The player begins the game as a martial arts apprentice, and initially practices skills in four dojos, either Shadow Fighting or sparring with an instructor. The weapons and combat methods available to the player consist of the following four:
- Bo - Classic Japanese long staff.
- Karate - Unarmed martial arts fighting with hand and foot.
- Kendo - Japanese fencing utilizing a wooden sword.
- Nunchaku - Swinging weapon with two shafts connected by a chain.
Once the player is confident in his or her skills, the player can enter the Budokan. In the Budokan, the player faces consecutive opponents equipped with various weapons (including, but not limited to, those available to the player). The difficulty gradually increases, with each opponent demonstrating increasing prowess when compared to the previous. Most opponents are male, except for one female armed with a naginata. The gender of a ninjutsu fighter with a masked face is presumedly female, as they are named Ayako.
Each match is preceded by a briefing screen which provides the player with several words about the opponent. Based on this information (and past experience playing the game), the player then chooses which weapon to use in the upcoming conflict. Since each weapon can only be used in a limited number of matches, an overall strategy or plan is necessary in order to successfully defeat all opponents.
There are two primary attributes shown on the screen -- stamina and ki, the power of each blow. Active movements like jumping and delivering difficult blows decrease the ki, while blocking attacks increases ki. As a player's stamina decreases, movements slow down, making it more and more difficult to act. When the player's (or his opponent's) stamina is completely exhausted, the match ends. This makes the game much more strategic than many contemporary fighting games, as it is impossible to "button mash" one's way to victory. Button mashing in Budokan is in fact a quick way to defeat.
Source: Wikipedia, "Budokan: The Martial Spirit", available under the CC-BY-SA License.