Dead or Alive 2 (デッド オア アライブ2)

It could be argued, that Tomobu Itagaki'a Dead or Alive game was the first 3D beat-em up to rival the great Virtua Fighter series in the arcades. Both games were created using Sega's Model 2 hardware, but the DOA alive series gained cult status, thanks to its risque visuals, and deep, more edgier style gameplay. The game was a critical and commercial success both, in the arcades and on the Sega Saturn which solidified Temco's relationship with Sega. In 1998, Dead or Alive 2 was announced for release on both Sega's arcade hardware, the Naomi and for the Dreamcast. As such, the Dreamcast version of DOA2is a direct conversion of the original arcade version; successfully converted due to the similarities between the Dreamcast’s architecture and the NAOMI arcade board.

Dead or Alive 2 LE

The sequel took things to a new level altogether. Everything about the sequel is bigger, better and ahem, bouncier. Unlike the first game, Dead or Alive 2 uses free-roaming battle arenas similar to those seen in Powerstone. Although not quite up to the level of  freedom seen in Capcom's masterpiece, fight mechanics such as the ability to smash your opponent through a church window and continue the fight below, added a new scope in learning tactics and strategies. Of course, beyond the mechanics the real attraction of Dead or Alive 2 was that it featured a shitload of hot women with big boobs who want to fight each other. Oh, and the panty shots. It’s safe to say that “visually”, the game has not lost any of its aesthetic charm, the characters are all highly detailed with fluidly moving bosoms, and their martial arts styles are represented well for those who actually interested in the fighting.

 Gorgeous full colour CD artwork

To be honest though, if you're after a bit of titilation then you’re better off getting a premium subscription to YouPorn and a selection of oils, than fork out $60 to look at CGI titties on your Dreamcast. Still, it’s no understatement to say that back in the day this was the bees knees in terms of visuals and the title that set the standard for high resolution 3D graphics (especially when played through VGA). The attention the title received in the gaming press for being one of the first 3rd party Naomi titles for the DC was quite amazing, and rightly so. The stills really do not do it justice; this was clearly the time when real-time graphics finally were able to look as good as pre-rendered images. The backgrounds in particular have had a lot of attention paid to them and are much bigger than normal 3D fighting games, allowing for an aggressive fighting approach.

                                                The appeal of DOA is obvious

The mechanics of DOA also displays the title's Virtua Fighter roots; almost every move in the game has a corresponding counter-attack, and every counter has a counter and in order to successfully block an attack, you must be able to tell where the attack is coming in (low, medium or high attack). The same is said about counters, and if your timing is off, you will be left open to a brutal assault. With counters being so damaging, and even simple parrying requiring you to judge the height of the incoming attack, button-mashers will be left in the dust. While on one hand, this makes the game easy for beginners to pick up, it also makes for a much, much more rewarding experience for those who put in the time to learn the game and master the characters. There are the usual verses modes, a tag team battle mode, and the main story quest to play through. The story mode, matches the game’s eye-catching visuals by having a nonsensical story reminiscent of a porno movie. The sound too, is a bit lacking with a clichéd techno soundtrack, that doesn’t really lend itself to the gameplay and is better off muted.

Visually, the game even trumps the mighty Soul Calibur

Interestingly, DOA2 is one of those rare Japanese games that in that it was released in the West before it was in Japan. As such, the Japanese version is significantly different and features extra endings, costumes and music, as well as two unlockable characters (Bayman from the first game, and the boss character Tengu). Of course, the highlight for the Japanese was the Kazumi naked intro were the bosomed beauty appears in a skin colored costume. There was also a "Limited Edition" released simultaneously with a different cover, fully coloured disc and a gallery mode added to the game.

 Get the Japanese version if you want the limited edition boob tube version

Dead or Alive was a true milestone for the Dreamcast and proved that the console could go toe-to-toe against the supposedly superior hardware of the PS2. The version of DOA2 for the PS2 infamously suffered from extremely jaggy visuals, lower resolution and sloppy controls as the designers struggled with the new hardware (for more on the differences check out Alex in Wonderland's DOA2 Comparison. It could be argued that the series never really moved out of the shadow of the second game, and with everything clicking together so faultlessly, you can see why.