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Video Game: Way of the Samurai
Way of the Samurai is a Wide Open Sandbox series set in historic Japan. So far there have been four games:

  • Way of the Samurai, released for the PS2 in 2002.
  • Way of the Samurai 2, released for the PS2 in 2004.
  • Way of the Samurai 3, released for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 in 2008 in Japan. The game was released in the US on October 20, 2009.
  • Way of the Samurai 4, released on the PS3 on March 3, 2011. Released in the US on August 21, 2012 by X Seed Games as a digital download title on the PlayStation Network, and in Europe on October 5, 2012 by Nippon Ichi.
  • ''Way of the Samurai 5 (Vita) which at this time has an unannounced release date, but was shown at Sony's SCEJA Pre-TGS Press Conference in 2014 was announced. A video of the trailer can be watched here

There was also a Gaiden Game released for the PS2 in 2005, Samurai Western, which was a more action-centered game that amounted to Way of the Samurai IN THE WILD WEST!

Each game follows the same basic plot: a wandering ronin arrives in a village that is in the middle of a vicious conflict between various factions. The ronin may choose to align with any of the factions, play them against each other for their own ends, try to help the villagers caught in the middle, or simply go about their days without taking sides. Depending on your actions, the plotline branches and changes accordingly, and there are plenty of endings to be found, ranging from taking a position of power to leaving the village in ruins to having your journey cut short.

As the name implies, the games revolve heavily around fighting (though each game offers at least one route you can preform a Pacifist Run on), mainly with swords (though other weapons, mostly spears, are available in the later games... and were treated like 'side stance swords' in WotS2). Each game boasts a wide selection of weapons; however, the player only begins with a single sword to their name, and can only carry a limited amount of weapons with them. Weapons can usually be stored though an in-town service or completing a playthrough, and can be selected as your starting weapon during your next game.

Way of the Samurai also allows a certain amount of Character Customization, mostly in the vein of Virtual Paper Doll: you have a variety of heads, bodies and accessories to choose from.

Way of the Samurai contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The third game is set in the Sengoku era, and as a result predates the titular "Way of the Samurai" (today known as Bushido).
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Despite Melinda's tough-as-nails image (and she is really tough), defeating her nonlethally at least four times in the fourth game unlocks her for Night Crawling.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Blondie Soldiers in the fourth game is an all-female knight squad fully clad in armor. This being Way of The Samurai though, they're not any more competent than your run-of-the-mill samurai, despite the armor.
  • Anachronism Stew: Non-canon, but one of your available accessory in two is a (non-functioning) wearable night vision goggles and a back-mounted minigun. Don't ask.
    • The third game gives you what is essentially a cyber-samurai outfit, complete with Tron Lines. The DLC weapon also included matching parts to build a cyber-samurai themed sword.
    • One of the possible reasons why Way Of The Samurai 3+ never got an English release is due to your ability to dress up your companions well beyond stretching the constraint of disbelief. Dressing Osei in a bridal gown or Itsuse in a gothic lolita dress? Yep, it's there. In short, the game seems to stop taking itself seriously and started pandering to the otaku base.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: One of the most common rewards is unlocking more ways to dress up your samurai.
  • Anti-Villain: For all his Knight Templar tendencies, Chief Kuroha in the second game is deeply traumatized on how many people he screwed over to maintain order in Amahara. Indeed, in the Magistrate route's final moments, he commits seppuku over his perceived transgressions.
    • In the fourth game, Kotobuki Hikaru, despite blindly loyal to the Big Bad Kinugawa, feels utmost remorse whenever he has to fight you, and in one ending, giving the order to shoot you.
  • Armor Is Useless: Your HP is not tied to what you wear, so you can wear accessories that make you look like you're wearing a full tatami gusoku, and it won't make a lick of difference. Ditto for the female knights in the fourth game; they are no tougher than samurais wearing clothes, despite wearing plate armors.
  • Artistic License - History: In 4, a map of the world is visible in the foreign school. One prominent mistake is Alaska is IDed as part of the United States, rather than the Russian Empire, which it belongs to until 12 years after the game is set.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The "Battotsu" skill found in side-stance swords in the second game. Sure it is the single most damaging move at 350 attack power, but on unupgraded swords, it takes 3.5 bars out of maximum of 5 bars of heat. This means that, improperly used, the sword can only survive a maximum of 6 continuous uses before it completely breaks and is irreparable.
    • On a more general note, some very awesome-looking sword are this trope. The Murasame's (from the second game) tendency to have negative values for defense makes it very impractical to use unupgraded. Then again, unless you know what you are doing, most unupgraded swords are this.
    • The lack of unblockable/guard breaker moves and counterattacks on the third game's Dual Ninja Sword Stance is firmly in this territory.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: On the contrary, some obtainable swords are very user-friendly. Think Kubirabasara, the first dual-wield sword you see (being wielded by Danpachi). The above mentioned high heat attacks (and styles that suffer from it in general) get fixed rather well if you apply the "god" title to the sword in question, which halves heat consumption.
    • The Dual Sword Stance, owing by the virtue of it not tied to any sword, meaning you can pick any random two swords (or two sticks/leeks) and it will be powerful. Also the existence of at least two guard-breaker moves and a single counterattack makes it very awesome and very practical.
  • Badass Boast: I am the wind...and the wind you cannot kill.
  • Badass Grandpa: Who would have thought that the homeless man under the tracks is one of the Four Samurai Lords?
  • Bad Bad Acting: 2's English voice acting seems to be an attempt to invoke "cheap English dub of a Japanese made samurai film". It sort of works once you realize it's intentional.
  • Bald of Awesome: Kitcho in the first game. Of course, it's fairly obvious that he shaves his head.
  • Bald of Evil: Fujimori Shuzen in the third game.
    • Kai Kobato, the Yakuza job broker in the fourth game is this. He is also one of the Yakuza Quartet so it overlaps with Bald of Awesome.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: It's possible to play out this character archetype rather well in WOTS 3, once you've collected all the technique scrolls. Except on one-hit kill mode.
