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Dead or Alive is a 3D fighting game developed by Team Ninja and designed by Tomonobu Itagaki. The game was a last ditch effort from Tecmo to save itself from bankruptcy (hence the project name), and the game would prove a success. Dead or Alive was first released in Arcades in 1996, using the Sega Model 2 arcade board and the same engine as Virtua Fighter 2. It was later ported to the Sega Saturn in 1997 and later to the PlayStation in 1998. The PlayStation version was almost completely redesigned to accommodate the system's superior 3D capabilities. This version was later released in arcades as Dead or Alive . The Saturn port (rather than the PlayStation version, due to licensing issues from Sony) later appeared in Dead or Alive Ultimate for the Xbox in 2004.


Dead or Alive Gameplay (Saturn Version)

Although many would think that Dead or Alive would share many similarities with Virtua Fighter 2 (which used the same board), it was quite the opposite. In fact, the game was completely different from Sega's masterpiece. The most obvious difference was Tecmo's decision to implement a counterhold system in Dead or Alive, instead of the conventional blocking system that all fighting games used. Of course, you could still block in DoA, but countering was a much more effective and worthwhile method.

The other significant feature in the game was the Danger Zones. In each arena, there were areas that were labeled as Danger Zones, where your opponent would be knocked sky high if they happened to land on them after an attack. This would allow you to setup a powerful combo to knock them out. It's possible to escape the explosion from the Danger Zones, but the timing to pull it off was fairly strict, and you couldn't mash the buttons to escape it; Tecmo designed the technique in a way that if you happened to hit the buttons more than once when trying to escape, it wouldn't work at all.

The underlying foundation of the game was based on the classic "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game. In Dead or Alive, Throws would beat Counters, Counters would beat Attacks, and Attacks would beat throws. It was a simple formula that worked surprisingly well in the game, and despite every fighting game using this formula to some degree, it was more defined in Dead or Alive than in other games.


By completing the game each time using a character, the player can unlock additional costumes. Some costumes can only be unlocked on certain difficulties, however. Unsurprisingly, the amount of costumes that can be unlocked for the female characters greatly outnumber that of the male characters (Kasumi has 14 costumes, while Zack has just 5), presumably adhering to Itagaki's tastes. The game even has a 'Breast Bounce' feature in the options menu that can be disabled.



Nationality: Japan
Age: Unknown
Style: Ninjitsu
Occupation: Ninja

Kasumi's brother, Hayate, was next in line to succeed as the 18th master of the Mugen Tenkin Acedemy... Until one fateful day when an assassin attacked and crippled him. Her father Shiden was left bitter and refuses to mention the details sorrounding the attack. Kasumi wants revenge, and she's determined to succeed as the 18th master of the school.

Kasumi's Costumes
  • Shinobi Dress (Blue/White)
  • Shinobi Dress (Orange/White)
  • Ninja Outfit (Red/White)
  • Ninja Outfit (Black)
  • Seifuku (Blue/White)
  • Seifuku (Red/White)
  • Seifuku (Black)
  • Bunny Costume
  • Baseball Outfit (White denim overalls)
  • Baseball Outfit (Blue denim overalls)
  • Gym Outfit (Red/White)
  • Gym Outfit (Blue/White)
  • School Swimsuit
  • Angel Outfit


Nationality: USA
Age: 25
Style: Thai-Style Boxing
Occupation: DJ

Zack's Costumes
  • Casual Outfit (Red Tanktop)
  • Casual Outfit (Green Tanktop)
  • Casual Outfit (White Tanktop, Baret)
  • Skintight Alien Outfit (White)
  • Skintight Alien Outfit (Yellow)
Ryu Hayabusa

Ryu Hayabusa

Nationality: Japan
Age: 23
Style: Ninjitsu
Occupation: Curio Shop

Ryu bears a name "Hayabusa" an honor bestowed upon only the most distinguised of Ninja's coming from the Hayabusa School. His life has been a continuous fight until he met his love, Aileen, and found satisfaction in peace. But his thirst for challenge returned when he learned that his best friend's sister, Kasumi, had dissapeared.

