Dead or Alive 5+: I’m (not) a Fighter.

By Kris . March 28, 2013 . 12:00pm

My previous experience with Dead or Alive was relatively limited. I’ve played some Dead or Alive 2 through 4 at various friends’ houses, and while I had fun playing casually, I never felt like I had a proper hold on the game’s more complex mechanics. I like Virtua Fighter, so I’d just try to play the game like I’d play a VF character I didn’t understand, using directional attacks, and trying to figure out what I could do with multiple buttons simultaneously. Going into DOA5+, I intended to remedy that.


Naturally, I started with Tutorial, thinking that it would ease me into things.


I felt overwhelmed just looking at the menu. The basic tutorial had over 191 missions across 34 sections. Sure, a couple were easy things like “move” or “sidestep” but things ramped up pretty quickly, and were put together rather poorly. One tutorial had me learning to recognize how to avoid and recognize unblockable attacks, which might have been helpful if it didn’t teach me to recognize and avoid just one unblockable attack (Jann Lee’s flying kick).


I have no idea what indicates an unblockable attack from anyone else. For a general tutorial, certain elements seemed way too esoteric, and some of it felt like it should have been character or enemy specific. Another similar situation is the tutorial that taught me that one of Helena’s throws can go through attacks if timed correctly. Sure, it’s a helpful tool with Helena, I just have no idea who else can do it or how.


On the plus side, about halfway through the tutorials, it introduced me to DOA’s basics. There’s a rock-paper-scissors element to Dead or Alive’s combat called the “Triangle System”, in which attacks beat throws, throws beat holds, and holds beat attack. Holds are essentially counters, performed with the hold button (effectively a guard button with one designated  to high attacks, one designated to low attacks, and two designated for mid attacks: one for kicks and one for punches. A proper hold can change the flow of battle, as they can even be performed while stunned. It’s the main way to escape lengthy combos, and can be used to turn a battle around if done correctly. I liked the concept of the triangle system, but that wasn’t the only core gameplay mechanic I had to learn about.


A particularly baffling and aggravating set of tutorials introduced me to Critical Bursts, a new mechanic in Dead or Alive 5 that only works with specific moves. If you hit with a certain attack, your opponent will be slightly stunned and unable to do anything but holds (if they guess your attack right), and it will highlight a certain portion of their life bar. Use a couple more (different, or else your opponent will be knocked away) stunning attacks to deplete that highlighted health, and you’ll have two options: if you use your character’s specific Critical Burst attack, the opponent will crumple, allowing you to combo them, or launch them slightly higher than usual. Deplete that health with an attack that is not your Critical Burst, and the opponent will be knocked away. Despite how much time I’d spent on the tutorial trying to get this mechanic down, I found myself completely ignoring it in combat. I never really felt like I lost out by stunning enemies, then juggling them, as opposed to crumpling them beforehand, and not attempting to Critical Burst my enemies gave me a bit more freedom in combat.


After two hours, I’d completed the entire tutorial (the challenges where you have to perform your new skills against a noncompliant AI didn’t exactly speed me along, and I completed the one I was stuck on accidentally), I figured I was ready to take on Story mode. Story mode was lengthy, narratively baffling, and relatively easy to get through with little more than tenacity. However, it gave me a little taste of each character, and I found my three favorites: Ayane, Christie, and Bayman. After running through their movesets and attempting a couple of Combo Challenges, I started running through different difficulties in Arcade Mode, Survival, and Time Attack, rewarded with a new costume for my first few completions of arcade and first Survival completion, but despite my victories in increasingly difficult modes, I didn’t find myself improving at all. I felt like I’d plateaued since I started playing. Even playing online (with its slightly delayed inputs) didn’t force me to improve. I just felt stuck.


I spent 12 hours with Dead or Alive 5+ in various training modes, combo challenges, going through story, and increasingly difficult arcade, survival, and time attack modes. While at first I tried to take advantage of Critical Bursts and each stage’s individual danger zones, I quickly found myself falling into routines. Sure, I’d pick up one or two tricks with each character, like Christie’s Jakeiho which effectively replaced my sidestep with a speedier version with more options, or ways to lead into backward facing combos with Ayane, but after those 12 hours and hundreds of tutorials, I hardly felt more skillful than I did when I was playing the game using my Virtua Fighter muscle memory. Dead or Alive 5’s specific mechanics had managed to not only consistently elude me, but just frustrated me.


