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Video Game: Battle Arena Toshinden

"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, as it was upstaged by other 3D fighting game franchises such as the Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and the Soul series, 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 version).

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 version) 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. Hunting them down mercilessly with underhanded ways, and hiring assassins and enemies that could bring them in, he then gives the fighters an ultimatum: Participation in the third tournament to corner them and settle things face to face in the ring, or forever find themselves and their loved ones chased down and victimized until they surrender or die trying to escape their grasp.

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 Game Boy port. Unlike other fighting game ports was released on the Game Boy, 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 its 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 Obari (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).

There is also evidence of a long deserted plan for a Toshinden prequel, through the pictures found in Toshinden Card Quest, now long known as Toshinden Next. As it stands, Next was supposed to have delved deeper into the affairs of the four executives of the Toshinden games, being Gaia, Cupido, Uranus, and Chaos, before what would lead into Gaia's mutiny, and as well into supporting characters mentioned and hinted to in the main series, with the Secret Society's own influences affecting them all as well.

Has a character sheet now.

Battle Arena Toshinden contains the following tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: Concerning the series' own world and information, much of it is hugely contained in the many Japanese only development books and strategy guides.
  • The Anime of the Game: A two episode OVA, which was dubbed by U.S. Manga Corps and edited into a single movie.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played straight with Vermilion in Toshinden 2, which did not have any ammunition meters to the point that he was a literal game breaker. However, this was subverted in Toshinden 3. Nagisa, Adam, 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. David has six shots in his pistol, but he can't reload it at all.
  • Captain Ersatz: Judgment (Jason Voorhees), Zola (Catwoman) and Ten Count (Michael Jackson).
  • Darker and Edgier: Toshinden 3 in particular, dealing with the antagonistic Organization and their interests into the occult and Blood Magic for their ends.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Everyone's evil counterparts in Toshinden 3.
  • Dual Wielding: Several characters (Tracy and Rachael with their tonfas, Ellis with her daggers, and Vermilion with his Peacemaker and a shotgun).
  • Evil Counterpart: All of the main characters had one, and they were introduced as sub bosses in Toshinden 3. Look closer, and you'll see that they all share special themes in relation to each other.
  • Gaiden Game: Battle Arena Toshinden URA for the Sega Saturn.
  • Guest Fighter: Earthworm Jim in the PC version of the first game. Rather than having his own attacks, though, he's just a skin swap of Rungo.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Numbered difficulties in Toshinden 2, the "Stress Relief" and "Impossible" levels in Toshinden 3.
  • Moveset Clone: 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.
  • 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.
  • Scoring Points: Only the first game had this; the others used a timer.
  • Shotoclone: Eiji and his brother Sho; Kayin; Mondo; and their clones.
    • Eiji and Kayin even do look like Ryu and Ken with swords, to boot.
  • Shout-Out: In Toshinden 2, Chaos had some secret moves via some dexterity required commands that are blatant references to other fighting games, usually something made by SNK (the specific special moves that Chaos does includes Terry Bogard's Power Geyser, Ryo Sakazaki's Haoh Shoko Ken, Kyo Kusanagi's Serpent Wave, and Iori Yagami's Dark Thrust).
    • As a more blatant example, selecting one of Adam's alternate costumes in Toshinden 3 gives him a human, Zangief-like head.
    • In some offical artwork, Abel looks a lot like Dio.
  • Spin-off Game: Toshinden Card Quest and Puzzle Arena Toshinden.
  • Spiritual Successor: War Budokai for the Wii.
  • Surprisingly Good English: In the first game.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • 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 PS1 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). It also had a different story from Toshinden 2's own, which revolved around a mysterious traveling fighter named Ripper, seeking out his missing sister (who happens to be Cupido) while dealing with a conspiracy that had involved the theft of an advanced fighting robot.

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alternative title(s): Battle Arena Toshinden
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