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by Scott Fujimoto

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Tam Tam is probably the hardest character to play in Samurai Shodown. His plusses include good range, many special moves, and the unique ability to do an air slash immediately after jumping. On the other hand, his moves and jumps are slow, his special moves leave him open one way or another, and he doesn't do that much damage on the whole. He also has a unique weakness against opponents jumping close to him. Finally, he has an unusual fighting style that takes special timing to use correctly. Nevertheless, I like him because he's a stylish fighter (check out the way he holds his sword) and is quite a unique character. Plus he has the best storyline and ending too!

Ground Slashes

Stand A
Good prodding attack. You'll do pommel butts when up close, which are quicker. NOTE: If you have a tendency to go into a PP when prodding your opponent, like I do, switch to low As to avoid this.
Stand B
Good quick retaliation attack or attack against people jumping in front of you as it has good range. You'll also do pommel butts when up close.
Crouch A and B
Do when your standing slashes will go right over a crouching opponent, like Nakoruru recovering from a Mutsube. Also do crouching slashes against a crouching Gen-An.
Standing AB
Kinda useless, as it doesn't do much damage. However, it has a slightly greater range than your standing A and B. Also it can hit a crouching opponent. Close up, you will do a vertical slash that doesn't do much damage either.
Crouch AB
Actually does the most damage of any of your ground slashes. Use as a fairly quick retaliation against opponents who botch their attack. It's also somewhat useful as an air defense (see below).


His crouch kicks have great range, but are SLOW. Use as a long- ranged low attack every so often. His standing kicks are also slow and I don't use them much. Unfortunately his air kicks are angled downward, so they don't protect you much from descending air opponents whom you can't hit with your slash. If you are jumping on someone, use the air kicks instead of your slashes, which may miss due to their range.

Air Slashes

Jump slashes
Tam-Tam's main way of doing damage, especially the AB slash. However, the range of Tam-Tam's weapon is peculiar. He can't hit anything that's close to him. Also, even far away, sometimes the blade will go right through an opponent without doing any damage (mainly Earthquake).
Air-ground attacks
The hit range of his weapon seems to be from the tip to fairly close to the near edge of the blade. You can be fairly close to a foe who throws a missile so as to hit him without jumping into the missile itself. But judging this is tricky because your jump is slow and short-ranged. In general, Tam-Tam is not the best air-to-ground attacker, so avoid getting him in this situation.
Ground-air attacks (I call these "immediate jump slashes")
You can jump and immediately slash someone on the ground as a surprise attack. An immediate AB is one of Tam Tam's most damaging attacks and VERY effective against the CPU. Unfortunately, it's easiest to hit a person when jumping forward, but if they block, you will get creamed by a human player, although the CPU often won't hit you back. A big plus with this attack is that if your opponent makes ANY attack at the same time, even a quick one, you will avoid the attack and AB them in return! This is a unique feature of Tam-Tam and should be used. See "High-Low Tactics" below.
Air-air attacks
This is Tam-Tam's best air defense, but it takes skill to use because your distance and timing must be just right. Because he must be at some distance from his foe, it's best to jump straight up or away from a leaping enemy. The effectiveness of this strategy depends on the type of jump against your opponent. Foes with long and fairly quick jumps will hit you before you hit them. Also you are defenseless against foes jumping from right next to you. See "Close Air defenses" below.

The timing for each slash strength when hitting an opponent is slightly different. In particular, for the AB to hit someone in the air, you have to wait until they are below you, otherwise it will miss. If you find you are missing with your ABs, switch to Bs, though they do less damage.

