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The martial art manga this game’s based on started in 1987 and ended in 1996, with the Mega Drive adaptation coming roughly in the middle of the run in 1992. At first glance Shura no Mon appears to be some sort of fighting game, but it’s more concerned with the tactical side of karate than getting fists flying.
There are three meters that the player needs to be aware of when fighting, the large yellow one is the health gauge, and that works exactly as you’d expect it to. The vertical meter on the side with the bobbing ball in it is the fighting spirit meter – this fills slowly when not attacking and depletes completely whenever a technique is used. The closer to the top the ball is, the more powerful the technique used will be, and certain moves can only be used when this gauge is at maximum. The final meter is the “serious” meter, located at the bottom of the screen in the shape of the characters. This has five possible states and builds up when a character is on the receiving end of an attack. The more “serious” the character, the more moves they have available to them.
Moves are all selected from a menu and start off with just basic punches and kicks available. As the story progresses new moves are unlocked in a linear fashion, expanding Tsukumo’s standard repertoire with aerial kicks and other fancy ways to deal damage. When defending a similar menu opens up, allowing the player to either try and counter with an attack, block, reverse or even throw their opponent to the ground. The success of this defence depends on both the chosen counter and also where the characters were positioned when the attack was initiated. The player and their opponent move around in real time when not attacking each other, moving in close will help punches connect while a good bit of distance is needed to start a successful flying roundhouse kick; some special moves have very specific distance/fighting spirit/seriousness activation requirements.
The game takes place over nine fights, with extensive story sequences in between. To date there’s only been one other Shura no Mon game, a 1998 3D fighting game on the Playstation.