Well, perhaps its a little difficult to understand everything said by some of the characters in Battle Arena Toshinden, but you’ll have endless fun with the bad accents and odd sound bites. This quote comes from the character “Kayin Amoh” who is supposed to be Scottish, and yells about donuts whenever he throws a fireball at his opponents. By looking in the book I discovered that this move is actually the “Sonic Slash”. Kayin also has moves called the “Leg Crush”, and “Deadly Rays” (which sounds like “Deadly Rain”). As of this writing, I have been too fearful to try the move known as the “Scottish Moon”.
Rude Scots aside, Battle Arena Toshinden is an excellent fighting game with a fairly wide range of characters and weapons. These characters have gathered from around the world to fight in the ‘ultimate martial arts tournament’. If the plot sounds familiar, then you’ve probably played fighting games before, or at least you’ve seen any Jean-Claude VanDamme movie.
The other characters include Eiji, the ‘protagonist’ who is searching for his brother Sho (pssst… he’s at the end of the game). Sofia is ‘formerly a Russian secret agent’, but she is really just an excuse to include a leather-clad dominatrix with a whip. Rungo is a muscle-bound thug with a giant stone club. Fo is a kindly old man who will tear your legs off with his iron claws. Mondo is a Japanese warrior with a long spear. Duke is a Frenchman armed with a looooong sword and the most outrageous accent since Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Finally, Ellis is a surprisingly deadly little girl with a pair of daggers.
The fighters are all polygonal figures, rendered in real time with varying degrees of success. Duke’s armor looks great, and Fo’s brightly colored costume and smooth moves are wonderful to watch. The animators didn’t seem to know what to do with Sofia’s ample cleavage, however, and the result looks silly, not sexy. All told, the PlayStation graphics are just a little better than both the Saturn version and the PC version.
While this game doesn’t have the vast array of characters that Tekken or MK3 there is surprising depth to each one. Aside from all the regular moves and blocks, all the fighters have special attacks and a desperation move that can only be performed while your life bar is flashing red. Every character also has a ‘super-move’ that requires some very difficult movement combinations.
There are two bosses Gaia and Sho at the end of the single player game and it will take some practice to defeat them. But this game is more fun when played with your friends. The characters are well balanced and the 3D freedom of motion and variety of weapons and moves allow for long skill curves.
Although Battle Arena Toshinden doesn’t have anything that we haven’t seen before in a polygonal fighting game, is a very good example of the genre. If you are a fan of VS fighting games, or if you have a few friends you’ve been dying to beat up, this game should keep all of you entertained for a long time.