I gotta do this screen resolution bullshit again? Bloody hellfire. So Ring of Destruction is a weird one as while it mostly adheres to the established rules of CPS-II hardware explained here- in essence, the game's internal resolution is 384 x 224 but this is stretched to a 4:3 ratio on CRT monitors resulting in something that we can roughly approximate as 320 x 240- there's something a little odd. RoD has black borders at the top and bottom of the screen for some reason. This isn't something we've seen in any of the previous CPS-II games we've covered here, so a little jiggery-pokery and this real-hardware footage reveals that stretching the image to 320 x 240 as normal, keeping the black bars in, creates the intended display result. So that's what we've done, we've kept the black borders in. Why were we cursed with the knowledge that the internal resolution isn't the one you'd see in a real arcade, why don't we just give up and show the shots all stretched out and weird like the rest of the internet? I guess it's because we're Gaming Hell, and it is our duty. Bah. Anyway, big thanks to Ultra Powerful Pal of Gaming Hell HokutoNoShock for playing this game with my dogsbody writer for several sessions (some of the screenshots come from those very sessions) and if you want to learn more about the game, there's Goh_Billy's GameFAQs guide, plus a community Google Doc with lots of info and the Mizuumi Wiki which has other resources for you to learn from. May God bless any ring you enter, or something like that. Wait, isn't that a different game? Never mind.

When is a sequel not a sequel?

This is the philosophical conundrum Gaming Hell finds itself contemplating for Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II.

Before we get to that though, we have to look at the first game, it's only fair. The final proper game on Capcom's CP System Dash in 1993 (only followed up by its four-player-focused update), Saturday Night Slam Masters (Muscle Bomber: The Body Explosion in Japan) takes a fairly simple approach, with just three buttons- Attack, Jump and Pin (not, as often said on the internet, Grapple, that's in the updated version and the sequel)- and free movement across and outside the ring, meaning you can move in and out of the screen unlike Street Fighter II. Mechanics-wise, it covers everything you expect of a wrestling game- grappling and throws with even flashy super-throws possible, climbing onto the turnbuckle from where you can appeal to the crowd before jumping back in, running into the ropes or Irish-whipping your opponents into them, pin-holds that automatically start the pin countdown- just with the kind of presentation chops you'd expect from Capcom in their prime. Excellent sprite animation, great music themes for each wrestler's intro into the ring and nice little touches like boot-squeaking when changing directions and the mat reacting appropriately when these slabs of meat smack the canvas, all you could ever want. Add in promotional art from Fist of the North Star artist Tetsuo Hara (who, at the time, was playing Street Fighter II with his daughter) and you have a game that lots of wrestling fans enjoy!

The game was followed up later that year with Muscle Bomber Duo: Ultimate Team Battle (and yes, that's the Western name too- the Japanese version swaps out the subtitle for Heat-Up Warriors), an updated version with a focus on tag-team matches (pairing you with a computer assistant if you're playing on your own) but with some other critical changes- the pin button is replaced with a grapple button that can be executed at any time (including a whiff animation!), mirror matches (with specific colour palettes depending on your player number) plus new moves for all characters such as Haggar's Angry Hammer and El Stingray's Flying Headbutt. Although more a footnote than anything and it's never received a home port, the update did factor into the development of a true sequel as it was being made alongside Ring of Destruction, and it seems some of its elements were incorporated into it such as having a grapple button and the removal of out-of-the-ring action. Now, I'm glossing over these two games as wrestling isn't necessarily my thing. I have a puddle-deep knowledge- beyond watching a little of it as a wee child, I am familiar with the works of the Shockmaster and the video game development career of Bret 'Dereferencing a Null Pointer' Hart- but while I should probably check out some old-school joshi puroresu at some point, generally I don't mind wrestling but I'm not gonna go out of my way for it. And that's fine, right? As sentient creatures, we can enjoy our own things. You go your way, and I'll go mine, seconds before I get decked with a chair and someone screams to stop the damn match. I figure this is important context to explain why I never really got into these first two Slam Masters games.

