One player may compete against the computer, or two players may simultaneously compete against each other. Each player has an 8-way joystick and 4 buttons.
The buttons on the arcade are typically laid out in traditional Neo Geo fashion:
The A and B buttons are light attacks while the C and D buttons are hard attacks. In general, light attacks are less powerful and faster, and hard attacks are more powerful but slower. For players more familiar with Capcom style buttons, these may be thought of as:
This means that each fighter has one less strength of punch and kick button. Some fighters lose certain animations, but they may be substituted as command attacks in the case of particular fighters. See each fighter's move list to find out.
The joystick works intuitively in that pressing left will generally move your character left, and pressing right will generally move your character right. But it is more important to think in terms of relative direction.
- If your character is facing to the right, then pressing left on the joystick means backward, and pressing right on the joystick means forward.
- If your character is facing to the left, then pressing left on the joystick means forward, and pressing right on the joystick means backward.
For this reason, all instructions are given with respect to forward and backward since the left and right directions change purpose when your character switches directions.
The following directions assume that your character is facing right, the starting direction of every fight for player one, who begins on the left side:
How to Play
Each battle consists of best-of-three round match between you and your opponent. At the start of each round, both player's life or health bars are full. Each health bar consists of two bars, a yellow bar and a red bar. The red bar will only begin to deplete when the yellow bar is consumed. The first player to drive the other player's health bar to zero wins the round. The first player to win two total rounds wins the match and moves on to the next opponent. If a single player loses to the computer, the game is over and the player must continue to rematch the recent opponent.
Blocking and Guard Crush
To block an attack, a player must push backwards on the joystick when the opponent attacks (otherwise, pressing back on the joystick moves the player away from the opponent.) Blocking can be done standing which blocks middle and high attacks, as well as attacks in the air, but does not block attacks which are low to the ground. Blocking can also be down crouching by pressing the joystick diagonally down and back. A Crouching block will successfully block low and middle attacks. High attacks will usually go over your character's head if they are crouching, but a crouching block does not defend against air attacks or attacks known as overhead attacks which start high and travel down. Every successful block decreases your Guard Meter. The Guard Meter slowly refills if you do not block any attacks after a period of time. Guard Crush happens when a character blocks too much until their Guard Meter is depleted; the character will be stunned for a moment when they block. Upon being Guard Crushed, that character's Guard Meter will be refilled.
The Super Meter Gauge starts off at Level 1 at the beginning of each battle. It fills up as the following things occur:
- You take damage (from anything but normal throws).
- You perform a special move.
- You make an attack that hits (excluding supers or Exceeds).
- You make an attack that's blocked (excluding supers or Exceeds).
- Your opponent taunts you (this gives you a quarter of a level).
You do not earn power for connecting with normal throws, supers, or Exceeds. You do not earn power for using a throw escape, either. The Groove Power Gauge will drain when the following things occur:
- You use an + or + throw that misses (costs approximately one quarter of a level)
- You use the Guard Cancel Frontstep (costs approximately 20% of a level)
- You use the + Guard Cancel Frontstep (costs approximately 60% of a level)
- You use the + Guard Cancel Attack (costs one level)
- You use a Super move (costs one level)
Since you can make missed throw attempts even without gauge energy, a missed throw attempt in fact drains anything up to one quarter total.
Once your Power Gauge reaches Level 3, the gauge reads "MAXIMUM" and flashes red and white, and begins to slowly drain. You can use anywhere cancels and super cancels during this time. The Maximum Gauge actually works a lot like your normal Power Gauge. If you perform any move that drains gauge power (like a Super move, or a Guard Cancel Attack, or a missed throw attempt), the gauge will drain. During this time, you can use a move that costs gauge power even if you don't have enough power left. The Maximum Gauge will revert to normal afterwards. Once the gauge is empty, it fills back up to Level 2, and then you have to earn gauge power normally. If you refill it to Level 3, you'll go back into Maximum Mode.
Exceeds are like super moves, but they do not cost any levels to use, nor do you have to be in Maximum Mode to use them. The only requirement is that your name must be flashing. This occurs, when you lose your first life bar (the yellow one), and only the red one is left. There is a catch with Exceeds: you can only perform them once per battle. That means that if you use an Exceed in Round 1, you cannot use it in any other round.
Guard Cancel Attack
To perform the Guard Cancel Attack, press + while you are blocking against your opponent's attack. It costs a level of super meter to do this. When performed, your character does a preset attack that knocks an opponent across the screen and onto their back. It does no damage, but it will add 50% to your Guard Crush gauge. You can cancel out of a Guard Cancel Attack if it hits or is blocked.
Guard Cancel Frontstep
There are two ways to perform the Guard Cancel Frontstep. You can either tap while blocking, or else press + while blocking. Although it costs more power to use the + version, this has the obvious benefits of being easier to perform and leaving the joystick free for you to input a command. Although you are invincible during the beginning of the Guard Cancel Frontstep, you lose that invincibility as it ends, or the moment you input any command that would cancel it. After all, it is just like a normal dash, so you can cancel it into other commands (like a high jump or a special move).
All fighters can dash toward or away from their opponent. To perform a dash, tap the joystick twice in the direction you would like to dash (forward or backward). Your character will then perform a run or hopping animation and move quickly in that direction. You may also attack while you are in the process of dashing. This will cause you to execute an attack while you continue to move. You may also jump forward while dashing forward for an extended jump.
Throws and Throw Escapes
In this game, throws are performed by standing close to your opponent, and pressing either + or +. Each combination produces a different throw. Throws are unblockable, but they are escapeable. To escape a throw, the opponent must press the exact same button combination as the initiator immediately after the throw animation begins. So if one player executes a throw with +, the throw can only be escaped if the other player pressed + and not +.
Fighters can perform two different kind of jumps. They can jump as fighters normally do by pressing the joystick up for straight jumps, and up and to the right or left for diagonal leaps. However, if you quickly move the joystick down and up, your character will jump higher than average.
An Autoguard is when your character automatically blocks an attack even while performing a move of their own. They don't go into a blocking pose−instead a "block mark" appears on the screen, and after a very brief pause, the move continues. Like normal blocking, you still take block damage from using autoguard, and your Guard Crush gauge will go down. However, you can cancel out of your autoguard. Unlike normal blocking, autoguard affects only particular areas of the body. Just because you can autoguard a standing attack doesn't mean a crouching attack can be guarded against as well. Some moves have more autoguard than others. For instance, there is a brief period of autoguard during Kyo's Aragami, on his arm. However, during Dan's Kyuukyoku Tenchi Gadou Zuki, his outstretched palm has autoguard until he strikes, which takes a while.
All fighters can perform Taunts by pressing the Start button. (This is changed to a shoulder button for the console versions.) When taunting, a fighter performs a typically humorous animation, during which time, they are completely vulnerable. Taunting will increase your super meter gauge slightly.