    • Comes back in the fourth game. Mastering the requires skillsets become a necessity due to the Golden Ending involving the No-Gear Level.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Appears as both a mini-game (that can grievously harm or even kill you if you mess up) and an obtainable skill in Way of the Samurai 3.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted to all hell in the fourth game. The Three Kinugawa Sisters might be very gorgeous, but all of them are schemers in their own right and are unrepentantly sadists. On a lesser note, Akemi is a Shogunate ninja that's working against you.
  • BFS: Some swords, particularly the Murasame, Kanesada, and the Izumo-no-Hashira from the second game are long.
    • Not to mention the DLC weapons in the third game. That thing is basically Buster Sword replica.
    • The Western Claymores in the fourth game are also very, very long by katana standards.
  • The Blacksmith: In the first two games he upgrades and repairs your weapons, and in the second he can also apply titles to some of them that increase their stats. In the third, he can also make you a sword or spear out of found/bought weapon parts. In the fourth, there are two, and the better one must be unlocked via a sidequest.
  • Big Bad: Josui Tamagawa in Wots 1, Hanzaemon and Chief Kuroha (depending on your side, often both, but especially Hanzaemon, due to not fighting you only in a handful of Downer Ending paths that don't get that far) in Wots 2, Shuzen Fujimori in Wots 3, and Kinugawa Onsen in 4.
  • Bi the Way: Both women and men can be the subject of the fourth game's Night Crawling sidequests (only unique male NPCs can be courted, however).
  • Bittersweet Ending: The 'With Itsuse' ending in the third game.
    • In the first game, your PC's actions are lost to history unless you get the worst ending, which is bittersweet in and of itself.
    • Fevered Spirits ending in the fourth game. You laid down your life alongside the Prajnas and nobody remembers your deeds, but some remember the passion from your actions and people of the future longs for the fevered spirits that the group came to symbolize later.
  • Bishōnen: Umemiya Yuma in the third game. The fourth head choice is white haired. Also one of the default templates in the fourth game.
  • Blondes are Evil: Due to your ever-shifting allegiances each run, any "foreigner" character that has a blonde hair may or may not be this. Case in point are Chelsea in 1, and the whole schtick with the Melinda and her Blondie Knights in 4.
    • Played straight with Nami in 2. A minor manipulative bitch on her own, she is no slouch in combat as well and is unambiguously portrayed as your enemy since she appears as one in multiple routes.
  • Bonus Boss: A random foreigner in the 2nd game with Excalibur can be fought if you visit the sword informant with a very high relationship with the townspeople and is tougher than any foe on the current difficulty. Sousuke Nakamura in the same game is never fought in any ending, but can be attacked in the magistrate headquarters for a decent fight. Completing enough quests for either the Aoto Gang or Magistrates gives you a quest to kill the opposite broker, who has high health and a unique sword. Defeat the inevitable assassin out to get you afterwards, and you discover that your own job broker hired for the assassin. Naturally you have the choice to fight him as well.
    • Marathon Bonus Boss: Tessho in the second game, Hard mode. It's not so much defeating him that's difficult, it's that whenever he is in low health, he will declare victory for you and sheathe his sword, ending the battle, making him impossible to kill, which denies you of obtaining his sword. This means you have to whittle down his massive HP bar all over again. Doubly frustrating when he's using the notoriously damage-spongy Reikon-kudaki, which is a wooden sword.
  • Boring, but Practical: In the third iteration you can just spam the block button until the mooks attacks you, opening the way for the One-Hit Kill chain. Just remember to press the right button to kill your opponent.
    • A good deal of appraisal titles don't seem to do anything except reduce heat from your moves. If your sword is the kind of the "high-power, high-heat" variety though, it is massively practical.
    • Fourth game includes "Perks" that are tied to fighting styles. These range from eating or drinking faster, reduced vitality depletion, or even reduction in damage taken, both general damage and specific anti-style perk. These are all really boring, and incredibly useful when used together in a custom stance.
  • Boss Rush: Going for certain endings in the third game can get you killing your way through five named characters, although the "Rush" is sort of stretching it due to the Multi-Mook Melee in-between.
    • Certain choices in the fourth game lands you on this, within the first 10 minutes of the game. You fight Akagi, Melinda, and Kotobuki all after the other. God help you if you just started, although highly unlikely.
  • Breakable Weapons: The only exception is in Way of the Samurai 3, where if a weapon is leveled up to the maximum (level 50), it becomes an unbreakable weapon. Getting your weapon appraised to Unbreakable in the fourth game also does it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the 3rd game, enemies will very rarely drop a blue book called "Way of the Samurai". If you look at it in your inventory, it says that it's the game's manual. (You can't do anything with it, though, aside from selling it for money.)
    • In the same game, managing to non-lethal KO Princess Araragi and she will say "I knew it, you were only after my body." Taken out of context, this seems normal or meaningless. In the game's terms however, knocking out any NPC grants them their "body", that is, their NPC model to be used in later playthroughs if you wish to. That remark seems to be pointed directly at the player, since there is not single instance where you actually get to fight her, meaning you do have to go out of your way to stun her.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The townspeople of Omiki Town in 3 will run at you and kick you for a piddling five to ten points of damage if you're hated by the town. Chances are very good that to reach that point, you will have a sword that is already liberally stained with the blood of the townspeople of Omiki. Non-combat NPCs have a miserly amount of HP, so killing someone is often just a matter of two or three slashes...and yet they'll come up to take their kicks at you anyway.
  • But Thou Must: Generally Averted, one exception is ending 12 of the 2nd game, where you can't refuse the offer to kill Hanzaemon (You can quit before the cutscene, but you can't say no).
  • Cain and Abel: Samurai Western uses this as the main plot-driver. Protagonist Goujirou Kiryuu's elder brother Rando has discarded family and honor and left Japan to become an outlaw in the American west, so Goujirou chases after him for a showdown.
