Game Review

Dead or Alive: Dimensions Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Dead or Alive, you're coming with me!

The 3DS is the first console to bring us a glasses-free 3D experience, and now it's home to another genuine first: Dead or Alive: Dimensions is the first Dead or Alive game on a Nintendo platform in the series’ 15-year history, and it contains everything that's made the franchise so popular among fans and so bizarre to outsiders.

Whereas Capcom’s Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition was a port of a home console title, DoA: Dimensions is fresh to 3DS and wants you to know it from the get-go, the machine’s gyrometer letting you look around the stages displayed behind the menu. You also must unlock the majority of characters, with 25 fighters from DoA’s history, each with alternate costumes to earn through clearing the game or spending 10 Play Coins.

It’s understandable that many Nintendo fans won’t have a clue who these brawlers are, so Team Ninja has created the series-spanning Chronicle, a story mode that attempts to make a coherent narrative out of all four main games. While the occasionally featured rendered videos look incredible in 3D, the majority of the story is told through fully-voiced cutscenes that see fighters rooted to the spot in rigid poses, which jars with the otherwise highly kinetic style. Some cutscenes are fully acted, but many are moving camera shots of still characters, which can feel a little off-putting.

The cutscene-to-action ratio is also heavily weighted in the former’s favour at first, with only a few scraps that are over too quickly. As an introduction for players new to the series, the game imparts training advice along the way, easing you into the button controls as well as technical terms like Offensive Hold and Critical Stun, aiming to get you into the flow of battle step-by-step. It delivers most of these bite-sized training stages through Quick Time Events (QTEs) that see the action slow down and a command appear on-screen. These QTEs even appear in fights occasionally, serving as a reminder for the lesson you just learned, but they’re rare enough not to interfere with the game flow too much.

Chronicle Mode is a neat summation of the series’ spirit, if not its strengths: it’s decidedly daft, with a cast including a Mexican wrestler who excels at cloning humans, an opera singer in charge of an enormous conglomerate and a legendary Japanese supernatural being who crosses over to the human world. It’s fun, but not the game’s strongest mode, despite its top billing.

While Chronicle struggles to form an overarching story around 15 years of gaming, Arcade Mode is a perfect mesh of form and function. While SSFIV3D sticks to the traditional, DoA fires a series of single-round fights at you, pushing you to reach the best time. Clearing one course opens another, and so on until you unlock the sixth course and its much-anticipated final stage. This quickfire nature suits the handheld format brilliantly, letting you dip in for two or three minutes of fighting at a time, with a prize every time.

Those aiming for longer sessions will want to check out Survival Mode, which pits you against between ten and 100 fighters, your character recovering a small amount of health after each victory. There’s no save function, and reaching the final opponent in the 100 fighter challenge only to lose is absolutely as frustrating as you'd expect.

Tag Challenge treads the middle ground between the quick burst of Arcade and the war of attrition that is Survival. You and a CPU-controlled teammate take on expert opponents, who all deal more damage and feel less pain than your fighters, making conquering some of them an exercise in knuckle-chewing frustration rather than a finely-balanced chess game. What makes matters worse is the poor artificial intelligence of your partner, who will often stand dumbfounded when the opponent is wide open, only managing measly attacks in response to super-powered 11-hit combos. Were you able to control both characters, this mode would be far more enjoyable, but as it stands you’ll yell abuse at your ally as much as your opponent.

If you want to take on a human combatant, you can play either locally or online, with Wi-Fi running smoothly in our pre-release tests. All matches are ranked and there isn’t much in the way of options, but when playing against a friend it should do the trick.

There’s also the inventive Throwdown Mode that takes an artificial intelligence version of your fighter out on the road via StreetPass, with new opponents showing up to challenge you to fight at home. Like SSFIV3D’s Figurine Battle, only time will tell if this mode can become widespread enough to make it a worthwhile addition.

Lastly there’s a Figurine Mode that lets you take 3D photos of your collected figurines. With 1,000 different figures to collect there’s plenty here for completists, though earning a new one becomes less and less exciting each time, particularly as their only real purpose is looking at them.

DoA certainly boasts a long feature list, but all this would count for naught if the fighting itself weren’t up to scratch. Thankfully, DoA’s high-speed world of strikes, throws and holds has translated well, with the machine’s four face buttons more adept here than with Street Fighter’s six button scheme.

If you want to ditch the buttons, every combo, throw, kick and guard is available on a scrollable moves list on the touch screen, with just a simple tap required to pull off anything in your repertoire. The downside is you’re unable to execute shorter versions of the chains displayed, a necessary evil to keep the moves list somewhere manageable. Scrolling around is a chore at best, but its main appeal is as an interactive reference guide: pull off two punches and the list scrolls to show potential follow-ups, or how to execute powerful combination throws. It’s not a perfect system, and playing with the D-Pad and stylus feels impractical at best, but as an in-game guide it has value.