Ryu Hayabusa's Costumes
  • Ninja Outfit (Black)
  • Ninja Outfit (Red)
  • Ninja Outfit (White)
  • Ninja Outfit (No mask, Blue/White)
  • Ninja Outfit (No mask, Red/White)


Nationality: Russia
Age: 31
Style: Commando Sambo
Occupation: Hit Man

As a child, Bayman witnessed the assassination of his parents, carried out under martial order. He was later trained by the Russian military in commando-style fighting, and served as a special agent for years. Until the day he made one fatal mistake involving the Kremlin's favorite daughter. He was banished from the Special Forces forever, and exiled to Brighton Beach, New York.

Bayman's Costumes
  • Commando Outfit (Red/Black)
  • Commando Outfit (Green/Black)
  • Commando Outfit (Black, Blue Baret)
  • Underwater Infiltration Outfit (Black)
  • Underwater Infiltration Outfit (Yellow)


Nationality: China
Age: 19
Style: Taikyoku-Ken
Occupation: College Student

Lei Fang is an impulsive, yet determined prodigy of Tai Kyoku Ken. Her confidence has been shaken just once, several years ago. Lei was challeneged by a gang of street fighters. She was prepared to take them on single-handely, but a boyh named Gi, weaing a dragon emblem, suddnly jumped to her rescue. Frustrated at being assumed helpless, Lei is determined to find and defeat Gi to prove herself.

Lei-Fang's Costumes
  • Martial Arts Outfit (Green/White)
  • Martial Arts Outfit (White/Orange)
  • Leather Jumpsuit (Black)
  • Leather Jumpsuit (Red/Black)
  • French Maid Outfit (Blue)
  • French Maid Outfit (Red)
  • Martial Arts Outfit (Blue)
  • Torn Jeans and Tank top
  • Cutout One-Piece Swimsuit (Blue)
  • Cheongsam (Red)
  • Cheongsam (Blue)
  • Nurse Outfit (Pink)
  • Nurse Outfit (White)
  • Succubus Outfit


Nationality: China
Age: 65
Style: Shini-Rokugo-Ken
Occupation: Bookstore Owner

Gen Fu left his native China in 1976. He barely made his escape before his cohorts were caught and imprisoned under the nisnomer "Gang of Four". No-one knows the real reason Gen Fu recently came out of retirement. No one would guess about the dream that haunts Gen Fu nightly, the tragedy surrounding his granddaughter Mei Linn. Only his closest enemies suspect that something profound must have caused the old man to come out of retirement.

Gen-Fu's Costumes
  • Changshan (Blue)
  • Changshan (White)
  • Changshan (Green)
  • Hawaiian Shirt (Orange)
  • Hawaiian Shirt (Green)


Nationality: Japan
Age: Unknown
Style: Unknown
Occupation: Unknown

The final boss of the game. He is unlocked by completing the game on Normal difficulty or harder using every character in the game (excluding Ayane). He has no unlockable outfits.

Raidou's Costumes
  • Distressed garb (White)
  • Distressed garb (Orange)
  • Distressed gard (Black)
Tina Armstrong

Tina Armstrong

Nationality: USA
Age: 22
Style: Pro-Wrestling
Occupation: Pro-Wrestler

The daughter of Bass, Tina has been a pro wrestler since high school, and has worked her way up to become one of Dead or Alive's most feared lethal competitors. Bass thinks Tina is in it for the glory of winning the tournament, but her real aim is to be discovered in Hollywood

Tina's Costumes
  • Wrestling Outfit (Red/Black)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Blue)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Light Blue)
  • Cowgirl Outfit (Pink shirt, red pants)
  • Cowgirl Outfit (White shirt, brown pants)
  • Catgirl Outfit (Black)
  • Catgirl Outfit (Red)
  • Amazonian Outfit (White)
  • Amazonian Outfit (Leopard)
  • Policewoman Outfit (Blue)
  • Policewoman Outfit (Black)
  • Stars and Stripes Swimsuit
  • Bunny Suit (Black)
  • Bunny Suit (Red)
Bass Armstrong

Bass Armstrong

Nationality: USA
Age: 46
Style: Pro-Wrestling
Occupation: Pro Wrestler

Bass' Costumes
  • Wrestling Outfit (Black/Red)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Red/Blue)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Green/Black)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Black)
  • Wrestling Outfit (Blue/Teal)
Nationality: China
Age: 20
Style: Jeet June Do
Occupation: Bodyguard

Jann Lee's parents escaped from China's Maoist regime when the boy was a child, then left him an orphan, alone to fend for himself. He threw himself into the study of Ji Kun Do soon after. At first he fought to replace what he had lost when his parents died, but eventually Jann fought just for the sake of fighting.

