The series is loosely adapted from the classic Japanese novel The Tale of the Heike, which in turn was a romanticized account of the actual Genji and Heike war. The Taira clan has conquered Japan with the help of some magic stones called "Amahagane" (litt. Heavenly Steel) which grant great powers to their wielders. The young swordsman Yoshitsune finds out that he's the rightful heir of the Minamoto clan and with the help of the Amahagane, the Tamayoribito clan and Benkei he has to stop the villanous plans of the Taira and recover the Amahagane stones.Had a spiritual successor in the form of Folklore.Although it's quite a humble-seeming series, you may know the game better as its second installment being the one featured in Sony's infamous E3 2006 conference featuring battles with giant crabs that took place in ancient Japan.
Action Command: When you use the Kamui power in Dawn of the Samurai, you must press the Square button at the right time in order to one-shot/ damage the enemy before he hits you. Days of the Blade replaced them with QTE-style button prompts.
Artistic License - History: The series in general, and the second game in particular, was billed as being based on "ancient battles that actually took place in Japan." Aside from the obvious (and you should know what we're talking about by now), the stories the games are based on themselves took a few liberties with actual events.
Blade on a Stick: Benkei can also choose from an ample set of halbeards and glaives for his arsenal. They're statistically stronger than clubs and have a better reach and more comboes, but can't knock enemies back or use the charged attack. On the villainous side there's Moritoshi, who wields a spear with a giant blade and ornated with a large tassel.
Cores and Turrets Boss: Sort of. The Iwayashiro boss (which looks like a floating stone shrine with four stone pillars around) is an interesting variation. Benkei must take down the pillars, which then turn into a flying laser-spitting stone, in order to expose its main core (the shrine).
Doppelgänger: Both Yoshitsune and Benkei during their final test in the Golden Temple of Shukenten. They perfectly replicate all their movements and acts like intangible reflections, and will only react to Kamui.
Dirty Coward: The man who was in charge of Yoshitsune in Oushu sells them to Kagekiyo in exchange for one single amahagane, but Kage has other plans...
The Dragon: Kagekiyo, the strongest Heishi General. Ends up killing Kiyomori and stealing his powers.
Inside the Mansion you can find a document regarding the experiments on the Raiju, but you usually read this when he's already dead.
Harder Than Hard: there are only two levels of difficulty: Normal and Hard. Seems allright? Wroooong! in the Hard mode you can't level up or purchasing/obtaining items! Simple yet cruel.
Heart Container: sort of, when you receive an Amahagane from a boss, you give it to Shizuka who will merge the stone together and lenghtening the Kamui bar.
Heel-Face Turn: Subverted with Kagekiyo in the sequel: he's actually, Buson a deity of war who took his appearence and body, because he was powerful enough to clash against Yoshitsune in the past. The real Kagekiyo is still hostile.
Heroic Sacrifice: The old Tamayoribito priest Hogen in order to save Yoshitsune and Benkei from Kagekiyo. In the sequel, is Benkei's turn.
Infinity–1 Sword: for Yoshitsune we have the "Master Lightning" swords, for Benkei the Kiwami (if you choose war clubs) or the Blue Dragon (if you're into spears).
MacGuffin Girl: Lady Shizuka, the only person capable of using the Yosegane ritual, which merge two Amahagane together making them stronger. The Heishi plan to use Yosegane to fuse all their Amahagane in order to create a Super powerful one. they succeed in the end.
Mirror Boss: The last Trial of Shukenten: the clones imitate all your movements and weapons, and can't be attacked. The only way to beat them is using Kamui and counterattacking them in time.
Organ Drops: Many Bosses drop unique ingredients when hit by a Kamui attack. In some cases is part of their bodies (like the Nue's Claws and the Crow's Feather.)
One-Hit Kill: Kamui on anything except for bosses and heavily-armored Heishi soldiers.
One-Winged Angel: Kagekiyo uses the power of the Ultimate Amahagane to turn himself into a being of pure light with god-like powers.
Recurring Boss: Kagekiyo and Moritoshi are both fought twice. then the latter got zombified and the former does a One-Winged Angel, so is three times each.
Samus Is a Girl: Otohiko, the ninja who helps out Yoshitsune at the beginning of Dawn, is actually Lady Shizuka in disguise.
Sword of Plot Advancement: After completing the trials of the Golden Temple, Shukenten gives you two weapons, the Light Ring katanas and the Steel God club. They're not really powerful, yet the former gets stronger as you use it in battle and the second grows longer when used for a charged attack.
Tennis Boss: Kiyomori. In order to crush down his barrier you have to send his lasers back to him. or you can just attack the barrier itself until it breaks
Took a Level in Badass: Shizuka. In the first game she serves as a gentle shrine maiden with a plot-relevant power who's eventually kidnapped, bewitched somehow by Kuyo and forced to merge the Heike's Amahagane into one. In the sequel, she's one of the playable characters, using sorcery and knives to bring down enemies.