Dead or Alive: Dimensions

REVIEWDead or Alive: Dimensions is the first portable iteration of the DOA series and the first proper 3D fighting game on the Nintendo 3DS. Following in the footsteps of great handheld fighting games like Tekken: Dark Resurrection & Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, DOA: Dimensions offers some unique features which allow it to stand out as its own entity, rather than feeling like a handheld port of a previous arcade or console title. Dimensions features a fairly impressive roster of 26 characters, including 5 unlockable bosses (and 1 hidden character). However, I have to say that DOA's bosses are a particularly odd bunch and aren't nearly as appealing as the game's core characters.

Aside from the hidden character (Shiden), there aren't any "new" playable characters headlining in DOA: Dimensions, but a selection of new moves for returning characters ensures that veteran players have plenty of new things to learn. Each character's moveset is pretty deep, although, most characters seem to share the same style or "patterns" of combos. Generally speaking, movesets seem to revolve around punch/kick and high/low combos, rather than individual moves and stances. It's not exactly a flaw, but I do find Tekken's movesets to be far more intuitive and well-rounded. However, most DOA characters have an impressive variety of throws & counters, all of which offer some very satisfying "ouch" factor.


Dead or Alive: Dimensions character select screen.

One of Dimensions' new features that you'll notice right off the bat is the on-screen movelist! Making innovative use of the 3DS's bottom screen,
the lower screen conveniently displays your character's entire movelist. In addition, the commands "light up" with the corresponding move or combo that is being performed, which is very helpful when starting out and looks cool, too. You can even "tap" the command to automatically perform the move or combo, but due to the fact that you have to scroll to find the move you're looking for, this little convenience can't be exploited in high level play. Training Mode also contains some solid features, like defensive training, and even displays detailed frame properties on every move your character performs!

It seems like many fighting games of this generation are offering more polished story & tutorial modes. Dimensions' Chronicle Mode is conveniently a hybrid of both. This story-based tutorial mode offers a recap of the entire DOA storyline presented in five chapters. The DOA series never won any awards for its engaging storyline (and still doesn't), but Chronicle Mode is easily the series' best representation of DOA's "ninja-rific" plot. The flow of the story is a bit random and oftentimes rashly skips from scene to scene, making it a bit confusing and hard to follow. Additionally, "fun facts" will pop up on the bottom screen while the story is still in progress, suggesting that you should read text and watch visuals at the same time... on two different screens. This is especially annoying if you're going through Chronicle Mode with the ideal Japanese voiceovers.

While taking you through the ins & outs of the gameplay engine, Chronicle highlights Dimensions' sharp graphics and 3D integration. Chronicle recycles quite a few FMV sequences from previous installments, but most cut-scenes use the in-game graphics engine and look great in 3D. Speaking of 3D, unlike SSF4: 3D Edition, the frame rate drops to 30 frames per second in real time when the 3D slider is turned up. The cut-scenes in Chronicle Mode are 30 frames regardless so the 3D effect is best enjoyed within that mode. For gameplay however, turning off the 3D effect will present a silky smooth 60 frames per second, which is easily the more appealing way to play. That said, Dimensions is one of the most impressive-looking portable fighting games to date. Side by side... DOA: Dimensions rivals Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny and Tekken 6 on PSP, but for the record, the title of the best-looking handheld fighting game still goes to Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny. Also worth mentioning, "sparking" hit effects, not unlike the ones from Tekken, have been introduced in the DOA series for the first time and spice up the action quite nicely.

There's an awful lotta face slapping in Chronicle Mode.

The Nintendo 3DS is surprisingly accommodating to DOA: Dimensions' gameplay system. Dead or Alive's "movement" controls are considerably simpler than the likes of Tekken, Soul Calibur and Street Fighter, but in turn, makes it more comfortable to play on a handheld system. Unlike Tekken & Street Fighter, frequent dashing isn't necessarily imperative to playing at a high level, which happens to be more difficult to perform on the 3DS's circle pad and d-pad. Thankfully, Dimensions can be enjoyed both casually and at an advanced level on the 3DS, with some practice.

Dimensions' counter system is taken from DOA3, featuring low, medium & high counters. One of my ongoing gripes about the series' gameplay system is that counters are fairly easy to pull off. Indeed, "mashing" the correct counter while defending oftentimes results in a perfectly executed counter. DOA's counter system may appeal to more casual gamers but, in turn, will always turn off a large percentage of fighting game players who appreciate when high precision is rewarded. However, I'm sure a more practiced DOA player will overcome any counter-happy player. Dimension's combo system is built around the Critical Stun and Launcher systems and, for the most part, is solid. In my opinion, it's not as fun as combo systems from other fighters, but it does look and feel very smooth.

