When it comes to fighting games, everybody has their favorite title. Be it a classic 2D fighter like Street Fighter and The King of Fighters or a 3D fighter like Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter, there are many flavors to choose from and a dedicated fanbase to each game.
I happen to be of the Dead or Alive fanbase, a series known for bouncy endowed women and spin-off titles featuring beach volleyball and bikinis. Because of this, it is my gaming guilty pleasure. Yet unlike series creator and former Team Ninja head Tomonobu Itagaki and his infamous reputation as the Japanese gaming industry’s lothario, the inclusion of meagerly dressed femme fatale combatants is a bonus to what I perceive to be one of the top fighters (and forgotten fighters) on the market.
Dead or Alive hearkens back memories of dorm room all-nighters playing Dead or Alive 2 on a friend’s Sega DreamCast. Like Tekken and Virtua Fighter before it, Dead or Alive had the appearance of a standard 3D fighters that just so happened to have a solid split between male and female characters. We had just gotten off a lengthy string of playing Tekken Tag so a fighter that none of us were familiar with was in order. Granted the kunoichi ninja protagonist Kasumi was the star of the show with her “open” interpretation of ninja garb, but I gravitated to a fighter that really spoke to my personal background. Ein, Kasumi’s brother Hayate who had lost his memory, was introduced in Dead or Alive 2 as an amnesiac who had mastered the art of karate, the same style I had studied when I was younger. He was a powerful character with quick punch combinations, strong kicks and devastating counters. I was hooked.
Dead or Alive was one of the major reasons I jumped on board with the Xbox. I purchased two games for Microsoft’s monstrous rookie console: Project Gotham Racing and Dead or Alive 3.
DOA3 significantly improved on its predecessor thanks to improved graphics and speed. And while Ein was still present as an unlockable character, his primary entry was that of the ninja Hayate. But I would find my true love within the series in Hitomi, the karate studying girl who helped nurse Ein’s amnesia.
In fact, just like DOA3, I purchased Dead or Alive 4 for the Xbox 360 at launch. I did so even before I owned the 360. Throughout the past decade, Dead or Alive has been the staple franchise. Dead or Alive Dimensions will probably be the first title I purchase for the 3DS.
Say what you will about Xtreme Beach Volleyball and the fact that, yeah, she kicks high. Or even the film adaptation which I mildly enjoyed. Dead or Alive is an excellent fighter that has a unique cast of characters, a strong canon, and an incredibly rewarding combat engine.