy speedkill via Grenades; Rank100 needs Shuriken for comparable results.

Later Oni.
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One thing to beware: scrolling Oni offscreeen vertically can cause him to "teleport" erratically, as the game shunts him up and down to your elevation. Whichever height you come in at, try to stay there while killing him.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:35 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:24 pm 


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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

Stage 3 brings a steep intensity boost, beginning the ascent of Saigo's difficulty curve. Zako and heavies are now deployed in concert, a multi-pronged attack that'll persist for much of the game's remainder. Further in, Axis Trigger technique will be tested for the first time; see Section IV for more on this vital technique.

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This spooky thing is a "Hand Tree." There are three of them in Stage 3-1, each providing a useful reference point. The first signposts a sudden gap, and a POW Carrier; the second, an Aura-carrying runner; and the third marks the transition to 3-2.

Stage 3-1 [Brown Katana Jumper] [Shinobi Muskets] [GHOST x1] Best: KUSARIGAMA

Shinobi Muskets' shots will intimidate at first. They're quick, and the long grass tends to obscure them. Kusarigama is ideal, here. On the ground, it'll mow straight through the shots and their senders; no need to crouch. Tap [up] for the POW Swing, wiping out airborne Browns, before slamming down on would-be backstabbers. This "windshield wiper" groove is all you need to control Stage 3-1's early grassland.

Even in the air, the Kusarigama's Autoguard will keep you safe from Musket shots. Remember - Tsuki has full projectile invincibility during its attack frames. Shred through Muskets and their bullets alike with air-to-ground strikes.

Offense = Defense.
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Ghost debuts a few screens in. Spoof him with an Axis Triggering jump-over, and hustle on past. He's strictly limited to one onscreen at a time, and harmless at range. Dead or alive, he'll rematerialise somewhere up ahead; be on guard. Note that he can't attack while fading in. You can cockily exploit this, launching jumpovers from much nearer than you would otherwise - just know that a late jump is near-certain death.

A Gold Runner carrying an Aura will spawn near the second "Hand Tree." As with the majority of Auras and Bombs, it's nice to have, but not worth breaking your stride for. Grab it if it's in reach, move on otherwise.

Between the Muskets, Browns and Ghosts, 3-1's threat profile may seem suffocating, initially. Trust in the POW Kusarigama's reach and autoguard, give the Ghosts appropriate space while Axis Triggering their swings, and you'll find it dramatically less so.

Stylin' on em
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The third and final "Hand Tree" (above GIF) marks the end of Ghost's sector, and the border with 3-2.

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GAPWATCH: 3-1 owns two of the four dangerous gaps mentioned in Section I. As previously noted, the split-second jump denial can be a deadly surprise. Fortunately, both are well-signposted. The first is early on, under the first "Hand Tree," directly perpendicular to its branch. The second, which is smack in the middle of Ghost country, is found beneath a bent tree. Besides signposting the gap, the tree also provides a handy jump-launching platform.

3-1, first gap:
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3-1, second gap:
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RANK CONTROL: Trickier than before, as with Stage 3 in general. A POW runner kicks off 3-1, easy to avoid with things just heating up. As 3-2's marsh comes into view, you'll have to deal with a couple more, in hairier circumstances - Brown Jumpers and Grey Monks are both lurking. If things get too hectic, backing up into 3-1's grassland will scroll unwanted POW drops offscreen. No more POWs to evade afterward.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Stage 3-2 [White Rain] [Brown Katana Jumper] [GREY MONK x2] Best: KATANA (Defense) / KUSARIGAMA (Offense)

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3-2's marsh possesses a unique terrain effect, sapping Tsuki's running speed. Note that, while bunnyhopping will counteract this, it'll also provoke the Monks' cane-throws; pay attention to your surroundings while hopping along. Avoid the treetops unless you're confident; you're a much easier target for White Rains and Browns up there, and Monks will go for anti-air canes.

Monks are 3-2's major threat, with their aggressive charge and considerable HP. Axis Trigger is key: bait out the cane throw, then hustle past while they're neutralised. If you can get both Monks behind you, you can bunnyhop away at full speed, shredding encroaching zako as you go. Rather than leaving these Monks behind outright, I like to keep them just onscreen; this'll ensure no more spawn up ahead.

Defense = Offense.
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The trees can complicate matters, if a Monk spawns atop one. You'll have to either superjump clear over him and his cane, smacking away Whites and Browns, or quickly retreat from his falling charge, while watching your back for pursuers. Be on alert whenever you see a tree scrolling onscreen.

Nice hat, nice try!
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I favour the Katana in 3-2; both for its Monk-deflecting properties, and its "umbrella" overhead, which neutralises zako. I'm not going for damage - on the contrary, I want Monks to trail me for as long as possible - so its low power and smaller attack radius are actually pluses.

Kusarigama works fine here, too, and may actually be a safer option, with its long reach; Katana keeps you nearer diving zako. However, Kusarigama can't deflect Monk charges or canes, making it trickier to non-lethally control them. It may be a better choice for players who prefer to kill Monks outright - just be aware that dead enemies are swiftly respawned. Experiment, and see which approach you prefer.

When the grass comes back into view, the boss arena is near. I like to switch from Katana to Kusarigama, clearing out the vicinity - you don't want Monks following you into the arena. A Gold Carrier drops an Aura just beforehand; nice to have, but nonessential - and it can actually complicate matters slightly, as detailed below.

RANK CONTROL: Beyond the pair of Gold POW Carriers that spawn at the border with 3-1, the marsh contains only a Shadow and an Aura drop. The latter can complicate boss speedkills slightly, but it'll also help keep the supporting zako at bay; a take-or-leave asset, in my opinion.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 3: MAKAI HANZO [Shinobi Muskets] Best: KUSARIGAMA (Novice) / GRENADES (Advanced)

Alone, Hanzo is less lethal than Oni. He slowly creeps in, blocking your attacks with his greatsword, before executing an elaborate swipe - notably inferior to Ghost's. Alas, he's not alone - Shinobi Muskets will be spawning in from both sides of the screen. A reliable beginner strategy is to keep Hanzo in center screen, then "jump rope" from side to side, downstriking with the Kusarigama. You'll do decent damage to Hanzo, while deflecting and killing his zako.

Adepts should exploit incoming Muskets' fatal flaw: they are totally unable to hit Tsuki when he's at their edge of the screen. Meanwhile, Muskets entering from the other end will be killed by excess Grenades passing through Hanzo. Capitalise like so, for an easy speedkill.

Rank50
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Rank100
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Note how I use the tree in the background as a guideline for my Shadow formation - hop between the "Y" and down its trunk to nail it every time. It's vital you "headshot" Hanzo, to prevent his sword from blocking the brunt of your attack.

As shown, if you're at Rank50, Hanzo will die promptly. If you've got more POWs, or an Aura, you won't be able to kill him before he crushes you. The solution is easy: high-jump out of the corner, downshotting with Grenades to kill any Muskets.

Downshot aggressively to avoid this unnerving scenario!
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Upon landing, hustle over to the left corner, and resume firing. Hanzo won't survive more than a few seconds of this.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Jan 21, 2022 9:43 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:24 pm 


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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


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Stage 4 continues the upward climb, with unprecedentedly lethal enemy mixups and terrain. Ceiling combat debuts, too. Consistent survival will require the mastery of several new techniques. Unlike all other stages, it's explicitly divided into subsections - one checkpoint per floor. The first two are actually deadlier than the third, with trickier crowds and terrain.

STAGE 4-1 [Grey Katanas] [Earth Ninja x1] [PURPLE KUSARIGAMAS] [RYUICHI x2] Best: GRENADES

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Purple Kusarigamas dominate 4-1's floors and ceilings. Get a feel for their attack timing - learning to advance confidently through their ranks will make the area's other major threat much easier to handle.

Purple Kusarigama attack timing - don't leap earlier than you need to!
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After you've passed the door highlighted above, that major threat will appear: Ryuichi-san, Saigo's single deadliest enemy. See Section V for a comprehensive guide to this lethal, yet richly outplayable foe. I strongly advise early mastery of the Ryuichi Hop technique, at minimum; preferably its counterpart, the Ryuichi Drop, as well. Learning to confidently outplay Ryuichi will be a decisive step towards consistent one-life clears.

