Toribash is a physics-based, turn-by-turn, meticulous, and extremely customizable fighting game by indie developer Hampus Söderström. With the ability to individually control joints and muscles, Toribash allows a huge array of possible moves, some of which can be amazingly spectacular. It really is a shame that the game has such a steep learning curve since running and jumping are almost impossible for most new players, reminiscent of QWOP in 3D.
Toribash was first started in March of 2006, and so far it has won a metric ton of indie game awards. But beware, the graphics are nothing more than shiny polygons, and the gameplay is absolutely nothing like any other fighter game out there. It is a slow turn-based fighting game, where players set up their muscle movements during the setup phase and then the game simulates the fight, often in intervals of only a second or two.
The controls are as follows: During the setup phase, click on the various joints and muscles to change whether they are either: relaxed, holding, contracted, or extended. Certain body parts such as shoulders and chests can also be raised or lowered, or twisted right or left. Fast clicking and thinking are essential because to successfully play you have to move dozens of muscles in one short turn, consisting of no more than 15 seconds at times. Meanwhile, you are shown a projected preview of how this turn will play out. When the setup phase ends, the actions that you selected are carried out and then the game pauses again for you to decide what to do.
To win, you either get the opponent to touch the ground with anything but his feet or hands, or you knock him dead. Many losses are by people accidentally falling and losing matches for themselves, due to the difficulty of the game.
You’d be surprised how hard this game is. A human with his hand at his sides standing up has to do this to punch properly: Contract his pectorals, contract his biceps, contract his brachioradialis, contract his deltoids; then he has to contract his triceps, turn his hip, and contract his anconeus. For 1 simple punch. Granted this is simplified in this game, but not by much. More complex moves, like a 360 spinning hook kick practically take every muscle in your body, and controlling them effectively is no easy task.
This game is not a pickup and play. The learning curve is steep, but the rewards are high. It is best to play with a friend, and fight each other, giving each other tips and tricks. In the beginning, it may seem extremely hard, but accomplishing certain moves can be very amazing to see happen, and watching a successful move hurt your enemy while supplying you with satisfying effects, sound and points can be very fun.
There is a huge Toribash online community. Mods, Clans, Dance Troupes, Tutorials, Tutors, and Tournaments, it’s all there. There is also a huge Youtube community, showcasing video kicks perfected to the inch, capable of taking off the enemy’s head in one stroke. Some people get so good at this game, there is an example of one of two players kicking his own head off, then passing the “ball” to the other. This goes on for a couple of passes until the headless figure dies.
Overall, Toribash is a very deep and good fighting game once you are accustomed and used to the controls, but that may take a while. The graphics aren’t much to speak of, and sounds are nearly non-existent, but the game is free and the gameplay can get very fun.
Conclusion: Toribash is a great fighting game, although the learning curve is steep, and it seems that the amount of players is starting to decline.