Toshinden was an original Playstation launch title - and one of the very first 3d fighters. It specialized in a more "Street Fighter"-like fighting engine, while other games like Virtua Fighter and Tekken used more realistic styles. On the Playstation, Toshinden was wooing people with its impressive graphics and nonstop camera movement, or at least it did so until Tekken came along. So how does this "Street Fighter in 3d" convert to the Saturn? Very very badly.
The Saturn port of Toshinden (roughly translated as "Tale of the Gods in Combat") was done by an internal team in SEGA, and this is evident right at the cheesy, absolutely boring FMV intro. The game has been dumbed down in virtually every way imaginable - the framerate is low, the graphics are low-res and blocky, the beautiful 3d backgrounds were changed to 2d images, and there are no transparency effects outside the ground - everything was replaced by meshed, dithered textures (the transparent dress of Ellis looks especially horrible). Other then Gaias and maybe Cupidos levels, every background is dull, lifeless, and ugly. The controls are much bulkier and slower, if you would not have hotkeys assigned to the special moves, the game would be unplayable. And what irks me the most, they used the music and voice acting from the american version of Toshinden.
A little bit of explanation here. Toshinden, when first released, used a lot of very good voice acting, in the Japanese Playstation version. When they brought the game overseas, they redid many of the voices (to the worse), re-arranged the music (subtle changes but again, to the worse), tagged it with a horrible boxart, and named it "Battle Arena Toshinden". The Battle Arena prefix later stuck in the series title and was used in Japan as well. They used the American audio for this Saturn game, so expect characters like Kayin having a high-pitched scottish accent, instead of the macho playboy bounty hunter voice he originally has. Of course, you will only notice this if you have played the Japanese PSX original, or the PC version where they kept all the original sounds.
So what else can be said about this Saturn port? The character selection screen has been redone using badly photoshopped (or more like, Paintbrushed) artwork from the original character designer (Tsukasa Kotobuki), which you can otherwise find in the Toshinden Drama CD booklets. There's a new battle mode, called Retsuden (or simply Story Mode in the usa/pal releases). Here, you have to fight through a prefixed set of enemies with a lot of pre- and post- fight talking. These actually make a lot of canon references - like the White Tiger sword that Eiji wields, or how he fought and defeated Duke before. Unfortunetaly the artwork for these scenes were not done by Kotobuki so they seem a bit out of place.
Furthermore, there's a new, hidden boss: Cupido. She is possibly the highlight of the game - her stage, only seen in Story Mode, is one of the most imaginative in the whole Toshinden series. She is also a canon character, designed by Kotobuki, who has major part in the series (as future mother of Eiji's nephew). Official artwork of her can be seen if you beat her in Story Mode, she is usually the last boss there.
What good can be said about this game? Well, the music is pretty good, even if its the bastarized american version, the tunes are still good. Especially the music used for the bosses, for example Sho uses an excerpt of J.S.Bach's famous Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. And Cupido has one of the best tunes in the whole series, even on the whole Sega Saturn - a powerful, symphonic metal tune, more enjoyable then the whole game put together. Also you have the storyline mode to keep you occupied, but thats about it - you decide if that's enough to buy a game which plays horrible and looks horrible too. I'd recommend this title only if you are a fan of the Toshinden series, since it is perhaps the only proper appearance of Cupido.