The use of a full 3D plane comes to life on 3DS, but it’s the context-sensitive moments that truly impress. Knocking your opponent through a window or down a hill sees some great camera work take over, and there are several over-the-top moments that were surely designed with 3D in mind — if you’ve always wanted to see a female wrestler ride a drunken kung-fu master down a snowy hillside like a sledge, this is the game for you.

One noteworthy point is the framerate, which has attracted plenty of discussion already. With 3D off the action moves at a lightning fast 60 fps, but with it on, it drops to 30fps, the same rate as Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. While the switch is visually noticeable straight away, it doesn’t affect the responsiveness or the speed of fights, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Conclusion

Dead or Alive: Dimensions captures the speed and spectacle that’s defined the series over the past 15 years, with a heightened sense of the extravagant made possible by the 3DS. Its wide array of modes offer different depths and lengths of play, although overall there’s a slight sense that it lacks a truly meaty challenge for expert fighters. Still, it’s an excellent first showing for the Dead or Alive series on Nintendo formats, and sufficiently different from Capcom’s fighter to warrant purchase.

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Game Trailer

Samus Aran and Ridley are trying to have a fight when Kasumi and Hayabusa from Tecmo Koei's Dead or Alive series pop up and start interfering

User Comments (70)

CowLaunch

#1

CowLaunch said:

I never really considered getting a game in this series, but I might buy this when I have a 3DS.

CorbsAdmin

#2

Corbs said:

Can't wait to take this one for a spin. Great review J!

Aviator

#3

Aviator said:

I'll never understand how they can fight and wear almost nothing at all.

ThomasBW84Admin

#4

ThomasBW84 said:

Great review James!

Man, I'm tempted, particularly as this one includes the cinematic flourishes in the fights; they blew me away at a preview event back in February. I'm interested in the story mode and getting into a new style of game, as well as the lore that goes with it. Decisions, decisions!

Link79

#6

Link79 said:

So between this and Street Fighter IV which do you all think is better?
Not sure I need two 3DS fighting games.

daznsaz

#7

daznsaz said:

9 oclock friday morning gamestation its in the bag had street fighter its ok for fans but prefer 3d fighters not long now does anyone know if pacman 3ds has a release date yet think its soon not sure

Shiryu

#8

Shiryu said:

A worthy addition to the 3DS still small but growing quality library.

potomas

#10

potomas said:

Will get this on Friday,think this will be better suited to 3ds than streetfighter.(no shoulder buttons)

KrazyBean

#11

KrazyBean said:

Nice! I'm gonna sell Rayman 3D for this...but then I'll have 2 3DS fighting games (I wouldn't have that much variety)...Oh well, Ocarina of Time 3D is only a month away anyway ;)

Can anyone recommend any launch title games for the 3DS apart from SSF4: 3D and PilotWings Resort? I don't like the idea of having 2 3DS fighting games...I want more variety.

Sylverstone

#12

Sylverstone said:

I'll consider this soon, but I'm not a heavy fighting fan.

I'll be waiting for Ocarina of Time 3D instead, with my birthday drawing near.

RonF

#13

RonF said:

Why exactly DoA deserved a lesser grade than SSFIV? For what I read it seems that the button/touch scheme and frame rate are better and both games seem pretty even in terms of features.

As they were reviewed by different people, I understand the standards may not be similar. As such, to include comparative perspective would be nice.

HanuKwanzMasBif

#15

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

As I said to my friend yesterday, "It really comes down to whether you want your anime girl's breasts jiggling smoothly or with depth."

HanuKwanzMasBif

#16

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

@KrazyBean Bust-a-Move Universe is overpriced but surprisingly fun, and the 3D works quite well. Or maybe you should just wait until June 7th, there'll be some interesting games available then no doubt. If that doesn't satisfy you, Zelda: OoT 3D is being released on June 19th and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on June 28th. Just have a little patience, fine fellow.

Highwinter

#17

Highwinter said:

If this was a launch game, I would have been all over it.. A little too late for me to be interested now, there's too many other great games releasing around the same time that I need.

Bacon_Gal_Blaze

#19

Bacon_Gal_Blaze said:

Hmmmmmm, i have only £30 left, and i've pre-ordered Ocarina Of Time 3D, should i use my last bit of money on DOA? But then i'd have 2 fighting games. Hmmmmmmm hard decision...

Samholy

#21

Samholy said:

i traded my street fighter because it got me pissed when i tried to play at harder levels.
also because after a couple of arcade sessions, you feel like youve seen it all already.
DoA might go differently, and it might not. i think ill pass this one until it goes used somewhere.

and what about boobs ? are they bouncing in three-dee ?

