The world as we know it in this one is a complete Crapsack World, Europe is in a permanent dark age as petty warlords bide for power through war and oppression, Arabia under the cruel grasp of the Assassin's Guild and the Far East is about to witness the destruction brought upon Europe and Arabia. And God is seemingly unable to save the world from suffering or cleanse the world and start over.
The reason the world is such as terrible place is due to seven men known as the Covenant of Seven who made a Deal with the Devil who has the Mace of Tanis. At the cost of their sanity they are given near eternal life and the power of a demon and in exchange is expected to do evil thing in his name. The recent chain of events made Asia the next target of the warlords who seek the powers.
Unfortunately however the warlords from the ravaged lands of Europe and Arabia want more power, dispatch their best warriors to kill Asmodeus and steal his power. Leaders from the East sense Asmodeus' plottings and strive to destroy him before it's too late. Heirs to kingdoms long since vanquished seek revenge on Asmodeus and those who wield the dark energy. They are the fiercest fighters on Earth, and they all have one thing in common: they each must possess the Mace.
Tropes of Mace: The Dark Age:
- A.I. Breaker: A minor version, based on the opponent. Al-Rashid and Ragnar both have attacks they like to use (a twirling attack for Al-Rashid, and a combo that involves rolling for Ragnar) that leave them open to a counterattack. Just guarding (though against Ragnar you have to duck as he starts to roll) and attacking as soon as they finish leaves them open for you to beat them up, and they'll never wise up to it.
- Almighty Janitor: Ned, a secret character in the home ports.
- Alternate History: According to the backstory, neither Christianity and Islam exist in this timeline, and as such, Europe and Arabia are highly balkanized and divided thanks to the Covenant of the Seven's actions.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Inverted in Taria's good ending. Her pursuit of magical knowledge sends her to Hell and turns her into a demon, though she doesn't mind and will probably end up running the place before long.
- Big Bad: Asmodeus is the final fight for every character, and responsible for filling Europe and Arabia with misery and despair.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The Covenant of Seven, Asmodeus' human agents who do evil deeds in his name to maintain their power. Of them, Lord Deimos and Sir Dregan are playable, while three others are mentioned in fluff: the Sultan of Shiraq, Duke Malanoche de Castillo, and the Khan.
- Bittersweet Ending: Takeshi's good ending, his goal was to restore his family's honor and save his brother but he could not save his brother and is forced to live it down. Even his bad ending has him at least vindicated by history when he commits seppuku rather than betray his homeland
- Camera Screw: Averted. Items turn transparent if they get in front of the camera.
- Combat Commentator: "Mordos Kull... WINS!"
- Crapsack World: Europe is beset by war and famine, Arabia is at the complete mercy of the assassins and Asia is next on the List.
- Crushing the Populace: The evil characters do exactly this if they win the game. This naturally causes a stagnation in technological development to the world. Several of the more benevolent character's bad ends reveal that it gets much worse without anyone to stop Asmodeus and the Covenant.
- Daddy's Little Villain: Taria is the daughter of a member of the Covenant of Seven.
- Devil, but No God: God is notably absent in humanity's darkest hour.
- Devour the Dragon: The bad end for anyone in the Covenant of Seven usually ends with this. The only exception is Lord Deimos, and he kills himself so he doesn't get mobbed by the oppressed populace.
- Downer Ending: Anyone who works for the Covenant of Seven such as Executioner, Deimos and Al Rashid will usher in a permanent age of hell to the world, except Dregan, who becomes The Atoner instead.
- Finishing Move: As with most western fighting games in it's time, every fighter can finish off the other in a brutal fashion.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Each character has a different epilogue if you get a Game Over in which you get to read in detail the rather gruesome outcome of his or her failure. Only featured in the Nintendo 64 port.
- Joke Character: The aforementioned Ned and a chicken called Pojo, who attacks by throwing her eggs at the opponent.
- Lethal Joke Character: Pojo is surprisingly effective against Asmodeus, as most of his moves go right over her.
- Karmic Death: The Executioner's bad ending has Asmodeus summon a Grand Inquisitor to teach the Executioner how one really tortures people. Now he is the only one that screams in his prision instead of everyone else.
- Lady of War: Taria. Namira, being the lost princess of Arabia, also qualifies.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Grendal is actually Taria's brother, who was given to Asmodeus by their father in order to trick him into believing he is Taria, who was prophesied to bring about his downfall.
- Mirror Match: Lampshaded through the pre-game banter.
- Ninja: Koyasha.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Dregan is a Revenant. He represents the Undead with his seat in the Covenant of Seven, and his bio credits him as creating the first vampires as well.
- Punny Name: The Executioner has an inescapable island base called El Katraz.
- Scenery Porn: The backgrounds range from bland to impressively detailed.
- SNK Boss: Asmodeus. Four arms with massive reach, blatantly reading the controller input, and one special move serves no purpose other than countering Ragnar's Shockwave Clap.
- Stripperiffic: Unsurprisingly, the female fighters' outfits, with Namira's being one of the first uses of transparency (her see-through dancer's outfit) on a character model.
- Villainous Crush: Lord Deimos has the hots for Taria. An interesting example since both characters are evil, but she's having none of it.
- Villain Protagonist: The Executioner, Lord Deimos, Al Rashid, Taria, Hell Knight and Ichiro.