|Battle Arena Toshinden 3|
North American cover showing Rungo and Zola engaging in battle
|Publisher||(Japan) Takara - (US) Playmates Interactive Entertainment - (Europe) Sony Computer Entertainment Europe|
|Release date||(Japan) December 22, 1996 - (US) March 31, 1997 - (Europe) March 1997|
|Mode||Single player, multiplayer|
Battle Arena Toshinden 3 for the PlayStation is a 3D weapons-based fighting game and the sequel to Battle Arena Toshinden 2. Toshinden 3 is the first of the main series not to be ported to other platforms. It is also the only game in the series that has game play differences between the Japanese version and subsequent U.S. and European releases.
Whereas Toshinden 2 was largely built upon the first game, Toshinden 3 radically changes the series' gameplay. Most notably the arenas are now enclosed, allowing players to launch opponents into the walls and ceilings in order to juggle them with further attacks. The combo system has also been reworked, with every character possessing a preset list of combos. As well as the 14 starting fighters, the game also adds a huge 18 unlockable fighters bringing the total to 32, though most of them are largely mirror images of the original 14's fighting styles.
Toshinden 3's Arcade Mode is much different from the previous two. The opponents that the player faces from within the game depends on their selected character. If the player chooses one of the 14 starting fighters or "Heroes", then the computer-controlled opponents will eventually be Organization members while choosing an Organization member will have the player facing off against the "Heroes" themselves. Nagisa and Vermilion serve as the first bosses to their opponents' sides while the specific playing character's sub-boss soon appears next. After that, Sho arrives as the third boss (doubling as the final boss for any Organization member) and once he's defeated, the player will then face off against the Organization leader Abel, who serves as the "final" boss of the game.
The U.S. and EU releases of Toshinden 3 featured several game play differences to the original Japanese release including:
- Blocking high or low was made automatic in the U.S. and EU releases; as in pressing back would block both block high and low attacks in the U.S. and EU releases. In the Japanese version one had to press back and down to block low attacks. This small difference has a dramatic impact on character balance, arguably outright breaking it.
- When hit by a reversal attack in the Japanese version of the game, how far your character flies is determined by his or her weight. In the U.S. and EU versions, all characters fly the full length of the arena.
- Practice and Survival modes were added to the U.S. and EU releases that were not present in the Japanese version.
- A bug regarding the direction a character flew when hit by attacks that send them flying across the arena, when they were facing away from their attacker, was fixed.
With the Secret Society, the sponsors of the two previous Battle Arena Toshinden tournaments, finally defeated, it would soon transpire and be known that the Secret Society's long-time rival criminal group, the Organization, who have been observing both tournaments from the shadows, are now ready and prepared to make their own move in having to bring forth the destructive fighting god, Agon Teos, into the world.
The Organization's leader, Abel, requires the sacrificial blood of the world's strongest warriors and through the knowledge of his loyal agent, Vermilion, Abel organizes and sponsors a third Battle Arena Toshinden tournament in order to lure Eiji Shinjo and his fellow Toshinden fighters out in the open while pitting them against his own chosen warriors, who have copied and learned their specific targets' respective fighting styles. Furthermore, Abel targets a young English boy named David as he seeks to use him as a potential human vessel for Agon Teos. Managing to escape from the relentless pursuit of the Organization, David is soon saved and rescued by a young Japanese female gambler named Shizuku Fuji and in due time, both David and Shizuku enter the tournament in order to help aid Eiji and the rest of the Toshinden fighters against the Organization.
Eiji and the Toshinden fighters progress through the tournament and defeat their chosen rivals, during which a few storyline developments occur and happen from within the competition, such as Organization members Atahua and Tau forfeiting their matches to both Ellis and Gaia (with Atahua learning and understanding from Tau that the murder of a fighter couldn't justify the means of restoring an ancient empire), Tracy sparing the life of her vengeful older twin sister Rachael, who had refused Tracy's offer of starting over with her and walking away from her to never be seen again, and Organization member Cuiling switching sides in order to help Eiji and the rest of the Toshinden fighters out after killing Bayhou and avenging Fo Fai's past death while also realizing that Abel had to be stopped before he could succeed in bringing Agon Teos to the world. Eiji comes face-to-face once again with Vermilion and overcomes the assassin before finally encountering his long-lost older brother, Sho. The two battle and Eiji wins, with Sho complimenting his brother's skills before leaving. Eiji soon faces and slays Abel in single combat, but at the same time, accidentally frees the Organization's previous leader, Veil, who was betrayed and usurped by Abel long ago. Robbed of his revenge, Veil battles Eiji but is also killed as well.