A sequel that takes a completely different approach though? Hmm, maybe that's more my bag.

So, roughly a year and a hardware upgrade later, the wrestlefest would hit the CPS-II but in a very different form.

(Actually talking about today's game now, promise.)

According to the Japanese flyer and the story presented in the game's album booklet, the Crash Carnival event of the first game and the Tag Team event of the update- ending with reigning champion of the Capcom Wrestling Association Victor Ortega returning to the ring to fight a worthy rival at long last- was just a warm-up event for the real deal, the true International Blowout to be held half a year after Heat-Up Warriors (apparently sometime in the 1980s, before Mike Haggar was a mayor- don't let Capcom USA mislead you!). Everyone said that you can't crown a champion through tag team fighting alone, and so everyone is back to training for a new fight, with the entire CWA returning as well as Victor Ortega and the mysterious Blacm Widow... However, The Scorpion and his sinister Blood Wrestling Association, after failing to take over the CWA in previous battles, shatter all expectations by demanding some rule changes, with bouts now being best two out of three and no pins or submissions. While a shock to many, Ortega agress to the BWA's new rules, putting his belt on the line. So, The Scorpion is joined by Jumbo 'Flap' Jack as well as two new underground wrestlers, Rip Saber and The Wraith, with their own underhanded tricks and techniques, to challenge the CWA. Only one can be crowned the number one Quarreler greatest Slam Master in the world, so seconds out, let's get it on!

Let's take a look at our star-studded cast of wrestlers, then.

Character data and profiles adapted from pre-fight quotes and endings, Capcom Arcade 2nd Cabinet's game manual, the arcade flyer and the Capcom Database pages on the Slam Masters series.

Capcom changed many story elements for the English release, so I've tried to change most of the details to their Japanese versions.

Unless I thought they were funny.

"I've got the
fists to finish

(JP: Aleksey Zalazof)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 4" / 264 lbs.
From: Moscow, Russia

Trained under Mike Haggar and
rival to Gunloc, he's probably
friends with that Zangief bloke.

"Your neck is
gonna be a lot
shorter when I'm
through with ya!"

Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 7" / 309 lbs.
From: Metro City, USA

Before he was Mayor of Metro City,
Mike was busting heads in the ring
instead of on the streets.

"I will gun you
to pieces!"


(JP: Lucky Colt)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 4" / 276 lbs.
From: Slam Town, USA

Trained under Mike Haggar and
rival to Biff, he's absolutely not
related to that Sonic Boom guy.

"You will be
added to my
many deaths in
(JP: Mysterious Budo)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 0" / 221 lbs.
From: Osaka, Japan

A wrestler with a kabuki theme,
he makes his fights theatrical
with his wild hair and facepaint.

"If I toss ya,
don't worry,
I'll catch ya!
Ah ha ha ha!"

(JP: Titan the Great)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 7' 9" / 432 lbs.
From: London, England

Living up to his name, he is
the tallest, heaviest wrestler
in the whole of the CWA.

"Watch yourself,
or I may crack
your head like
a melon."

(JP: El Stinger)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 5' 6" / 163 lbs.
From: Acapulco, Mexico

A luchador who was trained by the
legendary Meteorito Jr., his flashy
moves send him flying across the ring.

"Let's hope
I don't break
the mat with
your body!"
(JP: Sheep the Royal)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 6" / 359 lbs.
From: Melbourne, Australia

A rugby player who switched to
wrestling after American football
kicked him out the sport.

"You look like a
weakling 'mon!
This will take
me's a second!
(JP: "Missing IQ" Gomes)
Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 6" / 331 lbs.
From: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Found living in the wild, he
was trained to wrestle and is
managed by a pet monkey, Freak.

"Step into my
parlor said the
spider to the

Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 6" / 209 lbs.
From: Hanover, Germany

The only woman in the CWA, she
dons a full body suit and uses
spider-like movements to fight.

