A basic guide to ASL’s gameplay system, which can be a bit hard to understand if you’re new and don’t understand Chinese to read the manual.
This is an attempt to make a beginner-friendly guide to ASL’s system for survival play. For a detailed explanation, please see the Manual translation here. Please read this guide from top to bottom without jumping around, as it’s arranged in a way to explains the easy things first and complex matters later.
First, understand that ASL requires you to use its system to clear the game. No ignoring special systems like you do in the official games. Ready? Ok.
Border Protection Gauge
This is the bar in the bottom left. It can fill from level 0 up to a maximum of level 3 by collecting the diamond-shaped Border Fragments that drop when you cancel bullets.
Getting hit causes you to lose one level. If you get hit at level 0, you die.
When you get to a certain level for the first time, you get a life fragment. This is how you get extra lives. If you lose one level by getting hit, then get back to your former level, you don’t get any additional life fragments.
What? How do I get extra lives then? By performing a Border Release. When pressing X at level 3, you Release all of your levels in a blast that transforms all bullets onscreen into Border Fragments and increases score (see scoring section). More importantly, it resets the “first time” condition mentioned in the last paragraph, allowing you to once again collect 3 life fragments when you reach levels 1, 2, and 3 for the first time.
What is the big timer on the right? Why is it counting down?
Due to plot ™ reasons, once it reaches 00:00, your lives and Border Protection Gauge are stripped and you’re effectively one hit from game over.
The timer ticks down during normal gameplay, but the rate at which it decreases slows down when you pick up Border Fragments (the diamond-shaped fragments that fill the Border Protection Gauge). Try to always be cancelling bullets during stages, and aim for big cancels on boss attacks. Grazing will also slow the timer down by a slight amount (1 graze = 1 single Border Fragment in terms of slowdown).
Getting hit and dying will also take chunks of time off of the timer. Try not to do that.
In general, if you find yourself running out of time, you need to be doing a better job of releasing and getting border fragments, and getting hit less. Also try to chain more borders (see the next two sections).
Border Fragment Multiplier Gauge
Ok, I need lots of Border Fragments. I kill everything, but I still don’t seem to be getting enough. How do I get more?
The gauge on the right defines a multiplier that goes from 1.0 to 3.0. It’s a multiplier on how much those Border Fragments items fill the Border Protection Gauge (the Bottom Left bar). Here’s the catch though, that multiplier only applies when you next switch to your partner shot with the C key.
Explained another way, during normal gameplay, this bar will accumulate from 1.0 up to 3.0. Press C! You’ll switch to your partner shot, and the multiplier number you see will immediately begin applying to all future Border Fragments spawned. The multiplier will quickly drop back to 1.0, and the cycle repeats with your partner.
Taking this together, this means that if you know a big cancel is coming up (say, a large fairy is about to die), you can switch shots by pressing C right before it dies, and all the Border Fragments spawned will restore even more to your Border Protection Gauge.
Border chaining is an effective way to increase the value of the Border Fragments you get and slow down the Timer countdown. They are also crucial for scoring.
After you perform a release by pressing X, you’ll notice a smaller timer hovering over your head. This is the “Border Sustain” time. Basically, the game challenges you to get back to level 3 and perform another release before this timer runs out.
If you are able to do so, and press X again, the end of that Sustain timer is chained into the next Border Release. This immediately cancels all bullets onscreen and transforms them into golden Border Fragments, which are worth more to the Border Protection Gauge. The mini-timer then starts again.
The mini-timer is paused during Spell Cards. If you capture a spell during Border Sustain, you get a significant chunk awarded to your Border Protection Gauge, which will aid you in getting back to level 3 for the next chain.
If you let the mini-timer run out without chaining, or you give up by pressing X with less than 3 levels, you’ll get a normal screen clear and a bunch of gray Border Fragments, which aren’t worth very much. Note that this particular screen clear does not confer invincibility.