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Dead or Alive Dimensions 3DS Review

Dead or Alive Dimensions is the latest in the series of Dead or Alive fighting games. The game summarizes the events of the first four game's stories, and features all the characters and some of the stages of the past games. Being pretty much a best of Dead or Alive is rather apt since this is the first to appear on Nintendo console or handheld,  so it's likely that this could some peoples first introduction to the series. Dead or Alive makes the transition to a handheld smoothly by making very little compromises to the graphics or the gameplay that fans of the series know and love. It is really a showcase of what the 3DS can do and an example of what others should do on the platform.

To summarize the plot of Dead or Alive Dimensions, would be derivatives to the entire purpose of the game, which is to explain and condense story of the series. But I will attempt to vaguely summarize it myself so as to not give too much of it away for prospective buyers. In Japan there are two oddly friendly ninja clans. The main one led by the newly playable character Shiden, and the other Genra, the boss of Dead or Alive 3, who is also now playable. Shiden marries and his wife has two children, Kasumi and Hayate, both main playable characters in the series. Shiden's brother Raidou who was the boss of Dead or Alive 1 and is also playable here is for some reason evil, so evil in fact, that he rapes Shiden's wife and fathers Ayane another main playable character, and later kills Hayate. Although in the original games I thought he just beat Hayate so much that he lost his memory. For some reason despite being his sisters both Kasumi and Ayane have a huge crush on Hayate, so his death understandably angers them. Kasumi decides to go off into the world in search of  Raidou for revenge. Apparently however leaving a ninja clan without permission is a big no-no, so ironically Ayane sets off into the world to find and kill her half sister Kasumi for dishonoring the clan. Then Ninja Gaiden himself, Ryu Hayabusa, also a playable character goes off to find his friend Kasumi, presumably to reason with her to return to the clan. Meanwhile unimportant rich guy character; Frame Douglas fancies himself a humanitarian, so naturally he starts a international martial arts tournament, with  a lavish grand prize of fame and fortune. the tournament's called, you guessed it, Dead or Alive. The name is preposterously explained that because Frame Douglas's company is called DOA Tech, he's just using the first three letters as an acronym.  Raidou is for some reason the de facto champion of the tournament, so  Kasumi  enters to  get a shot at Raidou mamo e mano. Then Ayane enters the tournament to kill Kasumi, and then Ryu enters to find Kasumi and so on and so forth with the various other secondary playable characters who enter for monetary reasons or various other personal dramas. Things get more complicated  in Dead or Alive 2 when it seems like there was some sort of two for the price of one cloning deal going on. The upshot of this is that Hayate is now for some reason resurrected. Helena Douglas, a playable character takes over for her father as the head of DOA Tech and the organizer of the Dead or Alive  tournament . Also the ridiculous boss of Dead or Alive 2 Tengu shows up arbitrarily, he too is of course playable. The tournament is of course held twice more, hence why there are four Dead or Alive games. This leads to a lot of backstabbing, side switching, and fleeting alliances over the course of the game.

Despite the absurdity of the overall story of the Dead or Alive franchise it plays out very well within the game's context, keeping players interested during the play through of the games rather short chronicle mode. Every character in the game has full voiceovers with the action in the cut scenes nicely animated. The occasional recycled FMV sequence from earlier Dead or Alive games is sprinkled throughout the campaign. One curious thing however is why certain scenes, with less  important plot developments, use still character models and static pre-poses  to convey the story. It's nice that voiceovers are still present in these cut scenes, but still it will be nice if all the cut scenes  were fully animated and of the same quality.

Fighters in Dead or Alive can be controlled by either the analog stick, or the digital pad. A is kick. X is punch, B is throw and Y is block. L and R ? ghfh To be truly good and Dead or Alive you must  take advantage of reversals, done by holding back and dodge at the same time. People often say that dead or alive plays like Tekken, but this is simply not true, Dead or Alive merely looks like Tekken but however plays more like Street Fighter but without projectiles, excluding a few exceptions. It is a fast fluid combat system that is easy to learn and fun to use.

There are several different modes in the game. Chronicle mode is pretty much the game's story mode, it is abridged version of the story of Dead or Alive one through four. Although fans of the series probably already know what happened in the earlier games this new take fleshes out formally glossed over events, while also ignoring side character stories like that of Tina or Leifang. It is an enjoyable experience to watch for the three or so hours it lasts. It's unfortunate that there aren't story modes or ending for individual characters.

