Part 17: Ninja Gaiden Black: Chapter 7
We continue exploring the underground and fail to find a path into Zarkhan. But we manage to end things on a boss fight that means a whole lot to Ninja Gaiden players. Mostly memories of pain and frustration.
Dragon Sword Lvl. 3
The last upgrade we'll need for this thing for a while. The biggest addition to the level 3 Dragon Sword is the 360 Heavy attacks it has in the form of the Gleaming Blade (and its ET/UT variations), which gives the weapon extra options in crowd control. This also means it is the first weapon in the game to gain two types of Ultimate Techniques. Learning to buffer these 360 inputs at the right time will lay waste to surrounding enemies.
Vigoorian Flail Lvl. 2
Not very long after getting the Flail is the second upgrade available. Not much is added but the new moves help in making the flails a more useful tool than the Nunchaku. Of the included moves, there is one that I've consistently struggled to get off which is the Runaway Lightning. It is a throw designed for human sized enemies, and compared to most moves in the game the timing for this is extremely precise. Every other time I've tried it I just got the normal attack followed by the upward kick. Maybe down the line as I experiment in this LP I'll get it down.
Art of the Ice Storm
Allows Ryu to quickly change the atmosphere around him, creating a whirlwind containing shards of ice.
Arguably my least favorite ninpo below even the Fire Wheels. This ninpo creates a vortex around Ryu that damages everything in its vicinity. That's all fine and good, but functionally it is basically the same as the Lvl 3 Dragon Sword's Gleaming Blade, which obviously requires extra input but is worth using that then wasting a ninpo slot. Not to mention that as far as crowd control goes, there's one last Ninpo Art later in the game that is better at that than the Ice Storm. Underwhelming overall I'd say.
After getting over the first major roadblock in the game that is Murai, the player gets more accustomed to how the game plays over time and the challenge increases at a steady yet manageable pace. Then along comes Alma, the other infamous boss fight of this game that gives the difficulty curve a swift kick that had some players labeling this fight as the most difficult in the entire game. While I'll disagree to that notion, she is definitely an incredibly challenging fight regardless that, much like Murai, is very rewarding to play once you know what to look for.
- Alma starts the fight grounded, and she is much more dangerous to approach here than all the other bosses prior. She can punch, do a flash kick, and has a command throw where she grabs you between her thighs and tosses you across the arena. Every hit will guard break, so you can't withstand more than one shot like you could with Murai.
- That said, Alma's main element is in the air. She flies around and almost at all times will effortless dodge any attacks made towards her. In return, she can summon a series of enerby orbs that fire at Ryu's last location, and can pull nearby pillars from their foundation to use as projectiles. Roll jumping at a consistent angle will always avoid these shots.
- Alma's other airborne tactics involve diving head first towards Ryu, and even more devastating is a vortex move, where she creates a pillar around her where anything caught in it is sucked up to Alma for a command throw. Much like her ground throw, this one is especially damaging.
- When she wants to transition back to the ground, if Ryu is in close proximity she will perform a divekick. Of course, this can always turn out to be her air grab so it's never guaranteed.
- Ultimately, Alma's weakness is much similar to Murai's, but the timing to exploit it is much more strict (and somewhat luck based). During an attack animation, Alma is capable of taking damage, but only a Flying Swallow with the right timing will send her down to the ground in a stunned state. However, she doesn't take long to recover, so performing a Blade of Niriti right as she's able to take damage again is the most guaranteed way of shaving a portion off her life bar.