Fighting fun bags.
The Dead or Alive series boasts an illustrious history dating back to 1997, when it debuted on the Sega Saturn. Renown for its glamorous graphics and an infamous passion to replicate certain assets of the female form, Dead or Alive has always managed to make the headlines. However, hidden underneath all the jiggling boobies and provocatively dressed women lies the framework of a slick, fast-paced fighting system.
Strikes beat throws, counters beat strikes and throws beat counters.
Based on a solid foundation consisting primarily of combos, countering and throws; Dead or Alive’s fighting mechanics rely on a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ type formula. Strikes beat throws, counters beat strikes and throws beat counters. It may sound confusing at first but after a brief adaptation period, the fluidity of Dead or Alive’s unique system is surprisingly rewarding. Deep, intricate combos can be learnt if desired, however, simple button bashing can produce devastating attacks making Dead or Alive: Dimensions refreshingly accessible for a fighting game.
The portable consoles have amassed many fighters over the years. From Darkstalkers to Street Fighter, the support has always been more than forthcoming from developers. However, in spite of the fact that the portables’ have received near pixel-perfect reproductions, the gameplay has inevitably suffered; handicapped by inferior controls. As luck would have it, Dead or Alive: Dimensions control set-up feels equally comparable to the previous, fully-functional console iterations. A simple control scheme that consists of using either the d-pad or circle pad to input directional commands, with the face buttons performing strikes, counters, throws and blocks; Dead or Alive is one of the first portable fighters which isn’t compromised by the hardware.
The 3DS d-pad is more than capable of handling the less complex directional inputs required in Dead or Alive, partially due to the absence of difficult quarter and half rotations found in other fighters. The face buttons are responsive and receptive to the speed of a player’s input, crucial to building match winning chain-combos or correctly timing counters.
Pretty Pocket Fighter
Dead or Alive: Dimensions boasts some of the most impressive visuals seen on the 3DS system thus far. Detailed character models, vivid back drops and a convincing 3D effect ensures that Team Ninja’s reputation for producing spectacular visuals remains firmly intact. The frame rate runs at an impressive 60fps, the new and desired standard for modern day fighters. Unfortunately, when the 3D slider is activated, the frame rate drops to 30fps. However, the frame rate is rock solid and, even when running at 30fps, Dead or Alive Dimensions’ gameplay is still silky smooth.
One of the distinguishing features of the Dead or Alive series is the ability to punish your opponent via the stage. Whether it be an electrified fence, knocking them down a flight of stairs, or smashing them through a conveniently placed object; fighting your opponent as well as the hazardous scenery can bring a unique twist to proceedings in what might otherwise be a normal fight.
Keeping You Interested
It’s important that fighting games include an array of modes to keep fans satisfied and add a sense of longevity to the gameplay. Thankfully, Dead or Alive: Dimensions doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
Chronicle acts as the story/tutorial mode, delving into the history of the Dead or Alive series introducing back stories and the characters. The story mode isn’t particularly interesting, with strange static models used instead of animated cutscenes. The 3D effects are utilised well however, with objects convincingly popping out of the screen.
Arcade is a relatively traditional mode involving a number of courses to clear, with the goal of beating your best times. It’s relatively easy so unless your obsessed with obtaining the fastest possible times, it’s not going to keep you interested for long.
Survival mode is probably the most disappointing of the available modes. Instead of the traditional never-ending stream of opponents, Survival mode in Dead or Alive: Dimensions consists of beating a set amount of opponents, the maximum being 100.
Tag Challenge is a tag based mission mode in which a team of two selected characters faces either one or two computer controlled opponents. The opponents pose a considerable challenge with intelligent AI and considerably more health. Unfortunately the Tag Challenge mode bizarrely allows you to only control one character, with the other character controlled by the computer AI. Relying on the computer’s talents (or lack of) can be absolutely infuriating at times, significantly hampering the experience of the Tag Challenge mode.
Refreshingly, Dead or Alive: Dimensions integrates the unique abilities of the 3DSeffectively; rather than shoehorning them in just for the sake of it. The accelerometers can be used to survey the stages shown on the menu screens, providing an augmented reality experience. 3D photos can be taken of collectable models (available for ogling at your pleasure in the gallery) and even the microphone can be used to call in none other than Samus Aran on the secret Metroid stage.
SpotPass and StreetPass features have also been included. Free alternate costumes can be automatically downloaded via SpotPass and ghost battles (created from a player’s individual fighting behaviour) are made available via StreetPass.
Online play adds a competitive edge to proceedings, with a stable, although not fantastic, network code. Boasting a roster of 26 characters, a wealth of unlockables such as collectible character figurines, custom announcers and a handful of alternate costumes (including some rather titillating costumes for the female characters); Dead or Alive: Dimensions will provide a minimum of at least 10 hours of solid gameplay, not bad for a handheld fighter.
The bottom 3DS screen is also used intelligently, providing your character’s move list. When inputting commands, the screen adapts by highlighting the combo or technique that you may be attempting whilst removing the unavailable options. It’s an intuitive system which encourages you to learn new techniques as well as helping novice players, efficiently negating the requirement of spending hours training.
How good is the 3D effect? The 3D effect is convincing, enhancing the backdrops and fighters; with the camera angle shifting when an opponent is sent flying into a new area of the stage. The 3D effects are especially impressive during the Chronicle mode. The 3D effects will be a trade-off for many fans who may prefer to have a smoother 60 fps frame rate. Verdict? Crank that slider up!
If you’re a fan of the Dead or Alive series and own a 3DS, then purchasing this game is probably a no brainer. Dead or Alive Dimensions is an enjoyable fighter, with great graphics and accessible controls. The fighting mechanics at its foundation are solid and rewarding; paramount to providing a satisfying experience. Admittedly, some of the modes on offer could have been better, with rather strange design choices hindering the possible potential. The difficultly of the AI can also be questionable at times, with fights eventually becoming a case of spamming a reliable move or simply out button-bashing your opponent. However, overall, Dead or Alive: Dimensions is a thoroughly entertaining and solid experience that fighting fans will certainly enjoy.