Saturday, March 31, 2012

Capcom Fighting Evolution Review

Ever wondered who would win in a match between Street Fighter III's fearsome near-naked muscleman, Urien, and DarkStalkers' frisky near-naked cat girl, Felicia? No? At any rate, the answer to this and many other obscure fighting-game crossover-match questions may be found in Capcom Fighting Evolution. This is a competent product, offering a fair variety of characters and the responsive controls you'd expect from a Capcom fighting game. But it also feels like a relic, with its bare-bones set of options and decided lack of distinguishing features. The game is clearly best suited for hardcore fans of Capcom's fighting games, who might enjoy exploring some of the nuances here but probably won't find much reason to keep coming back. At least this version offers online play through Xbox Live to make up for the fact that it's hitting shelves half a year later than the otherwise identical PS2 version.

Capcom Fighting Evolution is essentially a typical one-on-one 2D fighting game, in which you compete with either another player or a computer-controlled opponent in best-of-three-round martial art matches. Purists will appreciate that it features the classic Street Fighter-style six-button control scheme. The game's main twist is that, instead of choosing just one fighter per match, you choose two. This implies some sort of a tag-team fighting system, as in Capcom's "Versus" games, but Capcom Fighting Evolution isn't that complex. You pick two characters only, so you can optionally alternate characters between rounds. So, for example, you might form a team consisting of Zangief the pro wrestler and Demitri the vampire, reserving the latter for use against pesky fireball throwers like Ryu, while letting the former and his signature spinning pile driver do most of the work. Since you decide which character to use in each round, you don't even have to use both of your selected fighters. As such, Capcom Fighting Evolution's system is rather simple, but nonetheless marginally different from that of most other fighting games, which makes it interesting.

In recent years, some of Capcom's fighting games have asked you to choose between some esoteric fighting systems in addition to choosing your characters. Capcom Fighting Evolution also features different systems, but these are dependent on the characters you choose and the games from which they come. This is the game's other twist. For example, if you choose Street Fighter III's buffed-up brawler, Alex, you'll be able to parry incoming attacks by tapping forward on the D pad at the last possible instant, since all Street Fighter III characters could parry in this fashion. Or, if you play as Street Fighter Alpha's ninjutsu master, Guy, you'll be able to use alpha counters to immediately follow up a blocked attack with another strike.

These different fighting systems also govern the respective characters' supermoves. Some types of characters can use their supermoves more quickly, while other characters' supers are more powerful, and stuff like that. There's not that drastic of a difference from one fighting system to the next, but the subtle differences between them do give the game some depth. It helps to some extent that many of the fighters have been at least slightly tweaked since you last saw them. For instance, the Street Fighter III characters have access to multiple supermoves during a match, whereas in all previous versions of Street Fighter III, you were forced to choose a single supermove prior to each match. Nevertheless, the balance is still pretty suspect, as there seems to be no one in this game that a good Ryu or Zangief couldn't thrash.

The roster includes about two dozen different characters, mostly hailing from five different Capcom fighting games, including Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, DarkStalkers, and the obscure Red Earth, also known as Warzard. Capcom Fighting Evolution could have distinguished itself by throwing together more than just a handful of characters from each game, but it failed to take advantage of this opportunity. As a result, if you're a Capcom fan, you'll instantly be disappointed by the "sampler" selections from each game, since some, if not most, of your personal favorite fighters inevitably didn't make the cut.

The cast itself is a rather strange one. You have your obvious inclusions like Ryu and Guile, but you also have some strange picks like DarkStalkers' wacky mummy, Anakaris, and Street Fighter Alpha's elegantly dressed Rose. There's also Ingrid, an original character who looks a lot like Street Fighter Alpha's schoolgirls, Sakura and Karin. The entire cast of Red Earth sticks out most of all, especially Hauzer, a huge screen-filling dinosaur. The Red Earth characters don't really fit in with the game's assorted martial artists, but they certainly look good, since Red Earth was Capcom's first game using the technology that subsequently powered the much-better-known Street Fighter III. Then again, these smoothly animated characters clash significantly with the relatively crude-looking cast from Street Fighter Alpha. Since almost all the character artwork here (as well as the voice work) is recycled from one old fighting game or another, Capcom Fighting Evolution feels like a mishmash of different, old fighting games. That's exactly what it is, in fact.

