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Battle Arena Toshinden

It can be quite interesting perusing games released on a console late in the system’s life. By that time, developers are intimately aware of the ins and outs of the thing’s hardware and can pull off some pretty amazing technical feats with it as a result. The Gameboy version of Battle Arena Toshinden is such an example of this, as it is a very well put together 2D fighter that pushes the handheld hard with impressive results.

While the main version of the game was busy convincing people that Sony and Sega’s recently released consoles were the future with their fancy polygonal graphics, Tamsoft had to take a very different route with this Gameboy port. Obviously, polygons were out of the question. Sure, the system could do them, but not nearly on the scale to make a smooth, action-packed fighting game. With that, the developers opted to go the 2D route, utilizing a cutesy super deformed chibi art style, which was gaining a bit of traction with other developers of Gameboy fighting games at the time as well.

The result was a very good-looking game where the environments and characters were surprisingly detailed given the technology being used. More impressive is how fast and how smooth the whole thing runs. Someone could play through this and not notice a lick of slowdown despite how good Battle Arena Toshinden looks. It really is an amazing display of technical wizardry.

Given that this is a handheld game with only two buttons, combat is significantly streamlined. There are still simple as well as special moves for players to pull off, and the more skilled will likely try to make the most of these. However, even someone who doesn’t play a lot of fighting games can hop right in and have a lot of fun. Keeping things simple while adding in a bit of button mashing can get some good results and be quite enjoyable.

Battle Arena Toshinden has eight playable characters, each with their own story, many of which are rather humorous. It doesn’t take long to do a playthrough with any of them, and the game isn’t very hard, so this title is nice for people who want some quick pick up and play action. Victory conditions are simple enough: either completely deplete their health bar or push them out of the edge of the arena on either edge of the screen for a ring out.

For those who might have a gamelink cable laying around and can convince a friend to also get a copy of the game, it is even possible to do some versus competitive games, which can be a lot of fun.

At the end of the day, Battle Arena Toshinden on the Gameboy is a very straightforward 2D fighting game with a lot of accessibility. Moreover, it’s an impressive technical feat. Those with a hankering for some old school handheld fisticuffs would do well to track this game down.

November 11, 2019

Other fighting game related articles:

- Star Gladiator Review (PlayStation)
- Psychic Force Anime Review

Platform: Gameboy
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Takara
Released: 1996

Battle Arena Toshinden Gameboy Image 1
Box Art

Battle Arena Toshinden Gameboy Image 3
Kayin vs Duke

Battle Arena Toshinden Gameboy Image 3
Tiny bits of conversation after battles

Battle Arena Toshinden Gameboy Image 4
Subterranean battle