Ryuichi Hop & Ryuchi Drop. Learn 'em!
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Slowed down for clarity.
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A deliberately extreme example, from pointblank after his attack begins. Tsuki's jump acceleration is king.
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Here, the chief risk is mixup - jumping a Purple's kusarigama, only to land on Ryuichi's blade, or vice-versa. With Purples' spawn timing being random, yet their locations set, you will eventually get a rough mindmap of their layout. Beyond that, you're playing by ear. The balance of evasion and counter-attack is subtle, and may be better demonstrated than described. Here is a selection of replays, covering a range of potential mixups:

4-1 Purple/Ryuichi Mixup Counters: [01] [02] [03] [04] [05]

In all instances, note the consistent exploits of enemy traits. Purples cannot attack instantly - and will not attack at all, if you're not on their floor/ceiling. Thus, a Ryuichi Hop can be executed without fear of interference from Purples overhead - while Purples below will not attack until you're touching down, able to hop clear. Ryuichi himself is helpless while transitioning between floors and ceilings; force him to switch for a valuable breather, parlayed into either a kill or an escape. NB also the use of Shadow Train, to destroy pursuing Ryuichis at safe distance - a staple counter-offensive technique.

You'll note I've neglected 4-1's other two enemy types, Grey Katanas and Earth Ninjas. Even the slightest collateral Grenade splash, to say nothing of targeted attacks, will keep them well at bay. They also have a hard time keeping up with an advancing Tsuki - and consistent, controlled advance is the best approach to 4-1.

Total counter-offensive advance: Purples and Ryuichis neutralised by ceiling/floor hops, zako culled by splash.
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Image The trapdoor is 4-1's exit, and a notable chokepoint.

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You'll know you're close when you've passed the door highlighted above. It's guarded by a Purple to its left, and the Ryuichi-spawning screen edge to its right. A number of consistent escapes are possible; I favour an advancing bunnyhop, downshotting the attacking Purple and any intercepting Ryuichis before sailing into the trapdoor. Tsuki's firepower and drop speed will reliably overcome the guarding foes.

The safest escape method is to wait for a Ryuichi to spawn, then leap from the ground to the ceiling and back while Grenading him, in the same inverted "V" pattern shown in the videos and GIF above. The Ryuichi will be neutralised and slain, while your freefall will beat the Purple's intercepting attack every time.

Nice n' easy. Mostly!
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Image GLITCH ALERT: If Tsuki is killed directly above a trapdoor, and his body falls through it before fading, he'll resurrect one floor down, minus his Shadows. While this technically doesn't cost a life, for No Miss purposes, I consider it a death - hence my considerable advice on safe trapdoor entry. ;3 If you find a pseudo-death acceptable, it may be an option - albeit a costly one, with the loss of your Shadows and no Rank reduction!

RANK CONTROL: 4-1 kicks off with three Gold runners in rapid succession. The first holds a Shadow; the latter two drop POWs. Pay attention, as their and Purples' collective RNG can complicate avoidance. No more POWs to worry about, afterward.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

STAGE 4-2 [Grey Katanas] [Earth Ninja x1] [RYUICHI x2] Best: GRENADES (Rank50) / SHURIKEN (Rank100)

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No more Purples! Despite 4-2's menacing layout, their absence makes it a far less volatile stretch. At Rank50, I suggest using Grenades to blow away Ryuichis, while splashing Earth Ninjas and Grey Katanas. At Rank100, Ryuichis are tough enough to complicate this, making Shuriken useful. The obvious tradeoff is that Shuriken have no splash, leaving crawlspace zako intact. Fortunately, with a little intel, you can avoid Earth Ninjas entirely, while deftly sidestepping Katanas:

Tactical Espionage Action.
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Once you get the knack for spoofing Greys, you can aggressively cancel them out of their whiffed flurries with a quick about-face; great when you want to aggressively gain ground. Greys also can't hit a running player - it's creeping forward indecisively that'll get you stabbed. Either/or is the key: stay still, or advance.

Video Demonstration: 4-2 Ceiling Run

Besides being fatal to touch, the bamboo pits can dangerously camouflage enemies. Grenade splash will take care of zako - however, keep an eye out for Ryuichis. While you're on the floor, they can slash you from the pits - on the ceiling, they can leap up from directly below, necessitating an overlap dodge:

Crisis averted, but try not to let it get this far. ;3
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This is the kind of situation best pre-empted entirely. As long as you're alert, Ryuichis shouldn't be able to get under you without sustaining fatal damage.

4-2 is the first really significant appearance of the Terrain Launcher mechanic (see Section IV), which will become vital to consistently surviving Stage 6. While it's less critical here, it's still useful to know that Ryuichis traveling through the spikes will be launched by the adjacent platforms. Rather than killing these, it can be useful to let them sail past as you forge ahead. Again, don't be too close as they approach the platform - they can and will slash you from below.

Critical in Stage 6, more of a footnote here. Still, it's good learnin'!
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The Gold Lurker on the platform immediately after the longest spike pit holds a Bomb; I like grabbing it, then surfing its blast wave into the stage's exit area. There's another trapdoor to negotiate here; with the lack of Purples, it's slightly less fraught, though still very near the Ryuichi-spawning screen edge. Once again, here's a selection of escapes; with the lack of 4-1's Purple watchdog to force an evasive leap, you'll note I favour the simple bunnyhop drop-in, counting on Tsuki's falling speed to beat potential Ryuichi spawns.

Image Well, kind of dangerous. With the absence of a Purple watchdog, 4-2's trapdoor is a far simpler proposition than the previous floor's. The same method - luring intercepting Ryuichis onto the ceiling, then diving off while blasting them - will work fine.

No Purple backstabber this time around.
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RANK CONTROL: There are no Gold Runners in this stage, greatly simplifying matters. The second and final Gold Lurkers hold POWs; if you accidentally kill the last, note that its item can be safely ceiling-ran past.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Stage 4-3 [Red Grenadiers] Best: KATANA / KUSARIGAMA

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The easiest floor, or at least, the simplest - a straight hallway lined by Red Grenadiers, and an easily-outran falling ceiling. I tend to use Katana, but Kusarigama will work just as well; just tailor your attack according to their respective ranges. Note that you can draw enemy fire upwards; you can also richochet Tsuki off the ceiling for a super-fast descent, setting up another misdirect.

Hustle along, bunnyslashing Reds and their grenades as needed.
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RANK CONTROL: POW avoidance is the trickiest thing in here, which isn't saying much. The first Gold runner drops a POW; as always, don't landmine yourself. You're home free after that.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 4: ACCURSED STONES Best: Grenades

These guys are deceptively quick - beware their speed! They're significantly faster than a running Tsuki. On PCB, ACA, and other accurate emulations, x3 POW Grenades cause heavy slowdown, masking this danger. Their movement is also totally random.

Fortunately, they've a major weakness: only one Stone can move at a time. Start in the middle; whichever Stone rushes you, leap over it, into the side it was occupying. Now you're clear across the room from both Stones - the ideal situation. Try to repeat this process - letting a Stone target you, then moving past it, into its former space. Use your discretion with the inert Stone, during each "turn." If it's stopped in midair, or near a wall, don't put yourself in position for an easy squashing! Keep clear of obvious pinch points, while waiting for the next turn.

Textbook Stage 4 Boss.
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One of the deadlier scenarios is being between a moving Stone and the floor, or ceiling, or wall. I like to pre-empt a possible squash attempt by aggressively moving past the Stone; running past it, or leaping over it, or falling past it, as needed. Tsuki is fast enough to get clear, and it's a surer bet than having to react from a cold start.

A much unrulier fight, making use of pre-emptive movement.
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Image GLITCH ALERT:

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While a "death crush" aesthetic was intended, it's not getting caught between the Stones or walls that kills Tsuki. Rather, it's the blue "impact" flash that is fatal, firing whenever a Stone impacts a wall, or its counterpart. This is why Tsuki can often escape seemingly fatal squeezes, provided he slips clear before the impact registers.

