The Asura Series, by a little known company called Fuuki, consists of Asura Blade and Asura Buster, two very good weapons-based 2D fighters that were only released on arcades. Being released in the late-90s, they were more than a bit late to the fighting game gravy train of the years before, leading them to be greeted by little more than apathy. Arcade boards are hard to come by and arcade cabinets are even scarcer. Fuuki did not make many other games besides the Asura series. Even though Fuuki came and went in the blink of an eye, their Asura series are surprisingly decent, Darkstalkers-like games with deep, but easy to grasp systems and very cool character designs. There isn't technically much to set it apart from more prominent titles, but both they're smooth and attractive games.
The protagonist of both games. Yashou bears a very strong resemblance to Chrono from Chrono Trigger. Yashou wields a powerful katana and has strong, fire-based attacks. He is a good character for beginners and it's easy to discover new combos with him.
Goat is another good character for beginners in Asura Blade, but plays completely different in Asura Buster. Like Yashou, he strongly resembles a few Square RPG heroes. In Asura Buster, he could probably pass as a happy, evil Cloud Strife. Goat is easily one of the hardest hitting characters in Asura Blade, capable of taking out a quarter of your health bar in one blow. Besides his sword, Goat fights with a destructive mace that at first seems like just another special attack, but becomes more useful in Asura Buster.
His name is a pun on the word Zombie. Zam-B is a small, undead hunchback that fights with a very large claw. He has a really annoying voice and most of his special moves involve acidic puke. Some character's attacks that hit high will never hit him unless he is jumping. Despite this, Zam-B is a somehow balanced character that fits right in with the rest of the roster.
Taros is a powerful blue golem that is based on Talos, a golem from various legends. Taros is a very good character for beginners, as he is very large, does lots of damage, and has easy combos. His attacks look cool, as he can turn the bottom half of his body into an axe, fly by spinning his legs, and shoot a hidden laser in his head. In Asura Buster, Taros turns gold and is much faster but loses some of his strength. He is still easy for beginners to learn, but not the same character.
Alice is the strongest necromancer in the world, who also happens to be a child. Like Zam-B, she is small, so hitting Alice with high attacks can be a problem. She does take extra damage, which is hardly an excuse for her having such powerful attacks. In Asura Blade, Alice fights with a crew of zombies and skeletons that simply come out of the ground to help her. In Asura Buster, she has a skeleton familiar following her around that can fight for her through a command.
Rose Mary is a powerful sorceress with a demonic sword. Her sword floats alongside her and can transform into different colored demons. She has almost the same move set in both Asura Blade and Asura Buster. In Asura Blade, Rose Mary looks fairly normal next to the rest of the cast, but in Asura Buster, she gained much larger breasts and a more seductive walk, probably to pander to her fans.
Footee is the only unarmed fighter in Asura Blade. She is not playable in Asura Buster and only makes a cameo appearance. Footee does not need any weapons either, as she is both insanely fast and strong. She is right behind Taros and Goat in terms of damage, making her seriously imbalanced. This could be the reason she was not playable in the sequel. Her combos are rather cheap as well, since the strongest involve juggling. If you know what you are doing, you can keep an opponent in the air for most of the match with her.
A very effeminate man who wields two swords at once. He has strong lightning based attacks and good air combos. He is not present in Asura Buster, being replaced with Leon, who has Lighting's weapons, but is the same only in appearance.
Curfue is Asura Blade's sub-boss. Unlike the sword and magic wielding playable characters, Curfue uses a laser cannon with a bayonet. Being helplessly pinned to a wall with a constant barrage of lasers is exactly as annoying as it sounds. Fighting him is much like fighting Cable in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Curfue is playable, but only through a secret code. Amusingly, his taunt is throwing a used cigarette butt. If it actually hits, it does a very small amount of damage. Thankfully, Curfue does not appear again in Asura Buster.
The boss of Asura Blade. S. Geist wields a living sword that strongly resembles the Ivy Blade from Soul Calibur, the Asura Blade. S. Geist does not do much damage on his own, but his combos are insane and he does not even have to move in order to use them. Fortunately, he is much easier to defeat than Curfue and can only be playable through a secret code.
Only in Asura Buster. Chen Mao is an unarmed fighter that uses ki-based attacks, much like Ryu or Chun Li from Street Fighter. She was intended to replace Footee as the unarmed character, but there was a problem. Chen Mao does not do nearly as much damage and is not nearly as fast as Footee. In fact, she does very little damage at all. Even though Chen Mao is weak, she's still a blast to play as and can make the game more challenging as a result.
Only in Asura Buster. Leon looks even more like a girl than Lightning. He also seems to have taken Lightning's weapons. Leon does not have any of the same moves, however, and is very hard to use. On the upside, Leon is fast and can do lots of damage in the right hands.
Only in Asura Buster. Sittara is a very tall and disturbing man. He has darkness-based attacks and can fire ground based projectiles form the air, as strange as it sounds. When Sittara wins a battle, he throws down his sword and stares at his fallen opponent with a very creepy smile and laugh.
Only in Asura Buster. Zinsuke is a very skilled boy that wields a katana. He also wears a huge hat the covers up his head, entirely. How he fights like this is unclear, but it is best not to think about it too much.
Only in Asura Buster. Rokurouta is the Asura series' ninja. He may not do very good damage, but Rokurouta can fly all over the screen, throw a blizzard of shuriken, and make pink crystals jump out of the ground. Rokurouta also has to be the best character for taking out Asura Buster's boss, as he can easily dodge his projectiles while flying or strike from afar with shuriken.