  • Canon Immigrant: In the third game, it is possible for you to fight Zaji who is a character of a semi-related Acquire-developed game, Shinobido: Way Of The Ninja.
  • Chained to a Railway: In the first game, this could happen to you if you ask Tsubohachi to "Join him" when he knocks Suzu unconscious and starts carrying her off. Tsubohachi is so disgusted that he and his goons tie you to the local train tracks. Luckily, Kitcho and Chelsea (who are opposed to Tsubohachi's boss) happen to be nearby and let you loose.
    • Yet Another Stupid Death: If/when you find yourself tied to the train tracks, you can repeatedly refuse your would-be-rescuer's offers to untie you; eventually they'll leave... and leave you tied to the train tracks - cue gameover... - which is also a minor example of Gameplay and Story Segregation, as being hit by the train at any other point in the game will do damage, but will not be instantly fatal.
      • Probably justified in the fact that the impacts you have normally with a train involve getting smashed on the side. This involves having dozens of tons of very heavy steel travelling potentially a couple hundred miles an hour running *over* you, which is far less survivable.
  • Character Customization: Just barely (pick a head, pick a body, and you're done), but it's there. The 2nd and 3rd games have accessories that your character can wear. The fourth game finally gets around to a more robust system; allowing the player to change their face/gender/age, hair, clothes (tops, bottoms, and whole-body), footwear, and accessories.
  • Chainmail Bikini: The final clothing option in the 2nd game.
  • Cherry Tapping: Throws and kicks, at least in the third game, do the least amount of damage, even on Instant Kill, where they do 10HP as opposed to everything else's 9999 damage. If you're really bored, try throwing and kicking an opponent into submission.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The second game's Danpachi, a kind and just town guardsman who also happens to be noted by several NPCs to be quite the playboy despite being married with kids.
  • Clothing Damage: The third game's Shameful Slash. Slash a girl in such a way that the hem of their kimono falls off. A point in a mission and required to hire a certain ally.
  • Continuity Cameo: A secret code that can be entered in Way of The Samurai 2 allows you to play as any NPC in the game. All of them are fully rendered and fully voiced, including NPC sprites for your trainer in the first game, Kenji (your old protagonist model), Dona Dona, and Suzu.
    • The third game really becomes an exercise of Continuity Porn where the choice of heads include Kenji and Mifune (default male protagonist of the second game), with matching outfits to boot. Your trainer in the first game is now a legitimate NPC in the game, affectionately called Sensei. Lastly, a plot-important NPC in the second game, Kasumi is now a recruitable NPC in-game, with a heavy dose of lampshading.
    • And of course, every game has a blacksmith called Dojima. The third game has two of them. The fourth game even has an entire subquest for him.
    • The fourth game marks the triumphal return of Sensei. Not only she has her own subquest (and Trophy!), you can even Night Crawl her.
    • More than characters, weapons have cameoed in nearly every subsequent games. From the first game: Binetsu (Chelsea's), Ippatsumaru (Tsubohachi's), Dai-Kuronama (Tesshin's), Samehada-tou (later Samehadamaru, Karibe's), and Zangetsu (Hyuga's). From the second game, Oborozukiyo (Mutou's), Zannkimaru (Hanzaemon's), Biteikotsu (Kyojiro's), and Kansei (Kasumi's). Even your starting weapon in the first game, Mediocre Sword, survived as Chuyo-Tou in 2, and Moderate Blade in 3, although with nerfed moveset.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons in the second game: You will occasionally encounter "Traveler" type NPCs that either predict the end of the samurais in Rokkotsu Pass (setting of the first game) to a particular NPC who is hearing-challenged and tells of his plan to build an inn in Rokkotsu Pass. Others include a young girl who spouts advice much like your female swordmaster in the first game.
    • XSeed's hilarious translation has the third default template described as "Heavily resembles the main character from the previous ga—er, from years past".
  • Cutting Off The Branches: In the fourth game's DLC, Sayo appears and is trained in sword use, which makes only one possible ending for the 2nd game canon. Then again, it is DLC that already features Dona Dona 20 years before the first game, so the canon is up to debate.
  • Dance Battler: Dona Dona's fighting style incorporates, amongst others, a headspin maneuver and the Saturday Night Fever pose as attacks! The style is finally recreated with Jackson Swordfighting style in the fourth game, and it's just as deadly.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Itsuse in the third game fits this to a tee. Sadly, she is still too preoccupied with killing Shuzen for her and the main character's relationship to go anywhere. The last part may however, have been Ret Conned in Way Of The Samurai 3 Plus.
  • Denser and Wackier: There was humor before, but 4 introduces wildly colorful outfits for everyone, bizarre characters and minigames like surviving kinky punishment torture. Not to mention the entire schtick about Night Crawling which, due to its wackiness, comes off as rather tasteful, all things considered.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The fourth game allows you to play as NPC characters, even important ones by unlocking their Face and using them in character customization. In this game, voice types are tied to face types, and while this may not seem important, there are lines recorded for any action you, as the player, can take, as opposed to simply lines as what the NPC can take. For example, playing as one of the Three Sisters will reveal that she has a line recorded for "waking up", which you cannot hear outside of sleeping in the Inn, something that the NPC will not do. Other example include having the same NPC voice reacting to being arrested when they are wandering about (since the game allows previously played characters to walk around in the game world).
    • In contrast, the second game, which has a similar function does not record combat lines for civilian NPC actors. A lady-type NPC will not grunt or pant during combat, for example.
  • Difficult but Awesome: When it was first introduced in WoTS2, Fencing Stance (later Draw Stance in 3) swords are basically this. They have very few combo moves, accumulate heat faster by design which necessitates exploiting enemy openings, and since they sheath the sword after every move, opens up for a counter attack from the enemy. However, most of the moves are also lightning fast, very high damage, and more often than not, most swords have a very nasty unblockable attacks. The Zannkimaru, wielded by the second game's Big Bad (and reappears in 3), is an iaijutsu zanbato, giving it a large range advantage.
