Have You Played… Toribash?

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.


  1. Kefren says:

    I have vague memories of flailing at this, but found Sumotori to be more accessible link to gravitysensation.com
    Both can crack you and your opponent up if you’re in the right mood.

  2. The Crane says:

    Toribash is amazing. I was completely addicted for a while.

  3. dystome says:

    I played it enough to see the potential but could never be bothered to put in the work to become good at it. It’s decidedly slow progress.

  4. CartonofMilk says:

    many nights of senseless fun playing this online with my brother (and occasionally my cousin would join too) something like two or three years back. We eventually went looking for modded rooms for extra craziness. I remember that one with the pendulum fondly.

    In this game you have to accept that you may lose just because you failed harder than your opponent. It’s about failing less more than winning. That being said with enough practice there are some things you get to learn how to sorta do and you also learn what you should attempt when things go tits up. But still for me it was always more about not failing as hard as my opponent. There’s luck involved too since you can never tell what your opponent will try next. Your attempt at something vaguely resembling a flying kick was going so well until this ASSHOLE decided to grab your left arm you recklessly didnt hold close to your body.

    Earlier this year i was at my brother’s and we were looking for something to play against each other, i suggested we Toribash again. Unfortunately so much time away from the game meant i didn’t remember what to move and how to get the results i wanted. The gameplay is so unlike any other games ever made that its not like say an fps in which you can jump in and even if you’ve never played that particular one, you can still do well because you’ve spent years honing your FP shooting skills. You have to learn this game starting from nothing. It’s not even like having handled your own body’s movements all your life helps that much. You’d think it would be of some help but when you kick, do you have to consciously think about which muscles you need to contract, retract or hold? Of course you don’t. Well this game asks of you to know EXACTLY how to use your muscles. It’s like if you were playing someone’s brain.

    I tried to get in actual rooms with strangers only a handful of times, there are real pros in this game and they’ll slaughter you. I think its a game best enjoyed played with friends who are about as clueless as you. I remember winning matches more through luck than anything against players ranked way better than me and one got upset that i “didn’t know how to play”. Hmm, buddy, you’re playing toribash, surely you realise by now this isn’t an exact science and that yes, i may win pretty much doing random shit.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    Less “played” and more, “booted up once and retreated with my tail between my legs.” Toribashes’ difficulty curve makes Dwarf Fortress look like a casual game. At least, if the intent is to be good at it.

  6. SlimShanks says:

    Oh that was a fun game! I would love to have a newer more balanced version, as the multiplayer of Toribash is dominated by people who abuse physics bugs to throw mach one punches.
    Once I had a guy kick my head off and jump away to safety having taken the lead in points. I grabbed my head out of the air and threw it at him so hard it hit his chest and made him burst into five pieces. Another time I split a guy in half with an uppercut to the nads :D
    Really the game is best played for lulz, with a friend who appreciates physics silliness.

  7. Sailordude9980 says:

    Great review! I really enjoyed the interaction between the reviewers. Shows a different way of looking at a game.
    Pip, you nailed it, this my core philosophy on gaming:
    “Pip: I think that’s the thing. I’m fine with losing when I’m learning.”
    I am adding that sentence to my signature (will credit you)

    Keep up the great work

  8. Turkey says:

    Who is this doing this type of alpha beta psychedelic funkin’?