Skills allow Bard to upgrade an ability or grant a new ability. They essentially make the game easier! Every time Bard gets to meet the Grim Reaper (outside of his store) (read: Game Over), the Game Over screen will allow you to Upgrade whatever Skills you have currently found Books for.
DON'T FORGET TO SPEND THOSE GEMS WHEN YOU DIE!
Depending on how good you are at platformers should determine what you spend your initial Gems on:
1) Excellent platformer -- Spend all your initial Gems on the 2nd Skill Ability (Extra Gem) which will increase your number of Gems dropped by enemies or the Huge Gem Skill. These will both make the 50,000 grind faster.
2) Above average platformer -- I'd recommend forgoing extra lives and spending Gems on either Fire Rate or Range Up. These will increase the speed at which you can fire and the distance your weapon will travel enabling you to essentially have more knives in the air at one time and make killing monsters all the easier.
3) Below average platformer -- Spend your Gems on Extra Lives first by upgrading the Maximum Life Skill!
Here I'll rank SKILLS according to their usefullness from worthless to awesomesauce (IMO OFC )
Increases the timer by 20 seconds per upgrade before the fire rains down on you. I found the fire very easy to avoid and only a few times did I ever actually exceed the levels time and it was usually as a result of making the walkthrough (3 Ranks Total)
This adds the "Twin Axes" Weapon in the Grim Reaper Shop. The first axe of the twins fires at the same angle and distance as the regular Axe, with an additional second axe splintering off from that axe in slightly different angle. It makes hitting enemies easier and axes do 3 damage versus a standard weapons 1 damage. However, they still require some skill to use, can be dreadful at close range, and have a very slow attack speed (regardless of your current upgraded Fire Rate).
Increases effectiveness of weapon modifier. (2 Ranks total). Weapon modifier is not to be confused with Power modifier. Power modifiers are the blue potions that increase the weapon damage your weapon does. Weapon modifier however is solely the Bleeding Upgrade you obtain from defeating a Blood Ghost in the one of two levels in the first world OR by looting it from a PURPLE Treasure Chest that you have already obtained the Skill Book from in a previous play through. It shows a Blood Drop symbol on your weapon and once you've hit an enemy even only once, they will slowly bleed hit points until death. The default rank causes 1 bleeding damage every 6 seconds. Each rank of this ability decreases the duration by 1 second. Rank 1 - 1 bleeding damage every 5 seconds. Rank 2 - 1 bleeding damage every 4 seconds. This is a nice ability, however there is only two opportunities to obtain it, MINI-BOSSes and BOSSES are immune to bloodletting, and once you die as like all abilities you will lose it. So this is a relatively useless skill IMO.
Start the Game with the Shield equipped. (1 Rank). This Skill is self explanatory. Your start each game with a Shield. Since a shield only costs 165 / 175 GEMS depending on discount, it only saves you 165 GEMS every new continue. In other words, for it to become cost effective you'd have to retry / continue a new game over 30 times.
Start the Game with Magic Glasses equipped. (1 Rank). Another self explanatory Skill. You start each game with Magic Glasses equipped. Magic glasses only cost 90 / 100 GEMS depending on the discount, it only saves you 90 GEMS every new continue. In other words, for it to become cost effective you'd have to retry / continue a new game over 31 times.
Start the Game with +1 Power (1 Rank). Self explanatory Skill again. You start each game with +1 Power. Power Up (Blue Potion) has a variable cost in the Reaper Shop similar to Extra Lives. The price increases based on how many you have currently. The first level costs 140 / 150 and the second level 390 / 400 GEMS depending on the discount or if you use the glitch outlined in Items page, 290 / 300 Gems for the 2nd Potion. Out of the 3 "start a level with X/Y/Z" this is the most useful. For it to become cost effective you'd have to retry / continue a new game over only slightly under 9 times.
Increases your Maximum starting lives by 1 per rank. (5 Ranks Total). You start each game with a set # of lives (depending on difficulty). This upgrade add +1 to your starting lives for Normal and Retro difficulties.
Contract of Reaper
Unlocks Contract of Reaper in the Shop. (1 Rank). In Worlds 1 - 3 ONLY, This allows Bard to "purchase" a Contract of Reaper (read: Sell Your Soul to Reaper). You have to have 990 / 1000 GEMS depending on the discount in order to "purchase" it. However, once you "purchase" it, instead of deducting the GEMS it gives you 1,000 GEMS. It also randomizes traps. You should always purchase this from Reaper when you can as it helps you grind towards 50,000 faster and random traps aren't very difficult to avoid once you've got a feel for the game.
Adds Huge gems to the game worth 50 Gems on Normal. These can spawn in treasure chests as well as replaces the 25 GEMS with a 50 GEMS in the Bonus roulette. (1 Rank Total)
10 % increased chance per upgrade to get an extra Gem dropped on monster kill. (5 Ranks Total) In other words once you've got Rank 5, 50% of the time an extra gem will drop from a slain Monster. This may not seem like much since they're usually only 5 GEMS values but they will add up quickly, especially since they can also be 10's, 25's, or 50's values GEMS dropped.
Increases Attack Range. (7 Ranks Total) Each Rank increases the distance Bard can fire his weapon by roughly 1 Bard length on the screen. Once you got Rank 7 you are able to shoot nearly from side of the screen to the other. This is very useful all around. As a rule of thumb - the further you are from a Monster, the safer you are. When used with 3 Way Dagger (aka Triple Daggers) this will ease finding hidden items without even trying, just by simply spamming the daggers. FURTHERMORE, this is one of the best abilities to upgrade since bosses have HITS and not HIT POINTS. Unlike all other monsters, bosses require a certain amount of hits to kill regardless of damage dealt, and upgrading FIRE RATE and RANGE UP will allow you to spam as many blades in the air as possible as quickly as possible and make fighting bosses all the more easy!
Increases Fire Rate / Attack Speed. (7 Ranks Total). When Bard fires his weapon, he can only have a default # of blades in the air at once. It starts as 3. Before Bard can fire again, the blade will have to travel across the screen to it's maximum range. It will then disappear, and Bard will be able to fire another to replace it. Each rank of this allows for one more blade to be in the air at a time. Essentially once you've got rank 7 you can have 10 blades in the air. So with a fast "trigger" finger mashing the attack you can have nearly a constant stream of blades ushering forth from Bard. With little skill and speedy button mashing, at Rank 7, Bard can take down Bosses before they've even completed one patrol cycle of elements / movement patterns. FURTHERMORE, this is one of the best abilities to upgrade since bosses have HITS and not HIT POINTS. Unlike all other monsters, bosses require a certain amount of hits to kill regardless of damage dealt, and upgrading FIRE RATE and RANGE UP will allow you to spam as many blades in the air as possible as quickly as possible and make fighting bosses all the more easy!
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