Special Moves

Skull Throw
Standard missile weapon. Tam Tam's missile is one of the quickest in the game in terms of initiation, and he can hit people after a blocked Special Move, jump, etc quite easily. However, it has a fairly slow recovery, so don't throw these randomly if your opponent can jump over them. The A skull can be used to cancel other people's missiles, which is better than jumping over them since you jump so slowly. Note that others (especially another Tam-Tam) can bat your skulls out of the way. Also, do NOT do against Nakoruru, or she'll Anna Mutsube you!
The safest application of this is to blow an A fireball on an opponent getting up. Even if he blocks, the fireball ticks off a lot of points, especially against someone in the corner. If you throw a fireball, be careful your opponent doesn't run under it and hit you (or jump and hit you). The A fireball is the safest to use, as it is the quickest to initiate. Do these in front of an opponent and hope he jumps over them and gets hit. The B fireball is better for someone really far away. The AB fireball takes way too long to do, and your opponent will probably realize what you are doing and run under it to cream you on the way down.
Paguna Paguna (PP)
This may work as an air defense against foes who jump too close for your air swing to hit (use A as it has the shortest duration). For you to hit first, you must initiate AFTER they jump and before they have time to react with an early counter-attack. It's also safer if they jump on or slightly behind you, to minimize their slash hitting through your blade sweeps. I often do this by accident because I go forward, then do an A slash and suddenly block, which results in this move. Needless to say, this usually puts me in deep trouble. Never initiate a PP on an unoccupied opponent, because almost anyone can hit through the blade, especially Charlotte and Ukyo.
Paguna Deos (PD)
The CD PD is one of Tam-Tam's most damaging attacks, but it's really best used against either dizzy or "falling" opponents (after a blocked Nikkaku Ratoh, etc). The PD takes too long to initiate to be useful as retaliation against other blocked attacks, like a blocked Wan Fu AB. Another use for this move is to get yourself out of a corner quickly. You can also try doing the CPU trick of doing a PD against a blocking opponent, and attempting a throw immediately afterwards. The PD also ticks off lots of damage, but be careful when using this move (even against someone with only a few points left) as it is very easy for them to jump and slash you. Charlotte can stun you with one air triangle while you are in this move! For this reason, I do NOT recommend doing this against jumping opponents, unless they are totally clueless and attack too late.

Close Air Defenses

Tam-Tam, sorry to say, has probably the worst close air defense in the game. Farther away, his jumping slashes can ward people off, but closer up they just don't cut it. (no pun intended) Here are some suggestions I got for close air defenses. None of them are perfect, but they are all better than nothing:

Crouch AB
The far one works pretty well against people jumping in front of you. The close one is good for people jumping RIGHT in front of you because Tam Tam swings upwards immediately, unlike his standing AB. Unfortunately, sometimes the wrong one comes out! If you want the close one, you have to swing very LATE, or the far AB will come out which will miss a close opponent. Also, if your opponent jumps ON or BEHIND you, the close one will miss completely.
Paguna Paguna
This actually works best against an opponent jumping ON or slightly BEHIND you, as their air attack will miss you and you will hit them. This is NOT true for Ukyo or Charlotte, though.
Hop back and AB
If your opponent jumps fairly slowly, you can hop back and do an AB. Naturally, this won't work if you end up in a corner.
Walk forward and hit from behind
If your opponent jumps almost behind you, walk forward and hit them in the back. This is not an option with Charlotte, though.

High-Low Tactics

Besides Ukyo, Tam-Tam is the only other character in the game who can immediately do a high attack from the ground. He can hit ANYONE who is standing, but if they decide to block at the same time, they can hit him afterwards, especially if he jumps forward. A sneakier tactic is to do a "High/Low" trick, where you do a few crouching C kicks against an opponent to make them crouch, then do an immediate jump slash and hit them high while they crouch block! Some pointers:

  1. Note that this applies to HUMAN opponents, as the CPU can magically detect whenever you are about to jump and stand up right before then. On the other hand, you can use immediate jump slashes against the CPU more freely because they usually won't hit you back even if they block and you land right next to them. Throw them immediately upon landing.
  2. Always do the AB! It's Tam-Tam's most damaging attack, and ALL of your slashes have the same recovery time when used this way. In fact, your AB is SAFER to do because it increases your OPPONENT'S recovery time if it hits! Confused? Read on...
  3. There is an optimal spacing to hit someone who is crouching with your sword. Look at the curvature of the blade--where it starts curving outward the most is where you want to hit your opponent, which is around 2/3 the length of your sword. Practice jumping up and note which part of the blade is closest to the ground. THAT'S your optimal spacing and you must hit crouching opponents at that spacing, with the exception of big, fat, Earthquake.
  4. For standing opponents, you have more leeway. If your opponent is towards your optimal spacing of your sword, you can jump forward and hit him with an AB. He will reel back and by the time he recovers, you will land and be able to block. However, if you do a B or A, he will recover BEFORE that and can hit you as you land! So ALWAYS do an AB!
  5. For someone standing right next to you, you can jump away and easily hit them with your AB, so even if they miss they probably won't be able to retailate unless they think quickly.