"I will finish ya
like a two pound

(JP: Kimala the Bouncer)
Affiliation: BWA
Height / Weight: 6' 7" / 441 lbs.
From: Yellow Knife, Canada

A former bouncer and bodyguard
fired for picking fights with customers,
he is loyal to The Scorpion.

"You shall have
the honor of
being defeated
by me!"

Affiliation: BWA
Height / Weight: 6' 4" / 297 lbs.
From: Calgary, Canada

You may think throwing grenades doesn't
count as a wrestling style, but Rip
says, "Hey, as long as it works".

"I am the
of your

Affiliation: BWA
Height / Weight: 7' 2" / 351 lbs.
From: New Delhi, India

A mysterious supernatural wrestler
who uses snakes and flames
to terrorise his unlucky opponent.

"I'll finish you
so fast, you
won't have time
to scream."
(JP: The Astro)
Affiliation: BWA
Height / Weight: 6' 2" / 231 lbs.
From: Unknown

The fearsome leader of the BWA
whose past and face are
a mystery to everyone.

"I'll make this
quick and
painful for you!"


Affiliation: CWA
Height / Weight: 6' 7" / 344 lbs.
From: Unknown

Former champion of the CWA,
he gives up his title belt
to fight for it once more.

Released in August 1994, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II (Super Muscle Bomber: The International Blowout in Japan) was among the first wave of fighting games for the CPS-II hardware, after Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors but just before X-Men: Children of the Atom. I said 'fighting' there rather than wrestling because the format has changed entirely. The elements that would make you say, "That's definitely a wrestling game" such as being able to move in and out of the screen and out of the ring, pinning your opponent and the healthbars being more fast-and-loose indicators of your current status are gone. Instead, it's the genre-standard of draining your opponent's health through normals, special moves, grapples and super grapples on a 2D plane. This can be considered a divisive move for those who wanted a proper sequel to the original's wrestling-style gameplay, but that's something we'll explore more a little later on. For now, we must reckon with the fact that this is a one-on-one fighting game with a wrestling motif and see how we get on. Sure, I'm not super-versed in wrestling, but I know at least a few things about fighting games, maybe, hopefully!

Ring of Destruction came out in the middle of the fighting game boom (as pointed out by Polar Bair's excellent video on Cyberbots, it was one of five games released between Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha) so what does it do to give itself its own identity? The controls are a good place to start. There's only five buttons here instead of the standard Capcom six, with Light and Heavy Punches and Kicks accounted for, Mediums eliminated and replaced with one button, Grapple. Now that's the mark of a wrestling game, right? While some other fighting games did have a button like this, in particular Fatal Fury and World Heroes, they didn't really focus on it but it's a vital element to the game here. Using a grapple, either with the button on its own or with a quarter-circle-forward motion to do a running grab, initiates a grab animation that either whiffs or gets the opponent into a grapple, where you have to quickly input something to throw (Grapple or just wait, different depending on whether they were standing or crouching), do an Irish whip (any other button) or do a super grapple (each character has their own motion). It fits the theme like a glove of course and it's pretty simple, with no mashing involved on either end- instead, if you've been grabbed you have a generous window to tap your own Grapple button and get out of it like a Throw Tech in other games (in fact, this was the first Capcom game with proper throw escapes) so expect to see close moments where you're both in and out of grab states! Despite its simplicity, you have quite a few options while you're doing this and on the receiving end- get some raw damage with normal or super grapples or give yourself some breathing space with an Irish whip they have to mash out of and get a knockdown soon after, or if you're grabbed try and tech out or make a safe landing with precise timing- and this makes it a versatile tool that's easy to get to grips with but satisfying to use, and it's probably the most distinct and interesting mechanic to be found here.

