Battle Arena Toshinden (バトルアリーナ闘神伝 Batoru Arīna Tōshinden?) is a weapons-based fighting game for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC. It was one of the first fighting games to boast polygonal characters in a 3D environment. It was an early killer game for the PlayStation, and Sony promoted it eagerly. However, they soon left the series, which was published by Playmates Interactive. By that time, fighting games like Tekken started emerging and Battle Arena Toshinden quickly declined in popularity. However it did spawn Battle Arena Toshinden 2, 3, and 4, along with many spin-offs and ports.
Battle Arena Toshinden was the first 3D weapons fighter, and was succeeded in spirit by Soul Edge and other games of the genre.
"Eight travelling fighters, brought together by a common destiny, now meet at the Battle Arena Toshinden: a fighting tournament hosted by a mysterious organization known only as the "Secret Society."
Many years have passed since this tournament, known only to those in the underworld, was last held.
Some fighters have come for personal glory. Others have come to fight for those they love, but all will do their best to be victorious in this tournament which will decide their fortunes".
Each character has his or her own unique set of basic moves, special attacks, and a desperation attack that can only be used when the player has low energy (around 10% or less). The player is able to move in 3D using the L/R shoulder buttons, which makes them dodge projectile attacks, or get away from a dangerous spot. However, if they consistently move too far away from the arena, they will fall off it, resulting in a "ring out" and thus they lose the round.
Players move using the directional pad. Holding the backwards directional button allows the player to block basic attacks and reduces most of the damage from opponents' special moves. Players can also run by quickly tapping the forward directional button.
Initially playable characters
- Eiji Shinjo - A young Japanese swordsman seeking to find his long lost older brother, Sho.
- Kayin Amoh - A Scottish (later retconned as English) swordsman who happens to be a friend and rival of Eiji. He seeks to avenge the death of his foster father, who was killed by last year's champion.
- Sofia - A blonde Russian woman who works as a private detective. She seeks to find her lost memory.
- Rungo Iron - A strong, yet kind-hearted miner who seeks to rescue his wife and son from the Secret Society.
- Fo Fai - An eldery Chinese magician who doubles as a cold-hearted killer.
- Mondo - An emotionless ninja warrior who infiltrates the tournament under orders from a rival group of the Secret Society.
- Duke B. Rambert - A chivalrous French knight who seeks to find and defeat Eiji in order to avenge a past loss against him.
- Ellis - A cheerful dancer of a traveling theater troupe who seeks to discover on whether or not her father is still alive.
- Gaia - The sponsor of the tournament and "final" boss of the game. His reasons for holding the tournament in the first place is shrouded in mystery. He is known to be the father of Ellis.
- Sho Shinjo - The secret and true final boss of the game. He is a merciless swordsman who holds nothing back from within the fights that he participates in. He is Eiji's older brother.
- Cupido (Sega Saturn version) - A mysterious woman who speaks with cryptic riddles and messages. Her past is shrouded in mystery and not much is known about her.
- Uranus (Game Boy version)
- Earthworm Jim (PC version)
Battle Arena Toshinden was awarded Best Fighting Game of 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. However, during their 200th issue leadup, they ranked Battle Arena Toshinden as their single most overrated game. When asked if it was still a good game, EGM replied "Oh hell no."
Battle Arena Toshinden was also ported to a few other systems:
Toshinden Remix (Sega Saturn)
The original PlayStation version was ported by Nextech/Sega to the Sega Saturn under the name Toh Shin Den S in Japan and Battle Arena Toshinden Remix in the United States and Europe. A few new features were added, including an exclusive new character called Cupido and a different story mode.
Toshinden PC (PC)
Developed by Digital Dialect, this is a DOS port of the PlayStation version that adds an exclusive new character, Earthworm Jim, complete with his own unique arena music, but he only uses the moves of Rungo Iron. It also supports resolutions up to 640x480.
Interestingly, the PC port uses the Japanese PlayStation version's voices and music in all regions, unlike the original PlayStation version. There also exists a German specific version of the game, though the differences it has to the non-German version are unknown.
Toshinden Game Boy (Game Boy)
The first game was also ported to the Super Game Boy and was produced by Takara, titled Nettou Toshinden in Japan. The game is based mostly on the original PlayStation version, but it includes a slightly altered story mode and an early appearance of the character Uranus and the Battle Arena Toshinden 2 version of Gaia (without his armor).
A new Toshinden game was unveiled in Weekly Famitsu in 2008.  It is being developed by DreamFactory for the Wii and as of this post has no connection to the previous games storywise. It is known as War Budokai, roughly translated as War Tournament. While the past Toshinden installments have featured mainly weapons-based combat, War Budokai will feature hand-to-hand combat alongside the weapons-based battles. A total of 8 characters have been unveiled in official illustrations. An official release date has yet to be announced.
-  at Central Park Media (Archive)
- Battle Arena Toshinden at MobyGames
- Battle Arena Toshinden at Wikia