Capcom Fighting Evolution has a bare minimum of modes of play. There's an arcade mode, a versus mode for two players, a training mode for practicing your moves, Xbox Live mode, and that's it. You can adjust some basic options and unlock some hidden characters and other extras by repeatedly finishing the arcade mode, but there's no survival mode or color-edit mode, or any of the other stuff now found in most 2D fighting games. Xbox Live support works as you'd expect, letting you tweak a small number of different options when searching for matches, and conveniently offering you an at-a-glance look at how many matches are currently available (don't expect a lot of competition online). Of course, relatively lag-free online fighting such as this is no longer inherently novel as it once was, since several superior Live-enabled fighting games have long since been available at a low price. Capcom Fighting Evolution at least features some original background artwork, most of which is brimming with cameo appearances by many characters you'll wish were actually playable. Furthermore, the game includes some nicely done comic book-style ending sequences for all its characters. So, as pure fan service to Capcom's loyalists, Capcom Fighting Evolution isn't bad. However, it's also got a lame announcer and a new soundtrack consisting of some forgettable rock music.

Five years ago, Capcom Fighting Evolution probably would have been a great game, especially with online play thrown in. It does a decent job of throwing together a bunch of different characters into the mix, and letting them take advantage of their respective games' specific play mechanics. It also plays fine and looks good. At the same time, Capcom Fighting Evolution is the umpteenth game to recycle these same graphics, sounds, and mechanics, so unless you're dying to experience some of the strange matchups that are possible here, you could just as well go back to playing whichever games all these fighters hailed from.

Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Review

How does $20 sound for a practically arcade-perfect version of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection? It's a pretty good deal, and it's going on now on the PlayStation 3. The game is now available as a downloadable product, which makes a good deal even better. While the arcade-port-like nature of it means that you won't get any of the weird extra modes you'd expect from Tekken on a home console, you will get a rock-solid fighting game that also looks great.

This is a port of Dark Resurrection, which is the same Tekken 5 expansion that appeared on the PSP last year. That means you'll get Lili and Dragunov, the two all-new characters that made their first appearance in DR, as well as the returning Armor King. As a bonus, you can unlock Jinpachi, the game's final boss, as a playable character in the PS3 version. He's an interesting addition but not the most exciting character to play with. Of course, you also get the rest of the game's large roster, including Paul, Kazuya, Heihachi, Nina, Law, and so on.

While you won't get bowling, volleyball, or a Tekken Force minigame, you will get ghost mode in Dark Resurrection. Unlike the arcade mode, which puts you up against a handful of fighters and then sends you to the boss fight, ghost mode is meant to replicate the experience of taking on multiple challengers in arcades. You'll continually fight different characters that are governed by different artificial intelligence profiles. So you'll encounter beginning-level Baeks that are easy to beat, but the higher-level Baek fighters know how to use his combos properly and even know a few key juggles. This goes a long way to making them feel more like real human beings, since they all fight differently. This variety keeps the game interesting as a single-player game, which many fighting games have trouble with. Of course, it's still no substitute for actually fighting a real person, which you can do locally. Unfortunately, the game doesn't have any online support, but given the budget price tag, that makes sense.

As you play, you'll earn currency that you can spend customizing the characters' different costumes, much like you can in Virtua Fighter 5 and in the last couple of Tekken games. You can purchase new colors for their outfits, new hair styles, or additional little trinkets, like eye patches. You can also spend your money to purchase the ending movies for the new characters or concept art. Interestingly, Namco has kept the file size of the download a little lower than it would be otherwise by not offering these videos and images as part of the main download. When you go into the gallery menu, the game hits a server and returns a list of downloadable items. You pay a chunk of your in-game money, and it downloads the appropriate file. It's a slick idea, though at 500MB-plus, it's hard to call this a "small" download by any metric.

Graphically, the game follows the look of the arcade game, but it's been outfitted to run in 1080p. If you've got a TV capable of that resolution and are running over an HDMI cable, the game looks incredibly sharp--almost too sharp, in spots, as it'll reveal an ugly texture here and there. It's a great-looking game, overall, especially for a downloadable product, but as it's meant to look like the arcade version, you do get the impression that a Tekken game built from the ground up for the PS3 could look quite a bit better. The game also contains all the same sound effects and music from the arcade game. Tekken has always had hard-hitting sound effects, and they still work just fine here.

Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection makes a great case for digital distribution. Here's a game that might not be the newest game in town, but by clocking in at a budget price and not coming on a Blu-ray disc, it stands out and delivers on the potential of this sort of game-delivery platform. But forget all that nonsense. The bottom line is that Dark Resurrection is a fantastic fighting game, and it's especially sweet if you have one or more Tekken players nearby that'll get into the versus mode with you.

Legend of the Dragon Review

Legend of the Dragon is a fighting game from Game Factory that's based on a cartoon that currently airs on Toon Disney as part of its Jetix programming block. It's about a pair of 15-year-old twins, Ang and Ling, who are on opposite sides of a martial-arts-themed conflict involving humans that can transform into beastlike creatures. The fighting in this game is uniformly terrible, giving you the feeling that the product was constructed as a licensing tie-in first and a game second, but the ugly graphics and lack of character speech mean that this probably won't do much for fans of the show either, making it a failure from every angle.

The fighting is stripped down, with only one punch and one kick button and very basic combos that string those two attacks together. While you can push in a direction to execute different punches and kicks, you don't have any special moves in your human form. As in most modern fighting games, as you fight, a meter fills up with energy. Once it crosses a certain threshold, you can transform into your character's guardian form. For the main characters, the forms are largely human still, just armored. Others turn into decidedly snakelike, or ratlike, people, and so on down the line. Your basic abilities don't change when you're transformed--you can still attack, and the game still plays like a bad 2D fighter with 3D ring movement buttons. But you can also use your power meter when transformed to execute three different special attacks that make the game feel like it's trying to ape the Dragon Ball Z Budokai series. One attack launches a DBZ-like energy beam at your opponent, and at that point, a button-mashing frenzy breaks out, which either causes more damage or nullifies the attack, depending on which player can mash faster. Another special attack has the player enter six button presses or controller motions at random. If the opposing player can memorize the string and enter part of it, that player will block the incoming attack. The third attack launches a series of fireballs in a rhythmic fashion, and the defending player can dodge these with well-timed button presses or controller waves. Unfortunately, these attacks are identical for every fighter in the game.

In addition to a stock of standard fighting modes, like survival and practice, there's a quest mode, where you move Ang or Ling around a map screen as though it were some kind of board game. There are temples at several spots on the map, and at each temple, there's a challenge for you to complete. The game tries to get clever here and change things up by giving you stipulations for each fight, like in Soul Calibur's quest mode. So some fights have time restrictions, others can be won only with specific attacks, and some fighters are only susceptible to combos. If any part of the fighting were even remotely enjoyable, this might provide an interesting change of pace. But it only manages to frustrate, because it's very easy to knock opponents out of the ring accidentally, which will lose the fight for you if you needed to do something else to your foe.

Graphically, Legend of the Dragon has bland visuals, with a generic cel-shaded look and weak animation that makes all the characters look bad. The backgrounds are also ugly and plain, though the smaller screen of the PSP makes this version look a little cleaner than the PS2 and Wii versions. Because the game is based on an animated series, you'd hope for some form of voice acting. But other than the typical fighting game grunts and a few very short voice clips, it plods on in silence, using text to convey the quest mode's nonstory.

Because of the game's dull fighting system that doesn't play well against the computer-controlled opponents or against a live human being, it seems almost impossible to have fun with Legend of the Dragon. When you factor in the total lack of detail in the attempt to mimic the cartoon's look and feel, you're left with a game that even diehard fans of the relatively obscure cartoon will probably hate. Do yourself a favor and keep your distance.

As game sales are beginning to surpass ticket sales, the movie industry is playing an increasing role in our video games. A popular film release is often now accompanied by a simultaneous, multiplatform game launch. The X-Men's triumphant return to the big screen was, in my mind, marred only by the arrival of the breathtakingly mediocre X2: Wolverine's Revenge in stores everywhere. So, having played through Revenge, I was a bit worried while loading up X2: Battle on my BREW-enabled T720. Despite the different genre and platform of Battle, I was afraid the superhero game curse might doom the title before it had a chance. Fortunately, my fears were somewhat assuaged.

X2: Battle lets you play as any of three mutant heroes: Wolverine, Storm, or Nightcrawler. Each character comes complete with a poorly drawn character sketch and a slightly customized plot recounted through conversations with the estimable Professor Xavier. Although the slap-dash libretto of this grand opus feels like an afterthought, it does feature a loose movie tie-in.