It's probably worth mentioning the super grapples in more detail as elements like these were just starting to become a more prominent mechanic in fighting games at this point, so the implementation here is a little different, plus it intersects with some of the other mechanics to make things unique. The difference here is that there is no super bar to build up or extra requirements like low health for these moves, you can just do your super motion when in a clinch whenever you like and as often as you like. On the one hand, it's perhaps easy to say that having no requirements for these grapples renders the normal throws less useful, but the balance is those other throws come out much quicker with only a single button press- going for the super leaves you open to dropping it (just getting a normal throw) or being teched out. Additionally, you'll want to wait to use these supers for when you've entered Rage, one of the few mechanics transplanted directly from the first game- take enough of a beating and your wrestler will heat up and turn red which boosts one of their special moves and make every attack do more damage. Combine this with a taunt to please the crowd which makes your next attack more powerful and boosting your super grapple by holding the Grapple button down when performing it and you can get 50% damage easy, welcome to Metro City... Assuming you can land it, and assuming your opponent doesn't deck you while you taunt which results in an instant dizzy. Any fighter that incorporates taunts into actual gameplay has already curried my favour, honestly. It takes a little while to get used to the idea of always having a super available but given the risks you can pile on top of it for a bigger payout, it works out pretty well and can help you back from the brink of defeat or just drive you closer to it. Overall, the grapple system is a useful tool that fits the theme but that doesn't mean it's your only tool- combos do play an important part too, as most normals can be cancelled into specials and while not as free-flowing as later Capcom fighters, they serve a purpose too.

There's also quite a few other wrestling elements in the game which give the game a bit of flavour. In particular, the ropes are incorporated into fights, albeit a lot looser than the first game- you can run into them to spring yourself off them (this gives you a few precious moments of invincibility in the corner) and continue running towards your opponent. This is where running comes into play too, as while most Capcom fighters would (eventually) embrace single-step dashes, Ring of Destruction sticks with the running of the first game to allow for rope-based shenanigans, cancelling normals into running for extra movement options and even let you run off-screen, use dash attacks like a clothesline and perform a different type of jump! The mat also plays a part of sorts as there's a few different types of knockdown including one where the character dramatically bounces off the mat, allowing the other player to run over to the other side before they get up (you can also tech out of throws for an invincible air state after hitting the mat but the timing is very tight). However, while it has its own little quirks such as run-cancelling and the like, the rest of the fighting is more in line with the genre at the time than wrestling, emphasised by many of the new moves given to fighters- plenty of projectiles have been added as well as anti-air attacks and even wild stuff like The Scorpion's Akuma-esque teleport. On that note, you might think, with the entire cast being grapplers, that they all feel too similar to one another, and while there's less variety between them here than in something like Waku Waku 7, especially in terms of super moves, they all have their own personality and mostly-distinct set of moves- in particular I'm a fan of El Stingray bouncing off the ropes to zip around the ring, Rip Saber's variety of weapons and explosives and Haggar's more straightforward style (all he's missing is the pipe).

What's the end result, then? I think while Ring of Destruction doesn't stray too far from genre norms to the extent of something like Pocket Fighter, it incorporates enough wrestling elements to retain that kind of feel to it, and honestly the grappling system is really fun to engage with. Just the fact that there's no real mashing involved with it- the closest you get to mashing is when you're dizzied or you've been Irish whipped, there's none of that in the grappling like other wrestling games- makes it feel a lot more solid and tangible than proper wrestling games, and that's something I definitely prefer. One of the more surprising things about the game is the fact it's fast. Not Super Turbo or Vampire Savior fast but significantly faster than you'd expect a wrestling-themed fighter to be, with relatively speedy rounds and running meaning you can zip around the arena. Performing some special moves is also quicker than other games of the time with some only requiring two buttons to be pressed at once (naturally, Haggar's Spinning Lariat lives here) and any moves with what look like charge motions, such as down-up Kick for The Scorpion's anti-air, won't actually work if you charge them, you have to press the two directions quickly from neutral- the 'charge time' is even shorter than Fighter's History Dynamite! If you know me, you know I like fighting games that go at a quick pace and for the time this is pretty darn fast, so add in the grappling system that works really well and you have a fighter that appeals to me a lot, and it's one I've returned to a lot for long versus play sessions since discovering it. It helps that there's advanced tech in here for sure but it also feels easy to get back into after not playing for a while, especially the grappling system, which is something I appreciate in a fighter.

