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"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..."
Battle Arena Toshinden (simply titled Toshinden in Japan) is the first 3D fighting game franchise where every character toted a weapon of some sort. (The first series to do it in 2D was Samurai Shodown). It was considered a Killer App when it was released as a PlayStation launch title, and Sony promoted it heavily. However, as the years passed by, it got left in the dust, upstaged by other such 3D fighting game franchises as Tekken, the Soul series, and Virtua Fighter, who continued to innovate and refine their gameplay while Toshinden remained stagnant. Not quite as fondly remembered as it was back then, but still worth a look.
The story of Battle Arena Toshinden revolves around a secret fighting tournament known only as the Toshindaibukai and that those who are deemed worthy of participating in it are handed invites by a secret group known only as the Himitsu Kessha (Secret Society in the English translation). The first game in the series has eight participants competiting in the battle, each of them having their own reasons for heading into the tournament. The second game would be much like the first, except that two new challengers would enter into the fray and that the tournament itself would be nothing more than a mere ruse in order to lure out a specific target named Gaia, who happens to be a former member of the Himitsu Kessha, marked for immediate death after illegally holding the first tournament without the consent of the Himitsu Kessha and that he had tried to start a rebellion against the organization. The third game in the series would center around a new antagonist group known as the Soshiki (Organization in the English translation) and their leader, a power-hungry megalomaniac named Abel. In order to bring a destructive fighting god named Agon Teos into the world, Abel and his minions must gather the blood of the strongest warriors and targets the Toshinden fighters as their sacrifices. The fourth and final game in the original series would take place a few years after the events of Toshinden 3 and that it would center around a young man named Subaru Shinjo (the son of Sho Shinjo and Cupido), who sought to find his missing uncle Eiji while participating in a new Toshindaibukai tournament.
The series also has a 2D gameboy port, that against the tradition of many crappy fighting games gameboy ports, it's actually quite good and entertaining. It includes all the 8 playable characters from the first game and 4 bosses (Gaia, Gaia II, Sho, and Uranus). The background music is also outstanding to say the least. One weird fact that distinguish it from other 2D fighting games is that keeps it's Ring out feature from the 3D games, but it's made in such a way it doesn't break the game balance (you've a 3-points Ring Out meter; until it gets emptied you don't fall). If you have time in your hands, give it a look, it's worth it.
In 2009, the series had gotten a Spiritual Successor for the Nintendo Wii in the form of War Budokai (often called "Toshinden Wii" by publications), a weapons-based arena fighter with heavy anime influences which also incorporate skills such as Summon Magic.
The original games were also adapted into a 2-part OVA anime in 1996, directed by Masami Ohbari (who also directed the Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture). It was the first anime DVD released by Central Park Media in the Western market (and possibly the first Western market anime DVD period).
Has a character sheet now.
Battle Arena Toshinden contains the following tropes:
- Aloof Big Brother: Sho Shinjo.
- The Anime of the Game: A two episode OVA, which was dubbed by U.S. Manga Corps and edited into a single movie.
- Amazonian Beauty: Rachael.
- Ax Crazy: Chaos, Fo Fai, Judgment, Schultz, Vermilion.
- Badass Grandpa: Fo Fai. For a 100+ year old man, he's one sadistic bastard.
- Badass Longcoat: Vermilion.
- BFS: Duke, Balga, Gaia and Tau.
- Blade on a Stick: Mondo has one that extends for some attacks. Toujin in the third game.
- Bottomless Magazines: Subverted in Toshinden 3. Nagisa and Vermilion all use firearms, but have to reload them occasionally. Vermilion has to do so constantly, because his regular weapon attacks rely exclusively on them. Played straight with Verm in Toshinden 2, which did not have ammunition meters. David has six shots in his pistol, but he can't reload it at all.
- Boobs of Steel: Rachael.
- Captain Ersatz: Judgment (Jason Voorhees) and Zola (Catwoman).
- Chainsaw Good: David and Judgment use this as their primary weapons.
- Defeat Means Playable: Everyone's Evil Counterparts in Toshinden 3.
- Drop the Hammer: Rungo.
- Dual-Wielding: Several characters (Tracy and Rachael with their tonfas, Ellis with her daggers, and the below-mentioned Vermilion).
- Embarrassing First Name: Nagisa, a male cop.
