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Dead or Alive Dimensions Review

DesertEagle’s Take: Although the Nintendo 3DS has struggled to find mainstream acceptance, there’s one audience the hardware has the potential to please: fighting-game games.  With three separate genre entries due to be  released during the hardware’s launch window, pugilistic-minded players will be able to get their kicks (and punches) on the road. Like inaugural title Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, recent release Dead or Alive Dimensions does an commendable job of transforming the series’ hyperkinetic action onto portable screens.

At the title’s heart is Chronicle, an ambitious story mode which attempts to consolidate the winding plotline of the first four Dead or Alive games into one tidy narrative. Blending cutscenes,  full motion video, model poses, pop-up factoids, with an interactive fighting primer, the storyline might be incomprehensible to all but the fervent Team NINJA fans. Yet, gamers who relinquish themselves to the yarn of possessed protagonists and  motionless ninja dioramas will be given enough tutelage so they don’t embarrass themselves in Dimensions‘ online area. Smartly, the cartridge uses the 3DS’s bottom screen to display a list of combos, even allowing players to initiate commands with a stylus tap- a functionality which carries over to the game’s other modes. While some may bemoan Chronicle’s non-adjustable, relaxed challenge level, I found it refreshing to not face a ridiculously overpowered boss in a single-player fighting arena.

Beyond Chronicle mode, the developers have shoehorned a surprising amount of content into Dimensions. There’s the requisite free play, survival and arcade variations, with the latter having a variety of prearranged courses challenging players to beat their completion times. Although Tag Challenge seems like a admirable addition, have CPU assistants initiate their own entrances and exits can spoil a competition’s cadence. Cleverly, Team Ninja has employed available 3DS functionality into Dimensions, using the gyroscope to alter perspective on stages and the 1,000 collectable figurines, StreetPass to swap ghost data, and SpotPass to automatically download new costumes for the game’s 26 character roster.

Despite Dead or Alive Dimensions kitchen-sink aspirations, a few components don’t quite deliver. While online matches were functional (and matchmaking was amazingly effortless- even telling players the number of friends which are currently online), competitions succumbed to sporadic moments of lag. While the game’s four button strikes easily translate to the 3DS’s hardware, the title’s accompanying  diagonal movements proved awkward on both the circle and directional pads. Still, neither of the these flaws are enough to dissuade fighting fans from adding the title to their collection; between the cornucopia of content and the refined fisticuffs, Dimensions is an easy 3DS game to recommend.

BlueSwim’s Take: The Dead Or Alive series is a system-selling (or, in the case of DOA3 on the Original Xbox, system-saving) franchise for me. I bought an Xbox 360 at launch solely for DOA4. The same goes for the 3DS and Dead Or Alive: Dimensions. What’s different this time is that during the five years between DOA fighting games, the Master Ninja of Team NINJA and DOA creator, Tomonobu Itagaki, parted ways with the developer. This departure was, in my eyes, not one for the better. When Itagaki changed something, he usually had good reason to. This just isn’t the feeling I get from some of the changes that Yosuke Hayashi, the new Master Ninja of Team NINJA, made in Dead Or Alive: Dimensions. The Arcade and Time Attack Modes have been combined to create a course challenge mode that is no longer randomly generated and the Tag Team Mode went from being a solid and enjoyable 2-on-2 affair to a frustrating 1P + CPU Challenge Mode that you probably won’t ever touch again once you’re done unlocking the game’s boss characters. However, don’t write-off Dimensions as a bad game quite yet.

If you’ve played a DOA game in the last decade, you know what to expect from Dimensions. With a few balancing and mechanics tweaks in tow and A.I. that’s much more forgiving than DOA4‘s, the core Dead Or Alive gameplay has successfully made the jump to the 3DS. One of said tweaks was to the counter system. Introduced in DOA: Ultimate, the “four-point counter system” which required pressing forward + Free to block mid-level kicks (in addition to Free + back low, mid, or high for other strikes), has been scrapped in favor of DOA’s traditional (and much easier) “three-point counter system” which only requires pressing back (low, mid, or high) + Free. DOA4 upped the pace of fights, yet still used the four-point counter system which was designed for the slightly slower DOA: Ultimate. Since Dimensions keeps DOA4‘s pacing, reverting back to the easier counter system was absolutely the right call to make. This is what DOA4‘s countering should have been like. Another change made to the gameplay that is just as big, but to the detriment of the game’s balance was the inclusion of projectile moves for certain fighters as they can and will be spammed to an annoying, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition Lite Mode Guile, level when you play online.