The final element is the presentation and it's got a lot going for it in this regard, albeit with some things missing from the first game. To start with what's gone, the ring entrances from Saturday Night Slam Masters don't return, although the individual character themes that would play do show up for their victory screens. It's a shame as they replicated the feel of wrestling ring entrances pretty well and made some of the references to real-life wrestlers more apparent, but they also slowed things down a little and I assume they were cut to get to the action faster. A sacrifice of aesthetics for expedience, I suppose. Still, what's here is still great as while the character sprites (mostly reused from the first game, mind) are fairly small, there's a lot of detail in them and some suitably flashy moves and actions (especially the taunts), with personalities and attitudes befitting a wrestling game. Some of my favourite designs here are Titanic Tim who'e Just a Big Guy, Victor Ortega who shows confidence and pride in just about every action, Black Widow with her wild movements and my absolute favourite, The Scorpion, who doesn't even need to show his face to let aggressive and menacing attitude just exude off him, he's so cool! The backgrounds are also really vibrant and eye-catching, capturing the feel of a flashy, over-the-top wrestling performance with an active crowd and even neat touches like chain-ropes in the BWA arenas. Finaly, my favourite little touch is the special moves being accompanied by comic book-style onomatopaeia such as CRONK and DOOM which sells them very well, especially when combined with a powered-up super grapple, with SUPER flashing on-screen and, if it's a KO, ending with the opponent embedded in the ring!

To quickly mention the sound design, a lot of the wrestling sound effects were actually recorded at a wrestling dojo and of course sound plenty authentic, but the soundtrack finds itself- composed by members of Capcom's in-house band Alfa Lyla in a similar position to Super Street Fighter II- it mostly takes the excellent music from the first game, which really enhanced the '80s wrestling atmosphere, and upgrades it to CPS-II standard. It's not as drastic as the change from SFII to SSFII simply because the first game used the Dash sound hardware rather than standard CPS-I, but there's definitely a case to made for one being better than the other (I prefer CPS-I SFII, for instance). I'm personally fine with either in this case- some personal standouts on this soundtrack include Los Angeles, London and Theme of Haggar- and while it's a shame you still only get a snippet of the character themes (they now play during the win pose and carry on to the victory screens) it's nice that they included them in the first place, almost like an extension of the character-specific victory themes from games like Darkstalkers and later Marvel Super Heroes. It's not quite as flashy in terms of presentation as something like Darkstalkers but I think it fits its theme and vibe very well.

Before we wrap up, part of the reason I wanted to write about Ring of Destruction is that compared to many other Capcom fighters, even the less well-known ones like Cyberbots, it doesn't seem to get quite the attention it probably deserves. There's two factors that I think contribute to this. First, there was absolutely no home port or even much distribution in arcades, as the only currently-dumped revisions don't include an American one, only Japan, Asia and Europe and it's generally assumed that there was no official US release which is very surprising. Naturally, you can't really generate buzz around a game if a big chunk of the world hasn't played the damn thing, but fortunately this is far less of a problem nowadays with emulation and applications like Fightcade making online play a breeze, and in recent years the game's developed more of a following which is nice to see. The other thing is that, well, it's not a 'real' Slam Masters sequel. I've seen other people (read: retro video game YouTubers) dismiss the game completely because it's not a wrestling game and is just a 'Street Fighter II clone' as they put it which, I should hope I've shown isn't necessarily the case. Obviously, I'm coming at this from a very different perspective- I'm not a wrestling person, I'm a fighting person which is why every other wrestling game article on this site has been written by other people- but personally, while I can understand why someone would come to that conclusion, I feel it's pretty unfair to dismiss the game as just another iteration of Street Fighter II. It takes its own approach and while it might not be what wrestling fans want, it absolutely does its own thing quite well.