It's possible for the Stones to overlap, and get "stuck" on each other. If this happens, "impacts" can fire erratically, and lethally, as the Stones attempt to disengage. For this reason, you should beware extended "rodeo" tactics. While it's largely safe to platform on and off the Stones, hitching rides is risky. It's fun though. ;3

Expect a slightly longer fight at Rank100, compared to Rank50. The tactics outlined above will suffice; if you can survive a minute, you can survive two.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:37 am, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:24 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
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Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

Stage 5's cliff face is anomalous on several counts. It's Saigo's only vertically-advancing stage, its horizontal scroll looping endlessly. It bucks Stages 3 and 4's increasing complexity, being the simplest of Saigo's latter half - and its shortest overall, consisting of just one sector, with no new enemies. It's also Saigo's most predictable stage; once a route is mastered, it can be replicated with a certainty unheard of elsewhere.

There is a double edge to that route-friendliness, however: mastering one is strongly advised to avoid sudden death by boobytrap. While it's certainly not impossible to improvise your way up, it's easy to get lost in the loop, the timer is tight, and wandering increases the rare - but real! - risk of death by glitch.

Stage 5 [Brown Katana Runner] [Red Grenadier] Best: KUSARIGAMA

Image GLITCH ALERT: In hundreds of hours, and dozens of no-misses, I've seen this happen all of once, in early 2021. I've never been able to replicate it since.

A Hard-Boiled Ninja Murder Mystery
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From what I can tell, the gas trap firing at the far left somehow zipped to Tsuki's XY location. I suspect it's similar to the zip that extensive vertical scrolling can trigger at the second boss, forcing the game to teleport him up or down to your level.

At any rate, I adjusted my route slightly to the left, so the apparently killer gas trap was passed close by. After many dozens more hours and one-life clears, I'm fairly confident my route avoids the glitch. For now, pending research/advice, I'll recommend it here.

Fingers crossed!
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Complete Map w/ Route & Notes
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Stage 5 is exclusively populated by Browns and Reds, the former at ground level only. I favour the Kusarigama; POW Swings neutralise Reds and their grenades handily. While the Katana can suffice, its shorter reach, and the narrow footing, tend to let grenades a bit close for my liking.

On PCB and accurate emulation, Kusarigama tends to cause noticeable slowdown in Stage 5 - particularly during POW Swings. Take care to adjust your movement and jump timing appropriately.

Image The above route keeps clear of all but one Gas Trap, which is marked. The Gold Lurker who'll spawn just above you there is in easy reach, and his Aura is exceptionally useful in the approaching boss battle. Unfortunately, he's guarded by a couple Reds, who are positioned to bomb you from offscreen; an ill-timed jump might see you plow straight into an already-flying grenade.

To defuse this hazard, I like to make a high neutral jump, whacking the Gold and triggering his guards to spawn. After landing, I then execute a long leap to the nearby branch, snatching the Aura and killing the Reds and their grenades in one swoop.

Operation EAGLE'S NEST
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It's an easy heist, with a little practice. You can technically go straight for the Gold, if you're feeling cocky. Once you've got the Aura, little can stand in your way. Hightail it up the route shown, batting away grenades as needed - the Aura will actually kill most of the remaining Reds.

At the final foothold, get in the center, switch to Grenades, then execute a maximum height neutral jump - this'll trigger the boss fight, at optimal positioning for the Grenades+Aura speedkill.

RANK CONTROL: On the route recommended above: almost non-existent. A few Gold Runners can be found near the starting ground; start climbing promptly, and you'll never see them again.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 5: WIND DEMON CLAN Best: GRENADES (w/Aura) / KUSARIGAMA

If you arrive with Aura, two Shadows, and POW Grenades, these guys can be demolished in short (and satisfying!) order.

BOOM! Didn't I see you in ImageFight?
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Make sure to hang the Shadows as shown; between the Grenades and Aura, the enemy won't get a shot off. Rank100 lets the boss survive a second longer, but he's just as doomed.

Sans Aura, use the same Shadow formation and rapid Kusarigama to keep their numbers down, as well as their fire - the Pointblank and Autoguard mechanics will see you through. Despite Katana's excellent defense, I don't recommend it here - its low power risks a death by timeout.

RANK CONTROL: A single Gold Runner carrying a POW will approach as the boss battle is triggered; whichever side of the screen he arrives from, he's easily slapped down with Grenades. Just beware the POW drop while you're battling the boss.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:25 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
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Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

Stage 6 is Saigo's ultimate challenge, more than making up for Stage 5's plateau. Its heavy enemy attack is unprecedented; you'll be facing Ryuichis, Monks and Ghosts simultaneously, plus their zako supports. Less obvious, but just as deadly, is the harshly irregular terrain - Tsuki's featherweight jumps must be handled as authoritatively as his weaponry.

Don't be discouraged if Stage 6 seems impossibly tough or random at first. If you can confidently make it this far, you already have the raw materials to overcome the onslaught. Most of what I'm about to describe is foundational knowledge, covered in the early sections. Think of Stage 6 as a crucible - searing away bad habits, reinforcing good ones. Consistent survival is entirely realistic - though never given lightly, no matter the player's skill or experience level.

Before we get started, a few general pointers.

AXIS TRIGGER IS VITAL. The horde is often better outmaneuvered than destroyed. Remember the spawn limit - a pair of Ryuichis at your back ensures none in front. If you can keep the majority of foes behind you, gaining ground will become markedly safer. Deftly slipping past enemies gives a trifold benefit:

1: Clearing the path. 2: Outranging the enemy. 3: Delaying respawns.

This is not an argument for total pacifism; violence is frequently the answer, particularly when it comes to keeping your vicinity clear. Consider this a complementary tactical approach.

TERRAIN LAUNCHER IS VITAL. Remember: Saigo's enemies do not have your jump control. When they meet an impasse, they will vault high overhead in a long, inefficient arc. If you are atop a shoal, with a Ryuichi or Monk approaching on the sand, consider letting them vault (after ensuring you're not so close that they'll strike you from below!). Now they're at your back, and you've one less oncomer to worry about. Similar applies to the occasional boulder; let them serve as springboards for incoming heavies, deftly making your way underneath.

As a general rule, enemies are harmless while vaulting. The exception, as covered earlier in this guide, are Monks - their bulldozer cane is just as lethal in the air. However, they are still launched well out of your path - and Monks at your back are easily kept there, via Axis Trigger.

Terrain Launcher As Fortress? It's very possible to stall for long periods in Stage 6-1, simply by parking atop a narrow shoal. Ryuichis and Monks can be bashed down at distance, or launched away up-close. (this is an important tactic in high score play)

Pretty comfy!
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A related point is the anti-Ryuichi safespots provided by the foot of each shoal. With some minor finesse, it's simple to set this up:

Also comfy, but Monks can ruin it quickly.
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I'm not a big user of either tactic; the former won't make my advance into the stage any less uncertain, while the latter can be swiftly undone by a Monk bulldozer. Still, it's good to know your tactical options in full. Neither of these tricks are sustainable in 6-2, due to the marauding presence of Ghosts.

STEALTH RYUICHI: A Monk's sprite will always overlap a Ryuichi's. This has the unfortunate side-effect of camouflaging the latter, should they spawn simultaneously. In ideal circumstances, you can spot the lurking Ryuichi; but with 6-1's pace, it's not easy. The danger is in Axis Triggering the Monk with a neutral bunnyhop, which the Ryuichi will rush in to punish.

One hell of a nasty surprise. Tricky, but not impossible to recover from.
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Fortunately, there is a simple, consistent solution: use advancing hop-overs on incoming Monks, without exception. If a Stealth Ryuichi is indeed lurking, he'll be Axis Triggered and bypassed just like his comrade - with your Shadow Train sweeping in to demolish both. Ryuichi Hop will work flawlessly - further/higher jumps are fine, too.

