Apart from its ESRB rating, 'mature' isn't a word many gamers would associate with fun-bag fighting series Dead or Alive. But a new Team Ninja developer diary shows the Japanese studio is hoping to recalibrate that perception with upcoming instalment Dead or Alive 5. How can it achieve such a thing? In part, by aiming for an altogether more lifelike design to the game's characters. As you can see below, the new look Kasumi is drastically different from her DOA: Xtreme 2 version:
The bikini's pretty much the same, but the manga influences on her facial features - while still apparent - have been scaled right back. And her boobs seem less ludicrously unmanageable. Admittedly, she's still running about in a questionable state of undress in a fighting game, but at least she looks more tasteful while doing it. So that's definitely probably more mature.
This is what the game's art director, Yuta Saito, has to say about tweaking Kasumi's design:
"From DOA4 we wanted to evolve the characters in a slightly realistic direction. The most difficult, and you don't have to ask, is Kasumi. Kasumi is the face of DOA and the eternal heroine. And for such a popular character like Kasumi, to change her form we really needed a lot of courage and it really was a big challenge. But if we didn't do that, we couldn't make DOA5 and we wouldn't be able to show you anything."
And this is what Dead or Alive 5's overseas producer, Peter Garza, has to say about the series' latest revised aesthetic direction:
"Dead or Alive is known for its sexiness and high-kicking characters and certain aspects of the physics engine... Those are definitely going to be in Dead or Alive 5 - it's part of the series, it's part of its history and it's part of why people like it. But we're trying to take a bit more of a mature take on it."
Again, let's use a little side-by-side image comparison to illustrate the new direction:
As you can see with your own eyes, the Dead or Alive 4 box-art resembles a passive photo-shoot of some horribly contrived conglomeration of reality TV show contestants. Conversely, Dead or Alive 5's box-art actually looks as though it belongs to a game in which the emphasis is on fighting. Because the characters look like they're fighting. Or are about to fight. And there's an explosion. Everyone loves explosions.
There's plenty other interesting DOA5 ground covered in the developer diary, so give it a little watchy-woo:
Dead or Alive 5 is due for release on PS3 and Xbox 360, September 25 in North America and September 28 in Europe.