To finish up, if you've never given this game a chance or even heard of it before now which isn't unusual- I only found out about it via emulation, and again, no home ports or rereleases to date- and you've got even a passing interest in fighting games, then Ring of Destruction is a great little fighter with a grappling system that works very well with the other mechanics in the game to deliver massive damage if you can get the payoff, pretty great and flashy presentation and a roster that fits the bill for a wrestling-themed game very well. If you're more interested in wrestling games, then perhaps it isn't for you, but it does incorporate just enough wrestling elements to give the game a little spice but not overtake the fighting game part of it. It's such a shame that the game's never been given another chance outside of emulation because I definitely think people would get into it, but thankfully there is an audience for the game out there if you look for it. It won't dethrone Vampire Savior as my favourite Capcom fighting game of course, but Ring of Destruction does a really good job overall, especially considering it's part of such an experimental era of Capcom fighting games. Give it a try and get into the ring!

For delivering a fairly stacked card, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II is awarded...

In a sentence, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II is...
A very solid entry into the squared circle.

And now, it's that time, folks!

As a reminder, here's some resources for you to learn about this game.

First there's Goh_Billy's GameFAQs guide which gives you the basics.

For more, there's a community Google Doc with lots of info and the Mizuumi Wiki for more resources.

Have fun in the ring, everyone!

Right, I think there's only one place to start here- what's the deal with Tetsuo Hara's involvement?

This point seems to cause a lot of confusion on the internet as to how involved Tetsuo Hara was in these games, only compounded by the fact that it's extremely rare for any Muscle Bomber characters to make cameos in other Capcom games, even crossover titles where you'd think they'd show up. So, to the best of my limited ability, here's what we have on this subject, and we'll have to look at both games even though this article is mostly about Ring of Destruction. For Saturday Night Slam Masters, it seems Hara mostly did promotional artwork, seen on the flyer and other promotional materials and not, crucially, in-game art for the arcade release. The character portraits seen in the game itself were done by Capcom's in-house staff and Hara doesn't appear in the credits, but his artwork was used for the Victor Ortega intro and the character portrait art in the SNES and Mega Drive ports instead, and so on boot-up of these versions you see a notice, "Illustrations partly by Shueisha Inc. and Mr. Tetsuo Hara", Shueisha Inc being the publishing company behind Weekly Shōnen Jump where Hara and Buronson's Fist of the North Star was published. Even so, Tetsuo Hara and his company Coamix are given a copyright mention in the rerelease for Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, probably because his artwork is present in some of the wallpapers and promotional material.

What's less clear is whether he specifically designed the characters in the game. Some places (mostly copying directly from Wikipedia, great, super-useful, thanks) outright say he designed them with no source or anything else. The only place I've seen mention who designed these characters is HG101, stating that Eri Nakamura, Takashi Hayashi and Yusuke Yamamoto designed the characters, a claim which doesn't have any sources so that's not especially helpful. Fortunately these staff members are in the credits at least according to MobyGames after deducing who uses what pseudonym, all under Assist for what that's worth, and remember, Tetsuo Hara isn't in the credits and his art only appeared in the home ports. Additionally, VGDensetsu's excellent article on Capcom fighting game characters has Gunloc, Biff and The Scorpion listed but has no character designer listed, just their artists (Gunloc's sprites were the first work of legendary Capcom artist Kinu Nishimura!) so there's no clues there. Now, that V-Jump interview from earlier does say "I’m doing my best to give each wrestler a character design full of charm". I'm not really sure what to make of this, considering that there's art of the characters on the page this interview appears, with The Scorpion and Biff using artwork that would later appear in-game for their versus screen portraits. So, alright, you got me, I kinda just threw my hands up in the air and said, "I don't know!" at this one. Maybe he was just referring to the artwork he was going to do for the flyer? I'd need more information to get to the bottom of this one, sorry.

