Review by Galactus21

Reviewed: 07/05/06

The foundation is set

With its debut, Dead or Alive now joins the 3d fighting ranks of Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and Soul Calibur. But being compared to these 3 series at its current state is obviously putting DOA at a disadvantage. At times, Dead or Alive is fun, but pales in comparison to some of the best around. Again Team Ninja utilizes the system’s capabilities and offers a magnificent look, but unlike their other attempts, this one fails in execution. After playing every single game in the series, I decided to go back and play the root of the series’ existence. To say the least, this game, while containing some DOA ingredients found in the much later versions, also contains some predominant flaws that get worked out later on. But anyways, as it stands, Dead or Alive is a hit or miss game. At times it feels solid and fun, while others frustrating.

The beginning of it all

The fighting mechanics also feel a bit outdated. Unlike Tekken’s smooth techniques, where each moves transitions into another with great fluidity, or Soul Calibur’s fabulous controls that allow players to string together combos with great ease, Dead or Alive’s control feels clunky and moves don’t correlate well with each other. It’s quite obvious that this was the developer’s first crack at a new fighting game. The combos that are present are in its infancy. It does not contain the depth of future DOA games, nor does it contain depth that is required to match the big three.

More importantly, the combo system feels broken. Instead of having a system that flows from one move to another effortlessly, it feels awkward, as you try to string together combos. Not to mention, combos are limited, thus there is a strain on the overall depth. To make matters worse, the counter system feels broken. Countering an enemy’s attack is quite easy, and it becomes a safer bet to counter than to string together combos itself. However, all is not lost, as the developer’s talent; albeit in its infant stage still shows itself in this game. The action is fast and it’s easy to get into. What the game lacks in depth is its quick cash in for momentary enjoyment. Without the depth, the fun factor doesn’t last long, but there is enough content here to make things interesting for a while. The action is quick paced, which makes for some cheap tense moments.

Not that hard at all...

For the most part, Dead or Alive is relatively easy, but the difficulty is upped another level when you face the boss. One can blaze through most of the game with ease, but once you encounter the final boss, you will find it much more frustrating than fun. This comes unexpected because of the relative ease the rest of your opponents tend to be. While a challenge is certainly nice, Dead or Alive’s final boss is far from a challenge, it’s on verge of utter frustration. Some may question my skills, but in all honestly, the final boss uses cheap tactics to try and muster a hardcore fighting experience. But unfortunately that didn’t turn out too well.

Going back to the beginning stages of one of my favorite series, it brought a nice back story to some of the beloved characters. Although, a blast from the past sees a significant downgrade in both graphical terms and gameplay mechanics, it’s always nice to reminisce and relive how it all started. And perhaps that’s what keeps Dead or Alive from ultimately failing in my book, and that it’s able to retain that feeling of being a Dead or Alive game despite feeling like a strip down version. Perhaps, it’s my fault to go back and play it after all these years, especially after I have experiences the magnificence that is the DOA series. Being an out of date software certainly didn’t help. All things considered though, I still had an enjoyable time with this blast from the past.

Bigger than basketballs…

Like all Team Ninja games, a female’s assets are overemphasized. However, in this case, it is done to an extremity that dwarfs any other Team Ninja game. These babies are literally like basketballs floating and bouncing around. Despite that, the opening scene is very nicely done, even after all these years. The music soundtrack, while not mind-blowing, provided a solid tune to go along with all the action. Even if it does get tedious at times, it still has a nice tune to it. For its time, the graphics are definitely on par, and the music isn't half bad either.

The start of a dynasty

Going back and playing games in the past, has shown what the video game industry has gone through. The changes are quite apparent and sometimes I wonder if it’s for the better? In this case, I must say it is. Dead or Alive at this stage is a decent, borderline solid game at best. And when I pop in Dead or Alive 4, I notice how much it has improved, and how this is the beginning steps to the Dead or Alive series eventually capturing the heart and souls of many gamers. At the moment this game first came out, it was probably a good title, but years later, this game simply does not stand the test of time. It’ll still be fun for a while to go back and enjoy a game in its beginning roots, but ultimately that fades away quickly. If you can find it cheap, then definitely pick it up. But if not, then just swoop up the latest version and indulge yourself in some fighting goodness.

Final Score: 6

Rating: 6

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