Waka

        A long time ago, I wrote an article on a boss from Okami, Ninetails. Today I’ll look at another boss, though in this case I’ll focus less on the character, and more on how the battle effects the player. Not that the boss himself isn’t important, but… well, you’ll see.
        To start with, let’s look at the game’s beginning. The evil monster Orochi, once defeated and sealed away by the work of the warrior Nagi and the mystical wolf Shiranui, has been unleashed once more 100 years later. Aptly, it not out of malevolence that this was done, but instead out of skepticism.
        A shadowy figure stole away to the shrine where the sword that slew the beast rests, and pulled it out. He decided it wasn’t nearly as impressive as he expected it to be, and decried the story of Orochi’s fall as a mere legend. As he did so, the monster itself woke up, since the sword was acting as a seal on it. He ran away instead of sealing a contract with the creature, but nevertheless Orochi was still certainly powerful enough to curse the land around it, plunging everything into darkness.
        The last bastion of hope lay in the village of Kamiki, where Shiranui was enshrined, and a tree spirit guards it. This spirit, Sakura, calls on the power of Shiranui, better known to spirits like her by her true name, Amaterasu, goddess of the sun. She can do nothing else to help, leaving Amaterasu alone to save the world from Orochi’s power.
        Well, almost alone. She is also joined by the inch-high bug- err, wandering artist Issun, who serves as our exposition throughout the game, since Ammy herself doesn’t talk. He tells us about game mechanics, helps us use new powers as we get them, and so on.
        A goal soon presents itself early on- as soon as you get the Bloom power, you can use it to bring the Guardian Saplings back to life, which in turn drive the corruption out of an area, allowing Ammy to move about more freely and bring life back, meaning she can interact with people in the area who had been cursed into stone once everything returns to normal.
        This also allows Ammy to gain more Praise as she does, restoring the people’s belief in the gods through her actions to give herself more power, so she can face greater evils. This is also gained by feeding animals, restored smaller bits of plantlife like possessed trees, and ousting demons, specifically Demon Gates that keep corruption from fading in their territory.
        It is after you find the third of these Saplings in Agata Forest that you face the game’s first boss, Waka. Unlike all of your previous enemies, he is not a monster, but instead a human, or at least seems human. Exactly who he is is a mystery, but what is certain is that he was guarding the seal on Orochi, but had been called to the city on important business on the day that the seal was broken.
        After confirming that Ammy was the one who was purifying the land thus far and surprising Issun that he can indeed see who Ammy really is, he drops down and draws his sword, challenging them to a fight. As you might expect, he fights quite differently from the monsters you have seen up til now. He floats around the island you’re standing on, generally moving slowly, but can leap from place to place quickly to get a better vantage point.
        When close to you, he will either do a large slash or two smaller ones. Both of these moves leave him open at the end, so if you managed to dodge them, you can use Power Slash on him afterward to take out a decent portion of his health. At longer range, he can float up a bit and perform a spinning drill-like attack in your direction, or toss his sword at you.
        If he does the former, just avoid it, but if he does the latter, you can deflect it back at him with the Power Slash, stunning him and letting you hit him with another. Cheery Bombs won’t work on him at all, mind, it must be the Power Slash. Striking him during these vulnerable phases is the key to defeating him. You can, of course, attack him with your regular weapon, but given how he strikes with a sword, getting in close with your Divine Retribution starter weapon is a bad idea.
        However, just before you face him, you get a new weapon- the Devout Beads, which are a entirely different class of weapon from Divine Retribution, which is a Reflector. Reflectors attack by swinging at the target from close range, while the Beads, being of the Rosary class, instead form into a whip of sorts to strike at longer range. This is very useful aginst Waka, as that forces him to stick to throwing his sword mostly, letting you counter him, and gives you more time to land blows of your own and react.
        While each individual strike from a Rosary does less damage and doesn’t make the foe flinch, it collectively can do much more damage very quickly, racking up dozens of blows quickly. In addition, now that you have two weapons you can make one your sub weapon. A Rosary in the sub category can fire off projectiles, but I never found that especially useful, as it doesn’t seem to do much damage.
        However, a Reflector in that area allows you to block attacks, and occasionally counter them, which can severely damage or kill most enemies. Combined with a Rosary has your main, you can strike at longer range, do potentially more damage, and block incoming attacks, maybe even take out the foe entirely with a counter. At this point in the game especially, it seems like the better choice.
        Back to Waka, despite what I just said, he cannot be countered with your block and your Rosary will not do much damage compared to a Power Slash, but it will help. It just shows how different Waka is from the usual enemies- he hits much harder, can take more damage, and strikes more quickly. Combine that with you getting a new weapon, one you literally have no chance to test out before you face him, and it could be pretty rough.
        After the fight itself, Waka seems unharmed, and it is fairly clear he was not fighting especially seriously, certainly not with real intent to harm. He explains that all of the corruption and cursed zones are caused by Orochi, and while Ammy did defeat him a century ago, her power has waned tremendously since then, due to the lack of faith people have in the gods and her long rest.
        He then passes on a prophecy, telling them expect “a log and big thrills” before flying off. While the battle itself isn’t too tough, it is indicative of how much greater things will be. Ammy may be able to crush regular monsters, especially with her new Devout Beads, but there are far worse things out there to be dealt with, that she, and the player, must be ready for.

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