Now, what about Ring of Destruction? There's no staff roll this time but Hara is credited front-and-centre with Character Design and Illustration in the attract mode, plus his character portrait art is used in-game and both his name and Shueisha Inc. appear on the title screen. As pointed out by LandOfObscusion, both names also appear on the Super Muscle Bomber flyer next to the Capcom copyright notice- Hara's name is on the original Muscle Bomber flyer too but there it specifically says "Illustration: Tetsuo Hara" rather than as part of the copyright. That's a bit of a change, isn't it, what's the deal? Well... We actually have a first-hand account on this. Released on October 21st 1994, the Super Muscle Bomber Arcade Gametrack album came with a booklet that contained a tracklist, the game's story, character profiles, the sheet music for Gunloc's theme... And a developer diary. None of which has been scanned by the rest of the internet so, fine, I'll do it myself. We'll go over what else is in this diary in just a moment, but the relevant entries for us are from March 1993 and April 1993 that say something to the effect of, "four new characters are to be added to this game, so we've contacted Tetsuo Hara to design them", with the follow-up remarking that the designs were finished the next month. that Victor Ortega was redesigned by him too and that the team were surprised by the design for Black Widow. Here's the March 1993 entry and here's the April 1993 entry for your perusal. The fact that the team expresses surprise at one of the designs and that his name is in bright lights in the attract mode sequence gives me a little less room to interpret or speculate like with the V-Jump interview- Tetsuo Hara most likely designed the four new challengers for Ring of Destruction.

That said, please don't consider my thoughts the final word on the matter. There's almost certainly some things I've missed, some pieces of the puzzle yet to be found, especially with regards to the first game. So, if you have any concrete information (preferably with sources rather than "Some dude on the internet said it"), please email me at themetalslug at gmail dot com and perhaps, together, we can solve this mystery once and for all, and start sending letters to Capcom to rerelease this game! Although that's under the assumption you're not doing that already.

Speaking of that soundtrack... Let's share the scans and some more details. Click the images below to embiggen them and make them super-muscular.

It's a nice little booklet, starting with the track list, showing the sheet music for Gunloc's theme, describing the story in more detail, brief character profiles, then the big thing, a developer diary. Starting in February 1993 and ending in May 1994, this diary kept by an unnamed and unidentified member of staff goes through the game's development from inception (several months before the release of the first game) to development completion, with a gap between April and May as the developer was pulled off the project to work on something else. It's an absolutely fascinating bit of insight into the making of a game when Capcom was absolutely killing it in the fighting game field, so finding this was an absolute joy. Now, I'm not super-confident in any of these translations- I'm a bumbling idiot relying on Google Translate and my own intuition while hoping for the best- so I'm taking a careful approach here, only really making note of the more impactful parts of the story, sadly leaving some stuff out but I don't want to inadvertently spread misinformation. Still, that's what the scans are provided for! Please enjoy a very brief look at the development diary for Super Muscle Bomber / Ring of Destruction:

February 1993
As development is wrapping up on a certain game, the developer is asked to think about creating a sequel to Muscle Bomber under the provisional title Muscle Bomber Dash. They're worried as the first game hasn't been released yet, making it difficult to understand what people did and didn't like about it

March 1993
After spending some time to think about it, the decision is made to change the game from a four-way movement wrestling game to a more standard one-on-one fighting game. At this point, four new characters are to be added and so Tetsuo Hara is contacted to design them, and a development team is formed.

April 1993
The colour designs for the new characters are finished, with Black Widow's design being particularly surprising. However, at this point the person writing this diary is pulled from Muscle Bomber Dash to work on a different project at Capcom, not returning to the game until May 1993.

September 1993
The game is at the point where characters are moving around on-screen and it already has a different feel from the first game. However, the name becomes a problem- a different team is working on a four-player version of the first game, Muscle Bomber Duo, and due to the similarity it's decided that Muscle Bomber Dash will not work as a name. The game is renamed Super Muscle Bomber.

December 1993
The game receives its first location test which has its difficulties- the staff had to ride around in the back of a truck with a cabinet and bang on the back of the driver's seat to take a toilet break courtesy of a fire station on the way there. Some adjustments need to be made to the game but the developer is overall happy with the reception the game receives.

April 1994
The game receives its second location test which is less stressful than the first one.

May 1994
The game's development concludes.