    • Bare-handed style is this. While the biggest drawback is your inability to block and low damage moves, since all of your attacks are of "melee" type, all of your attacks are also unblockable. In the true spirit of the trope, one moveset is a difficult-to-execute counterattack that seemingly does no damage, but in reality does a Barehanded Blade Block that generates about three bars (out of a maximum of five) of heat to the enemy's sword. Exploit the AI's eagerness to rapidly retaliate and you can break an enemy's sword in four or less counterattacks, greatly evening out the odds. Of course, fights are still going to be long, drawn-out affairs, but hey.
  • Dirty Cop: Inokashira of the first game and Yasuno of the second, both whom are also Dirty Cowards. Incidentally, both of them are expies of each other.
  • Downer Ending: Considering the games Multiple Endings, some endings can be this like 2's Bad Sayo ending, which is required for the Pacifist Run. On another note is 3's ending 4 and ending 6, titled "Death of Sakurai Clan" and "A Song of Defeat", respectively.
    • To top all of Downer Endings, in the fourth game, you die from being boiled alive and nobody mourns you.
  • The Dragon: At least one per faction.
    • The first game has Battle Butler Shiretoko for the Kurou Family, Rebellious Rebel Karibe for the Akadama Clan, and Hyuuga for the Meiji Government Army.
    • The second game gives us Psycho for Hire Kyoujirou for the Aotou Gang, and Knight Templar Mutou for the Magistrate's Office. Meanwhile, The player-character can optionially become The Dragon for Fallen Princess Kasumi during her Aotou Gang sub-route.
    • Western has Rando Kiryuu, protagonist Goujirou's wayward elder brother who has discarded the Way of the Samurai and is acting as The Dragon for Big Bad Goldberg.
    • In the third game, Fujimori's forces have Kirie, a weasel-faced ninja with an inferiority complex up the wazoo.
    • The sickly-looking Kogure for the Prajnas and master of the drunken fist kung-fu Moro Shigeru for the Constables. Kotobuki Hikaru himself later becomes the dragon for Kinugawa Onsen.
  • Dragon Lady: Lady Murasaki in the first game. Kasumi in both 2 and 3. The Kinugawa sisters in 4.
  • Dragon Their Feet: In 2, this can happen with Kyojiro, with devastating consequences if left unattended.
  • Dual Wielding: First appeared in Way of the Samurai 2 with special pairs of dual-wield-only swords. In Way of the Samurai 3, however, if you find and use the "Dual Wield Scroll", you can dual wield using any two swords you have. There's also a separate "Dual Wield Ninja Scroll" that lets you dual wield any two ninja swords.
    • Due to separation of swords and swordfighting, you can now dualwield any swords in regular or ninja dualwield. Yes, even two BFSes
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: MASSIVELY averted. Do enough jobs for any factions in the game, and members of said faction will practically bend over backwards for you, if not outright hero-worshipping you (and heavy flirting from the girls). The third game also has this if you decide to depose Genjuro, then they literally bow to you wherever you go, doubly so if you have earned their respect beforehand. Similar occasion when you decide to take control of Aoto Gang in the second game with the blessing of every member.
  • Escort Mission: There is one in the fourth, which involves escorting a lecturer to the language school, or, if the school is open, escorting him out. The NPC tells you to just run through while they're distracted, but the enemies immediately lock on to your escort, who may then run away into some corner you can't see and thus die without you being able to do anything about it. And then, when that happens, if you had wanted to actually succeed at the mission, you can look forward to loading the last file you saved, because the game won't let you retry.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Instant-Kill difficulty mode. Every Attack does 9999 damage, except kicks/throws, which deal 10.
  • Explosive Overclocking: You can try to upgrade your sword past its upgrade limit five times. There is always a risk of it getting broken during the way though. See Save Scumming entry below.
  • Expy: The second game likes to do this. A fight broker in the second game, named Kotsubo, is basically a Mini-Me of the first game's Tsubohachi (lampshaded by the Meaningful Name, which means "Little Tsubo"). Also, the previous major character, Tesshin, is now Tessho, the Dojo Master. Aside form the name change, nothing about them is different, even down to his iconic sword, the Dai-Kuronama.
  • Fallen Princess: Kasumi in the second game is the daughter of the Aotou Gang's previous leader, making her technically a Mafia Princess too. The fallen part comes in that she is every bit as chivalrous as her father and despises Hanzaemon, the current de facto leader for turning her father's organization into a gang of Yakuza.
    • Princess Sakurai Shizuru of the third game is forced underground after her entire clan went under and her father, the head of Sakurai clan, was defeated. She now goes under the name of Osei.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Hero (or Designated Hero, or Anti-Hero, or what have you) of each game. The fourth game's manual even lampshades it in the description to the image of the default protagonist: "You! Or at least, one possible variation of you."
  • Flower Motifs: The Sakurai Clan. Whenever an NPC talks about "cherry blossoms blooming", rest assured, they're talking about the Clan. The Clan's seal is also of a sakura symbol. One conversational choice in one of the inklings with Shinnousuke explicitly links the two.
  • Forced Level Grinding: If you don't spend a good chunk of time (sometimes NG+ cycles are needed for hard mode) getting a good weapon and upgrading it, fights will be very hard if not impossible thanks to your crap damage and defense.
  • Foreign Fanservice: Chelsea of the first game and Nami of the second, both of whom are blondes with impressive figures wearing Fanservice-y clothing.
    • But Not Too Foreign: The aforementioned Nami is both blonde and blue-eyed, with noticeably whiter skin than the rest of the cast. Apparently, her full name is Nami van Basten, making her half-Dutch.
  • For Massive Damage: Hitting an enemy while they're staggered, or otherwise guard-broken increases damage dealt. Some swords explicitly has moves that begin with a guard breaker, linked to another attack.
  • Funny Foreigner: The first game has Donald Donatelous, AKA 'Dona Dona', a foreigner with a Funny Afro who wants to be a samurai. Basically serves as Plucky Comic Relief, though he may well prove a better hero than your 'hero'...
