First, the obligatory joke: If there is one thing the Dead or Alive series is known for, it is the "dimensions" of the female characters. Try the veal, I'm here until Tuesday! I was going to take the high road and leave it at that, but upon further review, I'm just going to say 'screw it' and roll with the boob jokes.
Dead or Alive (DoA) Dimensions for the Nintendo 3DS is the first handful, er, handheld entry in the series, and is also the first to be made without the input of series creator Ken Itagaki. Dead or Alive is a 3D fighting game whose two other distinguishing features are its countering system and interactive levels. The game features 25 characters, and includes story, arcade, survival, tag, online, and local multiplayer modes.
Nice Curves - The presentation of DoA Dimensions is very well done: the characters’ look and animate well as they fight inside the nice-looking levels. Typical DoA music and voices carry on the series' aesthetic. Finally, the infamous 'boob physics' are still there.
Double or Triple Ds - Turning off the 3D effect significantly increases Dimensions' framerate (60fps according to the box). I preferred the higher framerate of 2D, but the reduced (not low, BTW) framerate when the 3D effect was turned on does not adversely affect gameplay. It’s up to the player to decide whether they want smoother action or 3D.
Fun to Play With - I had a good time button-mashing my way through nearly all of Dimensions' various modes. I particularly liked Survival mode, in which the game fighters at you one right after the other until you either lose or defeat the designated number of opponents. Arcade mode has you try to beat a series of predetermined opponents in the fastest time possible, and as for Tag mode...I'll get to that in a moment.
Many Hidden Features - Like previous games in the series, DoA Dimensions features a plethora of characters and costumes to unlock. New to this version are 3D figurines, similar to the trophies in Super Smash Bros Melee, that can be unlocked and photographed. There are a thousand of them to collect, so if you are one of those 'gotta catch 'em all' players, you're going to be playing this one for awhile.
Tag, You Suck - DoA Dimensions has a tag mode which leaves much to be desired; I would even go as far as to call it broken. I found myself tagging out characters when I didn't want to and not tagging when I needed to, which sucked all of the enjoyment out of this mode.
Floppy Story - Dimensions' story mode, called "Chronicle," runs through the storylines of the previous four DoA games. Playing through a story that didn't make a lot of sense the first time around is not very fun the second time. To make matters worse, the cutscene to gameplay ratio starts off awfully high. After enduring minutes and minutes of cutscenes, players will be rewarded with a short turorial or a one-round match before its movie time again. The amount of gameplay increases as you progress, assuming you have the patience to endure the cutscene heavy early parts. Dead or Alive is my "Exhibit A" for why fighting games should not even bother with a storyline, because it's just bonkers.
Hands Off the Touchscreen - DoA Dimensions uses the bottom screen to display a move list, and moves can even be performed with a touch of the screen, just like in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. Unlike Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, DoA lists all of them, which makes it a nice learning tool, but renders it fairly useless in gameplay.
Dead or Alive Dimensions is a good fighting game. Fans of the series who want a version to play on the go will find plenty to like here. I am not an expert player, so I can't say whether it is balanced or tournament-worthy, but speaking as a button-masher, I enjoyed its fast-paced action. It also looks great and offers a variety of modes including local and online multiplayer. The only significant negatives are the broken tag mode and the derp-tastic story, but don't let that keep you from getting your hands on it and...uh, yeah, I'm not going THERE.
- Eduardo "Randomizer9" Soliz
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