Fighting franchises were popping up in the 90s every year. Some would become mainstream franchises, others not so much. If you think of the franchises you’ll start with Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, perhaps Tekken but the Dead Or Alive franchise has flown under the radar for most of its life. Team Ninja and Tecmo teamed up and released Dead or Alive in the arcade and in 1998 ported it to the PlayStation. As Gerald Broflovski from South Park puts it best “Curse Your Rocking Tits”, let’s enter the ring in this Dead or Alive review!
Dead or Alive Plot:
Dead or Alive is a tournament held annually by founder Fame Douglas. This tournament offers fighters from all around the world to fight the best of the best in mixed-martial arts. The champion receives a large sum of cash.
The story for Dead or Alive is simple, but each fighter has a reason for entering the tournament. Let’s take a look at the roster for the first game in this Dead or Alive review. These bios come straight from the manual.
Kasumi – Kasumi’s brother, Hayate, was next in line to succeed as the 18th master of the Mugen Tenjin Academy…until one fateful day when an assassin attacked and crippled him. Her father Shiden was left bitter and refuses to mention the details surrounding the attack. Kasumi wants revenge, and she’s determined to succeed as the 18th master of the school. Kasumi is the main protagonist in the first game and wins the tournament. She fights an evil ninja named Raidou in the championship who was the man to cripple her brother. It turns out Raidou was exiled from Kasumi’s clan.
Occupation: (While not in the manual, I assume she is an MMA teacher)
Favorite Food: Strawberry Mille-Feuilles
Hobby: Fortune telling
Jann Lee – Jann Lee’s parents escaped from China’s Maoist regime when the boy was a child, then left him an orphan, alone to fend for himself. He threw himself into the study of Ji Kun Do soon after. At first, he fought to replace what he had lost when his parents died, but eventually, Jann fought just for the sake of fighting.
Occupation: Body Guard
Favorite Food: Hamburger and grapefruits
Hobby: Watching action movies
Lei Fang – Lei Fang is an impulsive, yet determined prodigy of Tai Kyoku Ken. Don’t let her sweet smile fool you…she may look like an angel, but she’s got a devilish determination to prove herself. You’d better keep your eyes on her at all times.
Her confidence has been shaken just once, several years ago. Lei was challenged by a gang of street fighters. She was prepared to take them on single-handedly, but a boy named Gi, wearing a dragon emblem, suddenly jumped to her rescue. If there’s one thing Lei hates, it’s someone assuming that she can’t handle things on her own. The incident left her determined to find and defeat Gi…and anyone standing in her way. (Gi does not appear in the tournament)
Occupation: College Student
Favorite Food: Almond Jelly
Bayman – As a child, Bayman witnessed the assassination of his parents, carried out under martial order. He was later trained by the Russian military in commando-style fighting and served as a special agent for years. Until the day he made one fatal mistake involving the Kremlin’s favorite daughter. He was banished from the Special Forces forever, and exiled to Brighton Beach, New York.
He now works as a professional assassin. Bayman is posing as a participant of the DOA tournament, but his true assignment is to find and exterminate Fame Douglas the notorious leader of the DOA tournament.
Favorite Food: Beef Stew
Hobby: Collecting Fire Arms, Chess
Tina – Tina has been a pro wrestler since high school and has worked her way up to become one of Dead or Alive’s most feared lethal competitors. Tina’s father, trainer, and chief support, Bass Armstrong, also joins the tournament this year. Tina almost threw in the gloves last year until her father stepped in again and convinced her to take on the world. Bass thinks Tina is in it for the glory of winning the DOA championship tournament but her real aim is to be discovered in Hollywood.
Favorite Food: Seafood
Hobby: Outdoor Sports, Laser Tag
Ryu Hayabusa – A dark figure approaches and hands Ryu a piece of paper stained with something red. Then, without a word, the figure slips away. Welcome to Dead or Alive – from Fame Douglas.
Ryu bears the name “Hayabusa” an honor bestowed upon only the most distinguished of Ninja’s coming from the Hayabusa School. His life had been a continuous fight until he met his love, Aileen, and found satisfaction in peace. But his thirst for challenge returned when he learned that his best friend’s sister, Kasumi, had disappeared.
The invitation in his hand beckoned and winked like an old lover. Another seduction from the dark. Once again, Ryu became a shadow of darkness.
Occupation: Antique Shop Owner
Favorite Food: Sushi
Hobby: Mountain climbing, fishing
Zack – Reporter: “We’re here with Mr. Zack, who is about to participate in the DOA championship. Mr. Zack…
Zack: “Where’s the camera? Are you sure you’ve got my best side?”
Reporter: “Mr. Zack, uh, that’s a little too close to the camera. Great. So I understand that you studied the ancient martial art Muetai…”
Zack: “Hey man, sorry-you know what I mean? Gotta Go. Thanks for your support. It’s gonna be a cool night. The prize is mine.”
Reporter: “Sir, I…”
Zack: “Sorry, man. Be cool. This tournament rocks!”