Peekaboo, you lousy rat you!
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Higher altitude? No probs.
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Just clear the Monk, and you'll disarm any lurking threats. Formerly a dreaded personal bane, I now regularly expose and shred Stealth Ryuichis without the slightest alarm. Hop the Monks, expose the lurkers, and free up vital braintime while keeping your momentum.

ON THE ROCKS:

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The essence of Stage 6 is its harshly irregular terrain. As you know, Tsuki not only jumps high - he also falls slowly. Thus, navigating the shoals is a deceptively technical process. You can't counter-jump incoming Ryuichis or Monks while you're in descent! Keep an eye on the path ahead while making your landing. If an incoming enemy is far enough away, seize the opportunity to land, then deal with them as needed. If it's clear they'll intercept you, moderate your advance accordingly. In worst-case scenarios, retreat may be advisable - but as always, be ready to deal with pursuers while you regroup.

AUTOCLIMB: Technically, it's possible to simply clamber onto rocks, by holding [forward]. You could, in theory, clear Stage 6 without a single jump.

Gonna ramble on~
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However, climbing is much slower than a deft hop - and it can also be tricky to launch running jumps from such steep footing. I suggest using autoclimb only sparingly; a typical situation for me is hopping onto the upper-side of a boulder, then clambering up the last few steps to its summit.

Image GLITCH ALERT: Under exceedingly rare circumstances, landing on a slope at a precise angle and velocity can cause Tsuki to "hang" in midair. You can see White Rains run afoul of a similar effect with some regularity, which is the only footage I currently have. I'm not sure if it's the same glitch, but it's a decent visual representation:

Thanks wolfy. 3;
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I've seen this happen to Tsuki twice, across 2+ years of nomiss play. Despite my best efforts, I've never been able to replicate it - but if it happens in the heat of battle, you'll definitely remember! For now, my advice is to avoid landing "hard" on slopes; aim for the nearby sand, or plateau proper. If you get glitched, it seems letting Tsuki drift groundward is the best method of escape. This space will be updated once I know more.

TACTICAL RETREAT: Gaining ground is great, but don't be compelled into a suicide charge. Stage 6's enemy presence can reach nigh-impregnable gridlock; moderate retreat can dislodge bottlenecks, and/or preclude unreasonably deadly advances.

Monk saves Ryuichi #2 from my RYUICHI HOP:
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Falling back is a judgement call, obviously. It's possible I might've superjumped that intercepting cane... but with a Ryuichi unaccounted for, it's equally possible I might've landed smack on his blade. Regardless, note my securing of the retreat: maintaining the attack, to Autoguard zako and whittle heavies, while Axis Triggering the Ryuichis and Monks, as I gradually recover my lost ground before moving on.

Stage 6-1 [Green Kunai Jumper] [White Rain] [GREY MONK x2] [RYUICHI x2] Best: KUSARIGAMA

Map w/ Notes, First Half
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I consider Stage 6-1 Saigo's deadliest. While 6-2's horde is bulkier, it's also more controllable via Axis Trigger. 6-1 demands you juggle Monk/Ryuichi mixups, while under fierce zako fire. Keep a close eye on the incoming screen; carelessly Axis Triggering a Monk's staff can set you up for an incoming Ryuichi. Depending on how closely they're packed, it may be better to vault straight over them - you'll Axis Trigger both. Use as low a jump as possible, in this event - you want to land quickly, to minimise the risk from incoming spawns.

Generally speaking, I kill 6-1's heavies more aggressively than 6-2's. This is for a couple of reasons. First, 6-1's zako are nastier. Holding back on heavies can leave you dangerously exposed to Greens and Whites, who are otherwise collaterally neutralised by POW Kusarigama.

Secondly, 6-1's Ryuichis aren't Axis Triggerable at a distance, unlike 6-2's Jumpslasher variants. So, while I won't go out of my way to kill pursuing Ryuichis, I'll put them down via bunnyhopped Shadow Train as they enter range. While (as covered in Section V) it's possible to Axis Trigger a pursuing Ryuchi with a deft jump, it's not worth the risk of landing on another rushing in from the front.

As mentioned, 6-1's zako presence is fierce. Treat them as a swarm; ever-present, to be batted away as they and their projectiles encroach. Offense is truly the best defense, here; never allow zako to dictate your position, or force you into a heavy's kill zone! Kusarigama's Autoguard will keep you safe under even the heaviest fire. The ideal is to swat the pests and whittle the heavies while gaining ground, all in one controlled motion.

6-1's early screens [1] lack Monks. Don't be complacent; an awkwardly-timed Ryuichi is more than enough threat here on his own.

SHOBU DA! A particularly spirited welcome to Stage 6-1.
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Swat aside the Green Jumpers and White Rains, and get onto this first shoal. Hurry along, hop-killing any Ryuichis that spawn in your path; you'll gain a very useful Terrain Launcher as you reach its end [2].

The short stretch of open sand [3] is where the full enemy force will come to bear. The big danger here, and onward, is concurrent Ryuichi/Monk spawns; consistent survival demands quick, controlled reads of the incoming field. A panicked or short-sighted Axis Trigger might succeed on its target, only to land you on an unseen sword or cane. Always read ahead, and remember your Axis Trigger and Shadow Train techniques. As intense as 6-1's pace is, you've got all the tools and techniques you need to dominate it.

Map w/ Notes, Second Half
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Image Once you've crossed the sand, boarding the second long shoal is another risky spot. [4] As before, once you're on, hurry to its end to reap a very useful Terrain Launcher. [5]

An Aura-carrying Gold Katana spawns around here [6], near 6-1's end. As usual, I rate it a take/leave. There is also a slight tradeoff to collecting it: pursuing heavies will be decimated by the Shadow Train. Not necessarily a plus, versus 6-2's Ghosts, who are better kept alive and at distance - especially early on. OTOH, the Aura does give some sense of security, which can aid concentration; if I pick it up, I'll make sure to go easy on 6-2's early Ghosts.

This boulder [7] is 6-1's final hurdle. Pay attention to enemies on its other side, and consider letting them Terrain Launch over. For traversal, I like to hop onto its summit, before promptly hopping down; this minimises my off-ground time, readying me for any incoming heavies. Autoclimbing up and over is dangerously slow. Of course, as always, you'll need to tailor your movement to the onscreen situation.

There's a couple of odd one-off hazards past the boulder: these constricting rings of kunai [8]. Ala White Rains, they're trivially hustled past, with a POW Swing more than sufficient to wipe them out. Just don't let them distract you from incoming enemies, and you'll be fine.

The long, open stretch of sand immediately after [9] is the transition to Stage 6-2. Greens and White Rains stop spawning, here, never to return. Monks also break off, for the moment. Stay vigilant of Ryuichis - at some point, Groundtypes will be swapped out for Jumpslashers. Feel them out with a small bunnyhop; if they vault overhead, you'll know they've switched over.

Note that Groundtypes and Jumpslashers are technically different enemies, and therefore, do not share spawn slots! Even with two Groundtypes onscreen, it's entirely possible for Jumpers to spawn once 6-2 is reached. I kill all Ryuichis on sight, during this transitional phase. Keeps things simple. :cool:

GAPWATCH: There's a jump-denying gap towards the end of 6-1's second long shoal at point [5], marked in yellow on the map above. I tend to simply run over it; enemies approaching from the sand will be Terrain Launched. However, approach with care if enemies are already atop the shoal.

6-1 gap:
Spoiler: show
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RANK CONTROL: Early in 6-1 sees Saigo's trickiest POW dodge. A Gold Runner spawns as you leave the first long shoal, arriving on the open sand. He's no threat at your back - but up front, with the intense pace, it's easy to landmine yourself. Backing up to scroll the drop away can be dangerous, but so can hopping over it.

