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Hidden Skills

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"Let teachings of old pass to you..."
Hero's Shade

Hidden Skills are seven special sword techniques from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In the item menu, they are represented by bound scrolls.

History

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

During his quest to defeat Zant and dispel the Twilight, Link will encounter a Golden Wolf. It lunges at Link, transporting him to the Ghostly Ether where he meets the Hero's Shade, who is the Hero of Time's ghost and Link's ancestor. The Hero's Shade offers to train Link in his lost art of swordsmanship in order to help him attain true glory, thus fulfilling his destiny and becoming a hero.

After the first encounter with the Golden Wolf, Link can call the Golden Wolf six more times, allowing him to meet up with the Hero's Shade to complete training on the remaining hidden skills. First, Link must visit the six Howling Stones throughout Hyrule in his wolf form, and howl the correct tune at each one. This calls the Golden Wolf to appear, and after a short mutual howling session, the Golden Wolf will mark Link's map to show where Link must appear, "with sword in hand," to learn the next skill. When Link arrives at the marked location, he will find the Golden Wolf waiting. He must approach the Wolf in Link's hero form, and the Hero's Shade will appear again to train Link.

The seven skills are always learned in the same order, regardless of the order in which Link visits the howling stones or the Golden Wolf locations. Only the first learned skill is required to complete the game, but the other six skills are useful in defeating some of the more difficult enemies, like the Darknut, and vanquishing large groups of enemies at one time.

Once Link has learned all seven skills, the Hero's Shade passes on to the next realm, praising Link as well as thanking him.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Skills

Ending Blow

"The enemies that are filled with energy will quickly recover and attack again even when stunned by a powerful strike. The ending blow is a secret technique you can use to end their breath before they spring back into action."
— Hero's Shade

The first Hidden Skill, unlike the rest, is required to finish the game. Once an enemy has been knocked down, Link can use the Ending Blow to jump through the air and do a downward stab into the enemy, killing it instantly regardless of health. If the enemy gets up before the Ending Blow hits, Link's sword becomes temporarily stuck in the ground.

The Ending Blow is necessary to defeat Ganondorf and win the game. After performing enough hits to knock Ganondorf off his feet, Link must use the Ending Blow to stab, and therefore, kill him. Additionally, most dungeon bosses in the game can be finished with the Ending Blow when they have taken enough damage.

In execution, it somewhat resembles the Downthrust from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Shield Attack

"No matter how well tempered a blade is, if a foe is clad in armor and bears a shield, the sword will do it no harm."
— Hero's Shade

The second Hidden Skill forces an enemy to lower its defense. The Shield Attack can be performed by approaching an enemy and ramming them forcefully with the shield. If executed correctly, the move leaves the enemy temporarily dazed and vulnerable to a follow-up attack from Link's sword. The Shield attack can also be used to reflect certain projectiles.

Back Slice

"A mere shield attack is no match for an enemy protected not just by a shield, but by a thick, full-body coat of armor. Such enemies are often focused on guarding against frequent frontal attacks. They often leave their rear unprotected."
— Hero's Shade

The third Hidden Skill has both offensive and defensive advantages. While targeting his opponent, Link can strafe to the side and do a roll around the enemy, avoiding its attack while positioning him directly behind it. While behind the enemy, Link can then execute a jumping spin attack. This attack is reminiscent of the Parry maneuver from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Helm Splitter

"It is impossible to perform a back slice against fully armored enemies that move swiftly in combat."
— Hero's Shade

The fourth Hidden Skill combines excellent body control with the Shield Attack. It is particularly useful against opponents who wear heavy armor, but move too quickly for the Back Slice to be implemented effectively. To execute the Helm Splitter, Link must successfully perform a shield attack and do a jump attack, striking the enemy in the head and landing behind it. This attack, like the Back Slice, is similar to the jump Parry from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Mortal Draw

"The ways of the sword are known to many creatures, and some have strengthened their guards against shield attacks and back slices. Should you encounter such a foe, the mortal draw that I am about to teach you is most effective."...
"There is no defense for this. The mortal draw deals death.
"
— Hero's Shade

The Mortal Draw is the most deadly attack, but requires Link to lower his defenses. To perform the Mortal Draw, Link must begin and remain unarmed, with his shield on his back, his sword in its sheath, and no target on his enemy. Just before the enemy strikes, Link can conduct a very fast spin while drawing the blade and swinging it at the enemy. If it hits the enemy, it will usually be fatal, killing it in one swing.

Jump Strike

"One of the basic sword techniques is the jump attack. It inflicts great damage, but none would call it effective against multiple foes. To perform the jump strike, prepare a jump attack, but focus power in your blade. The surge the blade releases can strike all enemies around you. This is the jump strike!"
— Hero's Shade

The Jump Strike is a more powerful version of the Jump Attack. It is designed to give Link an advantage while confronting groups of enemies. He can draw his sword and hold the hilt in both hands. He can hold this position much like he can hold the Spin Attack Position. When the enemies are within range, he jumps up, slashing his blade up in an arc. When the sword hits the ground, it creates a small shockwave, damaging the enemies and knocking them off their feet, leaving an opening for an Ending Blow.

Great Spin

"You have at your disposal the basic sword technique known as the spin attack. You have mastered numerous hidden skills and now house the spirit of the true hero. You now have in you the ability to magnify the power of your spin attack. But the only time you can draw out that power is when your life energy is brimming full. Now, try unleashing this spin attack on me."
— Hero's Shade

The final Hidden Skill allows Link to execute a Spin Attack with a substantial power boost, provided he has full hearts. This ability is similar to the charged spin attack from Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks.

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