I Played Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate And Now I Am Writing These Words About It (And Other Things Too Actually)

*dusts off keyboard*

stupid thing, i can't believe

oh! hi there! my name's Ajay and i play video games... well, sometimes.

actually, i kind of barely play video games anymore. i'm way more into buying a bunch of video games and not playing them for some reason. like, i bought at least 30 games since June and have probably played like, five of them.

i don't really play on PC, either so it's not really a steam sale kind of thing. i guess it's the fact that Microsoft and Sony keep having all sorts of crazy deals with their digital distribution platforms, or whatever. like, i bought Bully for the first time for like 3$ last week on XBLA and i haven't even played booted it up. that has to be some sort of crime somewhere, right?

me, blowing up all of my money

i also, for some reason, imported Earth Defense Forces 4 like, six months ahead of its NA release and i must have played it like, twice. i've had it for like a month and i've only played it twice. i'm pretty sure i blew like 80 dollars on that game, too. i know this isn't a new problem for me, but really. jesus christ, Ajay.

...wait a minute. i'm writing words? oh man. i'm actually writing something! i can't believe that i've actually gotten around to writing words into this text box. i wonder what the catch is...

...right. of course. i'm writing about Dead or Alive. again.

Oh my god, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate happened

Dead or Alive 5 came out, i guess and i played a whole bunch of it. what a surprise. i'd like to say... um, something like 150-200 hours and 1500+ online matches across three platforms in the span of a year? that sounds about right.

i liked DOA5 a lot. i thought the offline modes were as boring as a butt ass and there were some things i didn't like about the interface and stuff, but i did enjoy the hell out of my time with it. i thought that actual fighting mechanics were the strongest in the series, but everything surrounding it was kinda weak.

so, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was announced who-knows-how-long ago and i wasn't happy with it. it was probably due to the fact that i spend 200 dollars on DOA5 and didn't want to buy another version or maybe i just like to give Team NINJA a hard time whenever they make a decision that clashes with what i want. it was the first time where i wasn't excited for a a Dead or Alive game, sans Paradise, since i started really falling in love with the series.

whatever bad vibes i had prior to the release of DOA5U are pretty much gone now, since i bought it and played it way too much in such a short amount of time. that should probably speak for itself.

(spoiler alert: i like it.)

Hey, wait. What's so 'Ultimate' about it?

good question, painfully uninformed reader! they've added a couple of new cool things to kind of justify the whole 'Ultimate' subtitle (that's a subtitle, right?)

Hitomi is really pissed off at Ein because he skipped out on DOA5

they added five new characters, most of which aren't really new. Leon and Ein (Hayate's alter-ego), ugly-heads extraordinaire make their return to the series since they were absent in vanilla DOA5 for some reason. Rachel (ewww) and Momiji from Ninja Gaiden also make their Dead or Alive debuts with new fighting styles. Jacky Bryant, hilariously out of place, is also there for some reason.

they've added a few new stages too, all of which are either from older games in the series or based off levels from Ninja Gaiden... so i don't know if they're all that new, actually. also, there's like, a hundred more costumes. that's not an exaggeration, either. there's 231 costumes to unlock now compared to the 114 in DOA5. that's pretty crazy.

uhh.. what else. they added some new modes and stuff too. there's an actual tutorial now, and there's a combo challenge mode that's pretty much a better version of the trials from Street Fighter IV. once again, none of it is really new since it was just all brought from the Vita version of DOA5.

what the hell are you two doing here AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT NURSE OH MY GOD

there's also some changes to the tag mode too. they've added snap backs and team critical bursts, as well as the ability to partner up with another player online to make 4 player tag matches. they've made a big deal about how there's 4 player tag now for the first time in the series but guess what, that's not something new either.

alongside little additions like the ability to change BGM, that's really the gist of it, though. there's new stuff but... it's not so new. huh.

OK, whatever. Is there anything good about it?

hell yeah!

The New Characters Are Pretty Rad

now, listen. i don't like Rachel. i think she's a terrible character, with an awful design and i think it's a shame when people say that they like her. i think Rachel is a whole ton of fun to play as in DOA5U. i've never been someone who has ever clicked with slower, grapple characters but Rachel is great. she has a bunch of cool moves and she packs enough of a weight to feel powerful, but versatile at the same time.

Momiji, on the other hand, is someone that i haven't managed to get the hang of yet. i've probably played as her more than i've played Rachel so far (which isn't much, to be honest) and i just can't get a feel for her playstyle. she has cool moves though, including a double jump and a neat critical burst combo that i can't ever seem to figure out.

Leon's grapples are so amazing that i want him to do them on me even though it would probably hurt a lot

Leon and Ein are... well, Leon and Ein. they're both characters that i haven't ever really put a bunch of time into. i've always thought that Leon was the most plain character in on the DOA roster, and was just a palette swap of Bayman. although, i did play as him for a little bit and did find some appreciation for him and his playstyle. his grabs are still brutal and fun to watch, as he just relentlessly beats the hell out of everyone. i've gotten the hang of Ein a little, since i realized he shares a lot of the same moves with Hitomi-- someone that i've played as a whole ton lately. although, that same fact doesn't really me any more interested in Ein since... well, i could just play as Hitomi (who has cooler costumes, anyway.)

one of the little issues i had with DOA5 was the inclusion of Virtua Fighter characters. i don't hate Virtua Fighter at all (in fact, i think VF5FS is an excellent fighting game) but i just feel like they're so out of place in Dead or Alive. their personalities seem so thin compared to the rest of the roster, and their playstyles are pretty different, but in a way that doesn't really fit so well with the rest of the DOA roster. for some, that may seem like a good thing but i personally didn't enjoy playing as them in DOA5.

i feel like Jacky Bryant kind of breaks that, though. i only played as him once, but his movement and flow feels a lot more similar to how other Dead or Alive characters play-- which i feel is definitely a good thing. i don't think i'll ever play as him willingly, however, along with the rest of the VF cast in the game.

The New Added Modes Are Fun And Useful

for whatever reason, it seems like it's hard to create any sort of good tutorial for a fighting game. i haven't tried the Skullgirls tutorial, but apart from that, it always sounds like people are having a hard time getting into a fighting game. i don't really think that DOA5U's tutorial changes that too much, but it is pretty good at going over all of the game's mechanics. going through it on the Vita, and assuming it's the same thing, it's pretty good at shedding some light on mechanics that a lot of people might not figure out just by playing the game. it's a whole ton better than the tutorial during DOA5's awful, awful story mode, but i thought that the practical parts of the tutorial that made you put what you've learned into use against an AI opponent weren't very good.

the refined tag mode is fucking rad. 2v2 tag online making a return is probably one of my favorite parts about Ultimate. it's so fast paced, chaotic and fun that even if you have no idea what's happening, it can still manage to be pretty fun. the snap backs are fun and the new tag animations are cool, too. i mean, Ayane and Hitomi's opening tag animation is friggin' great. it makes me feel just how i felt when i first played tag mode: i thought it was the best thing ever.

The New Costumes

nuff said

The New BGM Options Made Me Squeal Like A Schoolgirl

does anyone remember that Countdown to Dead or Alive series i did last year building up to the release of Dead or Alive 5? no? well, i kind of have a huge crush on the Dead or Alive 2 OST. every time i hear it, it makes me feel funny inside in all of the good and bad ways. i love it.

with that said, i really appreciated the fact that you can set music from DOA2/3/4/5 to different characters, menus, etc. it's probably something that isn't a big deal, but this is pretty much the first thing like this in a Dead or Alive game and it makes me feel a lot more at home. i mean, changing the game's main menu music Deep Impact from DOA3? game of the year.

It's Still Fun To Play

this is your idea of fun?! giant killer statues?!

they haven't made any drastic changes that totally change the way that the game plays, which is a great thing. the strongest aspect of Dead or Alive 5 was its simple yet deep, accessible and addictive gameplay that was highly refined over DOA4. they have changed some balance stuff that has thrown me off a little, but the new moves and the addition of the Power Launcher (which just sends your opponent soaring in the air) are welcome changes that make the game more enjoyable.

with that said, though, if you didn't like Dead or Alive before, you still won't like it here.

one of the best parts, though?

It's Free on the PS3

i think this is awesome. Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate supports a free-to-play model called Dead or Alive 5: Core Fighters on the PS3 which is cool. with a free download on the Playstation Store, you gain access to four characters-- Ayane, Kasumi, Hayabusa and Hayate for free along with pretty much every mode except the game's story mode. the online is fully playable between free and retail players, and all costumes for available characters are fully unlockable. new characters can be purchased for 4$ each, and there seems to be some sort of character rotation, similar to League of Legends.

i think this is great. it's a way to gain a much wider audience, and new fans. i think that having the four ninjas available instead of a constantly changing roster is kind of lame since the four ninjas have the same fighting style and multiple similarities, but i think having Kasum is great considering how accessible she is a character.

pictured: Rachel beating up Shuhei Yoshida (cosplaying as Ryu Hayabusa) because he hid DOA5U on the PSN store

the only downside is that it seems to be hidden in on the PSN store. it has no promotion-- it's nowhere on the front page and is totally lost in the new releases section. the only way that i've found it is by going to the DOA5U page and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the add-ons list to find it. i don't think anyone who doesn't already own DOA5U is going to be looking there.

there's other stuff about Ultimate that are cool, but most of it is pretty standard stuff. there's a new ranking system for ranked matches, where players on winning streaks have point bounties, and some little changes, such as being able to change the controller configuration from the online lobby, unlocking costumes by playing lobby matches and displaying winning streaks in-game that are much appreciated.

Great, I guess. Is there anything that isn't so good about it?

...well, um...

The Offline Modes Are Still A Snoozefest

one of my least favorite parts about DOA5 had to be how god damn uninteresting the offlines modes were. it had the standard arcade, time attack and survival modes with absolutely nothing interesting to them. they felt like totally boring grinds for costumes, and nothing more.

that's still the case in Ultimate. thankfully, you can unlock costumes by playing online now, but that doesn't change the fact that the offline modes are still boring as hell.

my reaction to playing DOA5U's survival mode (wtf is this picture? it's amazing)

i don't even know to explain it. part of it comes from the game's AI. fighting against AI in fighting games isn't really ever that fun, but it's even more so in Dead or Alive. having the AI counter all of your moves and play nearly perfectly isn't ever that enjoyable. there's never that satisfaction of victory once you finally defeat that AI opponent you've been stuck on for like 20 minutes. it's just like, "ugh, i still have another seven matches of this left." Dead or Alive truly shines when you're playing another human opponent, and playing it offline gives it a total disservice.

the good news is that i never actually have to play them now. i only ever play the offline modes in Dead or Alive games to unlock costumes, but now i can just do that online by playing. although, it still would have been nice to have some cool offline modes to come back to and mess around with.

