The game is set in the metropolis of Metro City, a town constantly plagued by crime and violence. When the mayor, Mike Haggar, promises to clean up the city, the Mad Gear gang kidnaps his daughter Jessica and warns him not to interfere. Haggar responds going on a battle across the city to free her, bringing along her boyfriend Cody, and the ninjitsu master Guy to assist him.
Gameplay consists of continually moving to the right, defeating any enemies that appear on the way to each stage's boss with a variety of hand-to-hand attacks, such as punches, kicks, and throws. Barrels, trash cans, and other objects can be broken to reveal food to restore health, items which increase the player's score, and weapons, such as knives, pipes, and swords.
Each character has a basic combo that can performed by rapidly hitting the attack button (), several attacks that can be performed while in the air, and the ability to grapple opponents by walking close to them. While grappling an enemy, the character can either attack an enemy three times before letting them go, or throw them in another direction. All three characters also have a special attack (+ or +) that knocks away all opponents surrounding them, at the cost of a small amount of health. and jump.
The game is split into six areas, each split into several smaller sub-stages. At the end of each stage is a powerful boss enemy that must be defeated before continuing on.
Exclusive to the Sega CD version of the game is a 'Time Attack' mode where players fight an onslaught of enemies for either 99 seconds or they are defeated twice. Score is counted by the number of enemies defeated before the mode ends.
Haggar is the mayor of Metro City and a former pro wrestler, and has the highest attack power, although he has the slowest speed. His special ability is to perform piledrivers on enemies, and he uses the pipe more effectively than the other characters.
Guy is a Bushido ninja and friend of Haggar and Cody. While he has the weakest attack strength, he moves faster than both Haggar and Cody. He has the ability to leap off the sides of the screen, and performs better with swords than the other characters.
Cody is Jessica's boyfriend and street fighter, who has an equal balance of attack strength and speed. He is able to knock incoming knives out of the way with an attack, and fights better with them than the other characters.
Round 1 - The Slums
Round 2 - The Subway
Bonus Round 1
Round 3 - The West Side
Round 4 - Industrial Area
Bonus Round 2
Round 5 - Bay Area
Round 6 - Uptown
Though restricted by the 64 color palette and an on-screen limit of four enemies at a time (in contrast to the arcade's whooping ten enemies on-screen), the game offers an enhanced CD soundtrack, voice acted cutscenes and an exclusive time attack mode. Content-wise, the Mega-CD version is a more complete port of the game than the earlier Super NES version published by Capcom in 1990, as it contains all three playable fighters and all six stages, as well as retaining the 2-player co-op mode from the arcade.
When brought to the western market the female characters Poison and Roxy were censored so that they wore less revealing clothing. The intro was also altered slightly as Jessica was not wearing a shirt in the Japanese version.
The PAL version has one less credit than the Japanese version, health restoring items seem to appear less frequently, a short dialogue between Cody and Guy during the ending was cut, a palette bug can happen in the bar in stage 4, causing people and the barkeeper to have a brownish tone. The PAL version was partially speed optimized as forcing the game into 60Hz mode makes it run too fast.
Planner: Hiralinn, G. Taishi
Programmer: Yagiee, .NGI, Gyope
Character Design-Object: Hiralinn, Oya Bin
Character Design-Scroll: Minorin, M" Agodo, Satosa