If he spawns in front, I'll use the Terrain Launcher to stall for a tick, letting him get close (or ideally, hit the Launcher) before killing him, averting a landmine scenario. Alternatively, if you strike him down on sight, you'll minimise the scrolling distance needed to despawn his drop.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Stage 6-2 [Wind Demon x3] [GREY MONK x2] [RYUICHI JUMPER x2] [GHOST x1] Best: KUSARIGAMA

Map w/ Notes, First Half
Spoiler: show
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While 6-2's heavy enemy presence is unprecedented, it's a more controllable stage than the wickedly volatile 6-1. Greens and Whites depart - their replacements, Wind Demons, are more durable, but nowhere as quick or relentless. Their kunai also provoke slowdown, a not-unwelcome assist. 6-2's Ryuichis, meanwhile, are exclusively Jumpslasher-types. While they're deadly in the air, they're also easily Axis Triggered. Monks and Ghosts remain as vulnerable to Axis Triggering as ever.

For these reasons, I take a more pacifistic approach to 6-2. Generally speaking, try to get heavies behind you, then keep them there as long as possible - whittled down and ready for quick dispatch, once they've finally caught up.

Wind Demons debut here [1]. They're trivially held off by bunnyhopped POW Swings. Of more concern is this shoal [2], where Ghost debuts. Possibly the worst scenario 6-2 can summon is what I affectionately dub the HELL BULLDOZER: a simultaneous Ryuichi + Ghost spawn. Sub-optimally jumping over them can result in a screen-high wall of death.

No shame in a quick tactical retreat - that's one ugly, deadly air/ground roadblock!
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The basic solution is to Axis Trigger the Ryuichi with a bunnyhop, then carefully advance on the Ghost, clearing him and his sword with a moderately high jump. Alternatively, if you're close enough, it's possible to aggressively superjump clean over both - you'll need enough momentum and distance to outrange Ryuichi's pivoting slash. This is riskier to execute, but it can be a lifesaver if your six is blocked. Point [3] debuts Monks, completing 6-2's formidably heavy lineup.

Image Point 3 also hosts this boulder, awkwardly-sat between shoals. While Ryuichis and Monks approaching from the upcoming shoal are trivially Axis Triggered, a Ghost spawning there can complicate things - forcing me to either jump, which his comrades can counter, or retreat, tricky in Stage 6. It's a situation best dealt with proactively - I try to have a Ghost alive and at my back as I reach the area.

A lucky Ghost respawn, smack in front of the boulder, after I accidentally killed my tail.
Spoiler: show
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As long as I know where the Ghost is, I can hurry over the boulder and hop onto the shoal, Axis Triggering any oncoming Ryuichis and Monks. Safely making it past the boulder and onto the final long shoal [4] is a major tactical gain; 6-2's remaining ground is much less unruly. Keep an eye out for incipient Hell Bulldozers, while Axis Triggering heavies as you make your way along.

Map w/ Notes, Second Half
Spoiler: show
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At point [5], the stage's final Gold Runner drops a Bomb. As usual, it's take/leave; if he's kind enough to spawn in front, snatch the Bomb and forge ahead. If he approaches from behind, he'll almost certainly be in a nest of pursuers; consider letting him catch up, but don't risk your neck.

Whatever the case, try to have any pursuers chipped down as you reach the boss arena. Unassisted, Stage 6's boss is Saigo's easiest, by far. With other enemies onscreen, decidedly less so. A pair of Wind Demons will often greet you here - however, unlike Stage 3's boss Muskets, no more will spawn in.

RANK CONTROL: Very mild, especially compared to 6-1. The only POW is held by a Gold Lurker, at the spot marked above. You'll almost certainly be well past his spawn point, once he finally appears.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

BOSS 6: GHOSTS OF FUGITIVE WARRIORS Best: SAFESPOT

Saigo's deadliest stage concludes with a total washout of a boss. Or more charitably, a breather? Either way, the Boss-Type Ghost horde is fatally flawed. Slower-moving but tougher than their regular counterparts, each will teleport directly onto Tsuki's X position, before launching the same deadly attack. This alone would make them easily corralled... but combined with a minor terrain exploit, victory is assured.

Shut 'em down, open up shop!
Spoiler: show
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Standing at any X position equal to or higher than the rightmost shoal will make you impossible for a materialising Ghost to hit. The sides (or summit) of the boulder will work fine, too - use whichever is most convenient in your run.

This established, the deadliest threat is 6-2's crowd following you in. If you're delayed from getting into safe position before the Ghosts start arriving, don't panic. Simply maneuver, slowly and methodically, to the safespot furthest from them - delaying your progress so incoming Ghosts arrive far from your destination. Once there, you can kill the existing Ghosts via projectile; their incoming comrades will be instantly safespotted.

Technically, once you're safespotted thus, you don't need to attack at all. The battle is on an invisible timer of 60 seconds, and will automatically end at its expiry (but never before).

Shazaaam!
Spoiler: show
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(SaigoNoNindou @ Youtube)


VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Sep 09, 2022 10:19 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:25 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


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Stage 7 is shorter and much less technically demanding than Stage 6. However, it's harshly route-intensive, and will likely brickwall at first. Think of it as a nastier Stage 5. It also features Saigo's sole miniboss; likewise intimidating at first, but of far less concern once rehearsed.

Stage 7-2 harbours the Ninja Pit, an infamous blip of rote kusoge in an otherwise masterfully volatile game. This guide includes a dedicated section, which I categorically recommend using.

Keep in mind that, as risible as the Pit is, it's near-harmless once learned, and will rapidly fade into routine from there. As any one-life clearer will attest: compared to the immortal threats of Rounds 4, 6 and 7-1, and the immediately following final boss, the Pit barely registers.

Stage 7-1 [RYUICHI x2] Best: GRENADES (Rank50) / SHURIKEN (Rank100)

The gas traps are back - as with Stage 5, there's no solution besides hard routing. Here's my usual route, along with the visual markers I use to proceed at a steady clip. Despite the stage's unfortunately indistinct palette, there's a wealth of signposting scenery.

Part 1 Map w/ Route & Notes
Spoiler: show
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You're not just dealing with boobytraps; Ryuichis will be spawning regularly, from random sides. At Rank50, Grenades are more than enough to keep them at bay. At Rank100, with their higher HP, I prefer Shuriken.

Terrain Launchers liberally pepper 7-1, many hard to spot with the densely-layered scenery. Given the Ryuichis' lack of zako support or cover, I tend to blast them on sight. Still, it can be useful to know where the launchers are, in the event of a particularly ill-timed spawn. The final stretch leading into the Ninja Pit features an especially potent one, which can effectively nullify the Ryuichis while you scope out the surrounding traps; don't waste too much time however, as the clock is ticking.

Handy when you're learning (or recalling) the final stretch.
Spoiler: show
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MIDBOSS: MUMYO SHONIN [Ryuichi x2] Best: GRENADES

Even at Rank100, you'll want to switch to Grenades for the "Blind Priest;" his bulldozer cane blocks Shuriken, exactly like his Red and Grey disciples'. His gravity-switching diagonal dive is nastily quick, and sports an awkwardly large hitbox; even without the gas traps and Ryuichis, dodging it would be tense. Fortunately, with some basic herding, you'll never need to.

Note the aggressive crushing of Ryuichis.
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First, enter the arena. Mumyo will spawn on the rightmost floor, before immediately cane-charging onto the ceiling. Once he's rushed past, leap up to join him, and start hammering him with Grenades as he returns. Hold your ground until near-impact, then dive back to the floor, before immediately returning topside. Repeat this simple pattern until Mumyo dies. Alternatively, you can enter the fight on the ceiling; it makes little difference, though I find it easier to position my anti-Ryuchi Shadows when starting from the floor (see two paragraphs down).

Expect him to last a bit longer at Rank100, though even there, he's not especially durable. This baiting tactic is quite forgiving - even a badly botched attempt, as illustrated in the below GIF, where I failed to grab the ceiling during his initial charge, can be deftly salvaged.

Try not to screw up like this. ;3
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Ryuichis are a competing threat you'll need to juggle, in order to maintain your Mumyo pattern. I like to hang my Shadows in column formation, via the pattern's first jump. From there, I minimise horizontal movement, to maintain the column - this lets me barrage either side of the screen, as needed. As long as you hit Ryuichis early, it's exceedingly unlikely they'll breach this wall of firepower.

In the rare event one does, remember your last line of defense against Ryuichi: overlap dodge. Get directly over him as he leaps up, and he'll be powerless to hit you, as you finish him off.

