previews\ May 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Dead or Alive: Dimensions


Last week GameZone was fortunate enough to be introduced to Yosuke Hayashi, the current head of Team Ninja and the leading man behind Dead or Alive: Dimensions, the upcoming 3D brawler for Nintendo’s new handheld. Besides getting some hands on with the game, we were fortunate enough to hear his impressions of the 3DS and 3D gaming, the future of Dead or Alive, and the future of Tecmo Koei.

Sitting down to some fighting, Dead or Alive: Dimensions is obviously very good looking. The fighting mechanics are just as you would expect from a Dead or Alive game, with a deep counter system and bread-and-butter combos. All of the best faces of the franchise are here, making it easy to say that Dead or Alive: Dimensions is the “greatest hits” of the series.

The game branches out in the smaller details. The bottom screen has all of the attacks listed out in a catalog, so instead of pressing buttons for the attacks, players use the bottom screen to pick and chose. It’s not a very well designed set-up, but that's the point. A decent player is going to perform the moves properly, but it’s a nice feature all the same.

Throughout the game exists all sorts of small uses of the 3DS’ abilities. In menus, players can rotate the 3DS to peer around the background of the game world, a neat little touch. The 3D looks beautiful (as does the entirety of the game), and it's even stunning in 2D. When in 2D, the game runs only at 30 frames per second. This isn’t a problem until you slide the 3D, when runs at 60 frames per second. The differences are noticeable, with the 2D mode smoother and clearer.

We asked Hayashi about this situation, and he addressed it head on. Dead or Alive: Dimensions is viewed as a “best of” game, and part of that was to appeal to all people. Some of the casual elements, like the move set “cheat sheet” on the bottom screen or the game's noticeably worse 3D graphics, are there so the game will interest everyone. Dead or Alive: Dimensions isn’t a tournament game, but more on that later.

For a 3DS game, Dimensions has plenty of different modes available for players, from the single-player campaign to standard versus battles, tag battles, co-op battles and more. Both local and wi-fi play are available, and Street Pass (at least according to Hayashi) is viewed as a third element of fighting. When asked about how Street Pass would be incorporated, he answered that it will be somewhat like Street Fighter IV, where the game uses stats to perform instant battles passively.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions looks like a perfectly good game for the 3DS. It isn’t going to do anything major for fighting games or for the Dead or Alive series, but that’s okay. The new features, including the addition of previously unplayable boss characters and fan favorite characters should keep Dead or Alive fans happy. After all, a long time has passed since the last proper Dead or Alive game.

After seeing the game, we talked more with Hayashi about Dead or Alive and the state of the franchise. Besides bringing the game to the 3DS and reaching out to more casual gamers, Dimensions is designed with a new generation of gamers in mind. People who are more often on public transport and who use handhelds in public are the guinea pigs of handheld gaming for Dimensions.

Since Team Ninja was the team behind Metroid: Other M, there is a substantial nod to Nintendo’s space heroine. In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, players can fight on a stage with alien dragon Ridley influencing the battle events, and Samus herself shows up to assist fighters. She’s not playable, unfortunately, but it's interesting that the Metroid stage was one of the earliest in development for the game.

On working with the 3DS and with 3D in general, Hayashi was very clear. He described most development for the handheld as a cross of power with gimmicks. He said that the 3DS is a formidable machine, and most of the games being developed for it are using features for the sake of using them. As for 3D itself, Hayashi said, “I don’t think it’s a must, but it depends on the game. It’s like Kinect. Not every game needs it to be successful.”

The future of Dead or Alive looks promising. Hayashi said that Dimensions is only one option for the future of the series and that this will not mark the end of the franchise. Of course, everyone was wondering about the possibility for a Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball game for the 3DS. Hayashi said that as long as there are hopes for such a game, Team Ninja will keep the idea in mind.

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