First Impressions: Dead or Alive: Dimensions

A contender?

Capcom's Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition may have been many attendee's standout game of the show, but Tecmo Koei's first portable Dead or Alive title had its fair share of admirers throughout the Discover 3DS event. We put the fighter through its paces and attended Team Ninja's developer roundtable to bring you all the information you need to know.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions captures the series' signature pace and fighting fluidity with aplomb, and the back-and-forth bouts will be instantly familiar to veterans of Tecmo's long-running franchise. With only four command buttons instead of Street Fighter's six, DoA feels at home on the 3DS straight away: there's less finger-knotting than Capcom's title, with easy access to major buttons, but Team Ninja has gone one further with the addition of a touchscreen command list.

The bottom screen houses a full move list, with a scroll bar to navigate, and pulling off anything on the list is as simple as tapping it: multi-throws, holds, wake-up moves and more can all be performed with a tap of the stylus. It's a deceptively simple system, with novices tempted to execute the most complicated-looking command on-screen with no regard for strategy, whereas experts will scroll the list with ease to pick out precisely the right move as necessary.

The list's real strength however is as an interactive reference guide when using the buttons: the bottom screen will highlight possible follow-ups to your attacks, helping you chain moves together without the need to keep referring to a lengthy manual or tutorial. It's almost like a tutorial through fighting: you can see the required commands, tap them to see the CPU execute them or try them yourself. Dead or Alive is arguably a more accessible fighter than the Virtua Fighters of this world, but the touchscreen move list could yet be its best move towards easing new players into a world of complicated multithrows and spectacular juggle combos.

However you choose to control your pugilist, the game looks great with the 3D on or off. When playing with the depth slider all the way to the bottom the game runs at 60 frames per second, but activate the 3D - even just a tiny bit - and the game's framerate switches to 30fps. It's a noticeable change but not as big a problem as it sounds: the game's producer Mr Hayashi explained the game is still calculating at 60fps, so although frames are being dropped it isn't introducing any input delay or causing any other adverse effects.

Seeing the game in 3D is often breathtaking, with the series' trademark spectacle present in spades. Cutscenes show darts, bullets, fireballs and more all flying around with great speed, and destructible arenas mean plenty of impressive transitions between fighting areas, with combatants getting smashed through windows and falling off bridges with great relish.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions also looks set to use the StreetPass feature in an innovative way. As you play the game in single-player, it will begin to build up a picture of your fighting style: your favourite character, attacks and weaknesses, and turn these into an avatar. When passing another DoA player using StreetPass, your avatar will be exchanged with their machine, letting the player take them on later without having to be online. Its closest comparison is a Ghost mode in a racing game, and Hayashi spoke of his hope that players will always have someone new and interesting to play using this mode, even for players unable to access the Internet.

Regrettably the feature that will surely secure Dead or Alive: Dimensions its place in the pantheon of fighting games - that is, the ability to make breasts bounce by shaking the 3DS - was not available in the demo we played, but Hayashi confirmed this is a real feature and one he expects players will enjoy.