Dead or Alive: Dimensions 3DS Review

Dead or Alive is back, and it’s about time if you ask me. Team Ninja has jumped ship again, this time to Nintendo, and are providing some much needed support to their shiny new handheld. They’ve really pulled out all the stops with Dimensions, as this is probably the most comprehensive Dead or Alive ever.

For starters you have Chronicles mode, which covers the stories of all four previous games in the series. This is pretty lengthy, with six chapters consisting of a combination of cut-scenes and fights. The cut-scenes are a bit of a mixed bag; some are fully animated, others 3D stills, with the characters talking without their lips moving, while others are pre-rendered and probably lifted from the original games. It’s all very nice to look at, but don’t expect the story to make much sense.

Chronicles mode also acts as an extensive tutorial, with numerous small sections before fights to show you some moves. These cover basic strikes, stringing together combos, and blocking and countering just about everything an opponent can throw at you. It’s nicely done and doesn’t get in the way of the story or the fights. By the time you’re finished Chronicles mode, you’ll find yourself pretty much at home with the game, whether you’re new to the franchise or not.

There’s loads more to the single player side of things than just story though. Arcade mode makes its usual appearance, but with some changes. Instead of just one series of fights this time there are six of increasing difficulty levels. There’s less fights to each course, as they call them, but overall the content is stepped up by three or four times. Survival mode is there and is the same as usual. Tag mode returns too, although this also has some changes: there are twenty fights for you to win, but with your tag partner now being AI-controlled, this change wasn’t for the better.

There’s also some new stuff added that makes use of the 3DS’s features. Throwdown mode is new, it and makes use of Streetpass to exchange data about how others play the game. This is used to create AI opponents for you. You’ll also find a weekly Throwdown to be downloaded via Spotpass. Every day for a month there’s extra costumes to download too, giving all the fighters extensive wardrobe collections. The coins you earn from walking your 3DS around can also be used to unlock stuff as well.

It doesn’t matter how many modes a game has though, if the gameplay isn’t up to scratch, but there’s no worries in that department. It’s still pretty much the same game it’s been since Dead or Alive 2; a solid, fun fighter with some great counter-based gameplay across multi tiered environments. There’s been a couple of tweaks that make the game more approachable than in previous instalments. Opponent AI is definitely a bit easier on you, making the easier game modes a bit of a walkover. But it still puts up a fair challenge on the harder modes, just not so much as to get frustrating, like it did in Dead or Alive 4.

Counter windows are a bit wider too, giving you more of a fighting chance when you do get to the harder fights. The biggest change though is the implementation of touch-screen controls, giving you a long list of combos you can trigger with a touch. In theory this sounds really cheap but in practice it’s not; it’s awkward having to find combos, and only really works against the easiest of opponents. In a hard fight you really are better off relying on your own skills than using the touch screen.

As with all fighting games multiplayer is where it’s really at, and this is well covered, giving you local and online options. Sadly there’s no download play, but what there is more than makes up for it. Local play allows you to play with up to four people in tag matches, although online is a bit more basic, with just one-on-one fights. One notable feature of the online game is the absence of the dreaded friends codes that Nintendo gamers have grown to hate. All your friends on your 3DS friends list are automatically carried over into the game, something I wish more games would do.

Everything is not perfect though; very close, but there’s a couple of very minor issues. Firstly, whilst the game does look great in 3D, and works really well, you’ll find a slight increase in speed by turning the 3D off. Secondly, the game gives you all these figurines to collect, and a camera to take 3D photos of them, but you can’t access the photos outside of the game. What’s up with that? Nintendogs and Pilotwings both let you take photos in-game and view them in the 3DS’s photo viewer and download them from the SD card to view anywhere.

Dead or Alive Dimensions is a great game. It’s loads of fun, lots to do, and has plenty of longevity. It’s pick-up-and-play nature makes it perfect for a handheld too, it’s easy to have a quick blast through an arcade course during a short bus journey. With the current lack of quality titles for Nintendo’s new handheld this shines out like a star.

9 out of 10
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