The Matchmaking Still Isn't Very Good

part of the reason why DOA5U is an entirely separate retail release instead of DLC is because they apparently overhauled the entire online netcode. it's supposed to be smoother to play and easier to get into games. i've definitely noticed that playing online is a lot more smooth now-- at least, so far. even one bar connections play just fine, but i haven't played online enough to say this with certainty.

MILA IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT WAITING FOREVER IN RANKED MATCHMAKING

unfortunately, the ranked game matchmaking is still junk. it still takes forever to find matches, and i don't like that you can see your opponent's fight record is before accepting the match. that shouldn't be a thing! i feel like playing ranked should be some sort of gamble, where you'll never know who you'll face. it should be a challenge, instead of giving you the option to pick and choose who you want to play against.

There's A Disappointing Lack of 'New' Content

seriously. there's not really much of anything in this game that's actually new. most of it is just stuff from previous games or other Team NINJA games and it's kind of a bummer. the characters and characters are either from Ninja Gaiden or previous DOA games, but at least there's some new original costumes.

Sky City Tokyo is a great stage, but i would have loved more new stages

it's not a bad thing, per se to use content from previous games but it just feels... disappointing at this point, especially considering how prone TN is to doing this in all of their games. i love the hell out of Ayane's Ninja Gaiden costumes in this game, but my favorite costumes in DOA5 were the brand new ones. i would have loved for there to be more new stuff.

the fact that it's old content kind of shows too. Lost World is a pretty stage, but it feels so dated at this point. especially compared to the other stages, there just doesn't seem to be much to it at all. the stage's gimmick of falling off a cliff got old pretty fast, and the surfaces are so small that you can't really get much done. it feels like it was designed for another game-- before DOA was had such elaborate combos and juggles.

it probably looks like i'm scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point, but this is how i felt about the new additions in a way. don't get me wrong-- the new stages are great and gorgeous, but i would have appreciated everything a whole lot more if it was all-new.

I don't care about all of these words. Is it good, or what?

yes! i think Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate is fucking excellent. it builds upon an already great playing, gorgeous looking, lovely sounding fighting game. it's still the accessible, content-packed and long lasting fighting game that was released a year ago... just with, you know, a cat hoodie for Eliot and an option to change the breast physics.

you should play it. really. if you own a PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, a controller and an internet connection, you should try out Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. it's fun, frantic and it's free. you like free stuff, right?!

geez, i wrote a lot, huh? i hope you kind of enjoyed reading that, at least. it took me more than a year to finally gather my thoughts on Dead or Alive 5, so these thoughts are anything but final. it's just how i feel about everything right now. first impressions, i suppose!

...it's no DOA2 Ultimate, though.

thanks for reading.

- Ajay

27 Comments

Thank You Ryan

I can't believe it. No matter how many times I read over Rorie's post, or how long I watch the mourning on twitter, it never clicks with me.

It's absolutely unreal.

I've never lost anyone close to me before. There have been deaths in my family, for sure but it's always been with people that I have never known very well. The biggest deaths in my family were always before my time, or happened to people that I never got to know very well. Ryan's passing is the first time I've ever felt like this. It's the first time where I've felt like I lost a friend.

As odd as may be to say, Ryan Davis had a pretty big impact on my life, for better or for worse. As someone who occasionally tuned into GameSpot content during a different era, I never really got to know Ryan and the crew until Giant Bomb was built.

At first, I slowly digested Giant Bomb content, but over time, I began to absolutely adore everything that Giant Bomb had to offer. Ryan, in everything he was in was a joy to behold. Whether he was freaking out at flying trains, admiring cop helmets or suffering through week after week of Game Room torture, he always made his presence special.

Giant Bomb marked a change for me. Never before have I felt so profoundly welcomed to any community on the internet. Thanks to the site that Ryan helped co-found, I had the chance to meet so many incredible people from all over the world. I formed long distance relationships with people who lived in places that I was woefully ignorant of beforehand, and greatly influenced me as a person. Without Ryan, I probably wouldn't have had any of that.

Giant Bomb came into my life at a time where I wasn't sure about anything. I had a pretty terrible time at high school, but Ryan's presence on the bombcast was electrifying. He was so energetic, eager and willing to discuss the dumbest of the dumb and he packed every bombcast to the brim with joy and never, ever failed to put a smile on my face. His chemistry with the crew was unlike anything else, and always helped me through the days. The bombcast is a part of my life now, and I thank him for that.

Even at this point in my life, which I consider to be the lowest, Ryan's presence on live shows, podcasts, quick looks and his manic ramblings on Twitter never failed to cheer me up or pur a smile on my face no matter how lousy my day was. I can't imagine where I would be without him.

Even as an aspiring writer to an extent, Ryan was someone I could look up to. It's almost baffling how well his voice and personality translated seamlessly into words. Whenever I couldn't find a way to describe something, Ryan would knock it out of the park. Everything he wrote was injected full of life. I didn't only admire him as a person, but as a fantastic writer.

It's hard to say goodbye to Ryan. It really is. Every time I read the news, I can't believe it. It never manages to make sense to me. As someone who probably had zero knowledge of my existence, Ryan was such a big part of my life that I can't even begin to fathom what it will be like without him.

Oh, look. I'm tearing up again.

Thank you for everything, Ryan. You were an incredible person to know through the content you produced, and the life you shared with us. Based off what the people close to you have said about you, you sounded like an amazing person to be around. I wouldn't deny that for a second.

Rest in peace, and pray that there's some TV channel that plays Torque on repeat wherever he is.

2 Comments

A Simple Blog #2

because i'm incapable of finishing a blog in any sort of acceptable format, apparently

A Simple Blog #1

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable

  • Earth Defense Force 2017 is awesome
  • the Playstation Vita is.. kind of awesome
  • EDF2017 + Vita = pretty awesome
  • as it turns out, EDF2017 is still completely insane in just about every way possible
  • the addition of Pale Wing-- a new playable character class is wicked. flying over buildings and zapping bugs with plasma is fun
  • the new added missions? terrible. it makes me worry for EDF2025
  • the frame rate is pretty bad at spots, but EDF2017 never gave two shits about frame rate.. or really, anything
  • you can still blast ants with shotguns and watch them literately fly across the entire level
  • EDF! EDF! (please play this game if you have not yet)

An Update on Playstation Vita

  • i'm coming around to really like the Vita
  • maybe it's because i've been playing EDF2017 on it, but i get a good feeling from playing it. that feeling that only a handheld can give you
  • since i'm playing it again, and my second college semester starts next week, i'll probably grind a bit more and get back into finishing Disgaea 3 and P3P
  • i.. kind of dig the whole digital games thing. switching between EDF2017, Disgaea 3 and Persona 3 with only one game cart inserted is really cool.
  • playing a handheld again made me remember that i need to get a haircut. bangs are anti-handheld, as it turns out
  • ..i should get past the first few missions in Gravity Rush

Bayonetta

  • oh my fucking god i love Bayonetta
  • i can't believe it took me two years to actually get the sour taste of the PS3 version out of my mouth, and enjoy the hell out of it on 360
  • the combat is amazing, the style is glamorous, Bayonetta is crazy, the story is messed up and the soundtrack is to die for
  • ughgh what an awesome game. i'm going to buy a Wii U so i can play Bayonetta 2

Dead or Alive 5

  • THIS JUST IN: i like Dead or Alive 5
  • the new Critical Burst mechanic is totally kickass and i am in love with it.
  • the added Power Blow moves are cool, too but i always get caught in one when some dude just throws one out there out of the blue. my bad.
  • i hate the story mode. it's more incomprehensible than what i could have ever imagined, and the pacing is god damn terrible. also, it sucks as a tutorial
  • ..although Brad Wong's chapter was really entertaining, and easily the highlight of the entire thing. dat fight scene
  • i don't like the offline content all that much. i guess i'm bored of Time Attack and Arcade (without any CG endings endings) mode.
  • i'll save the rest of my thoughts for an eventual Dead or Alive 5 blog. it's real good, but it fell short of my impossibly high expectations
  • a special thanks again to everyone who read my Countdown to DOA5 blogs. you guys are awesome. seriously.

An Update On Skyrim

  • this game has been out for more than a year and i'm still level 8
  • i don't think i've played this game since i last talked about it
  • i'm still pretty sure that i'm never going to finish this game. i'll probably go back to Fallout 3, if anything.

An Update on Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

  • i still hate Ninja Gaiden 3
  • i.. don't think Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge for the Wii U looks as bad as i initially thought
  • the gameplay still looks.. like Ninja Gaiden 3, but upgrades, more than one weapon, and dismemberment make it look a ton more appealing
  • i'm pleased with the fact that they removed a lot of the dumb, forced execution & 'suffering' moments from the game's story mode
  • Ayane looks like a god damned beast in this game. holy shit.
  • i have serious problems with Kasumi being a playable character in NG3. not from a mechanical standpoint, but from.. never mind. it's dumb.
  • if the rumored Ninja Gaiden Sigma 3 turns out to be a real thing, i'll find out if it's actually good without dropping an additional 300$+ on a WIi U

Mirror's Edge

  • i think Mirror's Edge is the most beautiful game that i have ever played in my entire life
  • i like pretty much everything about it conceptually-- a parkour game with melee and shooter elements set in a dystopian future city
  • with that said, i couldn't help but feel pretty disappointed at how everything was handled. the free-running stuff is cool, but the combat isn't fun at all.*
  • the story was disappointing, too. i don't know if it was right for me to have had moderately high expectations, but that was the case and i was bummed.
  • the game is absolutely gorgeous, though. i'm still in love with the game's art direction, and there were several moments where i have to stop and admire it all.
  • please make a Mirror's Edge 2. pleasepleasepleaseplease. if a game like Mirror's Edge can achieve its maximum potential, we could have something even more special than what Mirror's Edge is.
  • *that's probably because i played the entire game using melee combat

Ib

GOTY 2012

Giant Bomb Text Editor

  • I HATE YOU SO MUCH WHY ARE YOU MAKING HYPERLINKING AND TYPING WORDS SO HARD

Life

  • i'm in some sort of rut, and it sucks. it sucks bad.
  • i start college up again next week. i'm talking a journalism class! i'm excited.
  • i had a great Christmas, though i've been spending the month off i have in the worst way possible. by doing shit all.

In Other News

this blog isn't as simple as i thought it was going to be. for my sake, in retrospect i should probably stick to a regular format next time. it's a lot more fun writing about stuff without being restricted by bulletpoints.

