Team Ninja and Tecmo’s Dead or Alive franchise has garnered something of an uneven reputation, with a series of bad games over the years (Dead or Alive Beach Volley Ball anyone?). When the features you advertise your games on are the kinds of features that only people like our very own Adam Radcliffe can appreciate (I’m of course talking about boob jiggle physics), you know you’re scraping the barrel. So when it was announced that a brand new Dead or Alive game was being developed for Nintendo’s 3DS, I didn’t really have high expectations.
After all, beat-em ups have never really worked on hand-helds before have they? Sure, there’s been a hell of a lot of attempts made, with the likes of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Guilty Gear all being ported to the hand-held market, but they’ve never really been, well… good.A big problem has always been the controls. Due to the limited size of the buttons, combos, special moves and finishing moves have been incredibly hard to perform. This turns what is a perfectly balanced, incredible skilful game on more powerful consoles, into nothing more than a frustrating, button bashathon.
But after I managed to get a bit of hands on time with it at this years West Midlands MCM Expo, I can safely say that Dead or Alive: Dimensions looks set to go some way of breaking that particular mould because it’s shaping up to be, well… quite good.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t going to take the gaming world by storm, and it isn’t going to completely change the fact that beat-em ups haven’t worked too well on hand-helds before, but the ironic thing is that, from the taster I’ve had, Dead or Alive: Dimensions doesn’t seem too concerned with doing such a thing, and it’s actually a better game for it.
From the off, the game feels a lot more accessible than you’d think, which may turn the hardcore beat-em up players off completely. Its simple use of the d-pad to move around and two buttons to land your punches and kicks is incredibly simplistic, yet intuitive, and with combos and special moves being relegated to the touch screen portion of the console, the game will surely put off the more hardcore beat-em up players upon it’s release. But by doing so, it means that the weakness that has plagued all other beat-em up’s on handhelds before isn’t present in DoA: Dimensions, and rather than feeling like an exercise in finger gymnastics, the game will deliver are less frustrating, far more enjoyable experience when it reaches UK gamers shortly after the launch of the 3DS.
Whilst Tecmo and Team Ninja, may have cut back some of the more skilful elements in Dead or Alive: Dimensions, in terms of its overall combat, Dead or Alive: Dimensions excels. It’s fast paced, fluid and contains some of the best set piece, level transitions since they were made famous by Mortal Kombat way back when. Throwing people off of cliffs, through walls and off bridges is all done with seamless execution, heightening the intense action, and will not doubt provide some exciting moments when gamers finally get their hands on the game.
But where DoA: Dimensions looks really set to prove it’s worth is in it’s presentation. Team Ninja seems to have gone to town, and out of all of the games I’d played at the recent MCM Expo, Dimensions looked the best. The game is gorgeous, showing just how powerful the 3DS actually is, even this early on in its development stage. Everything just looks so lush and vibrant; fights are littered with cut-scenes, from encountering your nemesis in a blossom filled park to dodging helicopter fire on a rickety bridge in the middle of a jungle. Everything is fast and intense, yet also beautiful, boldly showing off the graphical prowess of Nintendo’s 3D machine.
The use of 3D is just as impressive and from what i have seen, DoA: Dimensions possesses all the things you’d expect from a 3D game; the word “fight” comes flying out of the screen at you as well as depth around the characters during fights, it really has it all without anything looking out of place. The 3D depth compliments the beautiful visuals perfectly. The cut-scenes are made that much more exciting, the level transitions are far more elaborate and the game is a feast for the eyes as you do battles with your foe. Simply put, one of the best uses of 3D on the 3DS that I have seen thus far.
So is this actually a beat-em up on a hand-held worth buying? I’m trying to not get too carried away. The game’s overall presentation is stunning, add in the promise of plenty of unlocks including a number of alternate costumes and the like, and you MIGHT just have yourself a great game on your hands.
- Kieran Roycroft