Burning Fight is a beat 'em up game created during the heyday of other similar games such as Capcom's Final Fight and Sega's Streets of Rage. The producer is Eikichi Kawasaki, SNK's former president and founder.
Duke and Billy, two popular and renowned New York City Police detectives, are hot on the trail of a dangerous Japanese crime syndicate. Their investigation has led them to the mean streets of Japan where they meet a police officer and martial arts expert named Ryu. Ryu agrees to join the NYPD detectives as they track down the crime syndicate bosses and end their reign of terror once and for all.
Basically this game uses the same elements that makes Final Fight famous, such as the balance between characters, grabbing weapons or things in the ground to make more damage to the opponents and breaking things like phone booths and street signs along the way. But also added some new elements, like mini-stages, where you have to defeat some enemies to gain some prizes, all in 10-15 seconds.
- Yujiro Heike - He is a member of a Japanese yakuza gang known as Heiwa-Gumi and Azusa Heike's husband; he appears as a boss in stage 1 then as a mid-boss in the final stage together with Azusa.
- Tom Anderson - A Hulk Hogan look-a-like wrestler that appears in the second level. A recolored variant of him appears in the final level as Mad Dilly which bears a resemblance to Macho Man Randy Savage.
- Azusa Heike - She appears to be one of the members of Heiwa-Gumi and Yujiro Heike's wife; she appears as a boss in Stage 2-B with her bodyguards named Harold Carr and reappears as a mid-boss in the final stage together with Yujiro.
- Gary Powell - A wrestler-like enemy that appears in the third stage. He is a spriteswap of Tom Anderson, but his head is different.
- Nitou Ryuji - He is possible to be a leader of Heiwa-Gumi; he appears as a boss in Stage 3 then as Nitou Ryugo in the final level of the game.
- Marshall - He is a vicious punk and Duke's rival; he appears as a boss in both Stage 2 and 4 then as a midboss in the final level.
- Casterora - He is the final boss and Italian or Spanish mobster who is responsible for the crimes in Osaka city.
In Japan, Game Machine listed Burning Fight on their June 15, 1991 issue as being the eighth most-popular arcade game at the time. Likewise, RePlay reported the game to be the second most-popular arcade game at the time. The title received generally mixed reception from critics since its release in arcades and other platforms, with most reviewers comparing it with better known competitors in the beat 'em up genre. Both the Neo Geo and Nintendo Switch versions hold a 55% and 30% respectively on the review aggregator GameRankings.
AllGame's Kyle Knight regarded Burning Fight as a Final Fight rip-off of inferior quality. Knight criticized the "jerky and stiff" character animations, lack of enemy variety, as well as the repetitive fighting system and gameplay but commended the controls and audio. In contrast, Consoles Plus' Loulou and El Nio Nio compared the game with both Final Fight and Streets of Rage but praised the presentation, graphics, animations, hard rock-style soundtrack, gameplay and longevity. Computer and Video Games' Paul Rand and Tim Boone also regarded the title as a Final Fight rip-off, while Rand in particular drew comparison between Cody and Guy with two of the playable characters. Unlike Knight, both Rand and Boone praised the visuals, sound, gameplay and longevity but criticized the absence of unlimited continues in the AES version.
GamePro's Slasher Quan remarked that it was similar to Final Fight in terms of visuals and gameplay but also praised the presentation and music. Both Joypad's Steph and Joystick's Jean-Marc Demoly compared Burning Fight with Final Fight, Ninja Gaiden and Streets of Rage but praised the audiovisual presentation and controls. Player One's Cyril Drevet compared its two-player mode with Double Dragon but commended the visuals, animations, audio, difficulty and longevity. However, Sinclair User highlighted a sense of dullness in the game, stating that "Burning Fight is a competent journey along the usual beat-'em-up road..."
Burning Fight has been met with a much more mixed reception from critics in recent years, with Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead in particular regarding the game as a blatant copy of both Final Fight and Streets of Rage. IGN's Lucas M. Thomas also compared its gameplay to Double Dragon but regarded it as more playable than Ninja Combat. Nintendo Life's Damien McFerran and Dave Frear were critical of the title when reviewing the Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch releases respectively, comparing the playable cast of characters with those of Final Fight, while McFerran criticized the poor character animations.