..oh well. i already typed all of these letters. i'm going to push Post Blog now.

thanks for reading

~Ajay

Start the Conversation

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 7: DOA5α & Closing Thoughts

hello! welcome to the final entry in my DOA blog series where i blog about a DOA game every day until Dead or Alive 5's North American release on September 25th. yesterday, i covered Dead or Alive Dimensions which is pretty fun, but isn't all that exciting if you've played DOA4 a ton. you can find that here if you wanna check it out.

here are the previous entries if you wanna check em out as well:

Dead or Alive 5 comes out tomorrow, which is something i can't really believe myself writing, but it's almost here! i'll be in class for like, 10 hours tomorrow so i won't be able to play it until late tomorrow but i'm still super excited for tomorrow nonetheless.

anyway, what better way to celebrate the eve of DOA5's launch than talking about Dead or Alive 5? i suppose playing Dead or Alive 4 would be better, but instead here's a thing on the DOA5 alpha demo.

Dead or Alive 5 Alpha Demo (2012) - Playstation 3, Xbox 360*

Motherfucker, this is about the DOA5 alpha demo. Not the Dead or Alive 5 coming out tomorrow

the alpha demo doesn't have any box art so i'll just post this image that i posted on twitter in March

arguably the best part about the entire package, the unfortunate souls who bought the Ninja Gaiden 3 Collector's Edition were granted access to an early build of Dead or Alive 5. people who just bought regular-ass Ninja Gaiden 3 could get the DOA5 demo too, when they picked up first-print copies of the game. although it was only limited to two exclusive characters on PS3 and 360 each, where somebody that bought the NG3CE got the "premium" demo that had all four playable characters on one console. that's what i managed to get my hands on, as i was one of the fools who bought the NG3CE.

seriously. fuck that game.

What's new?

Old Ayane

well, right off the bat, Dead or Alive 5 features a new visual style. out with the plastic-skin anime doll characters and in with the more realistic looking characters. to go along with these fancy new character models, they've added some more detail to the fighters that show up as the fight goes on. this includes stuff like dirt on the skin and clothes, and sweat that not only makes the characters have sweat beads sliding down their faces, but it effects the clothing too. for example, Hitomi's tank-top costume becomes see-through by the end of a match, so all of the excited players can oggle at her bra. weird.

New Ayane

as far as gamepplay is concerned, there are some fancy new mechanics this time around. the stages (or one stage, in this case) now have a lot more interactivity and play a much bigger role during a fight than they ever did before. DOA5 introduces the "Cliffhanger" moment, where when knocked into the right object, you can send your opponent flying and hanging on for their dear life on the edge of a surface where a large fall below awaits. here, the attacking player can either choose to strike or grab their opponent while running towards them. the defending player have the same option. if the defending player selects the same option as the attacking player, then the Cliffhanger attack is blocked and both fighters reach the bottom surface with no damage taken. if the defending player didn't properly predict the attack, then well.. something like this happens:

this new Cliffhanger moment is complimented by a new move called the Power Blow. it's a move that every character has, and when hit, brings the game into slow motion, giving the attacking player the option to send their opponent rocketing towards a part of the stage, whether it's a Danger Zone or just a wall. doing a Power Blow at a specific section of a stage can trigger special Danger Zones available only once per match. for example, in Scramble (the alpha build stage), doing a Power Blow on the destroyed street can give you the chance to send your opponent flying into a car in mid-air to deal extra damage.

there are some other little changes here and there. some characters have gotten new moves, and now each character has a special counter hold that deals extra damage, but is more difficult to pull off. it's similar to how Lei Fang's advanced counter holds work in a sense. the alpha build also uses the three-point counter system, which was changed to the four-point counter system in the final build.

Causing car accidents is pretty fun

Dead or Alive 5's alpha demo is a great deal of fun. we've got Ayane, Ryu, Hayate and Hitomi as playable characters. the moveset feels pretty similar to Dead or Alive 4 for each character, with some welcome additions from Dimensions as well as brand new moves. that's not a bad thing, because this game was easy to pick up in an instant. it manages to keep Dead or Alive 4's great feeling combos, smooth flowing moves and even manages to pack an even harder punch thanks to the new sound design on the strikes that make everything feel a lot more satisfying to pull off. however, what makes the combos a lot of fun to pull off is the added air time to juggles. it certainly seems like this time around, the characters stay in the air longer during juggles and combos which really gives players the chance to pull off some really cool looking, really fun-to-pull-off combos.

i can't really tell what's going on here but i think somebody got hella messed up

the power blow and cliffhanger moments are pretty cool. i played the alpha demo for about.. 30-ish hours i'd say so i've gotten totally sick of the Scramble stage. at the point i'm at right now, i just turn Danger Zones off so i can play around with the fighting system a lot more, which wouldn't surprise me if it was something i ended up doing in the retail version of the game.

the new visual style is a nice welcome addition to DOA5. it makes the game feel like that its DOA's first true fray into the current generation consoles, graduating from the anime style to the less-anime-style models and graphics. well, the characters still act anime (and kind of awkward, in Hitomi's case with her "Ah, wow~!! I Won!! ^___^;; " attitude) but.. um.. at least they don't look like it. the game runs nice at a smooth 60 FPS, although the graphics up close are really weird lookin during gameplay. ah well, it's a game in its alpha stages, so it's not perfect! the boobs are still gross, though. it seems like they went from weird gravitation pull boobs to water-balloon boobs this time around which is.. well, it's certainly a lot more disturbing.

the music seems.. forgettable, this time around. the menu music is pretty alright, but the in-game music is a total bore. maybe it's from hearing it too much, but hearing it makes me sad that you can't take music off in the options menu. for some reason, it just really makes me want to sleep. the male announcer is pretty bad, too. i kind of have a thing for Monica from DOA2U and DOA4, and even the original DOA announcer was pretty alright bit this dude is just boring beyond belief. get this guy out of here, with his dumb voice filter.

the demo also features a horrible lack of options. you can't turn the music off, or play around with the audio settings at all, really. there's also no training mode which is well.. totally to be expected from a demo but for a "premium" demo, i would have expected the game to make it a little easier to play around with the new stuff than making player 2 an opponent that doesn't move. although the AI is pretty terrible:

there's not much else to cover in the demo, really. the DOA5 alpha demo is a lot of fun to play around with, but only for so long. i got tired of it pretty quickly because of how barebones it was in features, which is to expected because it's a demo but.. i guess i'm just a little upset that i got this little tease of content for 6ish months to suffer over. i think it would have made the wait a little easier if i didn't have this thing on my hard drive.

a side note: there have been a lot of changes to the game since the alpha build, so this isn't indicative of how the final game is.

That's all, folks

a pretty quiet, and frankly, unexciting end to my countdown to DOA5 blog series. i was going to write up some sort of preview about Dead or Alive 5, but you know what, the people on this forum who are going to buy it, i bet are already sold on it. plus, college is fucking exhausting. i'm falling asleep as i type this, so i apologize if this wasn't the most exciting entry in the entire world. my juices aren't flowin as well as they usually are.

so, that's about it. this is probably the most amount of blogs i've put out in a short amount of time. in fact, it's probably the most blogs i've put out in the past two years. i'd like to thank everybody who read the entire way through. it's been fun. i'm actually not sure if these blogs were good reads or not, and while i appreciate any criticism, i'm just glad that a nice amount of my thoughts on the Dead or Alive games are finally out there.. although i still have a lot to get off my back.

Dead or Alive 5 is shaping up to be an excellent looking game, and i'm super excited to nab it tomorrow. expect a review? probably not. expect a blog? probably not that either. i'll probably lay off tossing my opinions out there and just sit back and hopefully enjoy Dead or Alive 5 while i can. hopefully i'll get to play with a few of you.

thanks for reading. i'm gonna go sleep now.

~Ajay

9 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 6: Dead or Alive Dimensions

hey hey hey. welcome back to my DOA retrospective blog series, where i look at a Dead or Alive game every day up until Dead or Alive 5's North American release on September 25th. last time, i was on about Dead or Alive 4, which is awesome but has some problems that really take away from the overall package. you can find that here if you wanna check it out. also, it was featured on the Giant Bomb front page which is really cool, so thanks to Marino and the people who have been reading so far!

here's what i've written about up to this point:

Dead or Alive 5 is two days away.

TWO DAYS.

that is fucking unreal. 48 hours until i'll be.. well, in class waiting to play Dead or Alive 5 BUT AT LEAST IT'LL BE OUT. however, let's consider that Dead or Alive 5 is the first numbered entry in the series that wasn't directed by Tomonobu Itagaki. that's a huge deal, and Yosuke Hayashi has a lot to prove with DOA5. however, it wasn't the first DOA fighting game that he directed. that would have to go to Dead or Alive Dimensions. let's check that out!

Dead or Alive Dimensions (2011) - Nintendo 3DS

this box art is fine by DOA standards, although what's Ryu doing back there?

Dead or Alive: Dimensions is the first DOA fighting game by Team NINJA since Itagaki's departure from the company in 2008. not the first DOA game, since for some reason they released Dead or Alive: Paradise on the PSP first. with that horrible decision, the fate of the Dead or Alive series was.. scary. i was wondering if we were ever going to see another fighting game again, replaced by bad beach bikini gravure simulators. to comfort my fears, Dead or Alive Dimensions was announced for the 3DS and i knew i had to be all over that. i wasn't sure how it was going to turn out without Itagaki at the helm, but it was a risk i was willing to take.

as it turns out, Dead or Alive Dimensions was a sign that the future of the franchise was in good hands.

What's new?

Dead or Alive Dimensions isn't a sequel to Dead or Alive 4 or anything. instead, it's a retelling of the entire Dead or Alive story, from 1 to 4 and everything in between. as a result, they've tackled at a new format of story telling. instead of an arcade mode where players truck through eight stages, fight a boss and then see a CG ending, the entire story is told through five chapters, one for each game and a finale chapter in a mode called Chronicle. it features many, many in-engine cutscenes, lots of dialogue with a bunch of fights thrown in between all of that. it's very similar to how Mortal Kombat rolled last year.

at the same time, it serves as a tutorial for players to learn about the game's mechanics. from strikes, grabs and counters all the way to stuns, the triangle system and offensive/defensive holds, it attempts to cover a lot of ground. to help new players ease into the game's fighting system, the 3DS' bottom touch screen displays the entire move list for your current character. players can also tap any move or combo on the touch screen for the character to automatically perform.

Dimensions also features a new 'figurine' collection feature where players can collect up to 1000 figurines of various characters posing or interacting with other characters (usually reflective of a story event.) if for some reason, you wanted to collect a virtual figurine of Tina Armstrong carrying Lisa on her shoulders, while Tina is wearing a cat suit and Lisa wrapped in only a towel, then this game should be your jam. these figurines can be unlocked by playing the game's various modes or using ten Play Coins to purchase a "present" that unlocks three figurines and/or costumes.

finally, the power of a superhuman Kasumi now at our fingertips!

