Well, you can’t say that the launch of the Nintendo 3DS went without a hitch and it looks like it’s already struggling to meet sales forecasts. Then again, comparing it to the best selling handheld console ever made probably isn’t too great an idea! Part of the issue is undoubtedly the high price tag but another equally serious issue is the simple fact that there are no games for it!! I bought 3 titles at launch and got bored of Super Streetfighter 4 very quickly (but that was to be expected). Pilotwings fared a little better but 2 months down the line and the only game I still played was Riiiiiiiiiiiidge Raaaaaaaaacccceeerrr! And even that was getting stale! But a few weeks ago, a 3DS game was released which made me a little excited. It’s been a while since I stepped in to play this series, but Dead or Alive Dimensions finally hit the 3DS!
Now, I have to admit that I’ve been a bit of a fan of the series ever since the first game, based on the Virtua Fighter 2 engine was released way back on the Sega Saturn. I’ve played every release (and still own all but the PS1 version of the first game and the PS2 version of DoA2) and, while they have never been system sellers for me, I have always endeavoured to get a copy when I buy the console which had one of the series in its library. My favourite has always been Dead or Alive 2 on the Dreamcast but ever since the release of DoA: Ultimate on the Xbox, I felt that the series was losing its way. The bosses got cheaper, the stages got more gimmicky and some retards high up in team ninja thought that it was a good idea to have separate inputs for different mid attacks (those who remember playing DoA:U or DoA4 know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!!!) So when Dead or Alive dimensions was announced, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic but I hoped deep down that the game would play more like the the older games in the series.
Dimensions can almost be considered a “best of” compilation of the 4 previous games. There are several “modes” available. Chronicle mode is basically story mode. Team ninja decided to go a little “Mortal Kombat” on us for the story, so subtle changes in the plot were made to try and do away with some plot holes (while introducing others) while giving the makers a chance to introduce later characters earlier in the story. It’s split into 5 chapters. The first 4 chapters roughly correspond to the plots from the 4 games, though they are heavily ninja-centric. Seriously, if you don’t like playing as the ninjas, forget about chronicle mode because they are all that you will use. It does lead to some unintentionally comical scenes such as one where Bass and Tina argue and then come to blows. You are then thrust into the middle of the battle except that Tina is nowhere to be found and you’re controlling Hayate instead!!
The 5th chapter covers Helenas plot and it ends in the same way DoA4 does. Having said that, Chronicle mode isn’t the main meat of the game and is actually a somewhat glorified tutorial! At specific points in each chapter, various game mechanics are explained to the player and exercises must be completed before they can proceed. By the end of chronicle mode, you should be pretty well versed in the mechanics of DoA.
Aside from Chronicle mode, there’s arcade mode, which functions more like a time attack mode where you must defeat a set number of opponents as quickly as possible, survival mode, in 10, 20, 30, 50 and 100 opponent flavours, free play mode (where you simply fight until you choose to stop), training, the usual multiplayer (in both local and internet flavours) and the showcase mode where you can view figurines of the characters you have collected and take 3D photos of them. So far so good, but the big question is… does DoA Dimensions take after #4 or #2 in the series?
- 1 input for mid counters! – It seems that after Itagaki got the boot, someone in team finally said that having 2 inputs for 2 different types of counters was incredibly stupid!! Good for you sir!! The game is MUCH better because of it!
- Japanese VA! – The english dub really is laughable but it never stood a chance. Not when I had Hocchan voicing Hitomi!! I changes the system voice ASAP as well!
- Interactive stages – Dead or Alive 2 introduced multi-tiered stages to 3D fighting games and even now, it’s STILL the best at executing them!
- It’s old school DoA!! – Well, almost! The pace of the fights definitely point towards the weaker DoA4 due to the ridiculous speed and pace at which the fights occur (most likely as a way to make counterattacking more difficult) but underneath it all, it feels very much like DoA2 and 3 and I love the game for it!
- Horribly unbalanced roster – Once you have unlocked all the characters, Alpha-152 ( the boss in DoA4) becomes playable. That should tell you all you need to know, but I can also add the fact that all the other boss characters are also selectable and they ALL have projectile attacks!! Cheap Shots ahoy!!!
- Cheating AI – Sometimes, notably in the free play mode as you can choose your own setting on it, the AI can sometime become insanely difficult! We’re talking input predicting, body juggling one sided fights which would make old school arcade bosses like Shin Akuma and God Rugal raise an eyebrow or 2!!
- “Glorious” lag – I haven’t been able to try local fights yet but I can tell you that the internet play on DoA:D has a fairly large lag problem. Collision detection can also be very dubious at times as well!
- 3D – It has bee reported that when the 3D effect is turned off, the game runs at a silky smooth 60fps. This is true. But when you turn the 3D on, the framerate drops to 30fps to accomodate the stereoscopic effect. This is less likely to be true. I’m not an expert but when I tried the fights in 3D it felt like the framerate drop was much greater than 30fps. As a result, I ALWAYS play with the 3D turned off. Not that it matters when you play online though. Framerate takes a dive on that too. Lord know what it’ll be like if I had the 3D turned on!
I have to admit it, I like Dimensions a lot. In spite of its flaws (and there are a fair few) it just gives me that fun feeling which the earlier games had in spades. There are still some frustrating elements, and I would say that the game doesn’t really suit a handheld device as the d-pad is rather poor and it’s almost impossible for me to use the analogue pad for inputs. Nevertheless, I have a lot of fun when playing the game (in fact, it hasn’t left my 3DS since I bought it). The extra downloadable content is also really quite cool. Early buyers get a free costume a day since release and a special “throwdown” challenge each week. Throwdown challenges are how the game uses streetpass. The game creates an AI of your favourite character using your playstyle and that can be downloaded as a streetpass challenge. Tecmo also released 2 of their own challenges as well. To be honest, the DLC costumes were one of the reasons why the game was a day 1 purchase for me. The second costume was the original costume for Ayane, my preferred character and the costume is an iconic one for her and it’s what I’ll always remember her wearing so I had to have it!!
I don’t see myself getting bored of Dimensions anytime soon! It’s not a system seller but if you have a 3DS, it’s definitely worth getting. Even more so if you’re a fan of the series. It’s one of the best handheld fighting games out there (not that it’s that hard to get the distinction) and I’d say its the best one on a nintendo system! The 3DS still needs more good games though. Bring on Starfox!!!