The Critical Burst system felt limiting. Holds added a degree of randomness to play that I found frustrating. Yes, it was fun to read an incoming high kick and respond with a hold, but the visual distinction between a high and a mid punch typically seemed so minuscule to me, that proper holds seemed to be just as much luck as skill. The fact that certain characters also had special holds and the aforementioned “Hi-Counter” throws that could go through attacks further complicated things. I know complexity is inherent to most 3D fighters, but compared to Virtua Fighter, I felt that there was a huge barrier to surmount before I was even marginally competent. Honestly, I still don’t think I’m there yet.


Food For Thought:


1. If you’re worried about the game’s performance after Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2+, don’t be. Dead or Alive 5+ typically runs at 60FPS, with only a bit of choppiness at the very beginning of a round. I’m impressed that it looks as good as it does, the screenshots don’t do it justice.


2. DOA5+’s Vita-specific “touch fight mode” is kind of creepy. There’s something surreal about beating people up in first person, especially when a trigger is assigned to taking photos in that mode. Fighting opponents in skirts is particularly disquieting.


Read more stories about & & on Siliconera.

  • Hey, Kris. Evangelion movies called; they want their title gimmick back for the upcoming OVA, “You Will (Not) Be Refunded”.

    • Nameless App 1989


    • Juan Andrés Valencia

      That should have been the subtitle to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 +

    • NIce one

  • Yeah, it seems this is kinda where fighters are going – either you memorize each and every single move, so the minuscule difference in each character’s low and high fist are apparent to you, or you just learn 3-4 combos/tricks and keep executing them.

    That’s also why so many people end up with just 1-2 characters, because then they over time get to ~8 tricks per character, and hope they don’t face someone who did memorize every single move in the game >.>

    • I used to be that person 11 years ago, my brothers and friends did not like playing against me.

  • Callonia

    Pshwat just have fun lol. I don’t memorize moves nothing i fight on gut.

    • True, that’s one way to play, but if the developers put in advanced mechanics and such, wouldn’t it be more convenient if the game teaches the player thoroughly how to make use of them? Players would get more out of the game too.

      Granted, the game apparently does do that about halfway with the tutorial mode. It probably just wasn’t organized enough.

      • It’s worth acknowledging that, like genre, when you’re moving into an established franchise with established mechanics, things aren’t going to be so intuitive. Many of these advanced techniques are, sometimes, things that weren’t even intended by developers in the first place, they’re just tropes or remnants of ideas birthed from competitive play/manipulation of the system. I can’t speak too specifically of DOA, since it admits simplifying certain aspects of Virtua Fighter, but there is a sense of moving backward when trying to create tutorials for fighting games. Fighting games are esoteric, they used to hinge on becoming comfortable with an initial investment of money in the arcade, and then as you became comfortable, you’d refine yourself via practice or system specifics. Many characters exist because they speak to the variety of ways you can approach the game, offense, defense, balanced, technical, simple…

        In the case of fighting games, a tutorial in and of itself is a consideration that, usually, new to the genre. If you weren’t drawn to the idea of fighting games in the first place, it’s probably safe to say that a handheld version of a game that admits knocking off one of the most robust fighting games in existence (Virtua Fighter, in this case), is going to be quite a handful to teach to new players. Tutorials in general are a messy issue, because even experts of the game admit that a lot of what they provide is direction to those who wish to self-teach.

        The truth is that, really, learning most fighting games isn’t some textbook task, nor is it just running through drills. Ideally, you can learn as you go, and refine your technique through frame data and other specifics after you’ve decided you’re comfortable. Given the nature of most fighting games and the community around them, some players want to be experts first and beginners second. I think the very idea of “tutorial” admits that there’s just some outside learning involved if you don’t want to go through some of the pains of trial and error on your own.

        There are certainly better ways to do it, but I wouldn’t slam Dead or Alive 5+’s tutorial mode for attempting something most fighting games don’t even bother addressing. Not every game is going to be pick up and play if your goal is mastery, which is ultimately what these tutorials are trying to offer.

        Many players want to experience the game in many equally valid ways, in this case I can’t fault the reviewer for their standards here, just note that the expectations just aren’t realistic.

        • Well, I can’t disagree there that long-running fighting game series are way too rooted for change. I still don’t think it’s impossible to make a “fighter” that is easy to pick up, but it may very well have to involve going its own way from the dominant traditional fighting game approach of self-teaching and trial-and-error.

          • Undoubtedly, but even Skullgirls is rooted in esoteric inspirations like Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. I think Smash Bros. is the closest I’ve seen to making people question what a fighting game is, which is quite an accomplishment. The truth of things is that, sans Smash, these fighters are ALL generally rooted in arcade design tropes, but outside of select areas, players aren’t playing them in arcades.

