BATTLE ARENA TOSHINDEN 3
Well, Takara has managed to completely outdo themselves on this title. Not only have they fixed every flaw from previous Toshinden games, they've also added a truckload of new features that, IMHO, really elevates Toshinden 3 to "classic" status.
I've only been playing for a few hours, and only in Versus mode against human opponents, so this isn't nearly a full review. Instead, I'll try to highlight the improvements and new features present in Toshinden 3.
First off, the intro is REALLY cheesy. If you thought #2 was bad, wait until you see this...:) Frankly, I'd much rather see more actors than this terrible CGI rendered stuff. Ah well. Okay, improvements: Saving of data is supported! It looks like it will save all your current options as well as whatever characters you have unlocked. When you get to the character select screen, ALL the characters have boxes, even those you haven't unlocked yet (shown with question marks). No more cycling through the random select box to choose the bosses! Next, all the overly complicated special move triggers have been drastically simplified. No more "Half circle back, half circle forward" nonsense. This makes the game a lot more fun to play, IMHO. Overdrive moves don't even have trigger sequences, you just hit two buttons at once! Desperation moves are pretty much identically triggered for each character (forward, back, forward, triangle) and can apparantly be used only ONE time per match (no more infinate Sophia spins!).
Okay, new stuff: Where to begin? Every character has simple Tekken-ish combos of four or so button presses, you can juggle characters in the air, off of walls and off the ground. Each character has one or more "power" attacks that render them temporarily invincible and let them cut through an opponents incoming attack & hurl them to the far wall. If a character is thrown into a wall, they can rebound off it and leap back to counterattack. All the really powerful special attacks (like desperations, overdrive attacks, etc) black out the background to highlight the graphics and lighting effects of the attack. Even with all these over the top graphic effects (trails following weapons, lighting effects, texture maps everywhere), the frame rate seems quite a bit better than Toshinden 2. Each character has a "super" attack that they can perform twice for each round in the match (ie- if you are playing one round, you get two supers. If you play two rounds, you have four). Its effect is different depending on whether its triggered in the air or on the ground. Characters that have guns (Vermillion, David & Nagisa) each have "clips" shown above their health meters. They can only shoot until they empty their clip. Nagisa can reload, but only by using his overdrive attack. That should deal with the unbalancing effect Vermillion had. The game plays much faster and more furiously than either of the other Toshindens, and is much more fun as a result. If you want to get really crazy, you can play in 60fps mode. This turns off ALL texture maps on the backgrounds, and all gouroud shading on the characters, although they keep their texture maps. While this mode is pretty ugly, due to the gradient-fill boxes that make up the background, it _is_ lightning fast and easier to follow (more frames per animation, weapons and effects are much more visible against the plain background, etc.).
Anyway, it's getting late, so I'll quickly describe the initial 14 characters (looks like they each fight a mid-boss & then one or two boss characters).
Eiji: Pretty much the same but with way cool special effects.
Kayin: Again, much the same, but very kick-oriented. He even uses a kick as his "parry" move.
Bayhou: My guess is this is actually Fo, under some sort of curse. He's a white furred baboon critter with a cowl and claws strapped to his hands. All his moves are Fo's. To taunt, he turns his back, lifts his tail and gestures at his bare rear while going "Oogie Oogie". Really fun to annoy people with...:)
Rungo: Very cool looking with a nasty parry. Slow as ever, but he seems a LOT stronger. Summons a giant boulder out of the ground to shove opponents into the ceiling.
Mondo: Has a cool new move where he leaps into the air, spins his spear to create a flaming shield while hurling fireballs in all directions.
Duke: YIKES! He's incredibly fast now, and his moves are much easier to activate.
Ellis: Not nearly as cheap as she used to be, she can't just slide & stab forever. Specials summon giant heart images to throw at opponents or surround herself with. Her daggers are much longer now, but her costume is about the same as in Tosh2.
Sofia: Hubba hubba! She's wearing nothing but a ribbon wrapped around her legs and across the front of her boobs! The whip looks great with trails following it constantly.
Tracy: Frankly, I don't think she looks as good as in Tosh2, but she's still a great character. She throws giant diamond shaped bursts of energy as a super move, very cool and nasty.
Chaos: Oddly enough, all of his attacks seem toned down now, compared to the increase in everyone elses...His running "grater" attack is great for tracking opponents, and he has "vomit" attacks that we haven't quite figured out the use of yet...
Gaia: He's friggen HUGE!!!!! I swear he's TWICE the size of Rungo, and looks great! The design is the same as Tosh2, but he carries his bulk visibly, hulking over the other characters menacingly. His sword is also cooler looking, and has an fantastic reach.
Nagisa: A big guy, looks like a hong kong action film cop. Great looking character, has an estending baton and a big, heavy gun. When he throws, he hurls his opponent into the air and blasts them with his pistol. He pulls his gun, ejects the clip, reloads and empties the new clip (twice!) at his opponent for his overkill move! His taunt is to contemptuously fire a shot into the air.
David: Looks like he could be Vermillions brother. Tall, lanky and wearing a trenchcoat. He uses a long, heavy chainsaw as his main weapon, but can taunt by firing his pistol at his opponent (also uses it after a throw to pump a shot at the victim). He's a lean, mean, combo machine. His moves seem slow and awkward, but once he gets moving, he just keeps going like an insane vegomatic, chainsaw buzzing and whining the whole time.
Shizuku: Looks like a geisha. Uses some sort of long cane or whip to fight with. Has lots of "magic" attacks with giant fireballs, invisible attacks, etc. Seems creepy for some reason (might just be the CGI intro prejeducing me though, she looks like an eerie china doll in it).
That's all I can think of for now, I'll try to post more information after I've played it some more. If you have any specific questions, email me and I'll try to answer 'em.