Review by burnoutguy314

Reviewed: 05/26/11

A solid addition for both newcomers and returning fans! Yes, *they* do shake if you move your 3DS.

Whether you are a hardcore DOA fan, online junkie, or just looking to add a solid game to your 3DS collection; you won't be disappointed. The 15-year-old Dead or Alive series is known for its' beautiful femme fatales and intense 3D fighter gameplay. Now, think Tekken, Soul Calibur or Virtua Fighter. The distinctive mechanic that sets Dead or Alive apart is the 'Triangle System'.

Ever play rock-paper-scissors as a kid? Remember how you used to always read your opponent, into guessing which move he will make next? Well think of DOA as a glorified rock-paper-scissors game. Rather than SSF4's 6 button layout, DOA uses a 4 button layout, which is surprisingly comfortable the 3DS controls. Strikes (punches and kicks, 1 button each) negates throws (1 button), and throws are negates holds (counters). Simple enough, right? Yes! But don't let the simplicity fool you. The TS adds an enormous amount of depth and intelligence in high level play, while at the same time be very noob-friendly for casuals. 'Chronicles' mode, which I will dive into later, provides the ins and outs of the Triangle System.

The touch screen implementation will please both returning fans of the series and newcomers. Fans will feel right at home; the combo system immensely gratifying and flashy as ever. Not only do you have visuals of which buttons to push next, the inputs flash as you press- making it a very reliable(and easy!) training source. If you are a newcomer or just don't want to invest the time to learn combos, Team Ninja's got you covered with automated touch screen combos. Now you must be thinking, 'Well why doesn't everyone just use auto combos? That's lame!'. Well said, reader, but as the Triangle System dictates, I wouldn't put too much faith in automated combos. See where the depth comes in? Mind games > Automated.

Should you prefer to just use touchscreen combos, the touch screen actually has its' own guard, hold and block keys, right next to the combos. So yes, the game can be solely played on the touchscreen. No awkwardly switching your thumb to the actual buttons like on Super Street Fighter 4: 3DS.

Online matches are insanely good. Yes, better than SSF4. The reason being is whenever it lags in SSF4, I experience input lag; basically you push a button and 2 seconds later you actually see your character pulling it off. Frustrating. Now, I have played in over 100 matches in DOAD, and I can proudly say that I have seen very little to literally no input lag. There were some matches where the framerates (the actual game slowing down) dropped, but the input lag is literally non-existent. That's saying a lot considering I'm in California, and some of the opponents I've fought were in Japan.

Finding an online match is easy; just hit Internet Play where you get options to fight your friends, regional, or worldwide match. Within 10 seconds, you'll be off to the character select screen with your opponent in Europe. Unlike SSF4, there is no filter to rule out players who use automated combos. That said however, when you do fight an automated user, a touchscreen icon will pop up during the fight whenever they use a touchscreen control. Sort of a nifty nods up from the game to change your tactics.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have friends that actually own a 3DS and DOAD, you have the option to play locally as well. If you are the solo non-online type, but would like to take advantage of the online Ranking system- you have the ability to fight a computer based on a players' rank you meet on Street Pass. This mode is called, 'Throwdown' where you will go for all your street pass needs. Also note, it's possible to receive a Street Pass battle directly from Spot Pass from Team Ninja.

Multiplayer is key to this game, but that doesn't mean single player is lacking. In Chronicles mode you experience a cinematic retelling of DOA's 15-year history, and learn the basics of battle. It's so user friendly that at times the game actually freezes (think Matrix), at the moment you need to block/hold/strike, giving you literally top notch advice when to execute in a real fight. The use of the 3DS's 3D screen (and yes, even the touch screen is incorporated), storytelling, and nostalgia will bring you right into DOA lore. Fans will cry with nostalgia as their favorite past DOA cutscenes are re-imagined. Some cutscenes only feature non-animated character models, while some actually show them animated. It's understandable since the 3DS cartridge can only hold 2 gigs. Besides, the scenes that are not animated are usually just talking scenes, while most of the action scenes are. If you've enjoyed Mortal Kombat's cinematic story mode, Chronicles will be right up your alley.

Arcade, Tag Challenge and Survival mode are split up in courses and difficulty. Which is great because the length of the easy courses are perfect for mobile gaming, while the difficulty level of the hard courses will provide you the much needed challenge while you're at home.

There is something I want to point out about Tag Challenge, you remember tag mode from DOA2? Well it's been completely reworked for offline, and the change is very positive. You partner up with an AI of your choosing against another AI(s). Your AI partner is tough though, you will see him/her pulling off air combos, launches, etc. Whomever is tagged out regenerates life at a fast pace. Should be easy riding right? Wrong. Here's the catch: your opponent is no pushover while at the same time is vastly powerful offensively and defensively. That premise, offers some insanely exciting battles, and Team Ninja executes it so well.

Free play and Training modes are your candid bread and butter for any fighter. In free play you choose the difficulty, life meter, time, stage and opponent to fight. Training mode offers an in-depth training source for hardcores. You can customize computer reaction, movements, counter settings, etc.

DOA is known for its' large amounts of unlockables and fan service. Showcase is the camera/model viewing mode, where you can unlock an insane amount of character figures in different outfits by playing offline or online. I've played a total of 5 hours and only unlocked a total of 5%. This game should keep you busy for a while. You can control the camera by zooming in or out with the d-pad, and moving your 3DS around like a camera. Yes, you can look up the female fighters' skirts. Yes, the boobs do bounce in showcase mode if you shake the 3DS. Not in a gratuitous fashion like DOAX2, but it is noticeable.

In Options you can change the controls, voice announcers, network settings. I come from a DOA2 background, so I immediately set mine to Type 2 controls. The network settings consist of DLC download options, street pass, etc. You can also set the language to Japanese for all you purists out there. The 3D is great in this game, especially in story mode, but drops the framerate considerably. It makes up for it though, by seeing Kasumis' hand pop out of the screen, Tina smiling at you, or Ayane shrugging her shoulders in disgust. Apart from the 3D in cutscenes, don't expect anything mind boggling during a fight. Though occasionally the added hit-effects will pop out from the screen. Slide the 3D off though, and you will enjoy 60FPS glory.

The visual presentation is very nice, on par with console DOA's. The added hit-effects make the most use out of in-game battle 3D. The beautiful stages are multi-floored, meaning you can knock your opponent out a window or ledge. People who were disappointed with SSF4's stages will be surprised at how much Team Ninja managed to do with DOAD.
From the get-go fans will be treated to a loyal DOA soundtrack, remastered. The Japanese voice overs make a return. All your favorites: Ayane, Kasumi, Helena, Lei-Fang are reprised by their DOA2 originals. Though, they seemed to tone down Jann Lee's WATAAH to be less annoying.

Like any game, DOAD is prone to get repetitive. Take that for what you will, but DOAD provides much staying power through its' crazy unlockables, all (and new) past DOA characters return, animated cutscenes, various single player modes and a insanely GREAT online netcode. Newcomers will love this as their first entry to the Dead or Alive series, while returning fans will be overjoyed with the amount of DOA lore provided. Not to mention DOA on the go? Come on. That's a WINNAH!! in itself.

Rating: 9

Product Release: Dead or Alive: Dimensions (US, 05/24/11)

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