Very nice Neo*Geo port, the sprites and backgrounds are surprisingly lush and seem to burst with color and animation. Aside from the 12 second loads between matches, it looks and feels like a good 2D arcade game. Control is tight and the hitting effects meaty, with a generous amount of blood for nasty hits. The AI will often go easy until you take a round, then it gets tougher, and when on the verge of defeat frequently goes berzerk--Terry is a real terror when cornered. Oy!
You've got Arcade, Vs. and Survival modes here as well as an Option mode that shows you six combos for each character, a very nice touch. Backgrounds last for three fights but change time of day between fights; they're also just well designed and fun to look at, really making you feel like you're in Southtown with cheering fans, moving subways, and many more lifelike details.
All would be swell here, particularly when you get to play some of the old classic yet neglected characters such as Franco Bash ("Ohhh my Goddddd!") and Duck King, if it weren't for that darn "sway line" system or whatever they want to call it where characters move in multiple planes of depth. This particular Real Bout has three planes: the main plane and then fore and back planes, where you can't really fight but can attack back to the main plane. Bluh. Fortunately while on the main plane you can tap the plane shift button to strike at an outer-plane opponent and this attack seems to take priority over whatever they try to pull. Less fortunately, certain attacks will sometimes knock you off the main plane, which throws me off completely. Damn you, sway line system! URRRRGH.
You also can't put the normal four attack buttons on the shoulder buttons, which means you can't set up an arcade stick like an MVS with the four buttons on a row. Booo. But to end on an up note, there's an interesting feature here where the edges of each stage have barriers, and if you bash someone against them long enough the barrier breaks and the victim flies out, losing the round in remarkably dramatic fashion.
You can't map the shoulder buttons because they're set up for mapping whole special moves on a per character basis. : o This port did things differently, like adding a Survival mode, and, buried in the Options menu, a "The Master Art" combo video mode, showing six combos of increasing difficulty per character--along with some great Shinkiro character art: