Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Fighting games have developed down their own rabbit hole, till they’re about precision execution of multi-button combos, invincibility frames, and other inaccessible gubbins I’m very bad at. Toribash throws all of that out for a turn-based system of moving physically-simulated fighters.
Choose a part of a limb, and choose its direction of movement. In other words: bring your thigh up like this, twist your knee like that, and stretch out your calf like– Shit, I fell over. The player whose head touches the ground first loses, and when you’re new to the game the best strategy is often to simply do nothing while your opponent topples themselves to the ground.
Get to grips with the movement system a little and you can start to land blows, curling and twisting yourself like a cat so as to land on your hands and feet afterwards. Get a little bit better and you can start to dismember your opponent, tearing off their polygonal arms or kicking off their ball-shaped heads. Play it for thousands of hours and, well:
It doesn’t look much like actual fighting. It’s still its own, weird niche. But it’s a different niche. I’ve never done anything remotely resembling the above, but it’s never less than fun to tumble and fall over in multiplayer, and I dearly wish more fighting games were following it down its rabbit hole.