The first Playstation was easily the heyday for Squaresoft. After the colossal output on the Super Nintendo, big things were expected for the next generation of gaming. With Final Fantasy VII seemingly off on the distant horizon, fans were willing to scoop up anything from the prolific developer. The first Playstation game was not only an odd departure for the company, but included probably one of the the most important discs of the decade.
Tobal No. 1 is a 3D fighting game with character design by world renowned Akira Toriyama. Developed by DreamFactory, the game featured a small roster but decent gameplay with sound graphics for the time. Running at a smooth 60 frames per second, blocky polygons never looked so good. The typical fighting game modes of the time were included, single player, vs., and tournament, but an additional one made the game stand out, quest mode.
Quest mode was an RPG like dungeon that used the same mechanics as the fighting game. Players would make their way deeper into the dungeon, coming across items to heal themselves, as well as challengers to fight. To my knowledge, this is the first time a mode like this was included in a fighting game.
While Tobal No. 1 was sound, and a lot of fun, that wasn’t the main draw for many players. Included with the game was a demo of the still one year off Final Fantasy VII. The demo opened up in Midgar, playing out the assault mission with Cloud, Barrett, and Aerith in your party. For you kids that don’t remember, demos for games were incredibly uncommon before the PS3/X360. If you happened upon a demo disc, that would be the only way to play. Really only the PS1 released them. Also on the demo disc was videos for Final Fantasy Tactics, Bushido Blade, and SaGa Frontier. Again, no Youtube or any such online videos so this was the only way for many to preview the content.
Tobal No. 1 saw a Japan only sequel, aptly titles Tobal 2. The game brought back quest mode, bringing the total up to six levels, and increased the roster by a factor of ten. No joke, there’s about 100 playable characters. I loved the first game and hoped for a release of the sequel stateside, but alas, it was never to be. The second game sold poorly in Japan as gamers only bought it for the FFVII demo disc, so Square never saw fit to release it elsewhere. Pity.
If you get the chance to play this, and can look past the poorly aged graphics, there’s a lot to like here. One of the few fighting games I latched on to, I was sad to not see the series continue. Looking at DreamFactory’s later outputs, like Ehrgeiz or The Bouncer, maybe it’s for the best.
Did you pick this up for the FFVII demo? Wish the sequel released here? Comment below!
Listened to Tragic Kingdom on repeat while I played. Don’t ask.