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Dead or Alive Dimensions – hands-on preview

Admit it, guys – your first thought when you heard about Dead or Alive coming to 3DS wasn’t “oh cool, a well-loved 3D fighting game coming to a new portable platform.” It was likely more along the lines of “LOL 3D jiggly boobies.” And given the series’ marketing push as of late, you’d be quite forgiven for that. So you might be surprised to hear that the infamous DoA breast physics were rather subdued during our playtest of DoA Dimensions at Nintendo World 2011 in Japan. Perhaps it’s because it was a public show with impressionable youth around, or perhaps Tecmo-Koei is actually ratcheting down the T&A a bit for the Nintendo crowd, but either way it actually helped the merits of a solid 3D fighter shine through more brightly.

Two modes were available for play: a brief glimpse of story mode (which seemed to focus primarily around perpetual DoA heroine Kasumi) and a typical arcade mode, though we saw several obscured and locked-away game modes in the menu as well. We spent most of our demo time fighting CPU opponents in arcade mode. It was clear that Dead or Alive Dimensions keeps many of the aspects that define the series’ gameplay to its fanbase: simple control layouts leading to complex combo strings, an emphasis on counterattacks, and big, multi-tiered stages laden with pratfalls and traps that you can toss opponents around in for extra damage. The controls and combos of the game transferred surprisingly well to the portable format, and much like Super SFIV 3D Edition’s “touch specials,” the bottom screen features a list of combo strings that can be executed by a tap of the stylus, making the combat more friendly for novice brawlers.

One element that didn’t transition quite so well is the game’s visuals. The DoA series always had a reputation of appearing on the hardware with the strongest visuals, though with the recent DoA Paradise on PSP and now this, it seems like Tecmo-Koei simply wants to extend the brand into as many places as possible. The 3D display doesn’t really add a lot to the fighting, and the framerate is rather choppy in places, lacking the silky-smoothness of its console big brothers. While the fighting action remains solid, fans might be a bit disappointed that the 3D display doesn’t add as much visual oomph as they might imagine.

It’s rather unprecedented for a portable console to have two solid fighters near its launch window, but Dead or Alive Dimensions looks to be a fine modern complement to the classic brawling of SSFIV 3DS. It remains to be seen how well DoAD’s other modes will utilize the additional capabilities of the 3DS (which SSFIV does quite well), but it’s obvious that the 3DS launch will be a portable paradise for any fighting fanatic.

Jan 12, 2010