A quick refresher:
Spoiler: show
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The inverse scenario - being forced off the ceiling by Mumyo, onto a Ryuichi - can be escaped with a Ryuichi Drop. This isn't easy, and frankly, neither is the ceiling equivalent. Even if you kill the Ryuichi, Mumyo may break out of his pattern, at which point you'll need to maneuver around his diagonal charges - not impossible, but tough, and demanding hands-on practice with its tricky timing and hitbox.

I don't worry about the Mumyo pattern failing - as long as I barrage the Ryuichis aggressively, they won't live long enough to force me out. If you're having a really hard time with interfering Ryuichis, Shuriken may prove useful, with their wider spread and higher DPS; the tradeoff is a slightly longer battle, as Mumyo will be front-shielded.

Shuriken are far from useless versus Mumyo, but his shield must be reckoned with.
Spoiler: show
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VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Part 2 Map w/ Route & Notes
Spoiler: show
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7-1's latter half is another simple-yet-harsh routing exercise. Newbies should take their time, while learning the layout; the Ryuichis are at their deadliest when you're hesitantly finding your way through. The wide-open area lacks terrain launchers - however, the increased headroom makes ceiling/floor switches particularly strong.

Escaping a nasty pincer with a textbook floor-to-ceiling switcharoo.
Spoiler: show
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GAPWATCH: The fourth and final of Saigo's untelegraphed gaps is found at the location marked above, just at the end of the slope leading into the open chamber. It's actually quite useful, for routing purposes - when Tsuki drops off, you'll know you're in position to leap the floor traps. Still, beware it - Ryuichis will be rushing you throughout the stage, and you don't want a life-saving hop denied.

7-1 gap:
Spoiler: show
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RANK CONTROL: There are no Gold Runners in Stage 7. A couple of Gold Lurkers hold POWs; one early, just before Mumyo, and one late, just before the final battery of gas traps. The former's spawn delay makes him fairly easy to hustle past, en route to the midboss.

The latter is trickier. It's easy to accidentally kill him while battling Ryuichis, and dodging his POW without landing on a trap takes practice. Either your shooting or your route must be sharp, for consistent success. I like to aggressively charge into and past his location as he spawns, allowing me to resume fire once I'm safely up ahead. If Ryuichis interfere, and I accidentally hit him, I'll use a moderately high hop to clear his nearby gas trap and the POW in one swoop, landing in the adjacent safe ground shown on the map.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

Stage 7-2 [Ninja Pit] Best: N/A

The Ninja Pit is a kusoge abomination, more than warranting its own section. Please consult that first - it's simpler than it first appears - before returning to face the final boss.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]

FINAL BOSS: DAI-SOKUSHINBUTSU Best: GRENADES

The final boss, who I'll affectionately call Boney-sama, is Saigo's deadliest enemy by far, and a leading threat to one-life clears. ("Sokushinbutsu" is actually the general term for a Buddhist Mummy, of which Boney is a gigantic or "great / Dai" example)

With his infamous randomness, adopting an overly rigid strategy is inadvisable for consistent success - especially at Rank100, where Boney will survive a perilous few seconds longer. After a couple years and many no-miss clears, I've formed a general "route," tailored for adjustment on the fly as needed.

First of all, let's outline the threat. Homing bolts, his lone attack, may not impress at first. Don't be deceived! Their relentless tracking is fiendishly well-suited to catching Tsuki's long, slow jumps. What's more, their awkwardly staccato, grid-like movement can dangerously conceal their speed. While Tsuki can comfortably outrun even the most aggressive bolts, nearby ones can close distance with deadly abruptness.

The bolts are also a more dynamic attack than they might first appear. You'll notice some home in far more aggressively than others - and also, that their firing intervals can vary wildly, with Boney attacking rapidly at some times, intermittently at others. Both of these mechanics - bolt aggression and shot frequency - are pure RNG; it's critical you track both, tailoring your route appropriately. The sound effects are vitally useful, here - listen for the distinctive crackle of a rapid-fire barrage, while keeping your eyes on the bolts nearest you. This way, you'll maintain awareness of the playfield's state, without losing sight of the immediate threat.

There are two pillars to my route:

I: BULLET HERDING - A FUNDAMENTAL SCROLLING ACTION SKILL

First is the classic STG/run-gun tactic of bullet herding. You want to draw the bolts along, using sparing horizontal taps to maximise the limited floor space. Don't flee outright; you'll soon be against the wall. Fine, incremental, tap-dodging movement is the key to good herding.

II: VERTICAL MOVEMENT for ATTACK AND EVASION

Vertical movement, both rising and falling, is the second pillar. Use head-height jumps to score damage, hanging the Shadows so you can continue attacking from the ground. Use max-height jumps to draw bolts upward - make sure to wring every last frame out of the button press. The resulting freefall is quick enough to slip past bolts on the way down. Lately, I've come to think of the latter as a "stomp" maneuver; fall fast and hard, dashing through the gap made by forcing the bolts upward.

If bolts have piled up at floor-level, and there is simply no way through - this is when a stomp is most useful. Force them upwards, using the aforementioned fine horizontal tap-dodging to herd. With practice and nerve, you can be very aggressive at forcing a ground level-opening; even using successive stomps to drag especially thick and/or low barrages upward.

ROUTE OVERVIEW:

Phase I: The Run-Under. Aim to land near Boney, immediately running under him, to the left.

Phase II: The First Barrages. Deliver at least one head-height barrage.

Phase III: Evasion. Execute a stomp - drag his bolts upward, then dive past them - before hurrying back under Boney, to the right.

Phase IV: The Last Barrages. Launch a final head-height barrage, using rightward micro-taps and resetting jumps as needed to survive.

Optional: Cram in upshots during Phases I and III, if bolt aggression is not too high.

The biggest risks here are 1) getting bopped by an exceptionally early, aggressive bolt, during Phase I, and 2) being bulldozed into the rightmost corner, should Boney survive Phase IV longer than is ideal. Both dangers can be comfortably insured against with decent reflexes and accurate fire, respectively.

ROUTE DEMONSTRATION: I'm using footage from two separate one-life clears, both at Rank100. The first run's bolt aggression is, in my experience, average. The second's is markedly aggressive, a good contrast. At Rank50, you can expect Boney to die roughly a second earlier - a significant edge, in such a deadly fight.

Phase I: The Run-Under. Landing at roughly the distance shown - use the "I" marker between the Shuriken and Grenades - I rush underneath Boney, landing a few bunnyhopped upshots if bolt RNG isn't too fierce. This segues directly into Phase 2's head-height barrage.

Hustlin' on.
Spoiler: show
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Aggressive: I'm forced into a more evasive opening gambit, taking the Phase 2 hop early to shake off the bolts.
Spoiler: show
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CONTINGENCY: It's possible for a freakishly early, aggressive bolt, particularly combined with a faraway landing on my part, to kill me as I run beneath Boney. It's rare, but I know when to slam on the brakes and retreat. I'll try to force a fresh opening via stomp, in this case.

Phase II: The First Barrages. Having made it under Boney, I go for some big head-height damage, ensuring the Shadows are hung on-target.

Hang 'em (head) high, pounding in those Grenades.
Spoiler: show
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Aggressive: Bolts on my heels! Again, I truncate Phase 2, folding the head-height barrage directly into Phase 3's stomp.
Spoiler: show
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CONTINGENCY: It's rare to face serious upsets here, since I'm relatively far from the bolts. However, I pay careful heed to their RNG - in particular, listening for an especially rapid barrage. This informs how quickly I'll enter the next phase. If I'm extremely lucky, with slow+sporadic bolt RNG, I may even repeat Phase 2, misdirecting upward before cramming in another head-height barrage. Don't sweat getting this second barrage, though - you can make do with one just fine.

Phase III: Evasion. I execute an absolute max-height jump, dragging the bolts upward, before entering freefall. This "stomp" maneuver will force an opening back underneath Boney, effectively mirroring Phase I. Likewise, I'll go for some upshot damage, if RNG allows. I tend to use standing vertical shots, since bolts are typically well at my back, making bunnyhops' speed less necessary. I'll land as many upshots as I can before vacating to Phase 4.