Being a compilation of the four previous Dead Or Alive games, there is a large amount of recycled content. A fair portion of Dimensions‘ meager costume wardrobe is rehashed and almost the entire stage roster hails from other DOA games. Some old stages do feature changes ranging from portions of the stage now being partitioned off to brand new sections where walls used to be. The music is a mix of old and new. Aerosmith’s tunes, however, didn’t make the cut, an omission that hurts some of the CG cutscenes. I also found the audio mixing in general to be lacking. The explosion sound effect when an opponent hits one of the walls of the “Danger Zone” stage cuts through my ears. When I turned the volume down to the point where it wouldn’t, I could hardly hear the music or make out what the characters were saying.

Even with the complaints and nit-picks I’ve had with it, Dimensions is easily one of the best 3DS games you can get. If you’ve ever liked the series, odds are that you’ll like DOA:D, too. For new players to the series, I am hesitant to recommend Dimensions over the “total package” of DOA games, the Original Xbox classic, DOA: Ultimate. If you have a backwards-compatible Xbox 360, the money used for Dimensions would be better spent on a used copy on Ultimate instead. If that isn’t an option or you’re just looking for a good, new 3DS game, Dead Or Alive: Dimensions is a perfectly fine purchase. The core gameplay is still a blast to play and the amount of modes and unlockable content far surpasses that of Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. I’m not going to be taking this one out my 3DS anytime soon.

BlueSwim is a 19-year veteran of video games. A fan of everything from Super Mario World to Earth Defense Force 2017 to Fire Pro Wrestling, his motto is simple, ‘if it’s good, I want to play it’. He grew up spending his Saturdays doing 12 hour marathon gaming sessions playing the likes of Star Fox 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Mischief Makers. Launched in 2008, his “Palm Tree Beach” blog on CheapAssGamer has had almost 100,000 views. He regularly interacts with members of the gaming community over Twitter. He is also one of the only people in the world to have played Hell’s Bells by AC/DC on the drums in Rock Band with a cat sleeping on his lap.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Great tag-team effort!

    I just want to know if I should get this or wait for Blaz.

    • Since BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II comes out today, it all boils down to this question; Do you mind that BB:CSII doesn’t have any online play on the 3DS (or PSP, I believe)?

      Personally, I’m waiting out a price drop. $40 for the last 3DS fighting game to market and no online play is a bit much. Unless it looks like it will be rare, I won’t be picking it up until the price comes down.

  2. Never liked DOA’s fighting. All flash and no finesse.

  3. Is this still on sale for $30 anywhere, if so, I might need to grab it.

    BlueSwim: Do you know if DOA: Ultimate plays on the 360 (BC?)

  4. I heard blow into the mic on the Metroid level does something. Rumor or fact?

  5. Regarding the three-point counter system, how the hell do you know what move is coming from an opponent quickly enough to counter, or is it just guess work?

    I heard you could break counters in this one easier. Is that true?

    • It’s half guess work, half knowing your opponent’s combos.

      Unless I’m mistaken, you can’t break out of strike counters. Once you’ve been countered, you’ve been countered.

  6. 3D boobs in your face? Theres a reason to get a 3DS right there.

  7. If I ever get a 3DS (cmon E3 price drop) then I’ll pick it up, hopefully it will be $20 bu then.

    Great job Blue and Deagle!

  8. 50x better than IGN review. Tag team knockout! Deagle and Blue Win…

    So is Blue writing for the site now or is this a one time thing?

  9. Pheonix Wright

    I have to admit BlueSwim is a better writer than Sage. He’s not quite a NOLA or Deagle though.

  10. The MTV review said “DOA has pushed the envelope graphically on every system it has ever been on, and, as good as it looks on the 3DS, there’s some obvious moments where the developers appear to have run out of memory.”

    Did you notice this?

    Please answer.

  11. I’m amazing at how little fighters have evolved over the past 10 years. DoAD plays like DOA

  12. Great I like the double review.

  13. infinitesadness

    pretty kick ass review. Just a bit longer. I’ll probably come back and read later.

  14. BluwSwim you really bought a 3DS just for this game? How do you feel about that now? Any sense of buyers remorse?

    • Not really. I managed to keep my expectations for Dimensions relatively down-to-Earth. I knew long before it was released that it wasn’t going to be the perfect DOA. However, I mainly wanted it to be a solid, portable DOA, which is what Dimensions ended up being.

  15. This turned out better than I expected it would. Thought it would be just a plain port.

  16. I’m really surprised by the graphic quality in those shots. Is that really how the game looks? that looks like an early 360 title.