DOA Dimensions also sports some new playable characters. all of the bosses throughout the series are now playable. that includes Raidou, the dude who messed up Hayate and raped Ayame, Genra, Ayane's foster father and former leader of the Mugen Tenshin Hajimon Sect who became a superhuman experiment and Alpha-152, the oh-so-dreaded advanced Kasumi clone. Shiden, the father of Kasumi and Hayate also makes his first physical appearance (i think), as well as playable appearance. they're not new characters mind you, but it's the first time that we get to check out the messed up powers that made everybody so angry.

there's not that much else major that was added or changed in Dimensions. this game uses the simpler three-point counter hold system like how it was in Dead or Alive 3, Danger Zones can now knock players out (as opposed to how it didn't in DOA4) , and the AI has been severely toned down in difficulty but that's really about it when it comes to major gameplay changes. as far as game modes are concerned, since arcade mode no longer serves as the story mode, it's just roughly 6 fights in a row playing for the best time. it's essentially Time Attack now.

Ninjas.. IN 3-D!!!!!!!!!!

i've already written a Dead or Alive Dimensions review, but i feel like that doesn't convey my true thoughts on that game. i was soaked in hype at the time, and it was my first review on Giant Bomb so i was kind of too excited to wait a bit. i've learned a lot about how i write and how my thoughts change since then, so i figure it's as good of a time as ever to talk about DOA Dimensions.

i have no idea what's going on here

so, anyway, Dead or Alive Dimensions is pretty good. it's a game that plays shockingly similar to Dead or Alive 4. nearly everything i can do in Dead or Alive 4 translate perfectly to Dimensions, with the exception of some move changes that made my combos a little weird. that's not a bad thing, because DOA4 is the best feeling game in the series when it comes to flow and execution. however, it still has some of the things i didn't like about DOA4 such as the changed-up game when your character is laying on the ground and some other minor things. even with that, it still manages to be a fighter that's easy to pick up and mess around with, while containing a lot of complexity and depth for those willing to go the extra mile. one change to note is the simpler three-point counter system (counter low, med and high) which is weird to adjust to in a game that plays like DOA4 considering that DOA4 used the four-point counter system which made mid punch and kick different inputs to counter.

the stages have always been an important part of Dead or Alive, and they've made sure to include some good stages from the four games with little tweaks here and there. they have some iconic DOA stages like the snow stage from DOA2 and that balcony-thingy stage from DOA3 but they don't have awesome stages like The Demon's Church from DOA2 or Gambler's Paradise from DOA4. there's a nice selection, but i would have definitely chosen different ones. there's some new ones too like The Survivor, which is a huge DOATEC yacht, and a new take on the Danger Zone stage, with palm trees and fireworks in the sky. while they're pretty cool, there's something about them that lacks.. personality. they have danger zones and all of that, but they just feel a lot more.. bland compared to how they were rendered in previous entries. i'm not sure if that has to do with the 3DS limitations, an artistic direction by Team NINJA or if that's just me personally just not very excited about the same stages again.

this game looks hella good on the 3DS

while the stages aren't terribly exciting, the game looks pretty damn good. in traditional Team NINJA fashion, Dimensions shows off what the system can pull off with nice looking character models, beautiful looking stages (apart from the water) and awesome animations. as expected, this game also supposed 3D and looks.. alright. it's nothing to brag about, especially since it drops the game's frame rate down to 30FPS. the cutscenes look nice in 3D though, with kunai, bullets and all sorts of other crazy stuff flying all over the place and popping out from the screen. it's probably the best use of 3D in the entire game, but that isn't really saying much.

considering it's a retelling of the four DOA games, i wasn't really expecting there to be that much original music. the soundtrack mainly consists of older themes from DOA2/DOA3 and alright remixes of certain DOA2 themes. they're kind of nice at first, but i really grew tired of them after a couple of hours. the menu music is probably the worst, with some new version of the Dead or Alive 2 menu music (which is awesome) which i can't stand at all for some reason. although there's a new training theme which is pretty soothing as DOA training themes have always been. while we're on the subject of audio, there's an English language track for the first time since DOA2 Hardcore (DOAX2 doesn't count) and well.. it's serviceable. it definitely isn't terrible, but i prefer the JP voices. not in a "ehe The Japanese VO Is Always The Best~~!! ^____^" way, but only because i'm just so used to these characters speaking in Japanese at this point. one thing i'll give the English VO is that Wendee Lee (voice of Faye in Cowboy Bebop) voices Ayane, which is pretty kickass.

i know i complained about the AI in Dead or Alive 4 being a total pain, but the AI in Dead or Alive Dimensions is.. probably equally as bad. it's not punishing or difficult this time around, but rather it's way too easy. at least 50% of my fights against the AI were perfects, and they fail to deliver any sort of challenge. this just makes the game.. boring against the AI. i'm honestly not sure what's worse-- incredibly difficult AI or easy peasy AI.

i figure i should talk about the bosses while i'm at it. Alpha-152, Raidou and Genra are now playable characters, which means that we finally get to try out the cheap, super-damaging attacks that they unleashed on us for years. turns out, it's not really that interesting. Raidou isn't particularly interesting to play as, sporting a mix of different moves from Mugen Tenshin Ninjutsu characters. Genra has a huge double-sided laser sword and can shoot fireballs which can take out the AI pretty quickly. he gives a nice sense of power, but playing as a overpowered character can only be fun for so long. that's how i feel about Alpha-152, too especially since some of her moves have been nerfed from being as insane as they were in DOA4. she just feels hard to control, and therefore not too much fun to play as.

that's.. really about it when it comes to how the game plays. it's roughly Dead or Alive 4 on a portable system, with a simpler counter hold system and playable boss characters. there's some pretty standard online play, which is serviceable but there are a lot of dicks and new players online who just use the boss characters-- which are easy to beat, but it gets pretty tiring after a while.

There's a story too, I guess

the cutscenes are really entertaining for some reason

the biggest departure from previous entries is the game's Chronicle mode. it covers Dead or Alive 1 all the way to Dead or Alive 4, while fleshing out the events that happen in between. the previous DOA games had stories told through weird, sometimes incomprehensible in-engine cutscenes and CG endings. without any sort of knowledge of the story or understanding of any backstory, it seemed like the story events in those games were hard to follow or understand. Dead or Alive Dimensions aims to fix that, adding some of ridiculous explanation to the otherwise unexplainable story events, and recreating cutscenes from older games in order to throw them into the right spot for them to make any sort of sense. the story is entertaining and fun to watch unfold, but it often shows events without offering any sort of explanation. why is this bird man here? why the hell is there a portal to another dimension opening up? it just kind of shows these events and then just moves on to whatever other crazy thing is going on.

even with the disjointed story, i had enough of an understanding where i really enjoyed what was going on, appreciating the treatment of story and cutscenes from previous games. a problem i have with the story is that it focuses way too much on the ninjas of Dead or Alive-- which makes sense since they're the center of all the events in DOA, but i would have liked to see more about the other characters. what's up with Brad Wong, Lei Fang, or Eliot? what the hell's up with Zack? these characters could very well be as interesting as the main ninjas, and it's a shame that we don't see enough of them.

here's a picture of Lisa with a gun

all of the story is told through in-engine cutscenes, which are really weird. most of the in-engine cutscenes are shown with characters that don't move whatsoever. they're in static poses, with the camera swooping around their faces and around the environment. it just looks like some fan video on youtube where some dude just rendered these DOA characters and wanted to make a story with them without even bothering to animate them. there are some in-engine cutscenes that are fully animated, and these actually look pretty good. in addition to these cutscenes, they just throw in CG clips from DOA2U, DOA3 and DOA4 at points where they make sense, but they seem really out of place. the intro to DOA2U is shown at some point in the story, but with no audio whatsoever because in the original intro, Aerosmith was playing and i guess that they didn't have the rights to use that song anymore.

for a quick rundown on the story, you can check out the story sections i provided for each game from the links at the beginning of this blog. it's a fighting game story, so it's pretty dumb and often doesn't make very much sense, but in that way, it's pretty enjoyable if you know what you're in for.

That's about it

Dead or Alive Dimensions is a cool game! i'd sill prefer to play Dead or Alive 4, but it's still a fun fighter for the 3DS.

tomorrow, i'm going to close off my blog series with the Dead or Alive 5 Alpha Demo that came with Ninja Gaiden 3, along with providing some thoughts about how DOA5 looks before it comes out the following day.

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

8 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 5: Dead or Alive 4

hola. welcome (or welcome back if applicable) to my Dead or Alive blog series where i cover a DOA game that i've played once a day until Dead or Alive 5's NA release on September 25th. i didn't get to cover a game yesterday because i went to a concert (which was pretty fun) and didn't have enough time on Thursday to make a write-up in advance. last time, i covered Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate-- my favorite Dead or Alive game. you can check that out here if you'd like.

here's what i've done so far:

Dead or Alive 5 is three days away until release, which is still pretty surreal. i mean.. it's a weird feeling that the wait is almost finally over. however, let's stop talking about that for the time being and let's check out DOA's debut on current gen consoles-- Dead or Alive 4.

Dead or Alive 4 (2005) - Xbox 360

this box art.. isn't terrible. could be a lot worse.

Dead or Alive 4 was the first fighting game on current gen consoles. it was originally supposed to launch with the Xbox 360, but it was delayed for a bit, and instead was released in December 2005. this would be the last Dead or Alive fighting game under Tomonobu Itagaki's supervision.

What's new?

DOA4 was a next generation leap for the series, but it didn't have as big of a change in most aspects than i thought there would be. with that said, there are still some pretty big changes.

Dead or Alive 4 features a lot of changed moves for every character. some move strings from previous entires have been extended, while some have been replaced with brand new strings. we have new strikes, grabs, charge-up moves and counter holds for most characters. Team NINJA have also made it so move connect and flow into each other a lot easier, making combos and juggles a hell of a lot more easier to discover and pull off than in previous games. before, it was cool to pull off like, 6 hit combos and shit but DOA4 says fuck that where 7 hits are the norm just by mashing the Y button, which could be considered a problem or a plus, depending on how you look at it. although thanks to these additions, DOA4 feels a lot more refined in its fighting, and gives some sort of satisfaction to the moves that no other game in the series prior to it can provide.

while we're on the subject of gameplay, they've done a lot of changes to how the damage is dealt. they have made every move in the game deal more damage, making Dead or Alive 4 a game where you definitely cannot take as many hits as you could before. to go along with this change, every counter hold does a ton of damage now, to go along with the more complex four-point counter hold system introduced in DOA2 Ultimate. they've also shortened the window where a counter hold attempt is effective. these changes make DOA4 a lot more difficult and more complex than any other game in the series. players simply cannot mash out counter attempts, or at least not to the effect as they could before. counter holds are more difficult this time around, but they're ultimately a lot more rewarding. there's also some new stuff too such as knockback from blocking too long and more options when attacking an opponent on the ground.

