Battle Arena Toshinden
|Battle Arena Toshinden|
| North American cover with Eiji and Mondo engaging in battle.
|Release date(s)||1994 (Japan)
September 1, 1995 (North America)
September 29, 1995 (Europe)
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Battle Arena Toshinden (バトルアリーナ闘神伝 Batoru Arīna Tōshinden ) is a weapons-based fighting game for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC in 1994. It was one of the first fighting games to boast polygonal characters in a 3D environment, and it is credited for taking the genre into "true 3-D" due to its introduction of the sidestep maneuver.
It was an early killer app for the PlayStation, and Sony promoted it eagerly. However, they soon left the series, which was published by Playmates Interactive. By that time, fighting games like Tekken started emerging and Battle Arena Toshinden quickly declined in popularity. However it did spawn Battle Arena Toshinden 2, 3, and 4, along with many spin-offs and ports. Battle Arena Toshinden was the first 3D weapons fighter, and was succeeded in spirit by Soul Edge and other games of the genre.
Eight traveling fighters, brought together by a common destiny, now meet at the Battle Arena Toshinden: a fighting tournament hosted by a mysterious organization known only as the "Secret Society".
Many years have passed since this tournament, known only to those in the underworld, was last held.
Some fighters have come for personal glory. Others have come to fight for those they love, but all will do their best to be victorious in this tournament which will decide their fortunes.
Each character has his or her own unique set of basic moves, special attacks, and a desperation attack that can only be used when the player has low energy (around 10% or less). The player is able to move in 3D around the 3D arenas using the L/R shoulder buttons, which can be used to dodge projectile attacks, or get away from a dangerous spot.
Players move using the directional pad. Holding the backwards directional button allows the player to block basic attacks and reduces most of the damage from opponents' special moves. Players can also run by quickly tapping the forward directional button.
Initially playable characters 
- Eiji Shinjo - The main protagonist of the series. A young Japanese traveling swordsman who seeks to find his long lost older brother, Sho.
- Kayin Amoh - A Scottish (later retconned as English) swordsman/bounty hunter who happens to be a friend and rival of Eiji. He seeks to avenge the death of his foster father, who was killed by the previous tournament's champion from last year.
- Sofia - A blonde Russian woman who works as a private detective. She seeks to find her lost memory.
- Rungo Iron - A strong yet kind-hearted miner who seeks to rescue his wife Lila and his son Christopher from the Secret Society.
- Fo Fai - An elderly Chinese magician who doubles as a cold-hearted killer.
- Mondo - An emotionless ninja warrior who infiltrates the tournament under orders from a rival group of the Secret Society.
- Duke B. Rambert - A chivalrous French knight who seeks to find and defeat Eiji in order to avenge a past loss against him.
- Ellis - A cheerful orphaned dancer of a traveling theater troupe who seeks to discover on whether or not her father is still alive.
Unlockable characters 
- Gaia - The sponsor of the tournament and "final" boss of the game. His reasons for holding the tournament in the first place is shrouded in mystery. He is later revealed to be the father of Ellis.
- Sho Shinjo - The secret and true final boss of the game. The champion from last year's previous tournament and Eiji's older brother, he is a merciless swordsman who holds nothing back from within the fights that he participates in.
- Cupido (Sega Saturn version) - A mysterious woman who speaks with cryptic riddles and messages. Her past is shrouded in mystery and not much is known about her.
- Uranus (Game Boy version)
- Earthworm Jim (PC version) - A guest character who happens to be the main protagonist from his own self-named series. His attacks are identical to Rungo Iron's.
Battle Arena Toshinden was critically acclaimed when released, and holds an average GameRankings score of 85%. Electric Playground gave the game a perfect score of 10 out of 10 in 1995. On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the PlayStation version of the game a 30 out of 40, giving it first a 9 out of 10 and later a 10 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review. Battle Arena Toshinden was awarded Best Fighting Game of 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. However, during their 200th issue leadup in 2005, they ranked Battle Arena Toshinden as their single most overrated game. They explained that it "was 3D, it was flashy--Battle Arena Toshinden was exciting and new. But later Namco showed us what really could be done with 3D fighting on the PlayStation (Tekken, Soul Blade). ... But is it actually good? Oh God, no."
IGN gave the game a score of 7 out of 10 in 1996, by which time it was seen as slow and "not as impressive" as the more recent Tekken 2, though they praised Toshinden for important innovations to the fighting game genre, such as taking "the fighter into true 3-D" and "one little move" that "changed the fighter forever. Behold: the sidestep!" Battle Arena Toshinden was reviewed in 1995 in Dragon #221 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Jay did not rate the game, but Dee gave the game 3 out of 5 stars.
Other versions 
Battle Arena Toshinden was also ported to a few other systems:
Toshinden Remix (Sega Saturn) 
The original PlayStation version was ported by Nextech/Sega to the Sega Saturn under the name Toh Shin Den S in Japan and Battle Arena Toshinden Remix in the United States and Europe. A few new features were added, including an exclusive new character named Cupido and a story mode which enables the player to learn a few details about the characters' story backgrounds and the reasons of why they had entered into the tournament.
Toshinden PC (PC) 
Developed by Digital Dialect, this is a DOS port of the PlayStation version that adds an exclusive new character, Earthworm Jim, complete with his own unique arena music, but he only uses the moves of Rungo Iron. It also supports resolutions up to 640x480.
Interestingly, the PC port uses the Japanese PlayStation version's voices and music in all regions, unlike the original PlayStation version. There also exists a German specific version of the game, though the differences it has to the non-German version are unknown.
Toshinden Game Boy (Game Boy) 
The first game was also ported to the Super Game Boy and was produced by Takara, titled Nettou Toshinden in Japan.The game was available for the Game Boy in 1996. The game is based mostly on the original PlayStation version, but it includes a slightly altered story mode and an early appearance of the character Uranus and the Battle Arena Toshinden 2 version of Gaia (without his armor).
Toshinden (Wii) 
A new Tōshinden (闘真伝) game was unveiled in Weekly Famitsu in 2008.  It was developed by DreamFactory for the Wii and as of this post has no connection to the previous games storywise. It is known as War Budokai, roughly translated as War Tournament. While the past Toshinden installments have featured mainly weapons-based combat, War Budokai will feature hand-to-hand combat alongside the weapons-based battles. A total of 8 characters have been unveiled in official illustrations. The game was released in Japan on December 10, 2009.
- "Battle Arena Toshinden takes the fighter into true 3-D, but is it enough?". IGN. November 21 1996. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Battle Arena Toshinden". GameRankings. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- PLAYSTATION CROSS REVIEW: 闘神伝. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.333. Pg.22. 5 May 1995.
- おオススメ!! ソフト カタログ!!: 闘神伝. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.335. Pg.116. 12-19 May 1995.
- 読者クロスレビュー - 闘神伝. Weekly Famitsu. No.323. Pg.39. 24 February 1995.
- 読者 クロスレビュー: 闘神伝. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.336. Pg.31. 26 May 1995.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide. 1996.
- "10 Most Overrated Games". Electronic Gaming Monthly (200). 2005-04-04. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Jay & Dee (September 1995). "Eye of the Monitor". Dragon (221): 115–118.
- Spencer (June 26, 2009). "Ehrgeiz Developers Working On Toshinden Revival". Siliconera.com. Retrieved 2009-06-28.