            This is an entirely different topic, but I do find arcades to be more feasible in terms of what people ask for, it’s just that the business approach seems entirely dependent on culture. That being the case, sometimes what players want is different from the facsimile they become content with.

            At the very least, I’ll say that that fighting game you speak of definitely isn’t gonna be part 5 of a series about arcade derivatives and boobs lol. It’s not an unfair or unreasonable request, but gonna require more heroic steps in different directions.

          • I agree completely.

        • Exkaiser

          One of the best fighting game tutorials I’ve seen was Soul Calibur 3’s. It takes you through all the basics and the advanced mechanics and lets you choose any character- giving them each specific advice on basic launchers and launcher follow-ups, that sort of thing. Very helpful.

          • I have a friend who is rather good at that game, it looked pretty fun. I’m not one for 3D fighting games, but it helps to… well, not be all over the place about your tutorial, clearly. Though I’m not sure if it’s better to err in favor of having one or just not even bothering.

          • Killer Instinct Gold’s Combo Tutorials were really good as well ^ ^

            Now memorizing every combo after exiting training mode… was another thing @[email protected]

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    btw to move the breasts in touch fight mode you need to land 5000 touch strikes :D
    No I don’t have the game, but it’s good to know.

    • Vesperion

      Man those things are like water ballons

      • Visa Vang

        God doesn’t own that domain.

  • leodamine

    This game is a competitive fighter after all. A lot of learning comes from grinding out tech in training mode (you can invent this tech or just look online), match up experience, and reads from within a match. The thing is, no tutorial can teach you all of that, so I dunno what you were expecting. This can be a bit jarring for people who were expecting a casual game, because it requires a boatload more commitment from the player, even if they aren’t planning on going to tournaments. But you know what they say, if you can’t play in the heat, get out of the street.

    • Josué B. Hernández

      True story bro.. if with 12hrs we could improve easily in any fighting game then I could be a god on tekken, Blazblue or Soul Calibur.. in each one I have at least 200hrs or more (pro players spent 10 times as I do)..

      DOA is quite enjoyable and not as easy to grasp all the deepnest of the mechanics as others 3D fighters like tekken, when You care mostly is to juggle up the oponnet.. That’s Why I think the most complete Fighting games are Soul Calibur V and Virtua Fighter… with the later being really hard without a Arcade stick…

  • Ni

    I’m (not) a Evangelion reference

  • Dansolo

    DoA has always had super clumsy controls compared to every other similar game if you ask me. And by a significant amount.

  • DOA5 could’ve been a much better game (too much guessing and luck) but as it stands it’s still fun to play. And I don’t think there’s anything creepy about touch battle, at least nothing creepier than watching porn at night and 99% of guys do that.

    Also totally off topic but I’ve been getting errors on Siliconera for the past couple of days, such as: “TWTR is not defined;; 486″

    Using Firefox 12

  • cloudcaelum

    Thanks for this.

    Poor EU users (with me) still waiting for the demo…

    • ShadowDivz

      The demo is 2.5g just a quick heads up.

      • The demo is the full game with “lite” features. What you’re paying for is the unlock key.

        • ShadowDivz

          Makes sense. I thought it was weird. Plus(no pun intended) only a few options are locked.

    • And it’s not even a Demo. It is more like a Lite version of the full game. You can save your progress, you can play online with people who have the full game, and you can even unlock a whole closet of costumes for the available characters!

      The only limitations are:

      – Only four playable characters: Kasumi, Tina, Ryu Hayabusa, Elliot.
      – Only 8 Stages.
      – Can’t play Story Mode.
      – No DLC Access.
      – No Trophies.

      • cloudcaelum

        I have already DOA5 on PS3 (thanks PS+) but i really wonder how good on Vita. I want to play in my bed. :P

        So this mean i can play againts PS3 users, awesome.

  • Göran Isacson

    Ha ha oh my god, DOA 5’s story mode. Like… it’s SOMEWHAT more comprehensible then DOA2’s story mode, but NOT BY MUCH man. I will forgive it for it gave me that awesome sequence of Elliot and Brad Wong kung-fu fighting over food which came straight out of nowhere and was hilariously awesome, but so much of that story mode just had me facepalm and laugh, and it was not always a fond laugh.