Dead or Alive Online returns, and with some cool features too. DOA2U features 8 player matches, but Team NINJA wasn't taking any of that and bumped it up to 16 player lobbies. that's an obscene amount of players for an online fighting game. they've also introduced a new lobby system, where players can purchase and customize little avatars with in-game "Zack Dollars", then interact with others players in fun, colorful lobbies while waiting for the host to start a game, or maybe just to hang out and chat.

finally, we've got some new characters in the mix. DOA4 introduced Kokoro, some teenage geisha lady who has ties to DOATEC, La Mariposa, a DOATEC scientist named Lisa introduced in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball who debuts in DOA4 as a masked luchadora, and Eliot, the successor to Gen-Fu.

other small additions include a snapshot mode where you can take screenshots of matches from your replays or from the game's CPU watch mode, more aggressive opponent AI and some small changes in the story mode, where not every single character fights the trademark, terrible final boss.

New generation, new frustration

Dead or Alive 4 is a game that i like a lot. i've spent a lot of time playing it with friends and randoms, and having a good time for the most part. while i have spent a lot of time with this game, not all of it has been fun. i always feel like a fighting game shines the most with other human players, and the amount of time i spent playing Dead or Alive 4 with others players highlighted some of the best strengths of the series, while some things that i don't particularly enjoy about it.

i feel like i should adress the problems i have with Dead or Alive 4 first. probably one of the biggest things i dislike about it, is its single player. Dead or Alive's single player modes have always had reasonable difficulty, with the occasional tough opponent and the unfortunately designed boss fights at the end of each character's story. this time around, however, they cranked up the difficulty, in what i would assume to be a change going along with the other mechanics that have been made more difficult and complex. this hasn't resulted in a single player experience that's challenging and fun, but rather one that's frustrating and far from fun.

Tina's AI welcomes in a new generation of frustration

there's always been some sort of oddity with fighting games and artificial intelligence. a big part of fighting games comes from move inputs, and getting the hang of timing, execution and everything along those lines. i'm pretty sure fucking robot intelligence doesn't have to worry about getting an input wrong, or getting the timing down on a combo. with this said, Dead or Alive's fighting mechanics are heavily based around those factors, especially the counter system. it's never fun when the AI counters a fine amount of your moves with absolute perfection, while pulling off flawless combos. it's something like this that the more aggressive AI has, and it doesn't make seeing the game's endings or enjoying most of the single player content to be any fun at all. every win on an AI opponent doesn't feel like you've learned something, but rather it just feels like you were lucky.

of course, i can't mention the game's AI without Alpha-152-- the game's final boss. an enhanced bioweapon, originally a perfect clone of Kasumi is one of the worst things to happen to the entire series. of course, one of the worst things in the series is tied to Kasumi.

seriously. fuck this thing. set on a stage remisant of the Danger Zone exploding floors from Dead or Alive 1, Alpha-152 is a boss fight where you throw all of your skill out the window and just hope that you can somehow win without Alpha catching you with one of her grabs that deplete roughly 50% of your health bar. complete with some moves that can't be countered and incredibly devastating attacks, she's not making the game's already-dreadful single player any better.

while i'd say to avoid the single player at all costs, that's where you unlock characters and stages.. so.. take your pick.

Wait a sec.. this game is actually pretty fun

once you're done tearing your hair out at the game's single player mode, bring a friend over and enjoy what the game has to offer. Dead or Alive 4 is easily the best feeling game in the series. hits pack a punch thanks to good sound design, moves flow and connect easily and well and it all makes for a game that's easy to pick up and play against a player of the same skill level. with easier moves to connect, comes easier, longer and more fun juggles and combos to pull off. i feel like i got a lot more creative with combos in DOA4 more than in any other entry in the series, which always brought me back to training mode to try out new setups and juggles. it's not only good for advanced players to extend their game, but it's easier for new players to pull off some cool shit without much knowledge of how the game works. once again, based on your perspective, this could be a good or bad thing. it makes the game more accessible to new players but it also means that new players can easily pull off powerful combos without much skill.

just another day with Ayane

DOA4 also looks pretty damn good today, even for a 2005 game. it's colorful, vibrant and it has some nice detail in its stages. the character models, while still looking like plastic dolls, they still look pretty nice and animate exceptionally well. if there's any complaint i have about the visuals, it's that the hair looks fucking creepy. DOA4 has added some sort of weird dynamic hair physics that change based on the stage and character movements, and all the time it looks like the hair is some horrible hair monster taking over the body of every character with long hair, just flowing in weird strands, clipping through everything and just generally looking bad. apart from that, DOA4 is a treat to the eyes nearly seven years later, in both its presentation and graphics.

the stages in DOA4 are pretty good. a lot of them, such as on the street of a vegas strip or on a seaside market are fun, full of interactivity and are a treat to the eye. however, they're somewhat disappointing compared to the large number of great stages in DOA2 Ultimate. DOA4 online has three stages for tag team play, while DOA2U must have featured at least 5 or 6, which makes seeing those three stages get old fast. some of the stages are a swing and miss, such as the stage full of dinosaurs.. which sounds like it would be cool, but it's ugly and full of obstacles that just get in the way of the fighting instead of adding a layer of fun to it.

this game also features its fair share of unlockables, too. Ein, Gen-Fu, Helena, Leon, Tengu and a fucking Spartan are unlockable characters, while there are unlockable costumes, stages, and system voices which are voices that say stuff like "K.O.!" and "Get ready.. fight!". the costumes are alright, but after the mass amount of unlockable costumes in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate, it's disappointing to come to the next game in the series that doesn't offer as many costumes. Ayane went from having 20 unlockable costumes to a mere 6, but at least they're nice for what they are. unfortunately, characters like Hitomi get screwed over with the same costume taking up 3 costumes slots, each one just different colors.

Gambler's Paradise is one of the best stages in the entire series

lastly, the music could quite possibly be the most forgettable soundtrack in the entire series. off the top of my head right now, i can barely remember any of the music from this game, and even if i could, i bet i couldn't match the themes with the characters. they're so boring that you're much better off setting the game music to 0 and playing your own music if you haven't already. La Mariposa's theme may be the only memorable theme from this game. Aerosmith is in there for the intro, and the DOA2U remix themes play in a nightclub stage, but there's nothing of note apart from that.

Dead or Alive 4 is a weird game to write about. it's something i played for a long time but never really got serious with until about.. the last year or so. it feels great to play, but it has a lot of flaws that really hurt the game overall. Team NINJA had a lot to live up to after DOA2 Ultimate, and while they didn't succeed in making a game with as much content or as wonderfully designed, they still managed to put out a fun, easy to pick up fighter that kept my attention for a good while.

All Wired Up

i spent most of my time on Dead or Alive 4 playing online. it's somewhat flawed, but it's functional enough to my fill of DOA Online. featuring 16 player lobbies, various modes and a ranking system, it's pretty fully features for what it is. however.. probably the biggest issue i have with it is that there's only ranked matches. every match you play online, private or not is a match that puts your rank and points at stake, which is seriously lame considering it's a sacrifice whenever you play with people who are new to the game, or those who purposely de-rank themselves so they can de-rank other players more quickly, since you lose more points whenever you lose to an opponent that's a lower rank.

DOA Online has some other weird quirks of its own. for one, you can't leave an online match if there's only one other player in the lobby. it always gives the winning player control of the lobby. say if you're getting beaten badly and you want to leave the game, you can't unless the host decides to go back to the lobby where you can quit the game. unless somebody else joins (so you can quit during their match), the only wan you can quit a 1v1 online game is by quitting to the dashboard. it's stupid as hell, but as one of the first Xbox 360 games, i'm not sure if i have the right to blame it or not.

besides these issues, DOA online is actually a lot of fun. when the connection isn't like playing underwater, it's a great way to test your skills against other crazy-good players.

There's still a story, apparently

  • Kasumi finds Hayate, and begs him to come back to the Mugen Tenshin village with her. Ayane shows up and beats the hell out of her.
  • Ayane, Hayate and Ryu storm the DOATEC HQ, planning to destroy DOATEC after all the dick moves they pulled on the Mugen Tenshin clan. Kasumi shows up too.
  • during the attack, Alpha-152, an enhanced form of the Kasumi clone from DOA2 breaks free and causes all sorts of chaos along with the ninjas fucking everything up.

  • Helena, the new president of DOATEC after her father was assassinated, sees all of the horrible stuff that DOATEC has done, and decides to self-destruct the HQ, taking her own life along with it. she also finds out that Christie was the one who killed her mother.
  • Kasumi defeats Alpha-152 in the Biolab Core where Alpha was stored, and the whole building starts blowing up and shit. Kasumi tries to run into the flames to save Helena, but Ayane-- the one who's supposed to assassinate her, pulls her back from getting herself killed. the ninjas escape.
  • Helena, about to die from the DOATEC HQ blowing up, gets saved by Zack for some reason swing by in a helicopter. everything explodes. the end.

i wonder if i got all of that right, but that's roughly what happens. most of that is shown in Helena's ending the game still features weird CG endings, but Lei Fang's ending is my favorite in the entire series:

That's about it

wow. this was a long one. as said, i'm starting to get tired of DOA4. i just want 'em to bring on DOA5! tomorrow, i'll try to cover Dead or Alive: Dimensions-- the first DOA fighting game on a handheld.

thanks for reading.

~ Ajay

21 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 4: Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate

oh, hi there. i'm Ajay and i'm so excited for Dead or Alive 5 that i'm hella bloggin' until September 25th, when DOA5 hits shelves in North America. i'm playing through every game in the series and i figure i may as well blog about them while i'm at it! yesterday, i took a lengthy look at Dead or Alive 3-- DOA's debut on the Xbox which you can check out over here.

here's what i've done so far:

there are only five days until DOA5 releases. isn't that.. completely insane? hearing Jeff talk about the story mode on the latest bombcast makes me imagine that it's going to be as messed up and ridiculous as it ever was before. it should be lots of fun.

however, that's still five days until. let's talk about a game that's out now!

Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate (2004) - Xbox

this box art is pretty alright, actually

Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate is a remake of DOA2 for the Xbox, with updated graphics, cutscene, stages, and all sorts of stuff. i already covered Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore on the Playstation 2, but this version is a pretty huge leap from that game, and contains some major series additions well worth discussing in its own blog.