Jann-Lee's Costumes
  • Martial Arts Outfit (Red)
  • Martial Arts Outfit (Blue, no shirt)
  • Casual Outfit (Black sweatshirt, beige cargo pants)
  • Suit (White shirt, vest)
  • Suit (White suit, black shirt)


Nationality: Japan
Age: Unknown
Style: Ninjitsu
Occupation: Ninja

A secret character. She can only be used after unlocking all of the other characters' costumes.

Ayane's Costumes
  • Butterfly Dress (Navy)
  • Butterfly Dress (White)
  • Butterfly Dress (Pink)
  • School Uniform (Red blazer, yellow ribbon)
  • School Uniform (Blue, red ribbon)
  • School Uniform (Pink, black ribbon)
  • Transparent Ninja Outfit (Purple)
  • Transparent Ninja Outfit (Pink)
  • Transparent Ninja Outfit (Black)
  • Bikini (Blue)
  • Bikini (Green)
  • Bikini (Black)
  • VR Training Outfit (Black)
  • VR Training Outfit (White)


Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive

Released: November 21st, 1996

Total length: 38:20

  1. Dead or Alive Overture
  2. Chopper's Final Moment (Appeal Part BGM)
  3. Show (Character Select BGM)
  4. No Money (Zack Stage BGM)
  5. Stage Clear
  6. The First of Taikyoku Blows Up (Lei-Fang Stage BMG)
  7. Blade of "RYU" (Ryu Hayabusa Stage BMG)
  8. Lone Fighter (Jann-Lee Stage BMG)
  9. Power is Beauty (Tina Stage BMG)
  10. Codename "Bayman" (Bayman Stage BMG)
  11. The Secret Fist of Legend (Gen-Fu Stage BGM)
  12. Time of Determination (Kasumi Stage BGM)
  13. Dead or Alive (Raidou Stage BGM)
  14. In Between Life and Death (Continue BGM)
  15. Show Must Go On! (Staff Roll BGM)
  16. Your Name Is... (Name Entry BGM)
  17. Zack
  18. Lei Fang
  19. Ryu Hayabusa
  20. Jann-Lee
  21. Tina
  22. Bayman
  23. Gen-Fu
  24. Kasumi
  25. Raidou
  26. System Voice
  27. S.E. Collection

Dead or Alive for PlayStation

Dead or Alive for PlayStation

Released: May 20th, 1998

Total length: 58:25

  1. The New Century (Opening Movie)
  2. Showdown (Character Select)
  3. Gonna Make You Gasp (Zack)
  4. Stage Clear (Stage Clear)
  5. Blade of "RYU" ~Mr. Tom Mix~ (Hayabusa)
  6. Concentration (Lei Fang)
  7. Heated Heartbeat (Jann Lee)
  8. Fastbreak (Gen Fu)
  9. Power is Beauty ~more beautiful mix~ (Tina)
  10. Megadeath (Bayman)
  11. Superstar (Bass)
  12. Ketsui no toki ~pie-02 mix~ (Kasumi)
  13. AYA (Ayane)
  14. Dead or Alive (Raidou)
  15. Physical System (Training Mode)
  16. Result (Result Screen)
  17. Your Name is...(Name Entry)
  18. SAYONARA (Ending Movie)
  19. Zack
  20. Hayabusa
  21. Lei Fang
  22. Jann Lee
  23. Gen Fu
  24. Tina
  25. Bayman
  26. Bass
  27. Kasumi
  28. Ayane
  29. Raidou
  30. System Voice 1
  31. System Voice 2
  32. System Voice 3
  34. Galaxy Type-XXX
  35. Dead or Alive Overture ~Renewal Mix~
  36. The New Century ~Master Version~
  37. SAYONARA ~Master Version~

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