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.
..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
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.


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.


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.
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..
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.