Dead Or Alive
What does a ninja, bodyguard, DJ, College Student and bookstore owner have in common? Well in Dead Or Alive they are all taking part in a fighting tournament to see who is the best of the best. It’s not the most original of storylines, but then again fighting games are notoriously bad in this department in general.
While the mighty Tekken series has nothing to fear from this brawler, it certainly has its good points and have been compared to the Virtua Fighter series by many people. Originally an Arcade title the game plays quite well on the Playstation and features fast, smooth graphics and a unique fighting system.
The visuals are polished, but a bit sparse, especially the backgrounds, although the trade off for speed was worth it. The game still has plenty of neat visual tricks like the way the characters’ hair and clothes flow with every attack. The game has also gained notoriety for the “realistic” movements of the female characters breasts and this is something that has become synonymous with the series. There’s a decent roster of fighters, but the presentation is a bit lacking in comparison to the Tekken games. With no real story to speak of there isn’t even any ending sequences for the characters. To make up for this you’ll receive a new costume for your character every time you beat Tournament mode and with something like 84 costumes in total this should keep you busy for quite some time.
The gameplay is different from Tekken and you only have three buttons at your disposal, namely punch, kick and counter. The counter button will take a while to master, but once you have then the fighting will really become interesting. It’s especially nice in tow-player mode as you can wipe the floor with button mashers. Fights are usually a series of back and forth counters, but playing against the CPU can be frustrating. I also missed the ability to sidestep. All the usual gampelay modes like Time Attack & Survival are present plus some other nice ones. As always the best way to play this kind of game is in two player mode with a friend.
The game is in English, but all speech is in Japanese with no sub titles. However, since characters only have a few phrases for winning or losing this is no big deal. The music was somewhat unremarkable to me and the sound effects were ok but not bone crunching.
If you are into fighting games you should enjoy Dead Or Alive flaws and all. Throws generally do way too much damage in my opinion and the danger zone outside the arena can also become somewhat annoying, especially when the CPU constantly combos you into it. Judging by the reactions to the game I’d say it is one of those love it or hate it titles. One thing is for certain though, this series is here to stay.
*Review originally published 1998.