Genre: 3D Beat-Em-Up | Developer: Team Ninja | Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platform: Nintendo 3DS | Players: 1-2 | Rating: TBC | Release: TBC March
If ever there was a series that would benefit from 3D graphics, this would be it. However, for some reason, Team Ninja have opted to go with the actual fighting part of the series rather than the bouncy volleyball one. See, they missed a trick there.
So while we wait for the inevitable 3D port of PSP perv-simulator Dead or Alive Paradise, we’ve got the 3D fighter Dead or Alive Dimensions to keep us occupied.
The Dead or Alive series has always been known for its cutting edge graphics – DoA2 blew Dreamcast owners away, while DoA3 and DoA4 set the early visual benchmarks for the original Xbox and Xbox 360 respectively. Dead or Alive Dimensions continues this tradition with aplomb. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and is even rendered at a quick 60fps – essential for the fighting genre where quick reactions are vital to secure victory.
Another thing that Dead or Alive is famed for, besides the assets of characters lacking Y chromosomes, is fast and fluid combat. And once again, Dimensions does the series proud. The fighting engine is nigh identical to the last outing on Xbox 360, and it’s just as easy to execute moves using the 3DS controls. The characters themselves all retain their moves and combos (I like purple-haired ninja nymph Ayane the best), and victory is secured through furious combos, clever positioning and second-guessing your opponent’s next move. You see, Dead or Alive has always had something of a Rock, Paper, Scissors approach to combat; punch/kick beats throw, throw beats block/counter and block/counter beats punch/kick. Anticipating what your opponent will do next, and deploying the right move to beat it, was always one of the more thrilling aspects of the game.
So, in a nutshell DoAD is a Dead or Alive game in 3D, on a handheld. Which is high praise indeed given the series’ calibre as a fighting game. But there are some new additions for the DoA’s Nintendo debut. Of most interest to series veterans is the Chronicle mode, which promises to delve deeper into the Dead or Alive universe by retelling key points in the storyline through battles and cut-scenes. The scene I was able to play through, for instance, centred on the moment when series mascot Kasumi attempts to leave her ninja village to search for her missing brother, and is confronted by a vengeful Ayane on a precarious rope bridge. Fighting follows and is swift and brutal, and eventually sees me, as Ayane, victorious. I’m then treated to a cut-scene of Kasumi’s escape via helicopter, aided by the assassin Christie. It was a pretty cool experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other battles Team Ninja pull out of the bag.
Dead or Alive Dimensions also makes use of the touch-screen, where the character’s moves are displayed and ready to be executed at a touch. I’m not sure how well this control scheme would work if used exclusively or competitively as you’ll need to scroll through to find the move you want, but it’s certainly an easy way in for series newcomers and a handy tool for veterans as well. Having some of the game’s trickier moves (Hayabusa’s ridiculous spinning teleport throw anyone?) available for deployment instantly is certainly a potent weapon in anyone’s arsenal.
The final major 3DS-exclusive feature, is the game’s use of the StreetPass system. The game will make a note of your playing style over time, creating a kind of ghost-data, and when in StreetPass mode, an AI based on hat data will be broadcast to any other Dimensions players nearby to fight. I didn’t get a chance to try this out for myself, but it could make the morning commute more interesting.
Dead or Alive Dimensions, then, delivers everything the series is known for in one handy portable package, with some extra tools and modes thrown in for good measure. Well played Team Ninja, well played. Now get to work on the 3D boobie volleyball simulator.