- Evil Counterpart: All of the main characters had one, and they were introduced as Sub Bosses in Toshinden 3.
- Evil Laugh: Mondo gives a good one during certain victory poses, as does Vermilion.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: After Fo's death following Toshinden 2, he was replaced in the roster by a humanoid-like monkey named Bayhou, who carries Fo's desiccated head on his back at all times.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Ellis' special moves.
- Fair Cop: Tracy
- Fartillery: Fo and Bayhou.
- Gaiden Game: Battle Arena Toshinden URA for the Sega Saturn.
- Guest Fighter: Earthworm Jim in the PC version of the first game.
- Guns Akimbo: Vermilion, proud owner of a Peacemaker and a shotgun.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Numbered difficulties in Toshinden 2, the "Stress Relief" and "Impossible" levels in Toshinden 3.
- Killer App: Seen as this when it first came out, though the series later fell into decline. Game Players Magazine promoted it as the "Best Brawler EVER!" on one cover, giving it 98% (the only other games that were previously given this score were Final Fantasy VI and the SNES port of Super Street Fighter II), over Tekken and Virtua Fighter, to whom it was a major competitor. This seems quite Hilarious in Hindsight once the other series came to far surpass it, while Toshinden is nowadays considered a joke of a franchise.
- Lethal Joke Character: Naru from the third game. She's short and her special attacks take a while to hit, but her small frame forces enemies to attack low.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Duke, a knight, does not have a "down attack", because he considers such tactics "dishonorable". Instead, he taunts the enemy and lowers their Overdrive meter a bit.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Gaia is actually Ellis' father, thus making her Japanese, not Turkish as previously told in the first game. Despite this, she's the only Japanese character with an English voice track in Toshinden 3.
- Manual Misprint: Toshinden 2's manual printed Eiji's movelist twice, pushing the other characters' lists back two pages, but leaving out Chaos.
- Name's the Same: This Vermilion is definitely not related to Noel Vermilion
- Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Himitsu Kessha (literal translation: "secret society") in the first two games and The Soshiki (literal translation: "organization") in the third game.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Ten Count, one of the "evil" characters in Toshinden 3, looks, sounds and moves suspiciously like a certain gloved pop singer... His taunt (the infamous "crotch grab" part of you-know-who's dance routine) will instantly max out the opponent's Overdrive gauge when performed.
- Noblewoman's Laugh: Sofia.
- Pirate: Leon.
- Power Fist: Abel/Veil from Toshinden 3.
- Professional Killer: Mondo.
- Psycho for Hire: Chaos.
- Psychic Powers: Master, the Big Bad of Toshinden 2.
- Ryu and Ken: Eiji and Kayin have the same basic moveset (Rekku Zan/Sonic Slash and Hishouzan/Deadly Raise) although with a few differences. Sho functions as the "Akuma" character, with more powerful versions of all of both characters' moves.
- Scoring Points: Only the first game had this; the others used a timer.
- Shotoclone: Eiji and his brother Sho; Kayin; Mondo; and their clones.
- Shout-Out: In most of the games he appears in, Chaos has several moves with Some Dexterity Required commands that are references to other fighters, usually something made by SNK. As a more blatant example, selecting one of Adam's alternate costumes in Toshinden 3 gives him a human, Zangief-like torso.
- Sinister Scythe: Chaos and his Evil Counterpart Schultz.
- Slasher Smile: Chaos has one of these on all the time. He's not all there in the head. Fo Fai also qualifies, given his backstory.
- Spin-off Game: Toshinden Card Quest and Puzzle Arena Toshinden.
- Spiritual Successor: War Budokai for the Wii.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Fo is replaced by Bayhou as a playable character in Toshinden 3, following the former's death.
- Updated Rerelease
- The Sega Saturn received a port of the first game titled Toshinden Remix (Toshinden S in Japan), which added an extra character named Cupido to the roster. It was so graphically worse then the PS version, that it virtually proved the Saturn was the weaker machine overnight -- a really bad move for Sega (as better looking 3D fighting games, such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers were later released).
- Toshinden URA is often mistaken for a port of Toshinden 2, but it's actually a different game with a different fighting system and roster (Gaia, Chaos, Uranus, and Master were replaced by Replicant, Wolf, Ronron, and Ripper).
- Whip It Good: Sofia and Zola.
- Wolverine Claws: Fo, Bayhou and Cuiling.