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Hobby: Pool Bar
Gen Fu – Gen Fu left his native China in 1976. He barely made his escape before his cohorts were caught and imprisoned under the misnomer “gang of Four”.
No one knows the real reason Gen Fu recently came out of retirement. No one would guess about the dream that haunts Gen Fu nightly. Only his closest enemies suspect that something profound must have caused the old man to come out of retirement. (Could it have anything to do with the tragedy surrounding his granddaughter Mei Linn?)
Gen Fu may appear to be just a feeble shop owner, but this master of Shin-I Rokugo Ken is no one to patronize… he never misses an opportunity to test his lethal acumen.
Occupation: Used Bookstore Owner
Favorite Food: Mabo Tofu
Hobby: Chinese Painting
That’s it for the fighters in the manual. The PlayStation version included two new fighters in the tournament. Tina’s father Bass Armstrong who is mentioned in her bio and Kasumi’s half-sister, Ayana. You can also unlock Raidou.
Dead or Alive Gameplay:
Where to begin on the very obvious and large element in the game that stood out to me right from the start? I try and type this Dead or Alive review with a straight face but it’s difficult because of the bouncing images in my head but the first thing you’ll notice if you fight as a female character or fight one of them is how excessive their boobs bounce. It’s hilarious and I couldn’t believe it when I first started playing.
After beating the game with each fighter, I still couldn’t get over their jiggling jugs. It’s so over-the-top but I get a laugh out of it. Dead or Alive is known to sexualize their female characters, and right from the start, they cranked the boobage to a 10. If you are the type to get offended easily, there’s an option to turn off the boob bouncing, but if you select that I can just assume you are a miserable grump.
Okay, now that I have that feature out of the way, let’s get to the fighting aspect in this Dead or Alive review. Dead or Alive offers a new option for fighting games that I think works pretty well. Instead of a “guard” position, you can hit square and enter a hold position to catch your opponent’s foot, leg, arm or fist if they try and attack you. You’ll be able to reverse the attack and send them back the other way.
This comes into play when you fight very aggressive opponents and really is the only way to defeat the upper-tier fighters. Each fight is the best two-out-of-three, with rounds being 30 seconds each encouraging you to make quick work of your opponent. There’s no “ring out” but there is the “danger zone” which is outside of the fighting square. If you knock your opponent down outside of the ring, they’ll fall onto an explosion for extra damage, but be careful because the same can happen to you. It was fun to K.O. my opponents outside the ring because when they are knocked out their body flies like 50 feet in the air before coming down.
Besides the boob physics, I thought the fighting physics was generally well-done. There is a quality of smoothness when you catch your opponent’s attack or when you each throw a punch or kick at each other. You don’t just bounce off each other, but the limbs lock into place realistically. One thing that could have used some work was how slow the fighters moved toward each other. I’d inch my way to my opponent if they were a few feet away. I needed a button to activate a walk or run toward them. The AI had no trouble running at me so perhaps there is a way.
I’m not good at fighting games. I’m quickly and sadly learning that. Mortal Kombat destroyed me. My Dead or Alive review was slightly easier but even in normal mode, it’s difficult to get to the final fight without getting knocked out 50 times by various fighters. Perhaps, I just don’t have the patience required to learn the moves and mechanics of each fighter and I just button mash my way to victory.
Dead or Alive offers a variety of other modes besides the tournament. You can train against a dummy fighter, something I should have done, but there’s also a survival mode, team battle mode, and arcade mode. It’s nice to see fighting games include extras like this. Speaking of extras, Dead or Alive is all about extra outfits. You can unlock outfights for each fighter, some even have five different outfits to wear, most of the girls have some type of slutty wear for your viewing pleasure. I didn’t have the patience to unlock everything.
I liked the back story for all the characters, but you know what really blows? No cutscenes! Even when you beat the game, there’s no character story arc ending, it just shows a brief lame photo of the character and that’s it! If you don’t read the manual you have no idea why these characters are fighting or who they are fighting for!
I just started using eBay to buy some games and I found Dead or Alive for the PS1 for $5 on there. It works perfect and came with the case. It was a good purchase but as soon as I put it in, I couldn’t help but laugh with all the bounce this game comes with. I showed my wife and she couldn’t believe it either. I played the game for a bit before putting it away until I chose to write my Dead or Alive review.
My favorite fighter was Lei Fang. She had dope kicks and I used her flexibility and quickness as my strength. She controlled better than the other fighters in my opinion and was much less stiff.
Dead or Alive Review Score:
Dead or Alive presents an interesting combat technique with the hold button. It works well and offers something different than just a “guard”. I had a tough time pulling off any combos and just resorted to button mashing. If you like fighting games with characters’ stories, look elsewhere, but if you like big boobs that smack the girls in the face, Dead or Alive is your game.
Dead or Alive scores a 6.6 out of 10.
What would you write in your Dead or Alive review? Could you contain your laughter with the massive tits slapping everywhere? Who did you pick as your fighter? How does Dead or Alive compare to other fighters? Let me know your thoughts and memories, I’d love to read them!