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The setting takes place in New York City back in 1989, following martial artists Mike and Jackie, who heard an evil gang lead by the antagonist, Jaguar, are terrorizing the city. Jaguar also kidnapped a young woman name Cynthia. Players must help Mike and Jackie by struggling through parts of New York City (including Chinatown, Manhattan) defeating Jaguar's gang to return peace to New York City, and defeat Jaguar to save Cynthia.
Gang Wars resembles Technōs Japan's 1987 beat 'em up arcade hit, Double Dragon. Up to two players control two different characters with different fighting styles. Gang Wars has a control configuration that is composed of two attack buttons (punch and kick), as well a jump button to fight against enemies or overcome obstacles. Players have access to a repertoire of techniques by pushing these buttons individually or in combination. Unlike Double Dragon, Gang Wars has fire arms (much like SNK's P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, except Gang Wars has more than one kind of fire arm), has a small amount of blood, has cut scenes, has two completely different playable characters and has a feature for customizing three statistics (Power, Speed and Guard) for both players.