A quick guide to your opponents:

The easiest opponent to do this against, due to his size. You can hit him jumping forward, up, or (most importantly) back, where you minimize the chances of retaliation. Earthquake players like to squat in the corner a lot anyway, so this move is perfect against them!
Wan-Fu, Tam-Tam
You can hit these crouchers forward, up, or back, but you MUST hit them at the optimal spacing. If you don't hit them at this critical spot, you run the risk of missing them entirely. Also keep in mind what they can do afterwards as retaliation if you happen to whiff. Wan-Fu at least is too slow to retaliation with his AB, and can at most B you or do his rising slash. Also note that Wan-Fu players crawl around a lot anyway, which makes this move highly useful.
Like the two above, but the spacing is even more critical, and the chance of you missing becomes greater. Also note that Haohmaru may be able to jump up and AB you as you are still jumping. At this point, the costs start to equal the benefits of this tactic.
This tactic is even less reliable against her, despite her height. Jumping straight up works the best; jumping forward or back works more unreliably. If you miss, she can retaliate for a fair amount of damage, but nothing like Haohmaru or Jubei. It's a risky tactic, but you may need to engage in it if she just decides to crouch and poke you out of everything.
Jubei, Kyoshiro, the ninjas
As above, but here jumping forward or back works BETTER than jumping straight up for some reason. Again, hitting these guys becomes very unreliable and if you misd, you are guaranteed a crouching or air AB unless you jumped back. At this point, the risks outweigh the benefits of using this tactic.
Ukyo, Gen-An, Nakoruru
These fellows crouch too low to the ground for you to hit them at all.

I'd say that the "High/Low" tactic is a must against Earthquake, works well against Wan-Fu and Tam-Tam, and OK against Haohmaru and Charlotte. Against anyone else, this tactic is probably not worth the risks.


CPU and General Strategies

Earthquake - Tam-Tam's toughest opponent

  1. Part of the problem is that he can crush you in close air combat. If you jump up, he hits you first. If you block, he'll just throw you afterwards. If Earthquake's right in front of you when he jumps, do your crouch AB late, which will hit him out of any attack. But be careful, because if he's farther away, your less effective far AB will come out (which usually still hits) and more dangerously, he can hit you first with his air AB.
  2. When he's far away and jumping toward you, you must hit him when he's LOWER than you--higher up he can hit you first with his kick, belly flop, or POWERFUL AB swing.
  3. Stay away from the corner, where you have nowhere to go. If he gets too close, jump at him and kick him. He'll usually jump back, although sometimes he'll go into a chainsaw.
  4. If you end up right next to him, do quick A-butts and an immediate jump slash. You will sometimes hit him as he tries to retaliate.
  5. You can air slash him out of a chainsaw if you're at the right range. Don't jump at him when he's in a chainsaw, but jump up and do an immediate jump slash. The trouble with blocking and slashing afterwards is that your slash may go through him!! (Earthquake is kinda cheesy in this way)
  6. If you're desparate, try doing immediate jump ABs when right next to him. You may hit him as he attempts to do ABs or kicks at the same time.
  7. Jump or crouch AB his butt bounce.
  8. A good tactic is to do A Fireballs to tick off lots of points off of him. If you ever knock him down, space an A Fireball so it hits RIGHT behind him as he gets up. The CPU will not often block this for some reason. This tactic is cheesy, but CPU Earthquake is cheesy so don't feel bad when you resort to this.

Jubei - another toughie!

  1. If he's close, jump up and slash him. He'll block and sometimes do his two-swings AB, where you can hit him with another air slash. Timing must be right or you'll be hit by his second swing (usually if you swing too late). Don't jump at him if he's close, as you'll miss and he'll either close AB slash you or throw you.
  2. If he's farther away and he jumps at you, you can jump up and hit him with an AB slash. Don't do this close or he'll reach you first and hit you with his air AB. You can try jumping back.
  3. On the ground, don't do B-swings against him because he can Nikkaku Ratoh you in time. Do only A swings.
  4. When he does a NR, you can either try slashing him out of it or blocking and slashing him on the way down. Hit him before he reaches the ground; once he hits the ground he can block. Or do a PD.
  5. Hasso Happa--do a fireball, although it may not hit in time. If you jump over his move, do a kick, not a slash.
  6. You CAN B-slash him between his two swings.