Apparently, Stryker is using a mind-control serum to dominate the will of mutants everywhere. Kurt Wagner, alias Nightcrawler, is the first to succumb, since he's furry and weak-willed; however, no mutant, regardless of body hair amount, is safe. His activities have turned your comrades-at-arms against you, forcing you to fight them off in several richly detailed stages. Eventually, you work your way up to fighting Magneto, who has to be prevented from killing Stryker for some reason. This confused me, since I thought that killing him was the goal of the game.

Really, though, it hardly matters, since you'll forget about Battle's lackluster plot entirely when you see its gorgeous graphics. The character sprites are huge and beautiful. The game's lush environments serve as exquisite backdrops to your skirmishes, each vaguely relevant to whatever the heck is going on in the plot. The first stage, for example, is set outside the White House, where the president reportedly suffered a mutant attack.

Perhaps X2: Battle's most striking feature is its incredibly simplistic control. Doing away with such conventions as separate attack buttons, TKO Software has opted to integrate all the fighting commands into the directional pad. The result is horrendous. The forward key attacks your assailant, so long as you're right next to him. Otherwise it, well, moves you forward. This necessitates some awkward, Verizon-commerical-esque guesswork on the part of the player: "Can I hit him now...can I hit him now? Good." Aerial and crouching attacks are available, in addition to your standard head-on maneuver, but they're difficult to pull off and are ultimately unrewarding. In order to perform a crouch attack, for example, you press the down key, which makes your character sit down. Then, you have to wait for your opponent to get close enough to hit, since it's impossible to move while crouching. In the end, the most effective strategy is just to attack constantly, perhaps throwing a few blocks in there for good measure.

The gameplay's only saving grace is the cool, character-specific special moves that can be achieved by charging your power meter. The power meter gains a little bit of charge every time you hit your opponent. If he hits you, though, his meter will rise and yours will fall. This makes for a sort of special move tug-of-war, which adds to the competition. If you're lucky enough to charge up your meter all the way, it'll start flashing. When that happens, you can press the Select key to perform a wicked special move. The special move animations are definitely the highlight of the game.

Easy on the eyes but hard on the hands, Battle has some great strengths and some crippling weaknesses. The determining factor in how much you enjoy the game will be fandom. If you love the X-Men, you'll be able to overlook some crappy control to play as your favorite heroes. If you feel no special connection with the characters, however, you might find King of Fighters, which has a superior combat system, to be a better buy.

Guilty Gear Isuka Review

Nearly two years ago, Sammy Studios released Guilty Gear X2 for the PlayStation 2, and it quickly became one of the system's defining 2D fighting games. The memorable anime-style character designs, completely off-the-wall special moves, and surprisingly deep gameplay made Guilty Gear X2 great, and proved that a company other than Capcom or SNK could make a solid 2D fighter. Now the series is back with Guilty Gear Isuka, a game that features its predecessor's familiar characters and play mechanics, but focuses on four-player simultaneous battles instead of conventional one-on-one fights. The game runs well even with four colorful characters going at it at once, but the new free-for-all style of Guilty Gear is, at best, different--not better. Meanwhile, Guilty Gear Isuka overlooks the genre's recent forays into online play, which reduces its appeal only to those living in close proximity to several other hardcore Guilty Gear fans.

Although Guilty Gear Isuka supports up to four players simultaneously (you'll need a multitap to take advantage of this feature), like most any other fighting game, it allows you to play solo or with just one another player. In fact, it's possible to pit from two to four characters in any combination; one-on-one, two-on-one, three-on-one, two-on-two, and free-for-all matches for three or four players are all possible. You can also substitute in computer-controlled players as you see fit. Two-on-one and three-on-one matches aren't as unbalanced as you might expect, since the solo player gets more health to work with to offset the other team's greater numbers. What's more, players on the same side may accidentally hit one another while trying to attack their opponents, though they can also coordinate to get on opposite sides of one of their victims and bash him or her back and forth like a tennis ball.

The multicharacter dynamic of Guilty Gear Isuka certainly changes the feel of the game, making Guilty Gear X2's already fast-paced and hectic action even more so...practically to a breaking point. In multicharacter matches, the action can certainly be pretty fun in the way that playing just about any fast-paced game with a group of friends can be fun, but it also moves at such a breakneck speed and happens so spontaneously that it winds up feeling ultimately hollower than its one-on-one predecessor.

