I could probably stop there, and many of you would already know whether or not you’re interested in purchasing this game. But I’ll continue for those who are just vaguely curious.
The game looks really great, both in 3D and 2D, which is a good thing. I played quite a bit of DoA 3 on the original Xbox, and this looks and plays at least as good as that (unless you’re horribly offended by the 3DS’s Circle Pad. But Dead or Alive has never really been the kind of game to demand an arcade stick, from what I can tell). The action is fast and fluid. The characters are many and varied. There’s even online play, which is always welcome.
The game is, for the most part, a compilation of all the features and characters from the series’ history. One thing that’s new, though, is the “Chronicle” story mode, which is kind of a unique way to tell the story in a fighting game. This mode essentially goes through the plot of all the previous games, sometimes with CG cutscenes (which, from what I can tell, were taken straight from their respective games), but mostly with sort of weird scenes that are more often than not still frames, almost like an animated comic book (but using the game’s polygonal assets). All of this is fully voiced and tells the story well, but keep in mind that fighting game stories are always absolutely insane, if they make sense at all. DoA is no exception. The Chronicle mode will be interesting for fans of the series, but people new to the franchise who just want to see what the fuss is about will probably just say, “Uh, what?”
But other popular modes, like Arcade, Tag and Survival return. These generally work as expected, though Arcade mode is set up a little different than you might be used to (it has different levels of play, essentially, and you play easier levels of difficulty to unlock harder ones).
There’s also a photo mode where you can place unlocked character figurines into different environments, manipulate the camera, and take pictures. This mode is what many people blame for getting the game banned in Australia (after it was initially approved and released), as it can be seen as creepy, particularly considering the questionable apparent age of some of the DoA girls.
But really, if creepy virtual voyeurism is what you want in a Dead or Alive game, you know to play DoA Volleyball or Paradise, where that sort of experience takes the center stage. Make no mistake: Dead or Alive Dimensions is a fighting game, and a pretty good one at that.
You can also use the 3DS’s SpotPass feature to download new costumes (a new one is released from Tecmo every day) and new challenges (released about every week). StreetPass can be used to capture other fighters’ data if you walk pass them on the street, allowing you to fight what is essentially a ghost fighter in an attempt to earn rather meaningless glory. Still, it’s nice that these features are there, taking advantage of Nintendo’s hardware.
Maybe it’s the drought of 3DS games we’re going through post-hardware-launch, but I’ve had a lot of fun with Dead or Alive: Dimensions. It’s a relatively easy fighting game to get into (combos matter, but you don’t need to memorize a list of special moves like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat), and it has some modes that are great to just pick up and play for 10 minutes – which makes it great for a portable like the 3DS.