Chambara is a game of stealth and shadow, flight and light. While its mechanics are simple, it has a great deal of strategic depth. As a person who did quality assurance on the game, I have more experience than most, and can deliver some pretty tasty tricks. Over the course of this strategy guide, I will walk you through the basics of Chambara, along with some higher-level strategies so you can mercilessly beat your friends and foes.
Know, of course, that knowledge is only half the battle; execution is just as important as coming up with a solid plan. With that in mind, let’s get started!
Play the tutorial. I know, you’d rather just jump right into it, but it’s super helpful in getting you oriented with the controls and the basic mechanics of the game. You can also play through it with up to three friends!
Every character in Chambara has the exact same move set. While some people may *swear* certain cosmetic items are objectively better (I know a friend who refuses to use anything but the walking cane because it takes up the fewest pixels on their screen), the difference will in all probability not matter. Choose whatever makes you happy; I go for a bow, magical girl wand, and stars. Once you have your outfit, it’s time to do battle.
Some of the controls have much more nuance than the tutorial says. Here we’ll go over them in light detail, pointing out some rookie mistakes and giving you a better idea of what’s going on.
The dash attack: This attack can be triggered by holding down either R1 or R2; the longer you hold it, the farther you go and the longer it takes to recharge. Upon releasing, you’ll stop charging forwards and perform a swing, though if you’re in the air your momentum will carry you a ways. I’ve seen many a rookie try to defeat their opponents by holding dash way longer than necessary, pushing their opponents out of the way before the strike. The key to a good dash attack is to release the button as soon as you’re in range, but be careful– release too soon, and you leave yourself wide open to a counterattack.
The quick attack: This attack can be triggered by pressing Square. It causes you to attack instantaneously, unlike the dash attack, but you remain stationary while you do it, so you have to be right next to your enemy for this to work. This attack is in my opinion best used as a defensive maneuver: if someone is dashing at you, a well-timed quick attack can get a kill in before they strike, or even launch them across the map if you get a clash.
The shuriken: You can charge up the shuriken by holding down L1, and throw it by releasing. It is affected by gravity and takes about half a second to charge, and isn’t lethal, but it stuns your enemy for a few seconds, long enough for you to get a good swing in if you’re close enough. (Also in a four-player match you can bounce a shuriken off your teammate onto an enemy, and it still counts as a stun. This is never useful, but it looks totally sick if you pull it off.) Once you’ve thrown it, you have to either go pick it up or respawn to get a new one.
Properly understanding these controls is the key to victory. You may be a master at stealth, but if you can’t face your enemies head-on, you’ll get destroyed when they inevitably choose Mansion and all your hiding spots disappear.
Light and shadow
The key mechanic of Chambara is clear in its art style: the world is split into two colors, each player is one of those colors, and you can blend into parts of the environment that are the same color as you. However, there is no one spot that’s perfectly invisible: you will always be visible from at least one angle, so it’s up to you to outmaneuver your opponent. (Okay, there’s exactly one spot that’s perfectly invisible if you’re a dove. It’s in Radio Tower, though I’m sworn to secrecy as to where.)
If you want to learn how to properly sneak around in Chambara, you’ll simply have to practice. If you’re looking for some easy hiding spots in a level, play through the tutorial version of it– scarecrows tend to spawn in pretty good places to hide. A good test of stealth skills is to start a two-player match by yourself in Neon City, position one character so that they can see the map from above, and try to make it from one side of the map to the other with the second character, being seen as little as possible.
There are many ways to traverse your environment in Chambara. In this section, we’ll go over some basic moves, then follow that up with some more advanced moves.
Walljumping: You can walljump by jumping in midair while next to a wall. If there are two walls facing each other, such as the two towers in Neon City or Ruins, you can chain together walljumps to gain great height.
Quickturning: You can perform a swift 180-degree turn with the Triangle button, allowing you to check your background or get the drop on someone who’s sneaking up behind you.
Airdashing: By performing a dash attack midair, you can launch yourself across the map. The longer you hold down the dash button, the longer you’ll go.
Sometimes just getting around isn’t going to cut it when going against a formidable foe. These moves will bewilder your enemy and make you a more unpredictable target.
Tapdashing: By simply tapping the dash attack button, you can throw yourself forward a few feet on the ground, and give yourself some great momentum in-air, without worrying about recharge times. Mastering this is the key to numerous other stunts. Be careful, though– if you tap too briefly you’ll just execute a quick attack, and if you tap too long you won’t be able to keep the low recharge time.
Bunnyhopping: Angle your camera downwards, jump forwards, and tapdash down. Jump again as soon as you hit the ground, and tapdash down again. While this may not be the most intuitive way of getting around, it confuses your enemy and makes you a much tougher target to hit while destroying everything in your path.
Flying: The great thing about tapdashes is you can chain them together midair to achieve something like flight. Just keep in mind that while midair, you’re incredibly visible, and you can’t exactly go quickly while trying to stay aloft. Still, this is useful for tasks such as getting back onto the top level of Ruins after falling off, or hiding inside of the clouds in Radio Tower.
Edge jumping: If you jump off a platform at the very edge, it’s possible to gain a lot of momentum, putting you in the battlefield from a surprising angle. This one is tough to get right, but can give you the element of surprise in a tense battle.
Nopeing: You can quickturn mid-dash if you realize halfway through exactly how bad of a decision you just made. This completely reverses your momentum, allowing you a chance to escape.
A few mechanics in Chambara have alternate uses that you may not consider at first. This section is about highlighting those different uses.
Shuriken as defense: The shuriken is usually seen as an offensive item, for trapping your enemies from afar and closing the distance. However, if you wait for your enemies to come to you, you can use the shuriken to stop them dead in their tracks. This takes some pretty careful timing, but since your target is much closer than usual, it’s often easier. Be careful to not start charging your shuriken as your enemy charges, however; since it takes half a second to charge, often by the time it’s ready you’ll already be soaring back to the spawn point.
Shuriken as bait: If your opponent has lost their shuriken, you can throw yours into a highly visible space and lie in wait for them to approach. The temptation of that long-range stunning device is too strong for most players to resist, however wary they may be.
Screen-hiding offensively: Closing your character’s eyes defensively while hiding can be a good way to keep yourself hidden, but what do you do when you’ve been found? If you use the hide-screen mechanic to watch your opponent’s screen without distraction, you can take the time to line up the perfect strike while lying in wait.
Quickturning with eyes closed: Often, you don’t know how much turning manually will change your orientation. You can circumvent this by facing directly towards a wall, closing your eyes, and then performing a quickturn, so you know you’re facing outwards for that waiting strike.
Practice, practice, practice
Of course, with all of this, knowing how to perform these moves isn’t nearly as important as actually being able to do them. Grab a friend or three, and try some moves out! Practice is the ultimate key to being good at Chambara, and hopefully this guide will set you on the right path. Remember to watch your back, be aware of your surroundings, and most importantly have fun!