Gen-An - yet another toughie!

  1. Do ground slashes against him low, as he'll prod you low in return. You'll often hit him though. If you block his AB lunge, crouch AB slash him.
  2. Gen-an has great air attacks. Do NOT jump in the air to counter him unless he is FAR from you, or you'll get creamed by his AB. You can provoke him to jump by hitting him at the tip of your A. He may block and then jump. Jump back and hit him with an AB.
  3. His jump attack is hard to defend against if he's close to you (i.e. has you in a corner). Crouching ABs sometimes work, but you need to slash late to avoid getting the far AB (in which case you will get hit first). Try a PP if he starts jumping over you. But the best tactic is not to get caught in a corner.
  4. You can't jump his cloud unless your really close or you will jump into it! If he rolls afterward, you can hit him with a B skull as he drops down or go where he drops down and do a crouch AB. Throw an AB skull right when he gets up for an extra tick of damage, or spit a fireball at him. Be careful, though, because he can do a roll under your B fireball and hit you as you land!
  5. Don't jump on him first.

Charlotte - easier to defeat than with most characters

  1. Jump up and immediately slash--she'll often jump right into them, or be hit if she's thrusting you. You will hit a LOT of times with your AB slash. Watch out, as she may run and PG right under your jump if she blocks it!
  2. Or you can do B slashes against her on the ground as your range is good.
  3. Splash Fount--you can jump slash this if your timing is right, but you will get hit if you whiff. If you block, B-slash her right afterwards.
  4. If she jumps at you, jump back and slash her. Her jumping arc is just right for you to hit her!

Nakoruru - also surprisingly easy

  1. Don't initiate anything against her--she's too quick. She can Anna Mutsube through your A-slashes if she feels like it!
  2. Against Mutsubes of all kinds, crouch block and B-slash her (you'll end up doing the "pommel butt" which is faster). Your kick is actually too slow in this case.
  3. If she jumps in the air and slashes, you can B-slash her as she lands. If she doesn't slash, then don't swing her as she'll hit you on the way down before you hit her. You can also try to hit her in the air; her range is poor, but she has a quick and long jump.
  4. If she does a Kamui Mutsube or Layla Mutsube and ends up behind you, crouch AB her.

Wan-Fu - dangerous but predictable

  1. You can prod him with A-slashes--you'll often hit. Use low As to avoid going into a PP. He'll sometimes crouch kick, so crouch immediately afterwards and do an immediate jump slash to hit him out of his kick. As a special bonus, he'll usually do an uppercut and miss when he recovers, giving you an extra shot.
  2. If he throws his sword and runs for it, crouch AB him when he picks it up. If he doesn't, do the "prod and jump" strategy like with Earthquake (you can do this against anyone without a weapon that has a slow or short jump).
  3. If he does his AB lunge, jump and AB him. You may miss but he'll miss with his uppercut reaction. Wait and slash or do a PD against him while he falls.
  4. If he jumps at you, jump up and hit him with a slash. His jump is slow and he has a short-ranged air attack.

Haohmaru - be cautious

  1. Retreat from him and do A-slashes. Only do them if you know they'll hit--otherwise he can counter AB-slash you. Ouch.
  2. Once you get in the corner, A-slash him if he gets close. You'll (usually) hit first before him. Be careful when moving forward, because you might walk into an AB or B swing. If he jumps, you can jump and B-slash him if you react early enough.
  3. Once he starts chucking whirlwinds, get close to him. You can then jump and immediate AB slash him as soon as you see him winding up to do this move. If you do it farther away, you'll jump into the whirlwind!
  4. If he alternates between whirlwinds and circular slashes, wait until he's in the air and crouch AB or PD him on the way down.

