Martial Masters

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, the government weakened by corruption was attacked by foreign influences. The people were flung into misery and became quite unsatisfied with the situation. They did not believe in the government anymore and turned their faith back to religion.

The White Lotus Sect saw this as an opportunity and took over. They claimed to help the government to defeat foreigners and bring peace to the world. Their Ideology was quickly adopted. Everything related with the Western world was killed or destroyed. Anyone against this principal was considered an enemy and accused of being bound with the devil. Dragon of Martial Master and Master Huang of Po Chi Lam could not accept these outrageous actions so they band together in order to prevent much bloodshed.

One day the leader of White Lotus Sect sent an invitation to Dragon and Master Huang but Dragon's disciples saw this as a trap and recommended that they wait for Master Huang, who was out of town collecting medicine. The Master did not want to miss this opportunity to make peace and went alone. Unfortunately, he was captured and put in prison. Both parties started confrontations and have struggled since then. Now dangers are hidden all over the place. Who is capable of resolving the situation? Let's find out!

12 selectable martial arts fighters.

ABOUTMartial Masters is an obscure arcade 2D fighting game developed by Taiwan-based development team, International Games System (IGS for short) and was originally released in Taiwan in 1999. A year later it was published by Andamiro for Japanese arcades, followed by a limited arcade release in the USA in 2001. Unfortunately, the game never received a console or official PC release. The setting and characters of Martial Masters are heavily inspired by famous Hong Kong action / martial arts films, specifically Once Upon a Time in China, Drunken Master and Operation Scorpio

Sexy 2D sprites and hand-drawn backgrounds galore.


The colorful 2D sprite style, character anatomy, animation, and sound effects are all very reminiscent of Capcom's late 90's fighting games such as Street Fighter III and Red Earth. The fluidity of the character animation and mechanics are most comparable the Street Fighter III and Street Fighter Alpha series. Martial Masters has 12 playable fighters, each representing their own martial arts fighting style (and most of whom are named after the style). Most characters use a distinctive style of Kung Fu and many don't use classic 2D projectiles, but instead do most of their fighting with their fists and feet.


Drunk Master is a lot like Drunken Master... and Chin Gentsai.


Martial Masters features the staple 2D fighting game system mechanics you'd expect out of a 1999 fighting game, including throws, dashes, running, running jumps, super jumps, and super moves. There are 4 attack buttons: Light Punch, Heavy Punch, Light Kick, and Heavy Kick. All characters also have a special Overhead attack (similar to SFIII: 3rd Strike) which forces opponents to block high.

Pursuit Attacks are special attacks specifically for hitting opponents on the ground. Shadow Attacks knock the opponent into the air or into a wall, leaving them open for a juggle. There's also a variant Shadow Attack that can be done from the ground. Stagger Grabs are throw techniques that require meter and leave the opponent open for a combo when they connect. Roll Recovery can be used being knocked down to quickly recover either backward or forward.

Fun Fact: Master Huang actually invented the Hadouken.

Each character's super meter can be filled with up to 9 stocks (although in gameplay it usually will never fill up that high, since characters must use meter for a variety of special moves). Special techniques such as Guard Burst, Shadow Attack Launcher, Shadow Attack Rush, Stagger Grab, and Super Moves all require meter. Super moves and most of the special techniques require 1 stock only. Taunting will add to a character's meter (quite a lot), making it an important part of gameplay. 


Page Updated: December 24th, 2021
Developer(s): International Games System (IGS)
Publisher(s): IGS,  Andamiro   
Platform(s): Arcade
Artwork By: Rong-Chang Xie, Ming-Qin Tsai, Maggi Chung, Muta, Ponpon
Release Date(s): 1999     Taiwan
Characters Master Huang, Crane, Tiger, Monk, Drunk Master, Red Snake, Monkey Boy, Ghost Kick, Scorpion, Reika, Saojin, Lotus Master, True Lotus Master

Featured Video:

Related Games: Street Fighter III: New Generation, SFIII: 2nd Impact, SFIII: 3rd Strike, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Warzard, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The King of Fighters '99, The King of Fighters 2000, The King of Fighters 2001, The Last Blade 2, Tatsunoko Fight, Akatsuki Blitzkampf, Daraku Tenshi - The Fallen Angels, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future, Galaxy Fight, Asura Blade, Groove On Fight

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First Impression:

Martial Masters is a rather interesting and charming 2D fighter... and sadly, one of the few that I've never played (or physically seen in person). I've been to countless arcades in many different states across America over the past 3 decades, but I've never come across a Martial Masters cabinet (and if I did, I would've put more than a few quarters in.) I know there's a rom available online, but I haven't invested the time in getting it to work... I'd actually rather buy the game, that is, if it ever got a proper console / home release.

At a glance, there's plenty to love about Martial Masters if you're a 2D fighting fan. The lore and characters take very interesting inspiration from the Once Upon a Time in China series... so fans of that series will find even more to enjoy about the game. The charismatic designs, well-animated 2D sprites, and colorful hand-drawn stages are all high quality stuff - rivaling (and surpassing) some popular 2D fighters of 1999 and shortly after. Martial Masters had heart. 

Many compare Martial Masters to Street Fighter III / 3rd Strike, but I'd say the animation quality is overall closer to Street Fighter Alpha 3. Martial Masters is definitely impressive in motion, although it doesn't quite match fluidity and finesse of SFIII... but it tries. To nitpick, some of the character sprites have weird-looking idle stances, strange anatomy, and some visual aspects seem "unfinished" to me. On that note, it's a real shame there was never a sequel to smooth out some of the rough edges.

Still, compared to many other 2D fighting games out in 1999-2001, Martial Masters was ahead of the curve and ahead of its time. The effort and artistry behind this game makes a real statement. This game had heart. Martial Masters is definitely a "hidden gem" of the fighting genre... and I still hope it'll get a modern console release someday.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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