    • Western has an inversion, where Goujirou Kiryuu is treated as a Funny Foreigner by the locals... Including town sheriff Donald, who is implied to be Dona Dona before setting off to Japan.
    • Dona Dona returns in Way of the Samurai 3... only this time it's DONNA Donatelous, Donald's ancestor (since W.O.T.S. 3 is set far before the original). She's a fairly good partner and carries a pretty nice unique sword, but if you let her move in with you she'll randomly steal swords from your safe if you leave her there alone for long periods of time.
    • The second game has these as NPC's! They have outrageous voices and most of them talk to you in broken English.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The third game, in the US version at least, hangs upon entering the Records section if a forged weapon still in your possession is your most-used weapon. Irritating when you forge weapons that put the special ones to shame and need to check what you need for 100% Completion. Infuriating when you've forgotten which titles you need for that Last Lousy Achievement.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can use other people's swords against them in New Game+ for a Mirror Boss.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: You can put away your sword and go through the entire 3rd game and the 4th as an empty-handed martial artist.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Inokashira and Jose in the first game, the Aotou Three from the second game.
  • Golden Ending: Point-wise, ending "1" is treated as the best in all games.
  • Grey and Gray Morality
  • Guide Dang It: Getting all 22 endings in Way of the Samurai 3. The game suggests that there's 21 after you get any one of the endings (slots 22 to 28 at this point being the 7 different credits sequences). The game also does not tell you how to get a specific ending, unlike the titles. The secret ending? Kill 'em All with no regard to your Samurai Point total afterwards.
    • The Guide Dang It part is that there's a very specific order to who you kill and when...otherwise you'll accidentally trigger one of the other endings.
    • The Golden Ending for WotS 4, as well as certain scenes for each storyline.
    • On a more minor note, the Multi-Mook Melee that happens most of the time in Way of the Samurai 4 is an example. The game certainly never tells you that unlike past titles, leaving the area to rest, replenish your health and resupply on items and then returning to the mission area will not reset progress. Instead, you will continue where you left off. Convenient, huh?
  • Heartwarming Orphan: 2's Cute Mute Sayo.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Many endings from each game has this. The aptly named "Death of A Samurai" ending in the third game is basically this.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Dona Dona.
  • Hide Your Children: The Way of the Samurai 3 manual explicitly notes that any NPC can die... except for children and animals. 2 also follows this, though Sayo may die in some ending paths.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Night Crawling missions from the fourth game entail setting up a rendezvous with a woman (including unique female NPCs such as Melinda and Sensei, though getting them for Night Crawling is a tad more involved), going to their home at night, sneaking through their house, finding them, taking them to the inn, then "fighting" them. Succeed, and as the game says, it's "sexy time".
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Eat a rice ball, restore 200HP. Eat a radish, restore 600 HP! Samurais apparently possess amazing stomach acids.
    • Semi-averted in WotS 4. Eating food recovers energy. Energy is used to regenerate your health.
  • I Am Spartacus: Occurs in the True End of the third game.
  • Identical Grandfather: The trope that allows Dojima the blacksmith to appear in all four games, given that the first is set in 1878, the second and fourth in the 1850s just before Commodore Perry sailed to Japan, and the third in the late 1500s at the start of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: One sword style (Draw/Fencing) allows this. See Difficult But Awesome above.
    • Kogure is one hell of a practitioner in the fourth game.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Minister Kinugawa, from the fourth game, kills the winners of his tournament by boiling them alive. He is later seen (provided you didn't die with the other winners) on the tournament grounds enjoying a stew with his daughters. Unfortunate Implication ensue.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Almost averted in the fourth game. Kinugawa's Ogre Isle revolver is clearly based on British Empire Webley or Enfield revolver. Seeing that the very first models were made in 1880, it is about 20 years away from it being introduced in the army, much less in the private collection of a Japanese Chief Minister. Then again, the period is close enough and both revolvers are seen as the symbol of the waning Empire up until World War 1, so the choice may have been intentional.
  • Infant Immortality
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Thanks to the smithing and leveling-up system in the third game, you can make your own +200 attack +200 defense sword (or more!). This, along with Level Grinding your weapon to have infinite durability, makes the game laughably easy.
    • In the fourth game, the damage is capped at 500. But with the addition of Charms, you can craft weapons that quickly regenerates Vitality while standing still, give you a chance to avoid death, or even flat out multiplies attack powers of certain attacks.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Kyojirou in the second game. No matter what side the player is on, she'll insist that s/he is like her and craving blood, which makes them two peas in a pod.
  • Jidai Geki: In all three flavors, no less!
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Despite immediate cries of the obvious, the trope is played straight and inverted in several ways. It is played straight in the sense that the rare, non-katana weapons that have cropped up, i.e. spears, claws (Yasuno's Kobyoso in the second game), and if you really want to be pedantic, ninja swords (some of them, seeing that most ninja swords are made of undiluted awesome), are not much better than regular katanas. Inverted with the ninja sword examples and the rare Western straight swords that come up every so often, such as the second game's Excalibur/Niitakayama, and one of the Continuity Cameo swords, Binetsu, which is a single-handed fleuret. The DLC Weapons package in the third game also brings the Plush Set parts, which can be made into a European-style sword that can be wielded any way possible, and loaded with moves from a katana style swordfighting. Lampshaded by the Samurai Sword in the third game, apparently an American imitation of a katana that somehow is still better than the average ones.
    • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Excepting the Bokuto in the second game, any Wooden Katanas are expected to be badasses in their own right, particularly when upgraded. Barring the third game's Blunt mode, every single wooden katanas can kill just as well as their sharper brethren. Dual-wielding Wooden Katanas in the third game is not only possible, but so much made of awesome due to Dual Sword Stance's inherently Awesome Yet Practical moveset. It is essentially double dose of undiluted awesome and badass.
  • Karma Meter: The implicit, invisible variation.