With the deaths of both Veil and Abel, the Organization is completely destroyed and the world is miraculously saved from the malevolent wrath of Agon Teos. However, Eiji soon discovers that Vermilion had somehow survived and escaped the Organization's destruction while completely disappearing without a trace. Faced with an enticing offer, Eiji starts his own plan in order to lure Vermilion out for a final battle.
- David - A young English boy who finds himself targeted by Abel and the Organization.
- Shizuku Fuji - A Japanese geisha-esque gambler who finds and protects David from the Organization.
- Nagisa Iwashiro - A Japanese police detective who works with Tracy in an investigation of the Organization.
- Bayhou - A humanoid ape who was trained by Fo Fai and uses most of his moves and abilities.
- Leon - An American pirate-esque swordsman who seeks to usurp Abel and become the leader of the Organization. A sub-boss to Eiji.
- Ten Count - A cruel aristocratic assassin from England, who is largely based upon Michael Jackson in terms of appearance and mannerisms. A sub-boss to Kayin.
- Zola - A beautiful Austrian opera singer who dresses like Catwoman and doubles as an assassin for the Organization. A sub-boss to Sofia.
- Adam - A powerful robot who wishes to become a human being. A sub-boss to Rungo, but largely an original character with its own moves.
- Cuiling - A young Hong Kong Chinese girl who was raised from early childhood by a triad to be an assassin. Her fighting style mirrors that of Fo Fai's own, due to the fact that he had personally trained her as his apprentice. A sub-boss to Bayhou.
- Toujin - A retired Japanese assassin who had joined the Organization in order to seek a cure for his terminally-ill wife. A sub-boss to Mondo who shares most special moves with him, but has his own combos.
- Balga - A ruthless Norwegian knight who seeks the total and absolute destruction of Duke and the Rambert bloodline. A sub-boss to Duke who shares most special moves with him, but has his own combos.
- Atahua - A Peruvian tribal boy who seeks the imperial inheritance of an ancient empire. A sub-boss to Ellis.
- Tau - A giant Brazilian tribesman who looks after and aids Atahua. A sub-boss to Gaia with whom he shares combos with. However, his special moves are nearly all different from Gaia's own.
- Rachael - Tracy's older twin sister who seeks to make her pay from within a personal vendetta. A sub-boss to Tracy.
- Schultz - A German assassin who aids Abel as the master ritualist of the ceremony. A sub-boss to Chaos, but shares no combos or special moves with him.
- Judgement - A hockey-mask wearing assassin (who is largely based upon Jason Voorhees) who lives only to kill. He was once David's best friend during their childhood, but had since sold his soul to gain his new dark power. A sub-boss to David.
- Miss Til - A Malaysian fortune teller who works for Abel and the Organization. A sub-boss to Shizuku.
- Abel - A cruel and ruthless megalomaniac who seeks to bring a destructive fighting god named Agon Teos into the world. He is the only character in the game (and series) to fight barehanded. He is the "final" boss of the game.
- Veil - A shadow-esque man imprisoned by Abel who seeks to cause nothing but chaos and destruction. He is the true final boss of the game, appearing only in the higher difficulties after the fight against Abel.
- Naru Amoh - Kayin's foster daughter who seeks to aid her foster father in his battle against the Organization. She is a secret hidden boss of the game, appearing after Veil on the highest difficulty and only after everyone else has been unlocked.
Scary Larry of GamePro gave Battle Arena Toshinden 3 an average review of 3.5 from within all four categories (Control, Sound, Graphics, and Fun Factor), citing that while the game was better than the previous Toshinden 2, it still wasn't good enough to be classed with Tekken, Virtua Fighter 2, or even Tobal No. 1. His critiques had included the game's simple gameplay, one-button special moves, slowdown which had affected the game's continuity, and that additionally the fighters, although unique in appearance, were too similar in their fighting styles. He concluded that Toshinden 3 wasn't a bad game, but that it can't compete with the fluidity of Star Gladiator or the awesome destructive fighting style of Tekken 2, telling readers that if they had beaten every other fighting game to date, they should check out Toshinden 3 while remaining true to good fighting games like Soul Blade and Street Fighter Alpha 2.