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Toribash - WiiWare Review

Game Info

WiiWare | Nabi Studios | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer) / 2 Players (online versus) | Out Now | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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10th August 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

A larger number of fighting games today hold to principles that have players thinking on their feet and mashing buttons. So when more unique titles come along that make use of new methods of offering tense gameplay, my interest levels increase. Toribash is one of those intriguing games where you actually have time to think before you pull off a move. Rather than acting out of haste, players will find themselves very challenged as they try to make the best of the mechanics provided at a more friendly pace.

    Right off the bat, Toribash prevails at coercing players into developing stratagems that are relevant to the here and now, differing as the need arises. The entire setup is very different from traditional fighters, in the sense that you won't find yourself scrambling to input various button combinations just to survive. No, this is a game where experimenting is crucial, and creativity is secretly encouraged. Quick responsiveness may give you a slight edge, but it's not a must in order to succeed. Players are given an adequate time frame to judge the situation before them, trying to predict the opposition's next move. Keeping a close watch on opportunities for openings is important, as it allows you to possibly counter an attack before it becomes deadly.

    The in-game Tutorial is where you'll want to begin for the first time. You'll run through everything from the rules of the game to understanding what's involved in pulling off a basic jump. Once you get into a lesson, you'll instantly observe this game's odd controls. The camera has been mapped to C and Z Buttons on the Nunchuk, while the Analog Stick and A Buttons are used to isolate a particular joint. If you're thinking, "That doesn't sound very intuitive at all", you're absolutely right. But that's what the developers decided to do, so you'll just have to work with what you're given. 

When you select a joint, you can alter movement using 'Relax' and 'Hold' functions. As you begin to create your move, a ghost demonstration goes into effect, serving as a guide as to how the next few frames will transpire. When the timer runs out, the game will transition from a stand-still into real-time for a few seconds. As frames go by, you can see your move executed on-screen as well as your opponent's. Every hit that you land on your rival will earn you a series of points, depending on the level of damage inflicted. If you manage to knock your opponent down by force and one of their limbs touch the floor, they'll be disqualified.

    Performing an impressive attack is actually quite complicated, but it would've made things a little easier had they given more thought to the controls. The only place where the developers took advantage of what they had to work with was with Joint Boosts, executed with the shake of the controller. The fact that they didn't make use of the Wii Remote's pointing capabilities for easier navigation is really disappointing. Still, having such control over your character's body is really cool. While the possibilities may not be "endless", there certainly is an abundance of combos you can create. During many of your initial plays, you'll execute only a basic kick or a slap on the face. It's only after spending great amounts of time with it that you'll begin to notice your skills improve. The more experiences you have with the game, the more epiphany-like moments you'll realize on how to improve.

At the conclusion of a match, you'll be able to see your entire match without all of the freeze action moments by means of a built-in replay feature. Seeing everything strung together so quickly is pretty exciting to watch. These replays can be saved to your Profile and then sent to friends you've registered on your Wii Address Book, thanks to WiiConnect24. It's a great feature that almost goes towards building a community outside those who frequent the PC release.

    Aside from the Tutorial aspect, there's a bunch of options to choose from via the Main Menu. You can participate in a local match against a CPU or a second player nearby. If you're feeling confident, you can take your fighter online to battle other Toribash players from around the world. This is one of the game's main draws - after all, one can only play against the CPU for so long before you begin longing for more of a challenge. Interestingly enough, witnessing yourself get pummeled by wicked moves actually motivates you to keep on improving your skills to see if you can emulate those same skills, or even do better.

    In addition to being able to tailor gameplay to suit your needs, players are also given the ability to adjust their Toribash fighters to make them look more appealing. Simple features such as hair style, and body colour are just two examples of the different things you can play around with. There's not a whole lot of options, however, meaning that you shouldn't be too surprised if you see a lot of opponents online who look very similar or totally identical to the fighter you've customized.

There's very little ambience to the action that takes place in this game, which is a weakness in itself. When dismemberment of body parts takes place, animated blood is shown in the form of paint-like blotches. If you find this to be unsettling, the colour can be adjusted to something that less resembles the red fluid you know all too well. Backgrounds are blank with all of the focus being on gameplay and the situation at hand. Some external visualization effect would've been nice to add visual tension, because without it, things seem a bit bland. And having no music doesn't help either. They essentially threw away something that could've been a big strength to their package, which wasn't a good move in my eyes. At the very least, there are impactful sound effects when fighters make contact, adding a dangerous feel.

    Replay value in this game is high, with experimentation being a driving element that keeps players toying with different movesets and possibilities. And being able to exchange replays with friends and head online certainly go a long way to promoting replayability in this game. However, even with the online capabilities and the focus towards personal improvement, 1,000 Points is a lot to pay for this game. Especially so when you stack this up against the free PC release. Fans of this game who tried this game before the WiiWare version are likely to be the biggest supporters of this game. Potential consumers, on the other hand, are likely to walk away from this thinking they can just stick with the initial release instead and spare the points. And this could be a rather large hurdle for Nabi Studios to tackle if they hope to succeed with this project in the long run.

Toribash is one of those games you may appreciate only after many sessions of trial and error. The structure won't give you instant satisfaction, what with the odd control choice the developers made. Plus, the developers could've done more to make the game look and sound more appealing. Still, Toribash features a unique take that's a welcome change from your typical fighter. It sports a hefty price that most just won't be willing to overlook. If you don't mind paying for it, and are willing to put a lot of time into this, Toribash is a pretty cool game for devoted gamers. But at the same time, it won't please everyone.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10 - Unique concept, controls leave much to be desired, quite complicated but rewarding for those who master the system 
Presentation 6/10 - Animated blood and dismemberment, background is dreadfully plain, enhanced only by the aforementioned blood and some special
Enjoyment 3/5 - Doesn't become very enjoyable until much later, many will lose interest after a while, online battles are varied and challenging
Extra Content 4/5 - Various elements of customization, can send replays to friends via WC24, online battles, steep price tag

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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