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Tobal 2

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Released: 1997

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Squaresoft

Developer: Dream Factory

Let’s be honest with ourselves: a lot of early 3D games don’t look great today. Thanks to their blocky textures, low-resolution images and stilted animation, games of the mid-to-late Nineties can be excruciating to view without rose-tinted goggles. One game that fared better than most in this regard is Tobal 2.

Unlike the original game Tobal No. 1, which came out worldwide, Tobal 2 was a Japan-only affair. However, in most other ways it was a lot like its predecessor. Tobal 2 features a unique grapple system that gives players the flexibility to move, throw and strike their foes. The characteristic Quest Mode that placated Squaresoft fans hoping for an RPG returned too, as did the eccentric character designs by famed Dragon Ball Z/Chrono Trigger artist Akira Toriyama.

However, the reason it looks so good today is because Dream Factory favoured performance – rather than going for fully textured characters, the developer chose gouraud shaded polygons with simple ground textures. This enabled a high resolution, 60fps image that showed off the awesome animation of the game and still looks great today. Better yet, the fighting engine at the heart of all of this is very worthwhile, as the game was directed by 3D fighting game pioneer Seiichi Ishii, director of Virtua Fighter, Tekken and Tekken 2.

So don’t fear a second look at this lesser-known gem. Not only is it one of the better B-tier fighting games on the PlayStation, it’s guaranteed not to make your eyeballs bleed through sheer age-related wear.