Guilty Gear Isuka's multicharacter fighting system is not the first of its kind. SNK's very first Fatal Fury game from 1991 let two characters pound on an opponent, and Capcom later put in a better implementation of such a system in its Street Fighter Alpha games' "dramatic battle" mode. The difference is in these past games, the multicharacter gameplay was an extra feature, rather than the focus. In Guilty Gear Isuka, you can play a conventional one-on-one fight, but even these matches will be governed by the peculiar rules of the multicharacter battles that are emphasized here.

The strangest thing about how Guilty Gear Isuka plays in comparison to other 2D fighting games is that your character won't automatically turn around--so if the opponent gets behind you, you'll need to press R1 (by default) to turn to face him. This is completely disconcerting at first and remains uncomfortable for a little while, but eventually you'll get used to it. As you might expect, it becomes central to the gameplay one way or another--faster characters can now viably try to attack their opponents from behind.

In another nod to Fatal Fury, Guilty Gear Isuka's action takes place on two different planes--a foreground level and a background level. Characters can jump to the opposite plane and perform certain attacks that can hit opponents on opposite planes, but for the most part, your moves will only hit characters on the same plane that you are on. This theoretically makes multicharacter matches a bit more manageable, but in practice, it contributes to the chaos. It can be difficult to tell when a character is in the foreground or in the background, and the action gets especially messy when you've got four different characters and their crazy moves are all overlapping with one another. A long-standing issue with the Guilty Gear series has been that its graphical style, while great looking, isn't terribly clear. Rather than address this point, the game makes it harder than ever to tell just what the heck is going on. Unless you're an expert at this series and are highly familiar with all the moves and characters, you'll be bewildered by what goes on in a typical match here.

Punch Time Explosion doesn't just take inspiration from Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series. Rather, it's as if Dexter, Samurai Jack, and a bunch of their Cartoon Network buddies staged an invasion to oust Mario, Link, and the rest of the Smash Bros. gang from the land of zany multiplayer brawlers and claim the territory as their own. The Cartoon Network crew makes a spirited effort, and they give Punch Time Explosion plenty of personality. But beneath the superficial and short-lived pleasure of seeing Blossom and Ben Tennyson battle each other in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is a game that's shallow in multiplayer and frustrating when played alone.

Like the games that it imitates, Punch Time Explosion is a fighting-focused party game in which up to four characters clobber each other on a 2D plane. There are a total of 18 playable characters, if you count duos like Billy and Mandy, which can only be played together, as a single character. As you take damage, a number displayed as a percentage increases, and the higher this number gets, the farther you're liable to go flying when hit. You lose a life when you're knocked from the stage or fall from it. Each character has standard attacks and a number of signature moves at his or her disposal, as well as a special attack that can be performed once a meter is full. A variety of weapons--wrenches, flyswatters, magic wands, and so forth--spawn frequently, and if you're quick enough to grab them before an opponent does, they can significantly increase your power. In addition, special items show up that, when collected, summon non-playable Cartoon Network characters like Johnny Bravo and Mandark to lend you a hand for a short time. The playable characters exude all the charm of their TV selves; Flapjack's absent-minded, goofy grin is infectious, and Buttercup's glare tells you she means business. But a small number of voice samples that repeat much too frequently make the game's sound design grate; hearing Ben Tennyson exclaim "I should have picked a flying alien!" for the umpteenth time as he's sent soaring off the field in defeat may push you to turn the voices off altogether.

The environments in which you do battle contribute to the craziness. One arena has you fighting on the rooftops of Townsville while a giant robot smashes the buildings under your feet. Another finds you in the mouth of a giant whale who sometimes belches huge amounts of water and dead fish into the sea, threatening to expunge you as well. The result of all this is a chaotic game in which the unpredictability and zaniness generate some short-term fun as you discover what happens on the various stages and what the various items and supporting characters do. But whether you're playing against CPU opponents or friends, this chaos also makes it difficult to take much satisfaction in victory; so much happens all the time that the ultimate outcome seems as dependent on chance as on skill. You can opt to play with fewer items or no items at all, but stripping away these distractions only makes it more clear that the underlying combat is shallow and that attacks have no sense of impact. Characters tend to come together and dish out their attacks willy-nilly until one is sent flying.