What's New?

Dead or Alive 2 has two of the most important additions to the series that shaped the way for DOA4 and 5. the first one is the addition of multiplayer over Xbox Live. a bunch of dudes could get together in what i think was.. eight player lobbies and beat the hell out of each other, complete with tag team and tournament modes, leaderboards and some other online goodies. i never played DOA2U over Xbox Live, so i can't say much about the quality of the netcode but it was a pretty big leap for the series.

in addition to online play, Team NINJA changed up the counter system this time around. usually, how the counter system worked is that you could use three inputs to counter incoming strikes. you could counter high, med and low strikes. in DOA2U, they changed it so you have to counter med kicks and med punches separately. prior, you could just hold back + hold button (usually X on the Xbox controller) and you could counter both med punches and kicks, but this time around you have to press forward + hold to counter kicks, and back + hold for punches. at first, it seems like a small change but it's a total game changer, giving offensive players more chances to pull off varied combos and defensive players couldn't simply mash out counter holds as much as they could before.

oh crap! look who it is!

so, there you go. two huge additions to DOA2U that made a pretty big difference to how the game played. along with that, if you've got a DOA3 or DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball save, you could totally unlock Hitomi as a playable character. she wasn't introduced until Dead or Alive 3, so it's pretty cool that she's in this time around, even if she's not playable in story mode. also, while it's small, the addition of special grabs while you're near a slope or stairs is a a cool ass addition, too.

They weren't kidding

what do you get when you take Dead or Alive 2, an already great game and inject it full of new costumes, stages, music and overall content? you get nothing other than Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate-- my personal favorite Dead or Alive game. it's a game that when i start, i can't stop playing. the Dead or Alive 2 fighting system, with graphics that still look pretty good today and even better music than before makes for one hell of a package-- and that doesn't even include the online play.

i've already said what i had to say about Dead or Alive 2 before. it was a game that improved upon DOA1 greatly with wonderful interactive stages, a slew of brand new moves and a much better overall feel with combos and the fighting in general. things remain largely unchanged apart from the addition of some new grabs, and the change in the counter system. the change to make the counter system more complex is something i didn't like at first, but after spending a lot of time with this changed counter system, there are things i still don't like that much about it, but it makes the game a lot more rewarding for players who spend their time practicing combos and mix-ups, and simply don't want to be beaten by somebody who just decides to mash counter holds and hope that they get lucky.

at times, this game is pretty as hell

coming from Dead or Alive 3, DOA2U looks pretty stunning for both the time period and console that it's running on. being a 2004 release, i continue to be stunned by how gorgeous this game looks sometimes. there's a lot more detail this time around, such as trails in the snow when the fighters move around in it, seeing the characters' breath in cold weather, and other small details that i appreciate. the boobs are.. crazy again unlike how they were in Dead or Alive 3, but it's something that ya deal with, and don't even notice as you play more and more.

the stages in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate are, in my opinion, the best stages in the entire series. it takes already great stages from Dead or Alive 2, and updates the a bunch, adding in more interactivity with the environment, Danger Zones and generally makes them a lot more fun to play in. in addition to that, it sports a bunch of new stages that both look great and are ton of fun to play in. new stages such as The Great Wall of China, a booming night club and a rainy courtyard during a thunder storm (which remains the only stage in the series where it rains) are great new additions that stack up with the older stages to make a pretty big amount of variety in stages. added Danger Zones to older stages such as throwing an opponent off a rooftop and through a huge neon sign, destroying all of the lights and then having it break off and fall onto the street below are nice additions too that spice up already great stages.

as if that weren't enough, Team NINJA added a ton of new costumes for each character-- especially the female characters, of course. some characters can get up to twenty costumes.

TWENTY COSTUMES. THAT'S NOT EVEN LIKE, DLC OR LIKE, ADD ON CONTENT OR ANYTHING.

looks like they just couldn't get rid of the DOAXBV vibe

that's a lot of costumes, and while some of them have really questionable designs, such as Hitomi's costume where she wears a polka-dotted bikini top, jeans and then heels don't really make that much sense, but there's a good majority of them that are good enough to forget about those odd ones. a few of them are just palette swaps, but maybe i'm just biased because this game contains all of my favorite Lei Fang and Ayane costumes. there are some bikini costumes thrown in there, which was part of what earned the game an M rating (first for the series excluding DOAXBV) but at least they were good picks. real good.

finally, DOA2U features the best soundtrack out of every game in the series. while that's not saying much, it's crazy how they managed to make the DOA2 soundtrack even better. instead, they found a way by making some pretty cool remixes of DOA2 character themes. most of them are pretty good, such as the Ayane, Lei Fang, Kasumi, Jann Lee and Ein remixes. a special note of Helena's remix, which is probably my all time favorite DOA track.

there's an online component too. as i said before, i think up to 8 dudes could join up in a lobby and beat each other senseless. however, i picked up on DOA2U around the time that the original Xbox servers were shut down, so i never got to play my favorite Dead or Alive game online. it's disappointing, and it, for some reason gives me some curiosities on how online play worked on the last gen consoles (fyi, i had a modded PS2 so i couldn't play it online). sometimes i really wish that the servers didn't shut down, but what's done is done, and if i really wanted to, i could probably set up a weird private server. people are probably still playing original Xbox games online somehow.

oh, and i know.. Dead or Alive 3 plays like how DOA2 did, and i wasn't too fond of that game in my write-up, but DOA2U comes with a lot more additions, unlockables and better refinements to the system than DOA3 did. it's a game that i can easily spend a lot more time with.

DOA2's Story: Now with 100% more CG

the story is the same as it was in DOA2, though new to Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate was this CG opening that it had, explaining the origins of Kasumi, Ayane and Hayate as they were kids. it also shows Raidou totally beating the hell out of everybody. it's.. weird. check it out if you want:

there's all sorts of dark shit, like rape and this entire village being total dicks to Ayane for something that wasn't her fault. it's probably the most story that DOA ever got until Dimensions was a thing.

That's about it

finally. i'm done. now i can go play more of this game.

come back tomorrow. our special is gonna be Dead or Alive 4, the series debut on current gen consoles and the DOA game i, no doubt spent the most time with.

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

15 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 3: Dead or Alive 3

hi there. you've stumbled upon my Dead or Alive blog series, where i'm so excited for Dead or Alive 5 that for some reason, i feel like i need to play all of the games in the series again, and write about them while i'm at it. last time, i took a look at Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore which, by the way is really awesome and still a ton of fun to play. you can check that one out here if you'd like.

here's a run down of what i've done so far:

there are only six days until Dead or Alive 5's North America release. this might be one of the slowest weeks of my life. speaking of DOA5, you can check out the recently released launch trailer here. i don't feel like it was very well made. it just seems like they just threw a bunch of the power blows and cliffhanger moves together with no real coherent structure to it. i have a feeling that i feel like that because i've already seen all of this before. it would have been cool if it went together with the music, but that's not the case. there were some pretty alright moments, such as the scene with Lei Fang and Jann Lee, and that one scene in particular, but it wasn't anything to write home about. i never felt that Team NINJA had a strong side for creating trailers, anyway. maybe i'm wrong, and the trailer is great but it didn't wow me, which is what i think a launch trailer is supposed to do. once again, probably because i've seen all of it before but lemme know what you guys think about it.

whatever! it matters not because i'm still unbelievably excited for it. with that out of the way, let's take a look at the first Dead or Alive game that i have played: Dead or Alive 3 on the Xbox.

Dead or Alive 3 (2001) - Xbox

the box art is better than DOA2HC, but still great

A Little History

there isn't as much interesting stuff to Dead or Alive 3's development as there was for the other games. due to the fact that Dead or Alive 2 was so successful, Itagaki & Team NINJA they decided that another entry in the series would be pretty cool, so they started working on that. i think Dead or Alive 3 was originally supposed to be a Playstation 2 release, but they were having issues working with the system, and eventually settled with developing it exclusively for the Xbox when Microsoft approached Team NINJA with an offer to develop their next game for the Xbox to show off the system's powerful hardware. this was also because Itagaki was all into developing his games with the most powerful hardware, and the Xbox was a pretty damn impressive console when it came to graphics (or at least i thought so).

it would be cool if the Xbox actually looked like this

it launched with the Xbox, and became a hit. it sold one million copies within a couple of months of its release, and was up there with Halo and Project Gotham Racing in sales. maybe it sold that much just because it was a launch title and people needed a fighting game, but it's still cool to see DOA up there with Halo.

throughout DOA3's history, there were three versions that were released. Dead or Alive 3, was the straight up North American launch title. the Japanese release, known as Dead or Alive 3.1 was an improved versions with more moves and changes to move properties. the preferred version among the tournament scene is the European release of DOA3, called Dead or Alive 3.2 which contained all of the Japanese additions, while fixing some overpowered moves and stuff. these versions also contained extra costumes. this isn't because of some "alright, we're gonna give the NA players the shitty version and the JP + EU players the better version" sort of thing (although that would be kinda funny), but because they had the time to fix some things up during the gaps between the different region releases.

lastly, we have a little thing called the Dead or Alive 3 Booster Disc. for the poor North American DOA3 players who didn't get the costumes from the EU and JP releases of Dead or Alive 3, a disc came with copies of OXM during 2002 which added the extra costumes to the NTSC version, but for some reason lacked the new moves and balance changes. for those who missed out on the disc's run, unlocking all of the costumes for every character in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate, a later release, made it so the DOA2U disc could be used as a booster disc to add the additional costumes and stuff. pretty nifty stuff.

Enough about that. What's new in Dead or Alive 3?

well, first of all, the game looked fucking gorgeous on the Xbox. apparently Team NINJA got a bunch of mileage out of what they had to work with on the Xbox, because this game somewhat still looks pretty good today. maybe that's because every game from Dead or Alive 2 to Dead or Alive 4 looks kind of the same, but it still looks pretty good regardless. i'm still surprised that this game supports 16:9 and looks pretty good while it's at that.

here's an image of Ayane getting knocked off a sweet cliff

besides the graphics, we got some new game stuff too. new to the DOA3 roster are fan favorites: Hitomi, the cheerful German high school girl and karate student, Christie, the badass and psycho British assassin, and Brad Wong, the Chinese Drunken Fist fighter who's.. well, drunk at all times pretty much. Hayate is a new character too, to an extent. he's Ein from DOA2, but he's a ninja now and sports a new Ninjutsu moveset, making him the fourth ninja on the game's roster alongside Ayane, Ryu and Kasumi. Hitomi is pretty much the female Ein, since she taught Ein the same Karate that she uses.

alongside the new characters are additions such as unrestricted movements. players can now move around in a 3D-axis which pretty much means that they can move left and right along the stage as opposed to only back and forwards, back and towards their opponent like in previous games. counters are also a lot easier now, since there's a longer effective period for counter holds, and the AI is a lot dumber. all of this stuff makes DOA3 a lot more suited for first-time players, which was a pretty good move since this was a launch title, after all.

lastly, there were minor additions like a new menu layout that would be later used in DOA2 Ultimate and Dead or Alive 4. this was also the first game to feature Aerosmith on the soundtrack, which would later become a signature of the series while Itagaki was under control of the Dead or Alive games. some Aerosmith music was featured in the game's intro/attract sequence and the credits. probably somewhere else too, but hell if i know. DOA3 also was the first game to feature CG endings, which, while a little late by 2001, still provides some completely unexplainable and nonsensical endings.

