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
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 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
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
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
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
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.