Punch Time Explosion is at its best in Story mode, but even here it has some serious problems. An evil force is corrupting the universes of numerous Cartoon Network characters, providing a fine excuse for the Powerpuff Girls, Numbuh One, Dexter, and a bunch of other CN stars to band together and battle evil. The enthusiastic and funny narration by a CN voice-over guy who just wanted to relax and enjoy some cartoons on his day off lends the story an authentic Cartoon Network soul and prevents the adventure from feeling like a hollow licensed cash-in. Platforming takes priority over punching here, and bounding across chasms and over hazards with each character's double jump is pleasant enough. Or at least it usually is; some sections crank up the challenge in ways that only result in frustration. For instance, at one point you must make your way across a series of floating barrels that have a tendency to spin when you land on them, making it overly difficult to get your footing and make the leap to the next barrel. What makes this and situations like it doubly irritating is that losing all of your lives often results in a significant setback, requiring you to repeat minutes of easy gameplay to get back to the tricky bit.

Your side-scrolling escapades are also frequently put on hold when you're required to defeat a number of small-time bad guys or a single, more powerful cartoon character. These turn out to be some of the worst moments of Punch Time Explosion's Story mode, since they can almost always be won by repeating a specific signature move over and over. On occasion, you're required to protect a character as you defeat 25 enemies, a situation that encourages you to rely on this tedious but effective approach to knock the bad guys away from the clueless and vulnerable character you must keep safe. Other diversions also crop up from time to time in the form of basic first-person on-rails shooting sequences, mine cart levels, and the like, and these are more welcome, preventing the platforming from growing stale.

Punch Time Explosion supports local wireless multiplayer for up to four players. Unfortunately, there's no online support, so unless you have a bunch of friends close by who own the game, your opportunities for full-featured four-player mayhem are limited. There is a download play option that lets up to four duke it out with a single cartridge, though this option limits the number of characters and has only one stage on which to do battle. Frustratingly, over half of the game's 18 playable characters and 20 battle stages are locked at the start, so there's a good chance you'll need to sink in some time before being able to beat up your friends with your favorite character or in your favorite Cartoon Network locale. Since the characters are the game's greatest asset, it's disappointing that so many of them are unavailable at the start. Punch Time Explosion has a host of cool characters, but without the support of exciting gameplay, their presence can only benefit the game so much. Unfortunately, like a cartoon starring your favorite superhero that doesn't make the most of his powers and personality, Punch Time Explosion leaves you disappointed.

Back in 1995, Battle Arena Toshinden was a shining example of 32-bit gaming and helped launch the PlayStation. It was a good game, but it suffered from repetitive and eventually tiresome gameplay. When Toshinden 2 came along, everyone was expecting an amazing sequel. Unfortunately what they received was a rehash with slightly better graphics and the same boring gameplay. Toshinden 3 is what Toshinden 2 should have been - an improved version of the original, with a ton of new characters and improved play mechanics.

The gameplay and combo systems are the most obvious beneficiaries of the overhaul. For starters, fights only last one round, and there is no time limit. Each player's life bar has been extended though, so battles last roughly the same amount of time as most fighting games, although here most of that time is spent fighting. Aside from each player's special moves, players can also call upon a super-move (an overdrive or soul bomb) that will rock their opponent with multi-hit combinations (which look cool despite their simple execution).

The graphics have also been touched-up nicely. Each player looks good and moves well, and the arena backgrounds are also impressive. In this version, fights take place in the same type of arenas as the previous games, but they're completely enclosed, allowing you to slam enemies into walls as well as blasting them into the ceiling. Toshinden 3 also offers a choice of graphics mode. The game's default mode is 30 frames per second, which looks great but moves a bit sluggishly. Gameplay fiends will want to sacrifice a bit of the graphical shine (and the associated texture mapping) for speed and control by switching over to 60 frames per second.

Toshinden 3 continues the trend started by Tekken 2 with characters that unlock as you progress through the game. While only fourteen characters can be selected when the game starts, players can unlock hidden characters and bosses by finishing the game with different characters (until all 32 characters are available). All the characters from the previous Toshinden games are included, except for a conspicuously missing Fo Fai. Replacing Fo is Bayhou, a crazy monkey with the same fighting style. In another parallel to Tekken 2, Battle Arena Toshinden 3 also allows players to try out new combos and see how much damage they do in a practice mode.

Toshinden 3 provides all of the upgrades that the series needed to get back on its feet. It adds plenty of intriguing new features, without losing the better aspects of the previous games. If you were one of the many who thought Toshinden was neat, but far too dull, this game may have what it takes to turn your viewpoint around.