Only in Asura Buster. Nanami is a strange, shape-shifting girl that can only be played as through a code. She copies whomever she is fighting against by transforming into them. Interestingly, this is the only way you can play as the sub-boss, but against the final boss she just turns into Rokurouta.
Asura Buster's sub-boss. Vebel is a gigantic gastropod that lives in The Angry Cavern. He can turn into a buzz saw, shoot a laser ripped from Sasquatch from Darkstalkers, and even turn into a solid wall to take less damage. Vebel can also open his mouth and use his tongue or entrails as a weapon. Fortunately, he's very vulnerable to low attacks and is much easier to deal with than Curfue or S. Geist.
The King is the final boss of Asura Buster. He is huge, taking up most of the background. He attacks with his two giant fists, one representing fire and the other ice. He is not too hard as long as you can stay out of the center of the arena and time your hits right because you can only hit his hands.
Asura Blade is the first of the two Asura games, taking place in a bizarre post-apocalyptic future full of floating castles, robots, lots of swords, and plenty of magic. The plot involves the villainous S. Geist trying to use the power of the Asura Blade to summon a dragon. Supposedly, the dragon was going to be a secret boss, but it was dummied out and incomplete. There's a dragon sprite left in the game, but you cannot fight it and it is only accessible through hacking.Asura Blade has excellent graphics. The backgrounds are lush and stylized, particularly War After and Central Geo, one being a mass graveyard and the other being a beautiful temple in a desert. The character sprites also look great, all of whom are animated very well.
Arcade mode has you traveling through a map and fighting every character in the game before a showdown with your shadow, which is just your chosen character, but invisible. After that, you move on to face Curfue and S. Geist. All characters have the same ending, so arcade mode is only really worth playing through once and maybe a few other times if you need to get used to a certain character.
One of Asura Blade's more interesting features involves how it handles special moves. All characters have a pop-up attack that throws the opponent into the air and is good for setting up combos, similar to the Marvel Vs. games and Guilty Gear X. All special moves have a strong, medium, and weak version. For example, if you perform a quarter circle forward with Goat and press strong attack, he pulls out his mace and swings it very slowly. If you do the same motion and hit the weak attack, however, he swings his mace much faster, but it does less damage. Asura Blade adds in something called EX attacks, similar to those found in the Darkstalkers games. They take up around half of your super bar and are performed by doing an attack motion, but hitting two buttons at once. This can make move pools seem much larger by comparison, even though most characters only have one to two super moves.
Another interesting feature is the ability to fling your weapon by pressing all three attack buttons at once. By throwing your weapon, you get a ranged attack that does a lot of damage at the expense of being unarmed. Most characters play completely different unarmed, Goat being a particularly good example as he no longer hits hard, but he becomes very fast. You can pick your weapon back up by simply squatting down and hitting an attack button. It's a pretty cool feature that can add a lot of depth to the game, moreso than Samurai Shodown, which had a similar feature but didn't change the characters so drastically. The computer apparently does not know how to toss their weapon, though, because it never does this.
Even though Asura Blade is very fun, there are a few rough spots. The character roster is far from balanced with Footee and Goat being clearly more powerful than most of the other characters. Curfue is also a very cheap boss, as he never stops using his annoying laser cannon. If you have a bad version, Asura Blade will inexplicably speed up on certain levels, making combat much faster and more brutal. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how fast you like your fighting games, but it is a bug in some versions - potentially only the emulated versions - and was not intended to be in.
Asura Buster is the sequel to Asura Blade, fixing many of the problems with the first and streamlining the fighting system. The graphics are brighter and crisper, the character roster has been increased substantially, and the bosses are no longer cheap. Asura Buster is in general better than Asura Blade, but is far scarcer due to it being only released in Japan.
Asura Buster's story in completely in Japanese, but involves an insane king that can transform into a powerful behemoth that must be stopped. The rest in unclear and is dependant on which character you choose. The story also introduces Chen Mao, Leon, Sittara, Zinsuke, Rokurouta, and Nanami as playable characters.
Combat has been streamlined immensely. Controls are tightened up and you can no longer use throws or fling your weapon. Additionally, all characters have different sized super bars. Chen Mao has a small super bar, so she can do EX moves and super moves very often. Yashou on the other hand, has a very long one and it takes time for him to fill it up all the way.
Many of the returning characters play nothing like they did in Asura Blade, with only Yashou, Rose Mary, and Zam-B being mostly the same from one installment to the next. This is mostly due to balance reasons, as Goat was severely overpowered in the first game. Taros was changed for no discernable reason, but is still very fun to play. Alice was changed to reflect that she had learned more magic than necromancy and can now control dinosaur bones and has obtained The Necronomicon. Classic Alice is playable through a code.
Asura Buster also adds a mini game, involving a horde of two-headed dogs which need to be defeated as they charge at you. If you get hit, you only get stunned, which leave an opening for another two headed dog to hit you. This very bizarre mini game was supposed to be in Asura Blade, as the two headed dog sprite was in, but must have been cut at some point.
After the Asura series, Fuuki went on to make a puzzle game for the arcade and two adventure games for the Game Boy Advance before going out of business. After that, the Asura series would have faded into obscurity for having no console ports and being barely known, except the MUGEN community seems to have taken a liking to some of the characters, particularly Goat.