Playing SEGA’s Burning Rival (arcade)

One of my favorite things about Twitch is in being able to see people from Asia stream an assortment of odd video games I may not ever know about otherwise. Xelloss09 frequently streamed 1CC attempts of a number of arcade games, and some of these were so obscure, I hadn’t heard of them and very little information is available online in regard to these games.

One of these games is SEGA’s Burning Rival – a 1-on-1 fighting game that attempted to bring a true anime style to the 2D arena. This is one of those games that would have been absolute eye candy in magazines at the time, as it looks phenomenal when you pull screens from Burning Rival. By 1992 standards, the animation is also superb, although the characters don’t have the number of animation frames compared to games that released later in the decade.


These animations were done by Zero-One and were only saw in a short-lived arcade release exclusively in Japan.

The title was developed by the SEGA-AM2 team, with the game displaying a SEGA 1992 mark on the title screen. Oddly, a web-archived official page from SEGA-AM2 claims the game didn’t release until July of 1993 – a mere five months before Virtua Fighter splashed onto the scene. Yu Suzuki’s personal list of game projects even lists his producer credit for Burning Rival (バーニングライバル) as happening in 1993, before he went on to direct Virtua Fighter.

Outside of graphics, Burning Rival gives you the typical arcade experience at the time – a joystick offers eight directions of movement and six buttons offer punches and kicks of different strengths and speeds. The different characters have a set of unique special moves, and running through the arcade mode gives the player still screens depicting what happens to them following the tournament.

Playing Burning Rival largely feels fine, but there are some movements, especially things like Bill’s running clothesline that cause really unpredictable results as the game attempts to flex its animation muscles. There are also some crazy hitboxes going on in the game, with moves like Shingen’s sword slash being a prime offender. The game is also very lazy in its conclusion, giving you a final boss that is a color swap of Shingen.


Still, you can’t deny there is some real charm to Burning Rival and it’s obvious a lot of effort went into crafting the game. It doesn’t all fall into place, but it provides a few interesting characters, including what looks like a beta version of Akira. SEGA’s later release of Virtua Fighter would leave this game in the dust, unfortunately leaving it as an arcade-only obscurity.

A few years back I toyed with Burning Rival in MAME, eventually pinning down strategies with Bill that provide for a pretty simple 1CC in arcade mode. I revisited this recently, recording a video and documenting what makes this run work.

Footballer Bill has excellent strength and reach, and his standard grab does 40% damage. His standing fierce punch has range and easily punishes a lot of the CPU’s jump-in attempts. It can also push opponents away if they block it in neutral. His running clothesline is done by holding back briefly and then pressing forward + punch (this game is very finicky about the forward + punch being done precisely at the same time). If the opponent blocks it, chances are great you will be placed in throw distance to do your grab (forward + fierce punch). Bill’s crouching fierce is a chop that is also an okay tool for opponents like Mr. Chin, who like to approach low. You can also press down + all three punches to grab and throw the items in the background like the boxes and headstones. Just make sure you have about a full screen of distance before doing so, so you don’t get easily countered.

Mr. Chin – Mr. Chin keeps a low profile, so the standing fierce isn’t effective. Use the low chop if you need an attack in neutral. Be careful about recklessly doing the clothesline here because Mr. Chin can do a fireball to interrupt it. Once you land a grab, with good timing you can neutral jump after the animation and do another grab as soon as you land.

Asuka – Asuka uses a variety of air attacks, which makes her vulnerable to the standing fierce punch. You can sometimes get her in a loop by moving forward until she jumps and then knocking her down with the punch. If she teleports near you, you basically get a free hit. You just have to watch out for her kick specials that you can usually counter after a block.

Arnold – Similar to Mr. Chin, watch so you don’t clothesline into a fireball. Clothesline in and get a grab. You can opt to neutral jump after the grab and it is very likely Arnold will do his anti-air specials or a jumping punch that will knock you down. This puts him right next to you on landing and you can get another free grab on wakeup.

Craze – Like Arnold, if you get a grab, you can neutral jump for a chance that Craze will do a special move that puts you in position for another free grab. However, with Craze there is a little more chance he’ll do something else. His projectile must be blocked low, but you do get some i-frames with the clothesline. Since Craze is fast, he’s able to get attacks in a little easier if you close in on him. You can try to hold forward and still get a grab even if he hits you – your throw will do more damage than his attacks. If you’re far enough away, you can throw the boxes to hit him while he sets up his projectile.

Jackson – Jackson also has a little bit of speed, but, similar to Craze, you can absorb these hits and still go for a grab. Just watch for his special knee attack. Otherwise, once you throw him, you can throw out a fierce punch just before he wakes up and then go for another grab in a loop.

Santana – Very much like Asuka, just about everything Santana does can be countered by the standing fierce punch. Just try not to get trapped in a corner, as his high jump can sometimes give him very weird cross-up properties.

Shingen/Final Boss Shingen – Shingen palette swaps and serves as the game’s final boss, but the strategy remains the same for both fights. Use a far standing fierce punch to sucker him into doing his shadow dash. Block this low and then counter with a standing fierce punch. This knocks him back at a distance where he will try the dash once again – keep repeating this. For some reason, it seems like you can counter hit faster from a crouching block. Do not use the clothesline in this matchup, as Shingen has a ridiculous sword attack that will counter it every single time.

Bill – CPU Bill spends a lot of time staying away in order to charge for clotheslines or shoulder tackles. If he is a full screen away, you can throw the boxes at him – this uses up the boxes so he can’t throw them at you. He also does a fair bit of jumping that can be countered with the standard fierce punch. He is more vulnerable following a clothesline compared to a shoulder tackle, as he will recover way faster after a shoulder tackle. If you can beat him to it, the clothesline tactics will work against him.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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