Side scrolling fighting game with one-on-one boss battles ala' Street fighter. This is the third entry in Culture Brain's long running series of Hiryu No-ken kung-fu games in which the main character must fight an invasion of demonic "Tusk Soldiers." These games are not "sequels" to each other per se, rather each is a remake, adding better graphics, new features, etc. Despite a lot of innovative ideas none of the games are really that good.
There are two portions to each level, a side-scrolling beat'em up segment and a one on one boss battle. The side scrolling segments compromise most of the game and although your character can bust multiple moves they quickly become repetitive. You walk forward, the scrolling stops and the bad ninjas attack, you kill them, repeat process ad infinitum. It wouldn't be so bad if you had the option of running from these fights. It also wouldn't be so bad if the scrolling were a bit smoother, the music a bit less stupid, and the characters animated better. This game came out around the same time as Snes Classics like Super Metroid, there's no excuse for crappy scrolling and animation.
At the end of each level the game finds and excuse for you to fight the boss in some kind of boxing ring or something. The fights here haven't changed very much from Flying Dragon on the NES, you have basically the same three leveled attack and defense system as in that game and must attack the weak point on your opponent while defending it on yourself. It is a pretty innovative system that didn't catch on to other fighting games. It can however be overly complicated to someone expecting a Street Fighter-esque "natural" control scheme. You will get nailed in the face and legs plenty of times before it clicks in your head you have to defend those areas separately by blocking up or down. Problem is this game relies too much on a system of "weak points" that randomly appear and you and your opponent. You could be whipping the computer's ass like it's nobody's business but he will not go down unless your final blow hits his weak spot; Some of the bosses require you to do the flashy (but otherwise useless) Hiryu No-Ken kick that makes you fly all over the screen right into the weak spot. Plus since you have to rely on this stupid weak spot nonsense so much it's just as effective to stand right in front of the other guy and play a guessing game as to where it will appear instead of like, actually trying to have and interesting match or something.
To defend the weakspot you have to press foward instead of the instinctual backward. Awkward.
Later on as the story progresses you turn into a Sentai-type superwarriror armed with dual lightsaber-type swords, and the last boss of each level turns into a demon Tusk soldier. You also gain allies during the later levels and have the option of playing as them. This does add a bit of replay value, however the other characters are basically variations on Rick and have comprable moves, abilites, etc.
On the plus side there is a two player mode where you get to fight as many of the bosses in a "World Tournament' type deal. They are for the most part the usual early 90's martial arts stereotypes, the Karate guy, the wrestler, the Thai boxer, etc. Of course this part of the game is pretty useless because you need a friend to play with you. And we know that if you own this game you have no friends.
Despite all the flaws (and there are many) I found myself getting into this game a bit. The action is not so repetitive that you want to throw the controller in the garbage disposal, the sound not so grating that you want to shred the cartridge with a chainsaw and burn it in the desert. It appeals to the Puritan work ethic in me, that piece of us all that feels good after a long day's hard toil in the cracked Earth, the part that enjoys the long stretch of sore muscles and can appreciate a job well done. Because playing this game is not fun, it's work. And after you finish it you feel like you do when you get home from work, tired, hungry, drained, cranky, angry, and a bit suicidal, in the perfect mood to play any other video game than this.