  • Kick the Dog: In contrast to the Anti-Villain Amahara Magistrates of 2, the Amahara Magistrates of 4, despite claiming to share the same peace at any cost goal, are much more villainous. This is made clear by one of their leadership kicking an underling to get him out of the way at one point.
  • Knight Templar: The Magistrate's office in the second game, especially it's leader Kuroha and his Dragon Goushirou Mutou. In the route in which the player joins them, s/he becomes one as well. They do however, have a very good reason: a combination of the new Aoto Gang, the circulation of the designer drug Soma, and threats from Bakufu government to forcibly take control of the usually independent Amahara.
    • An unexpected example in the third game: Shinnosuke doesn't really care who leads Sakurai Clan, he only wants it to be revived, at all costs. Even if it means supporting the player who kills Osei.
  • Lady Macbeth: Princess Araragi in the third game.
  • Large and in Charge/Fat Bastard: Genjuro of the third game's Ouka Clan.
  • Large Ham: "I am the ruler of the realm of Amana, FUJIMORI SHUZEN!"
  • Lethal Joke Item: The third game includes a gardening hoe named "My Hoe" and a friggin' LEEK as weapons. Both can perform the game's new mook insta-kill move. Also, if you take the hoe to get a title appraisal, its unique title is "You're". That's right—"You're My Hoe".
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: Minor example in the third game. Raise the affection of your partner and you can ask them to stay at your home, with some benefits (or drawbacks) that they bring.
  • Limp and Livid: Kyojiro's moveset, if not her stance. Applies to you if you pick up her sword in WOTS 2 or 3.
  • The Mole: Hyuuga in the first game, Kusaburou the medicine peddler and Chiyo, alias Oboro, Dr. Genan's assistant in the second. All three are Ninja, and the latter two, when encountered at night, imply that the player is supposed to be one as well and needs to be killed because s/he isn't acting as ordered.
    • Shinnosuke in the third game is a heroic mole, and it's possible for the player to join him in this role.
    • Akemi in the fourth game. It is possible to uncover the deception and actually rescue your mates before the trap is sprung.
  • Magikarp Power: The impossibly hard to get Reikon-kudaki from the second game is a wooden sword. Although it comes with a nice defensive power, it also has a massive -130 attack or less. If you know what you are doing (with a good deal of Save Scumming), you can make it into a wooden sword with attacks well into the triple-digits, while keeping its originally high defense.
    • Any sword in the fourth game, given enough upgrades can be this, since there is no limit on upgrading other than the hard Strength cap of 500. All you need is some metals to keep the thing going.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Princess Araragi, oh so very much. Her MO is basically "seduce the most potential person to be the one man that can unite Japan and bear his child, whomever it may be, at any costs." Her second ending has you spare Shuzen out of self restraint, only to be shivved by her for your trouble.
    • The Kinugawa Sisters are this times three. They literally ask you to either prevent the Hospital from opening or to force it to close, essentially playing bandits on their behalf.
  • Megamanning: Movesets are tied to swords, meaning that killing a foe and taking his sword (plus some practice) allows you to take their fighting style. This is double subverted in the fourth game, as while it seems with separation of swords and fighting style means you cannot do this anymore, major NPCs drop their sword as well as their style.
  • Moment Killer: In Osei's route is the closest the series has ever done to a kiss scene...only to be interrupted by Kota. He immediately took notice of it and teased the heck out of Osei for it.
  • Mook Chivalry: Played very straight and explicitly noted in the first game's tutorial. Even the most dishonorable groups of yakuza thugs will only ever come at you one at a time, should they surround you. Just like an old Samurai film.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Several, in every game.
  • Multiple Endings: Tons of them. The 3rd game by itself has twenty-one seperate listed endings (though to be fair, most of them are just variations on a theme.) and A secret one for killing every permanent NPC in the game in one run, which is harder than it sounds considering what triggers over half of the endings.
  • New Game+: The more times you play through, the more you unlock for later runs. You can also save weapons that you completed the game with, as well as ones that you've put in your 'sword vault' and start with them during a later runthrough.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the second game, go ahead and help the poor mute girl learn to read and write, thereby giving her an effective way to communicate with other people beyond simple miming and drawing. Such a shame that her inability to communicate is what made her so valuable as an unwitting courier for the local criminals. By simply teaching her to communicate, you've turned her from a perfect asset into a dangerous witness to their myriad crimes. Following the route through to its ultimate conclusion without being swayed leads to what is probably among the bloodiest endings in the game, as you cut your way through both the Aoto Gang Headquarters and the Magistrate's Office to save her.
  • No-Gear Level: One fight in the path to the Golden Ending in 4.
  • Non-Indicative Difficulty: Harder difficulties give extra Samurai Points and make enemies drop better swords.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: All except for 4 to 2, which takes place in Amahara some years afterwards, and even then the story connections are fairly loose.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In the second and third game, Everyone (sans children and animals) on Instant-Kill difficulty. Learn to battle effectively extremely quick, or get the jump on them, preferably with a long sword for better reach.
  • Pacifist Run: 2 awards you with a special ranking for getting an ending (rather than dieing or retiring) without killing anyone. Sayo's path and letting her die during it is the only one that can be achieved with this.
    • The third game, with the addition of Set Swords to Stun feature, awards you a custom title "Harmless Samurai".
  • Properly Paranoid: Very likely, your first experience going to the Magistrate in the second game is of Mutou threatening an innocent-looking medicine peddler for being a spy. Not only he really is a spy, he's also a ninja, and one that you can fight to boot.
  • Poison Mushroom: Rotten rice balls, which are easily confused with regular rice balls save for their discoloration. Averted in the 3rd game, as rotten rice balls are labeled as such and are a sickly shade of green, and is actually useful for healing outside combat, given that it only gives unpleasant temporary status effect. In the fourth game, its temporary unpleasant status effect is making you consume more Vitality than normal, but that's it.
    • Occurs literally in the first game. Mushrooms could heal up to 600 points of health, or damage you up to 150 points. The third game has literal poison mushrooms, which are easily avoided as they are labeled as such. The fourth game poison mushroom only reduces your Spring Harvest gauge increase, but still increases it by 50 when consumed nonetheless.