New console, same old fighting.

Dead or Alive 3 wasn't as big of a leap as the leap from DOA1 to DOA2 was. it still maintains the same, solid fighting that we found in Dead or Alive 2, but with more moves, changed properties and the usual things that come with new entry. to some, i suppose that it's a good thing that it hasn't changed so much but it was a little weird coming to DOA3 years later, expecting a big change from DOA2 but only to get met with roughly the same gameplay.

okay, yeah this game looks pretty good

really, i suppose at the time, the game's visual power was the thing that made the game so noteworthy. it's not out of the ordinary for Team Ninja to take full advantage of a system's hardware and pair great gameplay alongside it, and while the gameplay in Dead or Alive 3 is still solid, it just doesn't that much more than what Dead or Alive 2 had to offer.

with all of that out of the way, Dead or Alive 3 is still a fun fighting game. they haven't gotten to the point a the series where juggles and combos are essential to playing the game, so combos aren't long and elaborate yet. however, it's still easy to string together basic moves and have a good time doing so. characters from Dead or Alive 2 remain.. mostly unchanged, while the new characters offer some nice variety. Brad Wong, in particular is the most unique and interesting addition out of the new three characters, with his drunk-as-hell fighting style allowing him to have some great looking moves with stellar animation.

the soundtrack isn't very memorable, however. while Dead or Alive 2 features a wonderful soundtrack, DOA3's music feels mostly forgettable. apart from the main menu music (which remains my favorite in the series, although isn't very memorable on its own), and some good character themes, there's not much that would make me want to go back to the game's soundtrack.

Lei Fang whopping Helena on some shiny ass floor

probably the biggest shot to the groin with this game has to be the lack of unlockables. Dead or Alive games usually feature a slew of unlockables, such as up to six unlockable costumes for certain characters in Dead or Alive 2, along with an unlockable CG gallery, characters, and some other goodies. Dead or Alive 3 features a maximum of one unlockable costume per character without the booster disc, and only features one unlockable character. i have yet to unlock anything else in DOA3 during my time with it, and it doesn't look like there's anything else to unlock apart from those things. it strips off a lot of the replay value that the other games had.

there's.. not that much else to it, to be honest. i mean.. it has pretty cool stages, the endings are pretty silly and it plays well but with a game playing similarly to Dead or Alive 2 and not much else to separate itself, it's hard to not repeat what i said about Dead or Alive 2.

The Cry of A Thousand Perverts

Dead or Alive 3 has what could be my favorite Lei Fang costume

despite having endings like this and this, Dead or Alive 3 could be the least sexualized numerical entry in the series. there's barely any ridiculous breast bounce in Dead or Alive 3. Lei Fang's animation upon selected on the character select screen usually makes her breasts go bananas, but there's a lack of such sensitive breast-ery and embarrassing-ness. it also has a lack of skimpy, cleavage-filled female character costumes, replaced with a lot nicer, somewhat stylish costumes.

in a way, i like that a lot more. it makes Dead or Alive a game that's a lot less embarrassing to present, and it's kind of a relief not to feel weirded out by breasts that look like they change the course of gravity every time they move.

There's a story, too

long story short:

  • Ayane's foster father, Genra leaves the Mugen Tenshin clan and joins up with DOATEC to become an experimental subject. he ends up turning into OMEGA, a powerful being who has a laser sword, can shoot fire and shit like that.
  • Ayane enters the Dead or Alive tournament because she feels like it's her duty to stop Genra. Ayane wins the DOA tournament and kills the man who raised her. she then becomes the new leader of the Mugen Tenshin Haji Mon sect.
  • meanwhile, Kasumi finds Hayate but Hayate doesn't want anything to do with Kasumi because she fucked up, then they fight for some reason.

pretty light on major story events, however it's probably one of the most emotional DOA games because of Ayane's ending where she kills Genra. *sob*

That's About It

i'm.. kind of stumped at what i think about this game. Dead or Alive 3 is.. for lack of a better word, a boring game. while it still packs solid fighting, and sports great graphics, for somebody who has played DOA2 prior, there probably isn't much that it has to offer. it's hard to follow up to a game that was so successful at what it did, but once you look past its graphics, DOA3 doesn't really do anything new or exciting that warrants a look at apart from curiosity at this point.

Dead or Alive 3 was my first DOA game, and i thought it was a total blast. it was my first experience, and although i was mashing buttons, i had so much fun playing in tag team battles with my cousins. it was remembering stuff like that which made me wanted to check out more DOA games, and to eventually become the fan that i am right now. sometimes however, revisiting something isn't always the best experience and DOA3 certainly wasn't how i remembered it.

come back tomorrow, and i'll have Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate all cooked up for you. i already covered DOA2 Hardcore, but DOA2U is great enough, and is important enough of a game to deserve its own write-up.

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

11 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 2: Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore

hi! you've just stumbled upon my Dead or Alive blog series, where i write about a Dead or Alive game every day until DOA5's release on September 25th (for north america, anyway). yesterday, i wrote about Dead or Alive 1 Ultimate, and a bit about DOA5. Dead or Alive 1 Ultimate isn't the most exciting game in the world, but it gave birth to a series that i've come to adore over the years. you can check that out here, if you'd like.

Dead or Alive 5 is only one week away, so allow me to present the much improved sequel to DOA1, Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore.

Dead or Alive 2 (1999) - Arcade, Dreamcast, Playstation 2*

A Little History

..and so begins the boring-as-hell box art.

so, naturally, the first Dead or Alive was so awesome that it got its own sequel! Dead or Alive 2 was released in arcades sometime in 1999, and was pretty cool, i guess? this game also saw like, 3000 different versions because you know, it's a Team NINJA game so that was pretty much part of how they roll. it was released on the Dreamcast and Playstation 2 in Japan. apparently Itagaki and Team NINJA only had two months to work on the PS2 port of Dead or Alive 2.

two. months.

i guess he wears those shades to hide his tears

that's some borderline E.T. and Pac Man for the Atari 2600 shit right there. not only that, but he gave an unfinished copy of the game to some worker dude at Tecmo and he went ahead and sent it to production. what a dick. he was tricked into shipping an unfinished game.. or at least, he felt that it was unfinished. because of that, he was totally fucked up and went into some sorta depression, which made him want to quit the video game industry. thank god that didn't happen, or else we wouldn't have gotten the Ninja Gaiden reboot.. or at least, it probably wouldn't have been as well made as it was.

after that shit show, they continued to update Dead or Alive 2 a bunch, to the point where by the time DOA2 was finally done with, there were eleven different versions of Dead or Alive 2. eventually, we finally got Dead or Alive 2 for the PS2 in the west, under the name Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore, which contained more stages, more costumes, cutscenes and a sexy CG gallery mode in case you wanted to see the (now pretty dated) CG images of the DOA ladies.

HARDCORE!!!!!!!!

the subtitle Hardcore sounds so cheesy and silly. in a sense, i suppose it was appropriate for the time period and the content of the game. regardless of subtitle, that's gonna be the game that we'll be covering today. Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore was a Playstation 2 release, and i had a Playstation 2 but i still never played it when it was around. it's a shame, because i probably would have loved it even more than i already do at the time. i ended up nabbing this game alongside a copy of Ninja Gaiden Sigma only because i didn't have an Xbox 360 at the time to play DOA4. so, it was a pretty good way to hold myself over until i got my hands on a 360.

What's new?

"well, hot damn! i sure look good on this Sega Naomi hardware"

Dead or Alive 2 is a game rendered in full 3D. none of that Sega Saturn bullshit for DOA1 where we got 2D backdrops. everything, from the stages to the characters are beautifully rendered polygons that give the game a total next-generation look in comparison to Dead or Alive 1. to take advantage of that, the stages are no longer consisted of some bullshit piece of land surrounded by an exploding floor. now every stage is.. well, an actual stage complete with environmental interaction, walls and all of that cool stuff. not everything breaks when you get knocked into it, but you tumblr over railings, fly through walls, down stairs, and all sorts of other fun stuff. all of this unique environmental interaction (now called the Danger Zone, instead of that exploding floor) soon became a feature of the series that became more and more part of the core gameplay as the games evolved, and eventually became a staple of the series.

in addition to that, the fighting has been refined to feel a lot better. characters now have a ton of more moves at their disposal, making for easier, more exciting combos to pull off. each character now also has their own unique counter holds, as opposed to in DOA1 where everybody just like, shoved their opponent back besides Lei Fang. because of these refinements, Dead or Alive 2 feels like a much better fighter, and overall the game packs a more solid punch.

we also got a bunch of new characters. Ayane is finally in, as a character that isn't locked behind some crazy requirements. we also got Ein, Kasumi's brother, Leon, who's pretty much a Bayman palette swap, Helena Douglas, who's some opera singer lady, and Tengu, the final boss who's some huge fucking bird thing.

there's some other stuff, like they actually present the story during arcade mode, but it still doesn't make that much sense if this game is all you're going with.

THIS IS GOING TO BE A GOOD MATCH

in case you haven't figured it out yet, Dead or Alive 2 is an awesome game. it's a game where DOA's potential really started to show, and over ten years later, is still a ton of fun to play.

