After originally releasing on both the PC and Mac, Toribash has finally made its way onto Nintendo's WiiWare platform, a platform that it seems tailor made for. Why is that? Well, Toribash is a rather quirky fighting game that offers something quite different from the norm. It opts to slow things down a bit and offers a turn-based environment for some extreme carnage.
Usually this is where I'd go on to talk about the story, but that's quite difficult as there isn't one at all. It's a fighting game and as a player the purpose is straight forward - to enter the online world and kick, pummel, dismember and destroy your opponents. Because there isn't any focus towards a story the only other alternative offline is to do training where it's possible to practice moves on a dummy opponent in order to see if a technique will actually work first. However, online this of course relies on your opponent letting that actually occur.
It probably sounds like a generic beat-em up, but it's nothing like the straight forward button combination mashing games. Instead the action takes place in an entirely turn based arena, where players must manipulate one of 20 nodes to move various body parts. Using combinations of these enable actions to be made, and then the enemy gets to do the same number of actions in retaliation. A player can make a set number of movements within a given time frame, and then the turn is ended playing out a portion of the actions, both players can then see a ghost of what will happen if the move remains in the way it is allowing both to attempt to compensate or force the move to continue further. This continues until either a player is ringed out of a square arena space, dismembered or anything other than their hands or feet touches the floor.
It's a very strange formula and while the learning curve is extremely steep, once players get the feel for it, it becomes somewhat addictive and very fun to play. Trying to find ways to grab your opponent and stay in a good stance while also trying to force them to the ground is rather tricky. There is also, of course, the option to just rip their limbs off instead, which is extremely satisfying. Initially though while learning the controls and doing the tutorials the information giving to the player is a little bit overwhelming and for the most part falling over seems to happen a lot until motions are perfected. But there's a lot of scope for being good and then being really good. Investing the time to understand how to chain together motions is very rewarding when an opponent gets obliterated.
Controlling the game is quite basic and players won't find themselves really stuck for time while deciding the best course of action for their turn. Essentially though the game is controlled by using the left analog stick on the nunchuk and this allows the various nodes to be selected. Pressing A on a node toggles the direction it will rotate, pressing up and down on the D-Pad changes whether it is relaxed or held, and then by flicking the Wii Remote, more force can be added to the motion. It's possible to relax all the joints and stiffen them all as well using the - button and the C and Z buttons in conjunction with the analog enable players to move the camera more freely to see the joints. Though it is worth noting it's possible to end up completely confused on where ones arm actually is upon getting really tangled with the opponent.
As mentioned before, though the gameplay is strangely addictive and satisfying, and there is so much potential for combinations and moves - the scope is really unlimited. Many wins or losses will be extremely memorable and the game allows players to actually save these replays which is always a good thing. It's possible to relive that amazing moment where the opponent pulled your head and arm off, but ringed out, so they still lost.
There are a few things that prevent the game from pushing to the next level though and one of those is the replay factor. There's only the online to really entertain, if that doesn't see enough players using it then there isn't really anything else to do on the game unless a player has someone else to play with on the local 2 player side. While there is also customisation to some degree allowing players to change the appearance of their characters it is also somewhat minimal.
But there is a lot of reasons to play online, only it might become repetitive if opponents fall into trying to do the same moves over and over. There isn't really much to be said for the graphical side of the game too, its simplistic and designed purely to give the most freedom with controlling the character, though it's given character by the rather over the top violence when a foe is decapitated.
Anyone looking for a very unique online experience should definitely give Toribash a try. The learning curve can be quite steep, but due to the nature of the game, this makes things much more rewarding. However, the the game is quite linear in its approach keeps this game from becoming truly special. If the online audience doesn't embrace it well, the reasons for playing become extremely limited unless the 2 player option offline is enough to keep players attracted.