The Rage Gauge, also known as “POW bar”, and called Anger Gauge (怒りゲージ - Ikari gēji) in Japan, is a core element and prominent part of the battle system in the Samurai Shodown series of fighting games.
Featured since the original Samurai Shodown game and present in every single sequel, besides of Art of Fighting’s spirit bar, the Rage Gauge is pioneer as one of the first gauges/bars in the fighting genre history that offers advantages and benefits to the players beyond combos or special moves. So that way, every battle can have more variants and the gameplay experience can be more complete, competitive, and enjoyable.
When a match begins, the player can see a bar in his down corner side of the screen (left for player one, right for player two). That bar (officially referred as gauge) is empty and shows the letters “POW” (in Japanese versions shows the kanji Ika 怒 – lit. anger). This is the Rage Gauge.
Each time the player’s character takes damage from an opponent attack, the Rage Gauge receives an amount of energy and starts to fill up, where said amount is determined for the opponent’s attack level (with a weak attack the gauge receives low energy, with medium attacks the energy gain is moderate, while strong attacks provide a high amount of energy for the gauge).
When the gauge its completely filled (it is said to be at maximum or MAX), the character’s skin turns red, the gauge now shows an animation with red tones, and the “POW”/ 怒 icon is bigger with a spark or flare background animation. In each Samurai Shodown game, all this indicates to the player that, during this state, his character is awarded with more power, inflicting damage above normal. After certain time passes, or if the player performs a super special move, the gauge returns to its original state.
In the first three games of the series, this state is known as Rage Explosion or Anger Mode in Japan (怒りモード - Ikari Mōdo), but later it was modified to make it a new game system.
Each Samurai Shodown game has brought minor changes to take advantage of Rage Gauge. In Samurai Shodown II, only during Rage Explosion the player can do Weapon-Breaking Super Special moves. For Samurai Shodown III, besides executes Knocking-on-the-Sword Super Special moves during Rage Explosion, the player can fill manually the Rage Gauge with the Rage Build command, same as King of Fighters’ traditional EXTRA mode. From Samurai Shodown IV onwards, the Rage Gauge has remained unchanged, because SNK focused more on other aspects like the revamped Rage Explosion, or Concentration One.
This gallaery shows how looks the Rage Gauge in each game.