  • Psycho for Hire: Kyojirou Kagenuma
  • Punny Name: Uepon, Dekoreita, and Erebeita in the third game. One sells weapons, one sells decorations (ie, accessories), and one offers you the ability to skip travel on a particularly tall castle, an NPC elevator. Who would've thought, eh.
    • The British characters in the fourth game. Laura Rita, the British Ambassador to Japan, has her last name translated as Lita (as in Lolita, based on her clothing). Count Jet "J.J." Jenkins, a thrill-seeker who goes out of his way during the Foreigners Storyline to have the player show him the more dangerous sides of life in Japan. And finally Captain Melinda de Cameron, who's last name is phonetically the same as the Japanese word "dekameron", which means "large melons"; her last name was blatantly translated as "Megamelons" in the US release. Of the three, J.J.'s name is the only one unchanged.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The ability to use a female character is always an unlocked option (except in the Japan Only Way Of The Samurai 3 Plus, where one is usable by default). One of the extreme examples where female characters are still "he", able to stay at brothels (with only women staff) and flirt with various girls. Indeed, the only change beyond visuals is a change of grunts and a single NPC addressing the PC as "young lady" (the sword informant, who you can still ask on a date). The most hilarious of course, is if the PC goes to the bathhouse. Even if the PC is a she, she goes to the men's bath, and the bath owner will tell you off if you try to go to the gender appropriate section.
    • May or may not be averted in the same game. Level enough good reputation amongst Aoto gang members, and one of the lowlies actually start hitting on you, and you can respond to his affections (although you can't really do anything with it). The poor sod actually asks to go to an inn with you. The question is that whether this is meant to be a Gay Option or a response for female PCs.
    • Most dialogues in four refer to you in gender-neutral terms in Japanese. However, Melinda and the Narrator will still refer to you as a man.
  • Quicksand Box: "Now swim! Swim forever!" pretty much sums up the Way of the Samurai experience. While the locations are physically small, there's no real direction to speak of and you can, and will, wander aimlessly until you get a handle on what the hell is going on and what you can do.
  • Rare Candy: The third game's Golden Egg. Sold in the shop for 6000 Yen (an equivalent of at least 10 jobs' pay), but also given from unmarked sidequests. All it does however, is restore all your HP, which is useless in early gameplay. That is, until your HP starts hitting 7K plus, in which case it becomes massively practical and collectable. Also, a certain merchant would like to trade some stuff for your golden eggs.
  • Random Drop: Some swords are just that rare. Sometimes, they aren't even worth your time, but you need it anyway for that Last Lousy Point. The Kakitsubata from the third game is this, being dropped only by one middle-game mission NPC on Instant Kill difficulty, with a low chance to drop to boot.
    • With the separation of swords and styles, enemies may or may not drop their unique styles. Sometimes, they have more than one. Frustration ensues.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: A lesser, single-player variant. You are guaranteed not to be able to piece together the bigger picture of the overall plot unless you play multiple playthroughs with different point of views. Sometimes, even the littlest of choices lead to very different consequences.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Magistrate Sousuke Nakamura of the second game has a flamboyant appearance, uses feminine language and is hinted to be Camp Gay, but is one of the most difficult opponents in the game (utilizing a top-stance sword which can juggle-lock you to death) should you happen to piss him off. It's a good thing the player is never actually required to fight him, or else he'd become That One Boss.
  • Recycled In Akihabara: Acquire's Akiba's Trip is Way of the Samurai in modern Japan and stripping vampires. Despite such a difference in tone, the gameplay is surprisingly similar.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yuma and Shinnosuke in WotS 3. Combined with Cain and Abel.
    • Akagi and Kogure in the fourth game. Lampshaded by Akagi Reddo and the Prajna headband, which says "Akagi chose the color. If Kogure had chosen it, it would've been blue."
  • The Rival: No matter what the player's alligeance is in the first game, Tsubohachi will always feel this way about him.
  • Rule of Funny: Why else would there be a tuna-wielding cat girl companion in the third game? Not to mention the accessories, and the often very sarcastic flavor texts on low-end swords.
    • The sound effects for the fourth game's Night Crawling is fully up in hilarious territory.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Make your own! (in the 2nd game you could only wear one accessory at a time, in the 3rd game you could wear whatever you wanted as long as the total weight of all the random crap you're wearing is under 100 kilograms.) Doubly so in the third game where the accessory editor lets you modify the placement, size, and angle of any accessory. Same with 4, but items now have weight, so you may not have all 10 slots occupied.
  • Save Scumming: Dojima in the second game can, potentially, increase both attack and defense characteristics of a sword, doubly so (literally, it adds the your current upgrade counter and the maximum upgrade counter and applies it to attack/defense) after you've gone past the upgrade limit. The problem is, the upgrades has only a small chance of both attack and defense benefiting from the upgrade (as opposed to attack up, defense down, and vice-versa) not including the ever-present danger of Dojima breaking your sword. Thankfully, the game includes a soft reset button combination.
    • The soft reset is removed from the fourth game's US/EU versions, but its use has decreased other than getting back to an earlier plot point if you messed up instead of upgrading blues.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Oh so very much. Part of the fun is to kick a person from one faction, have them running with their sword drawn in view to an armed person of another faction (or otherwise neutral), get that other person to intercede, and watch the chaos unfold from afar. Not only it is tremendously fun (what was a duel can devolve into a free-for-all), it is also a good choice to avoid unnecessary combat.
    • The fourth game has less of this however; most NPC combatants are more than happy to draw their sword...and promptly sheath it again. If there is any "Duelist" NPC around though, expect a brawl. Not to mention if any of your previous player characters are on the same map.
  • Set Swords to Stun: Happens in the third and fourth game. You can even set guns to stun, however the hell that works.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In the second game, choosing to side with Fallen Princess Kasumi will lead you into this as she demands you to "make her a woman", before the final confrontation. All that is shown is that your PC hugs her topless body (while she is showing her newly-tattoed back), regardless of the PC's sex.
    • Taken to hilarious heights in the fourth game's "Night Crawling" mechanic. A successful "conquering" nets you a scene of your character jumping on the girl with sound effects ranging from horse neighing, stabbing sounds and fireworks heard in the background.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Sayo in 4, who appears as a special unlockable DLC character. She apparently became a beautiful (although Moe), skilled ninja swordswoman.
  • Shoplift and Die: Try stiffing the blacksmith (or outright attack him when he's walking around at night), and he'll attack you directly; other shopkeepers may either attack or call for help.
    • The third game has a different take on it. The four major merchants in the game (barring the combat-capable Blacksmiths) have bodyguards with them. Which is a shame, since killing them after concluding a transaction means you get to rob your money back.
    • Averted in the fourth game. Stiffing them will cause them to call the Constables which will attempt to arrest you. Establishment merchants (restaurants, mostly) has bodyguards.
  • Shout-Out: Manji-Kabura is a reference to the Infinity+1 Sword in Shiren the Wanderer, which was known as Kabra's Blade in localizations of the series. The merchant who sells it even has Shiren's Nice Hat! Kabura Sutegi was in Shiren as well, called Kabra Reborn in localizations, and was an even better sword which you got when you took the time to temper Kabra's Blade to its limit.
    • Chunsoft (the developers of the Mystery Dungeon series which Shiren was part of) would later merge with Spike (the Japanese publishers of this series) to become Spike Chunsoft.
  • Side Quest: The jobs that you can do in the 2nd and 3rd games. Unique in that you don't get to choose what jobs you do, they're given to you randomly (which can result in doing the same job three times in a row, if you're unlucky.)
    • The fourth game revamps this such that nearly any interactable NPC can give you a simple side job, ranging from courier, telling messages, item destruction, to assassinations.
  • The Social Darwinist: The Big Bad of the third game, Fujimori Shuzen, firmly believes in that only the strong should rule the weak. In a rare case of someone practicing what he preaches, he almost always commits seppuku when defeated nonlethally, proclaiming the player to be stronger than him, and that he should remove himself from the picture as a result.
  • Take Your Time: Although the first four days in Amihama are important since Story Events are tied to time of day, 4+ days are of less consequence since it's close to the climactic event for most part. This allows shenanigans such as waiting until Day 7 (where most vendors sell all of their stuff, mostly clothing or accessories), which is 2 to 3 days longer than your planned story-wise last stand, say.
  • Time Keeps On Slipping: In the first game, you have about three days to make a difference... or not. The second game gives you seven to nine days in Amahara to do as you please (some plot branches allow you to extend your stay). 2 also gives you more time periods: Early Morning, Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Late Night. The third game subverts it, as none of the main storyline events are dependent on time outside of time of day. The fourth game has a unique take as the time of day does not move at all even when doing jobs aside from sleeping or participating in Story Events. See Take Your Time entry above.
  • Title Drop: After defeating the "wild dog" who has Excalibur in 2, he says that your way is the way of the samurai.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In 4, somehow nobody cares what attire you're wearing, whether in or out of cutscenes. Even if you're skimping around town in nothing but your undergarments.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The motto of Kuroha and Mutou in the second game. Goldberg of Western also spouts lines that are very similar.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: Exemplified with the second game's Sayo route. Talk about heartwarming Tear Jerker...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Oh yeah. Along with Video Game Cruelty Punishment...
    • In one of the events for the Magistrate, you are invited for a tour of Kinugawa's torture chamber, showcasing the Human Waterwheel, complete with a hostage. If you so wish, you can turn the wheels yourself.
  • Virtual Paper Doll
  • Wacky Brits Have Wacky Names: In 4, the main characters of the British faction assisting Ambassador Laura consist of a Count Jet Jenkins, and Laura's fully-armored bodyguard, Melinda Megamelons. However, the only true one with an outrageous name is J.J., as Melinda's last name was translated as such for the sake of the joke that "de Cameron" is phonetically the same as the Japanese word "dekameron", which means "large melons".
  • Walking the Earth: The player is always this before (and usually after) arriving on the scene.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Act out of line and you'll get called on it, whether you're betraying your allies, slaughtering someone who has good intentions, or just being a general scumbag.
  • Worthy Opponent: Strangely enough, Big Bad Fujimori Shuzen from the third has shades of this. Indeed, he likes you better if you don't suck up to him and actually make clear about your intention to murder him, in which case he simply laughs and accepts you as his underling.
  • Yandere: Kyojiro, for the protagonist. And she'll go so far as to Murder the Hypotenuse to get his attention.
  • Yakuza: The Kurou family in the first game (Tsubohachi in particular) act the part, while the second game's Aotou Gang started out as a Robin Hood-esque band of chivalrous ronin who devolved into this when their previous leader died.
    • Played to heck with the third's Ouka Clan. While they looked like your average yakuza, a good half of them genuinely believes in the restoration of the destroyed Sakurai Clan and really are an honorable bunch of people. Unfortunately, their leader, Genjuro, and the other half of Ouka Clan are really just in it for themselves and the booze.
    • Due to Patriots vs. Foreigner storyline emphasis on the fourth game, the Yakuza in this game does what they do best: running gambling dens and contracting assassinations, when not involved in gang warfare. Although they are not involved with the main storyline, they in fact make up a subplot regarding Four Samurai Lords and Yakuza Quartet, collectively known as Amihama Eight. The entire Amihama Eight subquest is a whole storyline unto itself, culminating into an all out war against invaders attacking Amihama itself.

PlayStationCreator/Bam Entertainment    
Umineko: When They CryFantasy Visual NovelsWinter Shard
Trinity UniverseCreator/Nippon IchiWhat Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord?
Warriors OrochiPlay Station 2 Whiplash
Watch_DogsWide Open SandboxXenoblade

alternative title(s): Way Of The Samurai
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