Ukyo - can be easy early on, but HARD if a later opponent

  1. He has a slow jump. You can AB him in the air or B him on the ground. Careful when on the ground though, because he can hit you first with his TG or sometimes his AB!
  2. Jump AB his SY. If you land right next to him, you have to punch him low to hit him. If you time it right, you can PD him while he recovers from an AB SY.
  3. If he does a TGs when you jump at him, you can kick him or slash him if he mistimes. If he doesn't, don't jump at him!
  4. If he's on the other side of the screen, spit AB fireballs. He'll often jump over them and get hit.
  5. Otherwise just be careful. Don't try doing A-slashes on the ground, especially on higher levels, because he will 1) slide under them, 2) do a diving slash under them, 3) do a ground-air TG and hit you first if you switch to crouching to avoid 1 and 2. He can generally devastate you when on the ground. Jump around a lot and do immediate air slashes instead.

Hanzo - somewhat hard

  1. Because Tam-Tam's jump is so slow and short, jumping over Hanzo's slinkies is not recommended. Cancel the slinkies with an A skull. Hanzo often reflexively does a portal drop after you do so, so get ready to block. Also, if you are right next to him and think he's about to toss a slinky, do an immediate jump slash. You will hit him before he gets it out!!
  2. It's easiest to hit him with an AB skull after a blocked ninja drop. Never throw the skull first, because he can hit you with the drop before you recover.
  3. If you jump him first, he will often do a somersault. When you land, push toward where he WAS in order to grab and bash/stab him.
  4. If he jumps around, you can try to B-slash him as he lands. However, he may hit you first with his massively damaging AB slash. You can also try to jump back and hit him, but sometimes his jump is too quick and he will hit you first.
  5. Trading slashes with him on the ground is risky. He's faster than you. Stick to your As. However, you can also try to immediate jump slash him. You'll hit him first if he tries to swing. Even if he blocks, you can still often throw him when you land right next to him!

Galford - not as easy as with other characters

  1. Your most dependable attack is to jump and hit him when he's sending out the dog, as his recover time is pretty long afterwards.
  2. For some reason you can do a lot of combos against him; i.e. when you hit him you can follow up with another quick slash.
  3. Jump and slash him, hit him with a skull, or PD him after a blocked ninja drop. He doesn't bounce as far as Hanzo.
  4. His multiple images is tricky to hit because you can't seem to do a PD when all the images come on the screen. Try doing a CD PD before Galford "teleports" over to where you are. Or just jump out of there.
  5. If he jumps at you, it's probably best to B-slash him on the ground. He will hit you in the air first if you jump up and try to hit him, because his jump is fast.
  6. Otherwise, there's no particular way to beat him. Do a lot of quick As, and see how he reacts.

Kyoshiro - easy cheesy

  1. B-slash when he jumps near you, either in the air or on the ground.
  2. Jump AB him when he throws fans, twirls on his pole, AB slashes, etc. Wait, then jump slash his flame breath.
  3. You can throw him pretty easily. Also, he'll often try to do something when he's getting up, so your A fireball afterthoughts will hit him lots of times.
  4. Don't do ground Bs when he's on the ground, because he can hit you with a pole vault kick before you recover. Do As instead.

Tam-Tam - pretty easy

  1. The most dependable way to do damage is to follow this pattern. Do an A swing against him and block his immediate jump slash, then jump up and hit him as he lands (he has a slow jump).
  2. His skull throw is slow enough for you to jump and hit him. You can also hit him before he throws it if in range. Or you can bat the skull! Then jump over him and throw him from behind.
  3. You're probably not fast enough to jump away from his PD. Block and B-slash him when he recovers.
  4. Otherwise, just trade slashes with him. Immediate jumping ABs work nicely.

Amakusa - take advantage of his patterns!

  1. To get the first hit, get him to jump towards you, then jump back and hit him with an air B-slash. Then exploit the jumping Amakusa bug.
  2. Second round: crouch and A-slash him if he advances toward you. Then immediately jump slash him--you may hit him if he tries to either swing at you or jump up. Even if you miss, as soon as you land, throw him (he won't recover from his swing in time, hopefully).
  3. If he jumps toward you while you are waiting, jump back and AB slash him.
  4. If he's not doing much, just crouch block. Note that if you don't hit him a lot of times, he will usually just stand there! Run down the clock!