Wring every last frame out of your jump!
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Aggressive: I've gotta start making up for the damage I sacrificed by truncating Phase 2.
Spoiler: show
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CONTINGENCY: The biggest direct threat here is being nipped by a bolt in mid-air, while executing the superjump and freefall. Careful leftward micro-tapping will keep you safe - remember that bolts can close the final distance suddenly.

Phase IV: The Last Barrages. I finish Boney off with a pair of head-height barrages. Essentially, I'm reprising Phase II - only with an aim to kill Boney, rather than merely damage him. At Rank50, he'll die very shortly, perhaps before the second barrage. At Rank100, he'll last a second or two longer. Caution and skilled handling is required throughout this final phase, particularly while hanging up the Shadows; botching your barrages can sink an otherwise flawless battle.

Accuracy is paramount here; line up your Shadows with care.
Spoiler: show
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Aggressive: Crammed in the head-height barrage, but needed a bit more to kill. Note the leftward micro-taps on the final descent, to conserve space.
Spoiler: show
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CONTINGENCY: I'm deliberately going all-in, at this point; either Boney dies, or I'm left tangled against the wall. As mentioned, missing the barrage formation is the chief threat. If bolt RNG is exceptionally fierce, I'll cram in as many head-height barrages as I can, herding them with micro-taps to maximise space. With good technique, Boney will consistently die well before I'm forced to the wall - I'm satisfied recommending this route, for now.

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES?

Player GACHI has a totally different strategy to mine - accomplished in front of a live audience, at that. :shock: He frequently hops low bolts at a proximity I currently lack the skill to.

Headphones warning! (commentator is a bit loud)

Something I can take from his run, however, is his opening diagonal barrage:

A master at work.
Spoiler: show
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Depending on bolt RNG, it's possible to do enormous, even fatal damage here. As shown, the bolts have a hard time reaching Gachi at that angle. However, you're far from untouchable; as shown, he eventually has to make an escape.

I'm getting wins consistently enough that I don't bother with the opening diagonal attack. Still, it's certainly possible to mix it into my route. If my method isn't working for you, or if you're struggling to land those last few hits, consider adopting it to gain an early HP lead over Boney.

VIDEO LINKS: [Rank50] [Rank100]
_________________
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Sat Jan 29, 2022 5:13 am, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:25 pm 


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Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Image

What's the Ninja Pit? An infamous and much-despised memoriser sequence in Stage 7-2 of Saigo no Nindou.
Infamous? Despised? You are going to die repeatedly until you've mastered a route.
I'll improv around the ninjas! Impossible - Tsuki is too low, and the ninjas are too fast.
Then I'll kill them! Also impossible - they're way too tough to kill before impact.
This sucks! WTF IREM! Yep!

In stark contrast to the masterful volatility of Saigo's other 99%, the Ninja Pit is pure kusoge. There are countless possible paths; whichever is chosen, it must be perfected utterly. In addition to memorisation, execution is also key; Tsuki's heavy air handling demands a deft touch.

All of this said: once mastered, the Pit will rapidly fade into insignificance. Be assured: once you are attempting one-life clears, it'll become a veritable oasis of calm amidst Saigo's unknowable dangers. Take the Pit for what it is: a speck of kusoge to be excised swiftly and cleanly from the wider work.

I've outlined what I believe to be the simplest, execution-lightest route below, with the aid of a video demonstration. Let's take out the trash, and get back to the game. Image

About The PC Engine Version: The PCE version's pit has its own layout, and is actually even more unforgiving than the arcade version, on account of the smaller screen area and lack of background markers. Fortunately, it adds an easy route - please see the foot of this post.

VISUAL GUIDE: The Ninja Pit (a video outlining much of the information found below)

Before we begin the route, note your two markers. Marker 1 is this "I" shape, made by the space between the Kusarigama and the timer. You'll spend most of the route over it.

Marker 1.
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Marker 2 is the "ten seconds" digit of the timer. You need to be just right of it, to avoid the ninjas passing close by. It's much less prominent in this route.

Marker 2.
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A very useful secondary aid are the background "rock dragon" formations.

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You need all the friends you can get in here! They'll help you nail down precisely where you are, and when to move. Think of them as memory cues, for once you've mastered the basic route.

>THE ROUTE

Phase I: Your starting point is helpfully marked by an invisible ceiling shelf, preventing further advance. Once you reach it, you'll know you're in position. After beginning your descent, get over Marker 1, and stay put. As the video advises, you need to wait until the third ninja passes on your right, before heading to the wall.

As always, to compensate for Tsuki's heavy air handling, you need to begin your next move well in advance - start nudging towards the wall as the second ninja rockets past.

Get over marker 1, preparing to slice past the third ninja.
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Phase II: Once you're safely camped just beyond Marker 2, avoid hugging the wall - you'll need to escape shortly. I use the three incoming Rock Dragons as traffic lights - Red, Amber and Green. Again, start nudging back to Marker 1 in advance of the incoming wall-hugging ninja.

Start building momentum no later than "Amber," to slice past the ninja at "Greenlight."
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Phase III: Having returned to Marker 1, only one phase remains. The movement is simple once mastered, but a little tricky to elucidate. You need to:

-slalom left around one ninja
-return to Marker 1
-slalom left again, around two ninjas.
-return to Marker 1, and stay there.

Trickier on paper than it is in practice.
Spoiler: show
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The slalom can be tricky to gauge at first. Use the Kusarigama's status bar window as a guideline - keep back from its edge, and you'll be fine.

The Rock Dragons are particularly good at illustrating the timing and spacing of the slalom. I like to visualise "bouncing off" the snout of the pictured Rock Dragon, before returning to Marker 1.

Snoot boop!
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Repeat the maneuver with the next Rock Dragons, using the lower one as a marker - remember, you need to wait for two ninjas to pass, this time.

The last two ninjas.
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Now that you've returned to Marker 1 (directly under the Rock Dragon's fang, if you prefer a marker further upscreen), you're in the clear. No more maneuvering required, just stay put.

The Pit drops you straight into battle with Saigo's extremely dangerous final boss, Dai-Sokushinbutsu. It's worth mastering the transition, particularly if you want to get in close at the outset. Take care not to move so early that you clip a latecoming ninja!
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光あふれる 未来もとめて, whoa~oh
[THE MIRAGE OF MIND] Metal Black ST [THE MASSACRE] Gun.Smoke ST [STAB & STOMP]


Last edited by BIL on Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:02 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:26 pm 


User avatar

Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 17832
Location: Public Road
[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Saigo no Nindou: Ninja Spirit [PC Engine] (1990 IREM)

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After nearly three decades' service as the only decent home version of Saigo, IREM's PCE conversion was finally able to pass the torch in 2019, with the release of Hamster's Arcade Archives version for PS4 and Switch.

TLDR: The HuCard is a generally excellent conversion, particularly on mechanics and stage layouts. Unfortunately, ignoring technical limitations, a few seemingly random changes dint its fidelity. Still, it's a strong rendition of the arcade version, capturing easily enough of its lunar menace to rank among the greatest ninja sidescrollers on console.

IN DETAIL: Mechanically, this is a remarkably accurate conversion - warts and all, with even the arcade's chain jump glitch and shuriken aiming quirks reproduced perfectly.

[Arcade via PS4]
Spoiler: show
Image


[PC Engine]
Spoiler: show
Image


The layouts of the first five stages are similarly faithful - a particular help in stage 5's horizontally looping array of boobytrapped footholds. Stages 3 and 4, the ascent of the arcade's difficulty curve, are this conversion's finest hour. They play beautifully. Image Although differences exist, they're close enough that strategies formed on PCE will often translate directly to the arcade - the highest honour a home conversion can achieve.

The conversion seems to run a tick faster in ideal conditions, perhaps owing to the PCE's 60hz refresh rate versus the M72's 55hz. Naturally though, the M72 performs better under heavy loads, crunching numbers unattempted by the PCE.