One thing the DOA series always got right was physics, especially when walls (or boobs) are involved. Aside from DOA's ridiculous, trademark boob-jiggle physics, the way characters slam against walls looks incredibly cool thanks to the superb animation. While some attacks seem to inappropriately whiff at times, DOA's wall game rivals the best in the genre. The trademark multi-tiered stages also return in Dimensions, offering a variety of battle areas within each stage. Strangely, the arcade courses are limited to one round, resulting in a ridiculously quick fight, especially if a character is knocked onto the next tier. Although it looks somewhat cool, the multi-tiered fighting takes you out of the game in a way and can get repetitive, especially when you end up winning after your opponent takes huge damage from falling off a cliff. In more cases than not, battles are usually too quick for their own good.

The first portable DOA delivers crispy visuals and yes... bouncy physics!

Like Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition, Dimensions features a Figurine Mode... and I'll be the first to say it's much cooler than SSF4's. There are 999 variations of figurines to collect which feature DOA characters in different outfits & poses. The figurines you collect can then be placed in front of an in-game background where you can take 3D photos of them from different angles. In case you didn't know, this feature alone was the reason DOA: Dimensions was banned in several European countries, which is a bit silly considering there is no nudity. It's a little perverted, yes, but this is DOA... what do you expect? In addition to figurines, you will constantly unlock new content, like alternate costumes and stages, while playing through the various modes... and there's a lot to unlock! In addition, DLC alternate costumes are being added months after the game is released, which is nice to see.

While DOA: Dimension lacks a full-fledged tag mode, Tag Challenge takes its place and partners you up with an AI teammate of your choice. After you select your team, you and your computer-controlled partner take on a variety of overpowered opponents who deal big damage and have crazy stamina. To even the score, your tagged-out teammate will quickly regenerate health and your team has a number of "lives," which allow you or your teammate to come back five seconds after a KO (if you can survive). After completing Tag Challenge #20, you can access the hidden character, Shiden, by inputting a code on the selection screen. 

DOA: Dimensions also features one of the coolest 3DS StreetPass features so far. The game keeps track of your "play patterns" (play style & combos while fighting, similar to a ghost system) and whenever players pass by one another with StreetPass enabled, a "silent" fight will take place. Based on averages and probability, the player with the "superior" play pattern will win. It sounds interesting but I personally haven't used this feature yet. There are also Throwdown Challenges which download character data to your system via SpotPass, allowing you to have a virtual fight against the DOA creators themselves in Throwdown Mode. Finally, Online Mode is bare bones, featuring very few options, and the rank system in place isn't very exciting. The good news is, the gameplay is considerably smooth online (if both players have their 3D slider turned down).

Page Updated: June 5th, 2023
Developer(s): Team Ninja
Publisher(s): Tecmo Koei  /
Nintendo  /
Designer(s): Yousuke Hayashi
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Release Date(s): May 19th, 2011      3DS
May 20th, 2011   
May 24th, 2011   
May 26th, 2011      3DS
Dec. 6th, 2012        Nintendo eShop
Characters Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, Hayabusa, Lei Fang, Brad Wong, Hitomi, Christie, Elliot, Lisa, Kokoro, Jann Lee, Helena, Tina, Bass, Bayman, Leon, Gen Fu, Ein, Zack, Raidou, Tengu, Omega, Kasumi Alpha, Alpha-152, Shiden
Featured Video:
Related Games: Dead or Alive, Dead or Alive 2, Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore, Dead or Alive 3, Dead or Alive 4, Dead or Alive 5, Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate, Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max, Tekken: Dark Resurrection, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition, Tekken 3D: Prime Edition

Gameplay Engine  8.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  9.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  6.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  6.0 / 10
Customization  8.5 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  7.5 / 10

 8.7 / 10



Final Words: DOA: Dimensions is another impressive portable fighter on the 3DS and like SSF4: 3D Edition, is one of the best games on the system to date. The 3D integration isn't quite as compelling as SSF4: 3D Edition, but Dimensions offers some very solid visuals in its own right. The music/sound is what you'd expect from the series and doesn't match up to that of other fighting games... and I can't believe they re-used that boring guitar riff from DOA2 on the title screen.

Though I'm obviously not a huge fan of the DOA series, I have respect for various elements of the game. The combo system, wall game and general physics are all top notch, but character designs, movesets and the infamous counter system still rub me the wrong way. The character selection is the most impressive of the series to date, but the kooky boss designs don't do the series much justice.

The Chronicle/Story mode is a mildly entertaining playthrough but falls short of being anything spectacular. If you're new to the DOA series, you might want to give Dimensions a try, but if you've been through the motions before and you weren't previously a fan, your opinion of DOA probably won't change. For DOA fans, however, this is a must have title and pound-for-pound is one of the best installments of the series.

~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

ayane-dimensions2.png (52604 bytes)             hitomi-doad-render.jpg (32360 bytes)             helena-doad-render2.jpg (28555 bytes)             tina-doad-render2.jpg (30425 bytes)
brad-doad-render.jpg (35821 bytes)             jan-doad-render.jpg (32658 bytes)             christie-doad-render2.jpg (29183 bytes)             leifang-dimensions.png (61463 bytes)

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