Ayane being a bitch, as usual.

one of my favorite parts about this game has to be the stages. while not the best in the series, they're still memorable stages that continue to draw inspiration for stages in the more modern entries. you can fight in a church, in an icy cavern, right over a waterfall, in a huge opera hall with endless floors and on a descending elevator with exploding walls. all of these stages are really fun to play in, whether for the beauty of the stages, or for the super fun environmental interactivity with all sorts of stuff in the stage. it's a game where the stage is more than a backdrop, and it's a nice change from the likes of Street Fighter stages.

the stages are cool and all, but they wouldn't be that fun without the vastly improved fighting engine. every impact feels great, thanks to the sound design that kicks in some pretty cheesy impact sounds, which feels oddly satisfying when you punch the living hell out of some dude. the added selection of moves, and added speed to the fighting makes combos a breeze, and gives it a lot more substance than DOA1 had. this time around, no two characters feel the same which makes playing every different character a totally different experience if you're not button mashing your way through the game.

well, it was nice knowing you, Lei Fang..

i feel like i should mention what is, without a doubt the most memorable part of Dead or Alive 2-- the soundtrack. filled with themes that perfectly suit their corresponding character are catchy, surprisingly really well made tracks. Hayabusa's "The Shooted" is fast, energetic and totally fits an incredibly skilled, super fast ninja, while Tina's "You are under my control" remains a hair-raiser in its opening seconds alone. oh, an Helena's "Blazed Up Melpoeme" may one of the, if not, the most memorable Dead or Alive track. How Do You Feel and Exciter by Bomb Factory are pretty rad, too. it was DOA's Aerosmith before Aerosmith was in DOA3.

Dead or Alive 2 is what i could call, a perfect sequel. not a perfect game, mind you but it has everything that i could have ever wanted in a sequel to Dead or Alive 1. refined fighting mechanics, better stages, less insane boob physics and an outstanding soundtrack. it's one of my favorite Dead or Alive games, and i still bring it up sometimes when talking about my all time favorite games.

Oh right.. the story..

let's recap what happened in Dead or Alive 1:

  • Kasumi's brother, Hayate goes missing after getting destroyed by some asshole who stole some secret ninja power from his village.
  • he goes missing. Kasumi leaves her clan to search for Hayate, and is considered a traitor. Ayane, Kasumi's half-sister searches out to assassinate Kasumi as a result.
  • Kasumi exacts revenge on that dude who kicked her brother's ass, but still can't find him.

here's what happens in DOA2 in a nutshell:

  • Kasumi joins the Dead or Alive 2 tournament.. for some reason. i guess she's still looking for Hayate.
  • oh, and Kasumi gets cloned and she beat up her own clone because she's in the DOATEC labs for some reason. (thanks demoskinos!)
  • Ayane follows closely behind, joining the tournament to kill Kasumi. she ends up being unsuccessful.
  • meanwhile. Hayate is wandering somewhere in the forest, having no memory of who he is or where he came from. he's taken in by Hitomi, is taught Karate and is named Ein.
  • Ein joins the DOA2 tournament with Hitomi. Ryu beats the hell out of him, winning the DOA2 tournament and he somehow regains his memory. now he's Hayate and is now suddenly a ninja again.
  • there's also.. a bird man for some reason.

That's about it

Dead or Alive 2 is awesome. if you haven't played it, go buy it now and play it. i don't care if you're playing Borderlands 2. i'll be playing Borderlands 2 while you go play Dead or Alive 2. 222222222222

tomorrow, i'm gonna take a look at Dead or Alive 3-- DOA's debut on the Xbox and the first DOA game that i played.

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

18 Comments

Countdown to Dead or Alive 5 - Day 1: Dead or Alive Ultimate

it's no secret that i love the Dead or Alive fighting game series. its super fast, fun fighting system, colorful cast of characters and sheer personality makes it a series that i've come to adore over the years that i've started to play it. while its reputation has become pretty embarrassing (rightfully so, in some cases), it's something that some like to look past to dig into the fun that the fighting games have to offer. the next instalment is in sight, and i still can't believe it.

Dead or Alive 5 comes out in North America in eight days.

that's kind of crazy, now that i think about it. in a sense, i'm grateful that we're getting a Dead or Alive 5 at all, or at least a fifth instalment that looks good. when Tomonobu Itagaki left Team NINJA in 2008, he said that the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden games would no longer continue, but since then we've seen tons of games by Team NINJA from great games like Dead or Alive: Dimensions all the way to disasters like Ninja Gaiden 3. although, given Ninja Gaiden 3's outcome, i'm glad that Dead or Alive 5 actually looks well made. the way i put it, i make it sound like we've been waiting over ten years for this.

i haven't really been too vocal about my excitement for Dead or Alive 5. apart from dominating the game's wiki page and the occasional forum post, has been the one who's been showing the most excitement for this game as far as i'm concerned on Giant Bomb. he's been getting the forums hyped up. i think it goes without saying that i'm super excited for Dead or Alive 5's release, and i always was, from that time that tweeted me the announcement when i was in math class, trying not to lose my shit all the way to this very moment where i find it hard to believe that i'll be playing it a bit more than a week from now.

since we're getting a fifth Dead or Alive instalment, i've been playing through the main series, and i figured i may as well write some stuff up while i'm at it. i've never really written much about Dead or Alive apart from a Dimensions review and what could be thousands of words on wall posts, PMs and instant messaging conversations with other GB users.

so, without further delay. allow me to present what could be my least favorite game in the fighting game franchise, the first Dead or Alive!

Dead or Alive (1996) - Arcade, Saturn, PS1, Xbox*

A Little History

i gotta admit, this box art is pretty alright

Dead or Alive saved Tecmo's ass. Tomonobu Itagaki was tasked with designing a fighting game that could rival Sega's Virtua Fighter games, which was good for him because apparently he was pissed off at how fighting games at the time were designed. he wanted to kick all of their asses and deliver the 'old school' fighting game style that those games 'used' to deliver. so, he created Dead or Alive. the name came from Tecmo's financial situation at the time, which was apparently totally messed up because Itagaki's fighting game was the only thing that stood between Tecmo and bankruptcy.

no pressure, right?

well, luckily, Dead or Alive kicked ass in Japanese arcades. so much, they brought it to the West where it totally got its ass handed to it by Tekken! i guess that's why Itagaki hates Tekken so much. Dead or Alive was so kickass that it even got its own Playstation version, which was a vastly improved version of Dead or Alive in the arcades and on the Saturn. it got a few new playable characters, improved graphics to take advantage of the Playstation's hardware and loads of new costumes. this was called Dead or Alive ++ when it was released in the arcades. the last Dead or Alive 1 release was when it was bundled with a remake of Dead or Alive 2 in Dead or Alive: Ultimate. DOA1 was remastered with smoother graphics, surround sound and online play.

Everything's Gotta Start Somewhere, I Guess

i never played Dead or Alive when it came out. i had a Playstation and all that, but i never played DOA until Dead or Alive 3 on the Xbox. so.. going back to the first Dead or Alive game is weird. it's neat to see where the series came from, but i don't think this game aged especially well, considering how refined the fighting got in Dead or Alive 2, and in later games.

Ryu's about to get messed the eff up with that explosive floor

Dead or Alive has a pretty small cast of characters, but they're friendly faces nonetheless. we've got Kasumi, Tina, Lei Fang, Zack, Jann Lee, Bayman, Ryu Hayabusa and Gen-Fu. this was Ryu's first appearance since the old-school Ninja Gaiden games, and it was here where he was injected into the Dead or Alive universe. Dead or Alive ++ added characters like Bass and Ayane, but we're gonna focus on the Xbox version of Dead or Alive, called Dead or Alive 1 Ultimate. it was essentially a port of the Saturn version because.. i don't know, something about the Playstation build of DOA belonging to Sony or something like that.

anyway, Dead or Alive is a fighter where players have to knock their opponents out, or ring them out. they can use the punch and kick buttons, which is standard fare but what really set Dead or Alive apart was its counter system. with the right timing, you could stop an opponent's attack, losing no health and punishing them with a deadly counter attack. while in the first Dead or Alive, it wasn't really much more than a shove, it was a mechanic that set the series apart from other fighters as the games progressed, and became a staple of the series.

jesus christ. Raidou looks terrifying as hell here.

now, and especially in Dead or Alive 5, the stages play a big part in the overall gameplay. that's not too different in DOA1, except they're not really stages. every stage consists of a few squares of land where the fighters beat each other to a pulp, but surrounding that land is what's called the Danger Zone. when knocked down onto the Danger Zone, the floor explodes and you launch into the air. it's pretty cool, and it can lead to some pretty alright combos. the extent of changes in stages usually involves the background, which could change from a city street, to an airplane hanger or a thunder storm. it's nothing too exciting, but it keeps things kinda interesting for what it is. the arcade version had wicked 3D rendered backgrounds, but the Saturn was apparently too weak to handle that, so it was changed to lame 2D backgrounds. nice one.

there's.. not really that much else to say about it, really. while i can appreciate what it started, it's not that exciting of a fighting game. from the time i've spent with it, combos aren't particularly easy to pull off, or even very interesting. the opponent AI is pretty punishing in standard DOA fashion, and there's not that much to do in this game apart from some standard modes (time attack, survival, training) and some unlockable costumes.

What.. What is wrong with your chest?!

of course, one big draw to Dead or Alive was its cast of busty, beautiful polygonal ladies. there's a scene in the intro where Kasumi is nude in some steamy bath, and the breasts.. oh dear lord..

if you thought Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 had horribly scary boobs (which it still does), you should check out what's going on in this game. it looks like two forces are playing a game of tug-o-war with Kasumi's breasts. it's kind of funny, but it's kind of embarrassing that it's become a staple of the series today: exaggerated breast bounce. no doubt it played a big factor in the game's success, if not for it's 'sexiness', then for it's sheer absurdity. the game even has an option in the main menu to toggle it on and off in case it becomes too horrifying to watch.

Oh, there's a story, isn't there?

long story short:

  • some dude named Raidou is a dick, beats the hell out of everybody in the Mugen Tenshin village and steals some hidden ninja power from them.
  • some ninja dude named Hayate isn't gonna take any of that, so he tries to attack Raidou. Raidou totally fucks Hayate up with that hidden ninja power.
  • Hayate goes missing, everybody thinks he's dead. Kasumi, Hayate's brother thinks that he's alive so she sets out to find him. she leaves the clan, is considered a traitor and Ayane is assigned to assassinate her. Ayane was treated like shit as a kid because she was the result of a rape by Raidou, and due to that, she's always been jealous of how Kasumi was treated. she developed a hatred for Kasumi.
  • Kasumi enters something called the Dead or Alive tournament because Raidou is supposed to be there. Kasumi wins the tourney and kills Raidou by crushing him with falling debris. still no sign of Hayate.

That's About It

there's not much else that i can say about this game. it's a pretty standard fighting game with crazy breast bounce and a cool counter system. ultimately, it leads to not really writing anything interesting, but i figured that i should cover this game at least considering that it's an important game, regardless of its quality today. i'm sure those with nostalgia for the first Dead or Alive think a lot more highly than i do, but i can only say so much from the perspective of somebody who didn't play this game when it was around.

tomorrow, i'll go over Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore which is a game that i absolutely adore. you can find that here

thanks for reading.

~Ajay

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