Bonus Rounds

1st round:
Easy. Stand in the middle between two of the figures. If you spaced it right, you will be able to hit two of the figures with one B slash, and can hit the other one by turning around. You don't have to move at all.
2nd round:
Very hard. In order to hit the single ceiling figure, Tam Tam MUST be at the edge of the screen because he has to jump towards the figure and do a B to hit it! This means you'll have to move around to hit the ground figures too, because Tam Tam can't hit EITHER the one right next to him or the one farthest away from the edge of the screen!
3rd round:
Medium. The ceiling ones are easier to hit. Try standing where the middle ground figure pops up. You can jump towards either of the ceiling figures to hit them and can hit either of the ground side figures. If the middle one pops up, you will have to move.

General Tips Against Human Opponents

Tam-Tam is rather slow but has good range. To take advantage of this, keep your opponents away from you with Tam Tam's high and low As, and his A fireball. The A fireball is a neat move, because it's hard to counter and so pretty safe to use. If you keep your opponents away, it's also easier to jump up and slash them if they jump at you. Close opponents are a pain, because Tam Tam doesn't have any real quick close attacks and has a great weakness against close jumpers. Also stay out of the corner because he's ESPECIALLY vulnerable to jumpers there. Do a PD to get out if you have to.

If your opponent prods you a lot, it might be worth it to try an immediate jump AB. If you do it at the same time your opponent does his quick attack, you'll hit first. Note that this is Tam Tam's main way of doing damage, as he is a very poor regular jumper. If your opponent is someone vulnerable to the "High/Low" tactic mentioned before, exploit that weakness to take off life as well.

Don't jump at opponents usually, because Tam Tam's jump is SLOW and SHORT-RANGED. Your opponent will probably hit you out of the air. Also be careful jumping over missiles, because Tam Tam has a tendency to not quite make it... Better to cancel with your own Skull Throw.

Two characters deserve special comment:

A defensive Charlotte is a nightmare, but Tam-Tam does surprisingly well against her. Because her jump is so short and low, you can hit her more easily with your jumping AB. The other big advantage Tam-Tam has is that he can hit a prodding Charlotte (who is almost invulnerable to counter-attack by anyone else) with his jumping ABs! You have to double-guess her, but you do a lot of damage if you guess right.

If Charlotte switches to her low thrusts, you can still do a jumping slash against her but it's harder. Nevertheless, you may be forced to do this. In a regular ground slash war, Charlotte matches Tam-Tam's range and is quicker.

One other important note is do NOT let Charlotte get close enough where she can hit you out of your jumping slashes first! Due to her quick jump, you don't really have any effective close air defense at all and she can cream you by just jumping on you a lot! This is Tam Tam's worst nightmare.

The other thing is do NOT do any Paguna moves! She can slash right through them. In fact, Special Moves in general are bad against Charlotte.

If played well enough, Nakoruru can counter almost anything Tam-Tam does. Her A Anna Mutsube can go right under Tam-Tam's standing slashes and often through his crouching ones. She can AB AM through his PP, PD, and Skull Throw. She can Leyla Mutsube through his Fireball. And her Hawk Attack is a pain for Tam-Tam to avoid, due to his slow jump and the fact he can't cancel the hawk easily with his skull. And she's too short for him to hit her crouching with an immediate air slash! Basically, Nakoruru has the upper hand here. Fortunately, expert Nakoruru players are rare. (just like expert Tam-Tam ones...)

SS characters tend to fall in either the "active" or "reactive" categories. Tam Tam is more an active character. He can't play an air-tight game like Charlotte can, reacting perfectly to his opponent's moves. He must initiate attacks himself, like with his Fireballs, PD, or immediate jump slashes. All of these moves leave him vulnerable one way or another, but that's the chance Tam Tam needs to take to win. I don't think you can get a continuous winning streak with Tam Tam due to his numerous vulnerabilities, but he has enough variety to always ensure it will be an interesting fight. And that's what matters. :-)


Damone, Lark, and Ed Lee for feedback on Version 1.0 and advise on tactics against human opponents.

--Scott (comments to

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Links: Imprint, back to the videogames page, My Homepage.

Thomas Bätzler,
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