Head to Head

Battle Arena Tohshinden

Welcome again to Game Zero's "Head to Head". In this edition we pit the U.S. release of Takara's Battle Arena Tohshinden for the Sony PlayStation against Battle Arena Tohshinden Remix for the Sega Saturn. The purpose of this column is to help gamers choose the better version of a game in these days of high priced software. This column is not a comparison of which platform is better, only which version of a game is better.

Before I begin this comparison in detail, I would like to point out that all of the screen shots in this article were captured and processed in the exact same manner. The odd framing of black areas around (in the Saturn pictures) or at the sides (in the PlayStation pictures) of these photos is the actual output of the game console in question, and is not a result of any post-editing in the capture process.

A select group of fighters from across the globe have come together to fight. Combat takes place in suspended arenas where fighting is restricted to a limited area. You win by either making several successful blows on your opponent and depleting their energy, by causing them to fall out of the arena, or by having the most remaining strength when the timer reaches zero. Each fighter excels in his or her own specialty, and only one will win the battles ahead.

[Saturn-Image 1]

The first and most basic difference between these two titles is that the Saturn release has a "Story Mode" and an additional Boss character. Unfortunately, neither of these really impacts much on the comparison due to the poor quality of their implementation by the programmers. The additional Boss is nothing to speak of really, and I have pretty much left him and the shared second Boss, Sho, out of this article. On the subject of the "Story Mode", it features static images with bad voice actors reading an even poorer script. I bring this subject up now since you don't have to play "Story Mode" to enjoy the game, and can easily ignore it. Therefore, I didn't consider it a plus or a minus in my comparison of the Saturn Tohshinden versus the PlayStation Tohshinden.

[PlayStation-Image 1]

Next I would like to talk about the graphics in this game; this is the area where the most blatant differences occur. As you will see from the numerous screen shots provided, the PlayStation release clearly surpasses the Saturn release in this area. For instance on Kayin's stage, in the PS Tohshinden (TSD for short) the buildings that surround the arena feature huge TV screens which display your camera view on them. On the Saturn TSD, these TVs are completely removed (see below).

[Saturn-Image 2] [PlayStation-Image 2]
[Saturn (left), PlayStation (right)]

Another place for heavy comparison would be Fo's stage. This stage's biggest difference is in the background, outside of the play arena. In the PS TSD release the clouds that swirl around the arena are fully transparent and have a swirling motion to them. As well, from time to time faint bits of translucent clouds billow up from the swirl high into the air. On the Saturn release, the base clouds that float around the platform are a solid mass with no transparency to them, and the same applies to the cloud trailers that billow up - making them more white blotches than clouds. You can also see a difference in resolution in the characters themselves here. For instance, look at the images below, specifically Fo. You can see in the PS release that Fo's clothing holds a very fine pattern on it with very smooth shading down his pants. In the Saturn release, the pattern on Fo's clothing is not as detailed looking and the shading to his pants is grainy.

[Saturn-Image 3] [PlayStation-Image 3]
[Saturn (left), PlayStation (right)]

Speaking of character graphics, it would appear that there are less polygons used in the TSD characters for the Saturn. A good example here is Sofia. In the Saturn release, the front of Sofia's torso only appears to be a couple of polygons, specifically from her waist up to where her chest curves back to her neck. On the PS release, her chest is well separated from her abdomen, giving her chest more of a human curve to it, rather than a wedge shape. Also there seems to be an overall reduction in the color palette for characters. As well, you can really see the lower resolution of the Sofia on the Saturn release by a casual examination of the stripes on her leggings. Take a look at the two examples below of Sofia and you should be able to see what I'm talking about.

[Saturn-Image 4] [PlayStation-Image 4]
[Saturn-Image 5] [PlayStation-Image 5]
[Saturn (left-both), PlayStation (right-both)]

My last primary graphics comparison occurs on Gaia's stage. This stage best shows the drastic difference in details between backgrounds in both of these games. On the PS release of TSD, the arena floats inside a giant rotating torus (ie: hollow donut shape). Given the proper camera angle, you can see down into the torus, seeing the great depth and size of the shape that the arena floats in. It's actually quite impressive and adds to the whole mood of fighting Gaia. On the Saturn release of TSD, Gaia's arena floats in a large tube. The centerpoint of this tube is always dead ahead of the camera and it is always perpendicular to the camera lens (ie: you never get to see "down" the tube). The tube itself is painted with a texture map which rotates around the tube... and while the texture has a curve to it's pattern which can give the illusion of the ends of the tunnel dropping down away from the camera in a static image, when you're actually playing the game, it's totally obvious that that wall out there is perfectly flat. Take a look at the next two sets of pictures and you'll see exactly what I mean.

[Saturn-Image 6] [PlayStation-Image 6]
[Saturn-Image 7] [PlayStation-Image 7]
[Saturn (left-both), PlayStation (right-both)]

I would have to say that after presenting the above evidence, it's clear that the PlayStation release of Tohshinden is graphically superior in pretty much all ways. With out even getting into the issue of transparency in Ellis' clothing or overall game framerate, I would have to say that the PlayStation wins this category. For additional graphic side-by-sides as well as the remainder of this article (covering sound, gameplay, etc...) see the next page.

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