Ankoku Bujutsukai is based on the manga Yū Yū Hakusho, which tells the story of a young delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi who dies and becomes reincarnated as a reward for a good deed he committed, further serving as an "underworld detective" and solving demon-related mysteries. This adaptation of the manga follows the "Dark Tournament" story arc, where members of Yusuke's team confront the powerful demon Toguro.
Despite its premise, which is reminiscent of a versus fighting game, Ankoku Bujutsukai is an arcade-style shooter. The player selects one of the five characters (Yusuke, Hiei, Kurama, Kuwabara or Genkai), and is then taken to a series of one-on-one shoot-outs in a pre-determined order. The enemy is viewed from a first-person perspective, and the player moves a cursor to aim and shoot. The gameplay system is fairly simple, allowing the player to execute three types of attacks: regular shots, charged shots, and special attacks of limited quantity. Points are received for winning fights and can be used to raise the characters' hit points, speed, or number of special moves.