That funny story about the first location test aside, I think the most eye-opening thing here is that the game was conceived several months before the first game was released- the date given for Muscle Bomber by its boot-up sequence is July 13th 1993, almost half a year after the inception of what was originally called Muscle Bomber Dash. Now, that does give credence to the idea that the wrestling style of gameplay was abandoned perhaps a little hastily to put out more traditional fighting games while they were hot which isn't entirely unheard of, if not necessarily for the same reasons- several SNK projects including Samurai Shodown began life as scrolling brawlers before being completely reworked into one-on-one fighters... Still, I think the fighting game format works in the game's favour so I can't get too cut up about it. I guess I'm a little biased, but that's OK, right?

With all that stuff out of the way... A quick look at some regional differences.

Aside from the title and character name changes, the biggest differences can be found on the victory screen after each match.

The losing portraits all have Japanese sound effects and speech bubbles that were scrubbed away for the English version.

Roll your mouse over to see what stuff they removed!

More surprising though... The win quotes are all voiced! Some are pretty long too! That's probably why every character only gets one.

Additionally, there's a big change in the attract mode. In the Japanese version, every wrestler gets a profile screen, one per demo loop, shown below:

These are completely removed from the English version.

In their place is a rudimentary How to Play screen, probably just to inform players this doesn't work like the previous game.

This is more related to the first game, but we may as well- the series got a brief manga adaptation.

Posted about here in French and shared by VGDensetsu, Shōnen Jump published Muscle Bomber Tokubetsu-Hen in 1994, with art by Tōichirō Yanagida, a former assistant of Hara.

The tweet by VGDensetsu and the original blog post has a link to the original untranslated manga, so go check it out if you're curious!

Finally, references in other Capcom games. This'll cover the entire series just to make things easy, there's not a lot here.

Final Fight 3 from 1995 is first on our list as while Haggar gets a '90s redesign, he brings a few moves from his Slam Masters days.

From the first game, he gets his gorilla press as a standard throw, his pursuit attack as his Down + Attack jump attack and clothesline as his dash attack.

He also gets his Violent Ax from Ring of Destruction as a special command attack, performed exactly as you do in RoD.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 from 1996 famously has a bunch of Capcom character cameos in Ken's stage, and this includes two Slam Masters characters.

On the left of the stage, between Morrigan and Eliza, you can see Ortega (wearing his championship belt) and Biff enjoying a quiet drink.

As mentioned on the Crossover Wiki, page 302 of All About Street Fighter Zero 2 lists all these cameos to confirm it's them.

Moving on, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact from 1997 has multiple endings for Hugo that involve the CWA Tag Team Championship, depending on who his final opponent is.

If you fight Elena at the end, he teams up with her to fight the Slam Masters team of Black Widow and Mike Haggar.

Anyone else (Necro, Gill or Ryu) and he teams up with them to fight the Hyper Cannons team of Biff and Gunloc, their team name in Muscle Bomber Duo.

Remember Haggar's Violent Ax? It shows up again as part of his moveset in 2011's Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and 2017's Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

2016's Street Fighter V's Ring of Arcade- a stage added for the 2022 Capcom Pro Tour- has a hidden Ring of Destruction easter egg.

As seen in this video, use Alex, Zangief or Birdie's Critical Art here and you see the DOOM, KA-BOOM and SLAM effects from RoD!

Also, if you KO your opponent with them (on any stage) they'll be stuck in the ground just like a KO with a super grapple in the original game.

Speaking of Street Fighter V, there's some scattered text-only references to the series in the Shadaloo CRI character profiles.

Meteorito Jr.'s profile mentions he was the tutor of El Stingray and also El Fuerte from Street Fighter IV.

Yoko Harmageddon's profile (she's R. Mika's trainer) mentions she hurt her neck and back in a match with Black Widow six years ago...

But only on the Japanese-language version of the page- this reference is missing from the English version.

Of course, I had to sneak this win pose onto this page somehow.

Poor Gunloc.

He's fine, he'll walk it off.