Arcade mode is rather unconventional as it has six different runs themed off of different Dead or Alive games. Dead or Alive 2 is divided between two different runs, and the sixth run being something o f a boss rush mode. What's annoying here is that arcade mode is really just the time attack mode in disguise. But more annoying is that your opponents are not random so you'll fight the same enemies in the same order every time you pick a particular run, which is needless to say quite boring after a while.
Survival mode pits you with a single health bar, against a large gauntlet foes, in 50 or 100 varieties.
Tag challenge too is curious as well. Like arcade mode it too has a number of different runs, this time 20 that also don't have varying opponents. You pick your main character and your tag partner. Unlike in other installments of a series where when you tagged in the second character you could play with them as well. Now A.I. controls your partner, and will tag itself in any time your character's health is below 50%. To make matters worse most A.I. partners are entirely incompetent, often standing stationary while your opponent whales on them until they are killed.  Oddly only A.I. controlled Hitmoi seems put up a decent fight. The point of tag battle is to tag in your partner when you yourself are low on health to give you time to recover that health before being tagged back in, but the A.I. fails to grasp this concept. If you have 40% health and A.I. has 5% health it will continuously try to tag itself in before it's fully healed, because you are below 50%, thereby getting itself killed and screwing you over. Luckily this frustration can be circumvented by playing the tag challenges in multiplayer with another human player who, hopefully won't be as stupid.
Versus mode is of course the classic one on one battles that every fighting game has. It can be played both locally, or online with up to two players. Note that locally both players much a must have a copy of the game. Initially there was some pretty prevalent lag when I first played online. I was playing on a Japanese system fighting a American system I thought maybe that was the cause of the lag, but they were both in the same room. However after about five matches or so, the systems  seemed to sync up better and the lag was gone. So it seems like the online mode favors a lengthy sessions, over quick spurts, which could be a problem due to rage quitters.

The collection mode is quite strange. For completing anything in game you are awarded collectible figurines. Once acquired photos can be taken of these figurines and then reviewed in the game's gallery menu. Photos cannot be transferred to the 3DS's own photo gallery program. You can pose one or multiple figurines in an effort to stage a scene if you like. Virtual figurine collecting seems to be a fad in Japanese games, I'm not really sure what the point of it is, but I suppose it does give you reason to continue playing parts of the game that you may already be bored of in order to get more figurines.
Free play mode, lets you pick a stage, a opponent, a difficulty, and then go to town fighting them as much as you please. This seems to make up for the rigidness of chronicle, arcade and tag battle modes but it's still a shame that you can't set up a match between a series of opponents on a series of stages in Free Play mode, thereby making your own  arcade mode.
There is also training mode.

The graphics are quite stunning,  character models are nicely detailed, showing layers of clothing with good facial features, quite nice hair. Backgrounds though good looking are sparse with objects, unlike some other games in the series. Colors are bright although it's clear that the textures are running at a lower resolution than that of the Xbox games. Occasionally some detail is noticeably absent. Like the shininess of Christie's default costume. Overall I would say the graphics are on par with dead or alive three or perhaps ultimate for the original Xbox.

The 3D effects are the best I've seen in any three DS title so far. Not only do they give added depth to the viewpoint during a match, but during the characters victory pose, terrific pop out effects are displayed. Having 3D on however does hurt the frame rate considerably, with constant stuttering and sometimes dropping below twenty frames a second. It's still very playable though.
A lot of music is recycled from earlier entries in the series. But the songs were so great to listen to the first time that they are welcome to return again. Also voice actors are cast well but occasionally they will fumble a line or simply say a phrase awkwardly, accents in particular, like with Bayman or Helena. Luckily for voice acting snobs, subtitles as well as the Japanese voices are available options.

One of  the consistent goals, or perhaps lengthening tools of Dead or Alive series has been unlocking costumes for the various fighters. This time    list the costume totals. In addition to this more costumes can be it downloaded through the Internet using the 3DS's spot pass system. Annoyingly only one costumes can be downloaded per day, and even then only for the first two months of the game's release. I'm not sure why they chose to do this except to obviously  give a incentive early sales of game, but given the finicky nature of Spot Pass with only working some of the time,  costume distribution in this manner can be very frustrating.

If you like fighting games even the least bit then you'll certainly enjoy Dead or Alive Dimensions. I might even go as far to say, that as of May 2011 it is the best game for the system. Battles are stupendous fun and the graphics are great with terrific 3D effects and the Chronicle mode is very entertaining. However even with my high praise game is not without its faults, such as the occasionally static animations in cut scenes, intermediate lag in the online mode and  lack of individual  character endings or individual  character story modes except for oddly Helena, and the complete fumble of the tag mode . For Dead or Alive fans like me the game is a must-have and a 9/10. But to everyone else most will view it as a 8/10.



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