Dead or Alive Dimensions review

  • Levels and fighters from every game
  • Easy to join online matches
  • The absolutely gorgeous graphics
  • Terrain damage can be too substantial
  • Diagonal inputs on the circle pad
  • Tap-a-combo works online?!

Dead or Alive has always been the gaudy savant of the fighting game genre. Flashier and less technical than Street Fighter, but not as absurd or button-mashy as Soul Calibur, it's easy to pick up and hard to put down. Unfortunately, thanks to some less than subtle commercials and spinoffs, it’s mostly known as the bouncy boob game nowadays. Maybe it’s just the smaller screen or Soul Calibur’s latest lascivious ladies, but this side of DOA has been agreeably toned down.

Sure, there’s still a pervy model viewer and some titanic tatas, but that’s standard fighter-fare and is hardly the selling point. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the fundamentals (oh right, this is a fighting game!). The fighting mechanic roughly amounts to a rock/paper/scissors game - punches beat throws, throws beat counters, counters beat punches – but then there’s the fourth element: the ability to completely mind-fudge your opponent. There are plenty of ways to do this, from slight delays in your combos to stopping a combo midway and grabbing the opponent.

It’s all delightfully explained in the story mode, called Chronicles, which serves as both tutorial and campaign, and takes you through the past four DOA games. While you progress through the story, the bottom screen will pop up with key information like those old VH1’s Pop Up Videos, which explain everything from the definition of “Conglomerates” to how to perform a Critical hit. Not that you’ll need to know any of it; the story boils down to boy ninjas inexplicably slapping girl ninjas and anyone could effectively button mash their way through the campaign.

See, DOA Dimensions is quite a bit easier than its sometimes-brutal console counterpart. We beat the entire (fairly long) story without ever losing a round, and beat 50 characters in Survival Mode on our first try. The bottom screen displays complex combos, which can be tapped to be performed. We don’t mind DOA being more accessible, but a beginner pulling off master-level moves online seems cheap.

Still, our largest gripe isn’t getting beat down by tap-a-combos online, but instead how diagonal hits are nearly impossible to pull of with the 3DS’s circle pad. In a game that requires this much precision, it’s a shame we have to resort to the d-pad to get the accuracy the circle pad should ensure. And that screen lag that everyone’s been harping on? We played through the entire campaign and plenty of online matches without frustration, though some people will still take the framerate over the 3D.

DOA looks gorgeous either way. The graphics are some of the best we’ve seen on any handheld and we were consistently impressed with the gorgeous settings. Every level has interactive environments, ranging from explosive generators to fragile balconies that lead to new areas of the stage. The environmental damage looks great and serves as a huge game changer – kicking someone off a ledge can cut their health bar in half. That shit would never fly in Street Fighter.

But this game is so different than Street Fighter it’s a wonder their protagonists could even share the name “Ryu.” If you’re looking for a crazy methodical fighter on 3DS, then look elsewhere (for instance, Super Street fighter IV). DOA, meanwhile, is at its best in Dimensions - flawlessly straddling the line between technical and enjoyable, button mashing and clever combos. Some people might be turned off by its ease of entry, but the spectacular online play, neat little fight-a-friend Street Pass feature, and 26-character roster is enough to turn the rest of us on.

Wait. That came out wrong.

May 27, 2011

More Info

Release date: May 24 2011 - 3DS (US)
May 27 2011 - 3DS (UK)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Tecmo
Developed by: Tecmo
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence, Mild Language


  • D0CCON - August 14, 2011 2:32 a.m.

    Just got Zelda, might get this and Ghost Recon before the interesting stuff starts showing up.
  • mackshizzle - June 5, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    Tad annoyed with online lag. Haven't run into anyone who used the tap a combo and I only use it in training. It's pretty awesome.
  • sirdilznik - May 29, 2011 2:58 a.m.

    @meh - I personally feel Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, a turn-based, squad-based strategy game, is the best title for the 3DS so far, followed closely by SSFIV and DoAD.
  • sirdilznik - May 29, 2011 2:52 a.m.

    I agree with the review. DoA has always been one of my favorite fighting game series and this may just be the best entry in the series. The game controls beautifully, the graphics are gorgeous, and there is a great Chronicles Mode that, while it has a ridiculous story that's hard to follow (Why do they even bother, who plays a fighting game for the story? The story for any fighting game should be simply: "There's a martial arts tournament, these are the competitors." That's it, that's all of it, everything else is superfluous) it does an excellent job of being a tutorial in disguise, allowing you to meet the characters and learn the techniques one step at a time outside of the mundane confines of a traditional tutorial.
  • NappyAfro - May 28, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    I wish this was released on the Xbox 360. Team Ninja definitely isn't the same without Itagaki. I refuse to purchase a 3DS for one game but.... it's about to be more likely. Don't know how I feel about it being easier though.
  • Kentastic84 - May 28, 2011 4:16 p.m.

    I really didn't like street fighter very much but can wholly endorse DOA as a fantastic game. I feel it is currently the only game worth owning for the 3DS. Now lets hope it holds my interest until zelda, because I see nothing worth getting until then.
  • meh - May 28, 2011 3:41 a.m.

    so the best games to get for the 3DS so far are the two fighting games street fighter and DOA?
  • RebornKusabi - May 28, 2011 2:25 a.m.

    I just picked this up and after a day of playing it, I'm very satisfied with my purchase and completely agreed with this review. Its an incredibly well made package, reaching the thorough "Fully worth $60, or this case $40" level that Mortal Kombat 9 had reached compared to other fighting games that sell you just an Arcade, Versus and Training mode for $60... a training mode that asks you to pull off high level combos that in no way, shape or form reflect exactly how to play the game well.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 27, 2011 11:29 p.m.

    It's a great game, not to mention it's the best looking game on the 3DS.
  • mackshizzle - May 27, 2011 11:27 p.m.

    I might pick it up, seeing as Street Fighter is so technical and I need something to hold me over until Ocarina of Time.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - May 27, 2011 11:12 p.m.

    My friend did the American voice for Jan Lee in this game. I want to play it just to hear him.
  • SpaceCowboy - May 27, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    I got this today and I'm pleasantly suprised. The game is very good for people who ar enew to fighters or aren't very good at them (like me). The story mode is kind of all over the place in terms of plot but still a great game overall.
  • Nap1400 - May 27, 2011 10:32 p.m.

    Huh, don't really expect 9s on not-Super Reviews Must be pretty good, then. I'll check out a demo at GameStop or something. If I like it, maybe my 3DS won't collect as much dust. (It wasn't really anyway. I've been having a blast with SSFIV)
  • Lionzest7 - May 27, 2011 10:20 p.m.

    it doesn't really matter if "tap-a-combo" works online. If strings follow any linearity it means its easy to counter and punish. Block and throw or counter smartly, your choice.
  • Kilburn474 - May 27, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    Hell yes! I picked this up on it's launch date and haven't put it down since. I admit i use the touch screen for combos, but only the ones that require motions that dont translate well to the controls (half circles, full circles, etc).
  • kit07 - May 27, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    my main reason to buy a 3DS
  • CHAINSAWhaxor - May 27, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    Excellent review! Though, I'm quite surprised it got a nine, since DOA is notoriously unbalanced. As for terrain damage, it has always seemed very high-damaging no matter what you hit. Regardless,looking forward to playing it!

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