Follow the bouncing… you know what.
After writing up reviews for games like Ar Tonelico Qoga, with girls undressing for maximum magical power, and The 3rd Birthday, where Aya Brea's clothes shred as she takes more and more damage, I have been the lucky one to be given Dead or Alive Dimensions, a 3DS installment in a series known for its… jiggly… physics. Way back when, Dead or Alive could easily been seen as simply an excuse to gather together a bunch of female characters together in a game to *cough* serve as fan service, but instead of just working some physics "magic" to bounce some bosoms, Tecmo has also put together a damn deep fighter.
[image1]The tradition of solid 3D fighting thankfully continues here. For anyone who hasn't played a DoA game before, here's the background: Somebody's decided to throw a big friggin' fighting tournament (as crazy multi-millionaires with nothing better to do tend to do) and, in this world, those invited need to fit certain criteria. First, they need to be the best in their craft. Second, if female, they need to be flexible enough to adapt to new situations on the battlefield. Third – and this is crucial – they need the most supportive bra they can find.
Awkward balance and back issues aside, the handling is good and tight. Online there might be some lag, but there's none to notice in single-player fights. The controls are responsive, and the countering system is simple and easy to grasp even for the eternal rookies like myself (push one button while moving in the right direction at the right moment). Every character has obvious strengths and weaknesses to pick up on and adapt to. The brawlers brawl, the quick attackers sneak in for early hits, and the counter champions will toss opponents around like rag dolls (with concave body shapes).
There's a nice selection of modes to choose from, and all are enjoyable for what they are. Arcade is pretty standard, but what's surprising is that the matches are broken up into six groupings, and the lineups are preset so there aren't any storylines or grudge matches. Similarly, Survival is set too; the match-ups are randomized, but the number of matches is static, despite the description of Survival saying that you'll "challenge a non-stop stream of opponents".
[image2]The Internet play isn't too terrible, but being able to challenge a player to a rematch would be nice, along with some experience matching. My first fight was against another player who was also 0-0, but my second fight was against someone who had over 200 matches under their belt already. A few adjustments for fighting someone at the same level as the player, and I'd be pushing this to everyone I know.
One thing detracting from the Chronicle story (let's face it, it's the only way we know anything about the characters beyond their bust size) is an action figure-style presentation. It's a bit hard to explain, but part of the story is told with mouths moving and characters reacting and part is told like a high school diorama, with stationary people – no movement at all – and yet, they're still talking and the camera is still moving the same way. It's a minor concern, but when everything else seems in the package seems to be just fine, it feels like an unfinished distraction.
In case you were wondering why this game was banned in Sweden, you can collect figurines and take 3D pictures of them one at a time, from any angle you want. Inherently that's not the problem, but DoA is known for being top-heavy and throwing around almost as many panty shots. Supposedly some of these characters are under 18 (making them minors and making Pedobear smile) and it likely doesn't help if one of them is essentially naked throughout her time on-screen, but if the characters in question have no ages to be disclosed, that makes everything hunky-dory, eh?
But if you're sick of the Street and want a good point/counter-point battle, this is the only one on the 3DS right now… and it's a good thing it's damn fun. With this and Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition starting out the fighting game chapter of the 3DS' lifespan, it might supplant the Neo Geo Pocket Color as the best fighting game portable to date. Might not sound like a very high bar, but trust me, this is a damn fine start.