In each combat encounter, you (the Player), fight against one or several Noise, having under your control a pact of two characters: Neku and one of his partners. Neku fights on the bottom screen, and his partner on the top screen. The two characters share HP (and therefore, die at the same time; see HP for more details). Each character is controlled independently of the other, but they can cooperate using Fusion, and increase their performance through the Light Puck.
Just like the characters, each Noise consists of two incarnations, one on each screen; they share HP, but can otherwise behave independently of each other. The two incarnations cannot cooperate, with the exception of certain boss fights later in the game.
Some types of Noise have just a single incarnation on a single screen (see Noise for details). In that case, you can only deal damage to it on the screen where it is visible.
In addition, in some very rare cases, Neku may have to fight alone, without his partner. Those instances are training battles at first, but also occur in the first day of Week 3 and for the final boss.
Neku's partner fights on the upper screen using the Direction Pad or the A B X Y buttons, depending on whether you're left- or right-handed. In this wiki, we'll always assume the use of directional pad; just remember that you can A B X Y instead. By pressing directional buttons in sequence, your partner can perform combos on the opponent. Pressing Left/Right performs attacks. There are additional functions which differ by partner. For details see Shiki, Joshua, Beat.
While the character is fighting, he also advances through a combo map, which is branched and has at the end of each branch a card. Depending on their battle style (see their respective articles) and the card you got, you gain more or less star points for a Fusion attack. The combo map disappears whenever it reaches a card, the character makes a counter (abruptly attacking to the opposite side he/she was facing to cover his/her back) or is hit. It reappears whenever the character presses "Left" or "Right".
Pressing "Up" while you are already on a branch allows you to perform an air combo, so you can deal more effectively with enemies and try a better chance with your cards.
Pressing "Down" while the combo map is not available makes you dodge or block attacks.
Every step to the left or right implies an attack - the character may not move freely, unlike Neku in the lower screen.
If you don't press anything, after a short delay the game goes into Auto-Mode, and the game's AI takes over Neku's partner. The default delay of 3 seconds can be changed in the cellphone menu; the options are:
- Manual: The game's AI will not take over your partner when you stop controlling them; you have full control of their actions.
- Auto (Slow): AI takes over after 6 seconds of not controlling your partner.
- Auto (Mid): AI takes over after 3 seconds of not controlling your partner.
- Auto (Fast): AI takes over the moment you stop controlling your partner.
- See Psychs.
Neku fights on the lower screen. By dragging the stylus starting from Neku's current position, you can make Neku run (dash and dodge if you move it quickly). Various stylus movements such as scratching enemies or random areas of the screen will make Neku perform various attacks. These attacks depend on the pins equipped. Some pins require you to blow into the microphone, while others simply require you to tap the opponent.
Numbers on the screen
During combat, numbers of different colors show up on both screens. Each number corresponds to the change in someone's HP:
- Green = HP Recovery/Damage Absorbed.
- White = Normal damage
- White with Positive/Negative symbol = Damage dealt using attacks that the enemy is strong against.
- Yellow with Positive/Negative symbol = Damage dealt using attacks that the enemy is weak against.
- Red = Damage received from enemies attacks.
- Players, for information about how the characters live the battle.
- Damage, for damage calculation (both for Players and Noise).