Mess with the game's settings as soon as you can and turn Choose Level on. Set the maximum amount of lives up too, because there's no reason not to. Changing any of these settings off of the default disables the leaderboards, but that's not really that important in the grand scheme of things. You can also edit the key bindings to best suit your preferences.
There are two types of enemies in the game: There's the round and red Pooka, which wears yellow goggles, and there's the fire-breathing Pygar. Both enemies can slowly phase through the dirt to get to you more easily, so there's really never a safe place in any round of the game. As you progress through the rounds, enemies will become faster, making running away less and less of a viable option of staying alive.
Feathering your attack and moving in a direction towards the enemy you're attacking will cause you to attack the enemy faster, meaning that you'll be able to kill your adversaries faster. Try this out when you can; you won't have to depend on it as you play the game, but it sure helps.
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