Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review #365: Battle Arena Toshinden 3

 Clunky, wonky, stuffy, stiff... and somehow still fun!
 Enter Toshinden, one of Playstation's first original fighting game series as well as one of the first weapon based 3D fighters. Battle Arena Toshinden 3 is the culmination of Eiji's story, featuring the most characters, stages and mechanics yet!

 The game offers the usual suspects when it comes to modes: Arcade, VS CPU, VS Player, Survival and Practice, which is fair for its era. The Arcade ladder is a bit long, consisting of over 16 battles! At the start of the game you can pick any of 14 fighters, but as you play you will unlock more for a total of 32 characters! To be fair, most of the remaining 16 fighters are clones of the main cast, so they are not wholly original, and a few of these characters look like generic no-personality throw-away designs, like Leon or Tau. Still, there's a ton of characters, and unlocking everyone is sure to take you a while.
 Battling is done with the four face buttons, Square and Triangle are used for weak and strong slashes, while X and triangle do weak and strong kicks. Double tapping up or down, or using L1 and L2, will let you roll into the background, a feature which I found useless most of the time, as block, by holding back on the D-pad, works just fine. As a 3D fighter, combos in this game are performed by juggling your opponent using both attack strings as well as command special moves. I felt like the controls were a bit unresponsive when trying to pull off moves, and it doesn't help that characters feel very stiff when they move, but regardless, it was kinda fun, the game's engine allows for some pretty spiffy combos.

 Above your health bar lies a a small gauge, when filled, by dealing and taking damage, it will begin to blink as it runs out. While it lasts you can pull off Super and Desperation moves. Lastly, you get to 'Soul Bombs' per fight, which act as super moves of sorts by pressing weak slash and weak kick at the same time. Simple and uncomplicated.
 Character models look fine, although, and I can't believe I'm saying this, I think some designs are a bit too colorful. Animations are rather stiff and lack finesse, but you can get used to them. Curiously, you can run the game at either 30 or 60 FPS by going into the Options menu. Playing in 60 FPS will turn the backgrounds into untextured globs of paint... but I can deal with that if it means 60 FPS, that's the way I played the entire game!

 If I were to sum up the game it would calling it a mixed bag. Animations and attacks look stiff and lame, but there're also a few very crunchy, satisfying moves as well. Some character designs look really cool, but others are pathetically generic. You could certainly do much better than Battle Arena Toshinden 3, but you could also do much worse.
 6.0 out of 10

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