Odnetnin

#22

Odnetnin said:

Amazing tagline. It's kind of a phrase, but also saying it's Dead or Alive on the go.

Bass_X0

#24

Bass_X0 said:

So between this and Street Fighter IV which do you all think is better?
Not sure I need two 3DS fighting games.

They're completely different but equally good (well, I'm basing my opinion of DOA on the XBOX 360 version since I've not played this one).

i traded my street fighter because it got me pissed when i tried to play at harder levels.

DOA is traditionally notoriously harder than Street Fighter. I have difficulty with DOA4 on the easiest levels. The computer is likely just going to beat you mercilessly until you learn how to counter. Which requires precise timing.

LeasTwanteD

#25

LeasTwanteD said:

Nice review, James. Very funny tagline there. :D
I'm glad this game turned out well and am surprised to see how generous it is to newcomers. QTE's ? Very good idea !
Nice it somehow incorporates StreetPass. The different modes seem cool too. :)
I'm also interested in how the interactive moves list on the bottom screen works exactly. A wasted opportunity in Street Fighter IV in my opinion.
Once i find it for 30€ somewhere this game will be mine.

FonistofCruxis

#26

FonistofCruxis said:

I'm definetley gettting this over street fighter, I prefer the style of it. I also plan on getting Blazblue continum shift II at some point after its release.

Ren

#27

Ren said:

Wow, this sounds a lot more fun to me than SF is. I got SF because there was nothing else that looked good for launch but I'm itching for something else with a little story and more fun for cross town bus rides; this could be it. I hope I can get a reasonable trade for it.

KrazyBean

#29

KrazyBean said:

@24: Boss_X0
DoA: Dimensions is supposed to be aimed at the hardcore fans and the casual person looking for a good fighting game. That's why Tecmo Koei made it simpler.

If they made the difficulty ridiculous, the casual person will probably sell it the next day...casual players are not bothered to spend 100's of hours honing their skills in Training Mode.

MeloMan

#30

MeloMan said:

She STILL kicks high, I see :)

I've only ever dabbled in this series, same as the Street Fighter series, so I'll likely pass on this. I guess at this point, the 3DS' strongest genre remains fighters for now... can't wait for that to change :|

LordJumpMad

#31

LordJumpMad said:

I'm glad to see the 3DS is getting more Fighting games.

DoA looks great, and I'm not just talking about the way it looks.
The gameplay looks a bit more up graded, and sharper.

wanderlustwarrior

#32

wanderlustwarrior said:

Comment on the article: "ride a drunken kung-fu master down a snowy hillside like a sledge". I think you mean sled?

I want to get this game, though I'll have to save up and wait until possible hardware issues with the 3DS are found. If only I could find a place that had demos of the game.

Actually, I never found DOA that hard. The end bosses for the games I'd played were Tengu (in 2) and Alpha (in 4). Tengu was a bit challenging, while Alpha was just cheap. But nowhere near as bad as Night Terror (in Soul Calibur III, another game I was playing at the time).

Bass_X0

#34

Bass_X0 said:

I hate DOA4 Alpha. She violates my health bar without mercy. I've fought SNK bosses that were less cheap than her.

Glade

#36

Glade said:

Glad I didn't speond my money on the SF port :D This seems to be much more worth the price

BleachFan

#37

BleachFan said:

Happy to see it's a quality title. :)
This is probably the only 3DS game I've really looked forward to so far...

sinalefa

#38

sinalefa said:

@KrazyBean

How about Ridge Racer 3D? I got that one at launch and I have enjoyed it so far, it is a long game with plenty of cars to unlock, and it got pretty good reviews overall.

I got SSFIV (although I already have the PS3 version) and I am definitely getting this one. I think both games are very different although they belong to the same genre. Because of the button scheme and the kind of moves involved, this looks easier to control than SSFIV.

Mikau94

#42

Mikau94 said:

After seeing that video you put up last week, there is no way I am getting this game.

TikiTong

#43

TikiTong said:

Just none of the Dead or Alie Extreme nonsene,which in IMO is good,this is a real hardcore DOA title

zeeroid

#45

zeeroid said:

I'm impressed. I've never owned a DOA game before, and I think this might be the one after all.

SwerdMurd

#47

SwerdMurd said:

damn that looks really, really good...

Wish I'd waited on SF4... Everyone's already seen it--this would be a lot more impressive to first-time 3DS checker-outers.

Azikira

#48

Azikira said:

I assume Samus is not playable still? That would have sold it for me, but now I am not so sure.

Azikira

#49

Azikira said:

Heck, even a Samus costume for another character would warrant said purchase. It wouldnt be as cool as power-bombing my opponents, but it would suffice.