    • It does look very good. I wouldn’t quite say the graphics are early 360 quality, though. There are some pixelated textures.

  17. The doa game is good. It does have a lot of upskirt and small clothes for the pervs to enjoy. The graphics are really quite good. The only problem myself and other have come to realize, is even with the skimpy downloadable outfits they offer via spotpass, the game itself is relatively short and becomes kinda boring. The online gameplay is kinda rigged, as are a few fights in the game. what i mean by that is online you can win everytime if you know how to…. there are ways the game developers didnt cover, and the game itself has fights that will piss you off to no end. especially in tag team, when your cpu partner tags in when they want and you and the cpu cant move cause the guy your facing wont let you get a move in. overall quality 8, replayability, 5,

    • So how would I win a fight all the time (If I wanted to?!?)

      Strange about the CPU AI- there’s no load time before a tag-in, right?

  18. One other thing, the 3d and gameplay is much better on this game than ssf4,

    • Gameplay yes, 3D I don’t know about. The game doesn’t seem to jump out as much as SSFIV3D to me.

  19. Sounds like it’s worth a pickup at least. Shame I missed TRUs sale.

  20. I don’t know why but this is the only 3DS game to make me feel dick in 3D. I have to play with the slider down.

  21. I’m glad to see that everyone seems to be enjoying the review. Thank you all for the kind words and thank you to DEagle for letting me contribute. ^_^

  22. I hope you guys review Blaz this week, cause your DOA review owned.

    • I’m starting to waffle on not getting it until the price dropa. Something in my gut is telling me if I don’t get it close to launch, I may miss out on it entirely.

      Take this with a grain of salt, but there’s a rumor going around that BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II for the 3DS got pushed back to June 14th. Source:

      • Don’t tell me it’s going to be rare. Thats a sure way to get me to spend money 😉

      • Rumor killing time! I just got back from GameStop and BB:CSII is now out. I got the only copy my GameStop got in. Nobody preordered it there. It was gutted, but hadn’t been put out on the shelf yet. If you want it and haven’t preordered, better try to get it sooner rather than later.

        If anyone has any questions about it, feel free to ask me.

        • Will you be reviewing it?

          Is is like the Xbox/PS3 version? Are there the DLC characters?

          • In order of asked…

            If you guys want me to, I’ll ask DEagle about us teaming up again. I believe he’s going to get some version of it, as well.

            It seems to be fairly close to the home console version of BB:CS1 (I haven’t updated my 360 version yet). There are some noticeable corners cut to the presentation for the sake of making it work on the 3DS.

            The DLC fighters Makoto, Valkenhein, and Platinum are all in.

        • How many fighters does it have? How many modes?

          Is it worth $40? Slowdown? Loadtimes? Music quality?

          Heaven or Hell?

          • How balanced is it? What changed if any were made from the console version?

          • In order of asked…

            18 fighters by my count.

            10 modes plus the Gallery and Options.

            I think it probably will be, even without online play. The Abyss mode is going to keep you busy for a while.

            Little-to-no slowdown that I’ve noticed.

            Great. Load times seem to be 2-3 seconds, not including the versus screen.

            The music isn’t CD-quality, but good enough.

            LETS ROCK!

          • @DangerDad In the order asked…

            Not sure about the balance yet.

            The main changes I’ve seen from the home versions is that the graphics, audio, and backgrounds have been scaled down. That’s all I’ve noticed, so far.

          • Like a loss is resolution or frames? 60 FPS in 2dmode?

          • Both. The resolution is lower than the console versions and I don’t believe there are as many frames of animation for the fighters. The stages only have a handful of frames of animation that loop repeatedly.

            It doesn’t appear that it’s 60FPS.

  23. Great writeup guys. I expect to see more two reviewer coverage.

  24. BlueSwim sounds like a true-BLUE DOA fanboy. I think I like him.

  25. I don’t know if I should pick up this or BB this week. Anyone who of any buy 1 get one half off deals anywhere?

  26. Not gonna lie, I <3 DOA

    • It’s good, but not one of my favorite fighters. The fighters themselves seem kind of generic.

  27. That’s too bad there’s a loss of frames. I hope it’s not too bad.

    • Don’t worry, it isn’t too bad. It’s just that the fighters don’t look quite as fluid as I remember them being in the console version.

  28. Hopefully, you guys will cover Blaz and let me know which is the better game.

  29. Hopefully, you and Deagle will review BlazBlue. I want to see what you guys make of it.

  30. Expect another tag team review from Deagle and I for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II for the 3DS sometime soon.

  31. Great review!