Stage 6, the fiendishly deadly peak of the arcade curve, is fumbled on PCE. With even the M72 chugging under its screenloads of enemies and flak, a significant cull is understandable. The reconstruction is middling, unfortunately. Rather than distil the stage's key element, a lethal combo of advancing giants and leaping samurai, these foes are AWOL. Instead, the rabble is left to take up the slack - they can't hope to compare, though they certainly cause slowdown. Thus, the PCE loses far more of its penultimate trial than it perhaps needed to.

In a compounding irritation, the defanged st6 gains a dubious new threat. On arcade, the rocks you traverse are subtly uneven, with one shoal in particular harbouring a sudden drop - deadly in Saigo's lunar-gravity context. On PCE, these drops are commonplace, turning a one-off flaw into a chronic annoyance. It's poor work, emblematic of this conversion's strange lapses in fidelity. When it's accurate, it's incredibly so. When it's not, it seems odd that it manages the successes it does.

Stage 3's giants are a much smaller but similarly niggling flaw. Rather than lashing out at nearby players, relentlessly pursuing otherwise, they now attack on a set schedule, regularly stopping to uselessly swipe the air. A silly, tension-sapping downgrade from the arcade's terrorising wraiths. I wonder if code conversion was automated in some way, given the juxtaposition of keen accuracy with hapless deviation.

Stage 7, featuring an infamously poor lapse of quality in the arcade, differs on details, but amounts to the same: a respectably deadly trap sequence, followed by a credit-eating abomination to excise with extreme prejudice. I applaud the PCE's addition of an easy route, greatly expediting the disinfection process. The last boss is authentically vicious, with his lower HP the only real concession.

As a final note, the first boss's HP seems almost random - sometimes he'll explode before getting a shot off, others he'll approximate the arcade equivalent. He's not terribly important to proceedings, only noting for completism.

Although the PCE's oddly mercurial fidelity is vexing - if only for it holding back the excellence elsewhere - on the whole, it's a vivid representation of the arcade's lunar intensity and wicked caprice. By extension, it remains one of the finest-ever ninja sidescrollers in its own right. The inclusion of a PC Engine mode with hitpoints is a notable asset, a good way in for potential fans hesitant to grapple with the arcade's wild fury. An old soldier that still impresses, even post-ACA.
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Last edited by BIL on Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 6:26 pm 


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[Intro + Tsukikage] [Weapons] [Items & Rank] [The Art Of War] [The Enemy]
===========================================================
[Stage 1] [Stage 2] [Stage 3] [Stage 4] [Stage 5] [Stage 6] [Stage 7] [Ninja Pit]
===========================================================
[PC Engine Version] [Replays & Thanks]


Replays, Links & Thanks

The replays referenced throughout this guide can be found in this playlist, alongside several others.

Saigo fans may enjoy the following interviews, translated by the invaluable blackoak @ shmuplations.com:

IREM Developer Interview, 1988 - some interesting comments on Saigo's dev process, quite surprising imo!

Masahiko Ishida Interview, 1989 - interview with the superbly talented composer of Saigo, ImageFight, X-Multiply and more.

This guide humbly references the works of brave ninja commandos Ex_Mosquito, Vludi, Vanguard, Sir Ilpalazzo, jepjepjep and Volteccer_Jack, with special thanks also to SaigoNoNindou, Momojirou and Gachi. Thanks also to the dev team, and you! I hope I've made this game of fearsome repute a little more approachable, so its enduring strengths can be enjoyed by a few more ninja spirits.
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Last edited by BIL on Sun Feb 06, 2022 10:43 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:17 pm 


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Wow, amazing work! This is fantastic.

I'm going to have to give the game another chance now.


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 Post subject: Re: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:11 am 


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Cheers bud Image Image Tried to combine the hardcore of INH with the ol' hand-assembled charm of Nintendo Power, naw mean. :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:05 am 


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Wow, what an incredible resource! Been meaning to give this game a solid try for a while now. I'm sure I'll get a lot out of this thread once I do.


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 Post subject: Re: DBPS#001: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:40 am 


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Ta bud, hope you enjoy Saigo! For all who take the game up, please feel free to update ITT with progress or any questions. Image
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:42 pm 


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Great guide, BIL. Gives me hope that I too can become the Saigo no Nindou. The ninja pit visualization is so good.
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:04 pm 


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Many thanks ING-san! I designed the Pit visuals after my dream deluxe M2 practice mode. :cool:
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2022 4:34 pm 


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Your dedication to this game is legendary. Make sure you have those images backed up in case Imgur goes belly up someday. :lol:

I'm ashamed to say I've not even played a single credit of this but I should remedy that soon. The PIT OF NIGHTMARES AND ABSOLUTE DESPAIR has me scared. >w>
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
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TBH the pit's deadliest weapon is the sheer, blasphemous kusoge of it existing at all - it's a videogame war crime that'll understandably have many turning away in disgust. :lol: I don't know how players dealt with it, BITD, other than the sheer group effort you hear of with Druaga... really unfortunate, and downright shocking in an arcade game this exceptionally well-designed.

Thankfully, in modern context (whether ACA or MAME), it's a snap to get down. Of all the things I'd be sweating in a live run, the pit's honestly not one of them.

(universe-brained game journo take: "Aykshualy, the game design blasphemy of the pit is totes germane to the heretical nature of the antagonists, namely 'The Blind Priest' who begins the game imperiously stood atop a statue of Buddha, and ends it guarding a monstrous corruption thereof" Image Oh god it hurt to write that Image)

Definitely archived everything, tbh it's my regular posts that are gonna suffer if/when Imgur goes tits-up (I rove my custom smilies too much Image). So many posts healthily peppered with ridiculous little GIFs and PNGs are gonna read like I'm a total psycho, when taken straight. :shock: But hard gaming is all about living dangerously. :mrgreen: Image
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2022 12:54 pm 


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Stellar work. The tremendous amount of effort and passion pouring off of this has seen me playing some more credits of the game. This is the kind of thing the internet needs more of.
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
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I totally forgot to credit you, my ninja commando brother in arms! :shock: Fixed! Apologies, it's been a long bloody road. :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:35 am 


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The best thread on the internet sows it seeds, and the eternal saigo no nindou springs forth.
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 12:45 pm 


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Image Thinking of writing up AC Double Dragon II next :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 3:52 pm 



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Masterpiece of a write-up. I need to put more time into this one. I made it to the end of stage 3 and then the fireballs followed me into the boss room and showed me a fun time.


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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
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Is it... THAT good? :shock:

haha man, not dying from touching an enemy? cool.
I've come to realise this is one of my pet peeves. in 3D games I can rub my sack all over an enemy's face.
2d? ow!!!

btw dr biruford's perfect selection?
what a title, love it :lol:
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 Post subject: Re: DBPS01: THE FREED OF AVIDYA Saigo no Nindou
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 10:30 pm 


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Blinge wrote:
Is it... THAT good? :shock:


Uncommonly fine method/improv balance, finessed weapon+jump mechanics, and a blasphemous 11th-hour kusoge lapse that ultimately fades like a handsome scar. It's the triumvirate of tight runtime, subtle control and simmering volatility that keeps it on my desert island list. One life clears never lose their death-defying thrill. Image :cool:

Quote:
haha man, not dying from touching an enemy? cool.
I've come to realise this is one of my pet peeves.


I've a pet theory that Akio and possibly other IREM luminaries who went on to form Nazca worked on Saigo. Either way, the core trio of:

1) free overlap with enemies 2) massive hitboxes on your attacks 3) deliberately generous firing rate

are unmistakably familiar. Even if Saigo and Slug are very different games, both encourage you to dive into the scrum in ways unheard of in most hardcore 2D action, exploding hordes from the inside out - on the proviso that if you miss a drawn weapon, you'll die with shocking abruptness. High permissiveness/high risk/high yield!

Quote:
in 3D games I can rub my sack all over an enemy's face.
2d? ow!!!


Image

Teabag-jutsu def on the cards Image Image

Quote:
btw dr biruford's perfect selection?
what a title, love it :lol:


Special thanks to Konami/Falcom ASTs and Insanity Naked Hunter DVDs for the titling inspirations. :mrgreen:
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