James

#51

James said:

@azikira Samus is not playable, but she does turn up to blow things up. Still cool.

@CerealKiller062 Yes, and yes.

@moomoo123 Not that I found, no.

@wanderlustwarrior Sledge is the British word for sled :)

As for why DoA isn't as good as SF, I personally feel Street Fighter is the more balanced and skilful game that emphasises mastery of a character, whereas DoA's more about having a good time, I guess. They're both great fighting games and plenty of fun, but SF just wins out.

daznsaz

#52

daznsaz said:

bit strange when american people tell english people how to spell words in the english language

CaPPa

#53

CaPPa said:

@KrazyBean
Ghost Recon Shadow Wars is an awesome game and out of all the launch titles that I bought (SSFIV, Pilotwings, Nintendogs, PES, GRSW) it is the one that I've played the most.

I can't wait to get Dimensions next week, as DOA is my favorite fighting series.

MeloMan

#55

MeloMan said:

"bit strange when american people tell english people how to spell words in the english language"

^
I LOL'd HARD at that one cause it's true! :D

theblackdragonAdmin

#56

theblackdragon said:

@daznsaz, @MeloMan: it's not spelling, it's the fact that it's a completely different word — in America, 'sledge' is short for 'sledgehammer', and it's close enough for a spellchecker to have made the change if it'd been typo'd. The differences between BrE and AmE are fun, aren't they? :3

daznsaz

#57

daznsaz said:

boom boom shake shake the room

im loving this game my 3ds has officially woken up just won my 1st online fight had to wait for them to fall through a glass roof to the floor to get my ko which was nice

Tate24

#58

Tate24 said:

Sooooo much better than SSF4 more modes far deeper move list plus proppa boss unlockable, characters, costumes. Figures. Plus the game uses all of features that 3DS has to offer!

Best 3DS title yet! Bravo! 9/10

Traxx

#60

Traxx said:

I start to prefer this game over SF43D, simply for the fact the 3DS' button layout is much more suited to pull out all the required moves.

Additonally, SF hadnt the feel to beat that game: all was unlocked pretty much right from the beginning. After beating the game at ultra hard, there just were not enough motivation left to unlock some medals or trophies for street pass matches u would hardly encounter.

I was annoyed about all those over-critical complains about the fps in DOA:D's 3D mode, since every 3DS game displayed in 3D mode will run with 30 fps. I dont feel I'm missing sthg when playing RidgeRacer3D in 3D mode. But for some strange reason this is much more obvious in DOA. It just doesnt feel good and hurts my eyes, so i prefer 2D while fighting. Cinematic 3D sequences in this game are a whole different story!

CaPPa

#61

CaPPa said:

@Link79
Personally I think that DOA is better than SSFIV. They both look good and have a ton of features but I often feel as if I'm wrestling with the SSFIV controls of the 3DS, where as DOA is smooth and responsive.

@Traxx
I find the 3D easier to handle in DOA, with SSFIV I always have to turn it of because it seems like a blurry mess when I try playing with it on. Plus some things just look better in 3D on DOA (the environments of course!).

Traxx

#63

Traxx said:

@62: You will fight the "avatar" of the streetpassed player. The avatar represents your most used character and has a difficulty level reaching from F to S. The level is based on your efforts against other players (Internet or Local) and SpotPass-Events.

chocolate_gal

#64

chocolate_gal said:

This is a great review! have the 3DS and I have been dying for this game! I have Dead or Alive 4 and Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. And now I have grown board of the two games and all my others. So here I am sitting on my couch playin nintendogs plus cats with the tv on then BAM! The new dead or Alive Demensions is out and about!

Supremeist

#65

Supremeist said:

@moomoo123 - Yes, It still exists. I just tried it, haha.

I also picked this game up today. It's great, the graphics are smooth, and the framerate is console like with the 3D effect off. I recommend playing with the 3D off, It makes it alot better.

dizzy_boy

#66

dizzy_boy said:

i bought this recently, and i`m just a bit dissapointed in it really.
the arcade mode is really a time attack mode not a proper fight 10 two round matches to get to the boss, the closest to an arcade mode is the free play mode where you can set up a match with how many rounds per match, time per round, and being able to choose your opponent and difficulty of the charecter you`re fighting against.
with the online mode against random people, you can`t set up rematches, so if you want to replay against somebody again you might be lucky if you get them as a random selection again.
there are some good sides to the game, there`s plenty of modes, charecters, stages and it`s nice to look at.
it`s just that the downfalls of the game let this one down, coupled with the fact it`s way too easy,
i`m glad i picked this one up cheap, i`d be gutted if i had paid full retail price for it.

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