    That being said, I will admit that I have problems with the holds sometimes, particularly distinguishing between high and medium and why I for some reason have to push back to hold some attacks and forwards to hold others, but I dunno… to me, they just jam. I guess it’s a question of reflexes some times- some times, you’re just naturally inclined to “get” mechanics than other times. I myself am no star at Virtua Fighter, but I felt like i got DOA much quicker. Might be inherent natural differences, might be something in the actual mechanics… don’t really know.

    • psycho_bandaid

      team ninja has always been horrible at stories. Sorta why everyone knew NG3 was going to be a disaster when they said they were going to focus on the plot.

      • Should I dare mention… Other M?

        • MrSirFeatherFang


          Sorry to say, they didn’t write the story to that game :D

          • Göran Isacson

            Quite correct- that bore-chore was, sadly, the fault of the original designer behind Samus Aran, I believe… yeah.

          • I would like to think of it as letting himself being influenced by his partners at that time. Because I don’t fully hate Other M, but the game does taste like a Team Ninja game, both in story and in part of the gameplay.

      • Леонид Родин

        It wasn’t THAT bad. I managed to enjoy it. Especially the moment when Genshin gives Ryu the Dragon Sword in the end. OMG it was so epic!

  • OverlordZettaMK2

    Man, I know what you mean. I spent a few days on the game, and as much as I wanted to really enjoy it, I just felt… stuck. I dunno what to do with it now, because I don’t want to not play it anymore and feel like I wasted the release-price purchase, but man, at the same time? Yeah.

    … And is it me, or does anyone else always feel like they’re fighting an old woman when they come up against Christie? No matter how attractive they try to make her, I just can’t get past that combination of hair color and hairdo.

  • DOA is honestly one of the easier fighters to just pick up, play, and have fun with. I’ve been playing DOA for a couple of years now and I can say that I hold my own against most battles I have online, but I still also play some matches with my pretty much fighting game inexperienced cousins who still manage to have fun and even get some rounds on me. Their tutorial amounted to “this is what each button does”.

    Tutorials have always existed, but they’ve always just been outside of the game until recently. They’re there for people who are willing to take the step from just playing the game for the experience and fun of it, to playing it more competitively and at the level of pros. It’s completely unnecesary to just experience and have fun with the game. It’s the same case with the SSB games, which is the only other fighting game besides DOA that my cousins can play and have fun with after only learning what the buttons do, unlike for example with street fighter where you’re at a loss until you’ve gotten the hadoken motion down. That to me is the definition of an “easy to learn hard to master” fighting game.

    The tutorial may be daunting for some people after a point, but I’m glad it’s there for any players who just play the game “casually” to dip their fingers into the deeper end if they’re curious or considering it. I’m sure it can benefit anyone in the long run, it’s not like it’s a “12 hour instant pro-making course” or something, lol. Whenever I learned something new I had to let it sink in. Maybe the tutorials can also encourage people to find other ones online too. I think having any kind of tutorial there is better than no tutorial, but hopefully TN will improve on it even more when they implement one the next time.

    • Ni

      I don’t know…DOA was the most frustating fighter to learn for me because of the hold system like Kris said. I always wanted to get in to the franchise but just went back to VF and Tekken because the hold system seemed random as f and that I couldn’t notice the diference of the atacks like I can do on others fighters.

      • MrSirFeatherFang

        From what I’ve played, holds are super risky. Around from launch to like 3 months of play (not sure if the laggyness is still there) people online (at least the good people) did not hold/counter much.
        I believe the older games were more on reaction time to someone’s attack, but when I was playing it was more of a guessing game. Did this person use so-and-so move a lot? Counter them quickly! Most people (even on videos I watch online) block more so than they hold.
        I guess like any other fighter, it takes time to get used to. I used ot not be able to tell the difference between if some attacks were mids or highs.

  • ShadowDivz

    Dont feel bad dude. I personally suck at fighting games and just play them cuz they are fun. This is the case of Dead or alive.
    I cannot play tekken. I played at my friend’s house and it seemed really “memorize” type of fighting contrary to DOA where i can survive on instinct.

  • S- Class Wizard KaRamo

    This game frustrated me also i’m not good at this game give me Naruto any day

    • MrSirFeatherFang

      haha, the new Team Ninja games are all like that! Though you have to remember that this is a fighting game. These kinds of games require a lot of effort and time from the player themselves.

  • Elvick

    Game is super fun, but I am terrible at it. Even on the easiest settings I had so many problems during the story mode. The slow characters you play as would be the biggest issue. Usually up against some crazy fast character and you’d get combo’d like crazy. D:

    I wanted to throw my Vita across the room. D:<

    The tutorials give me problems when they get to the ones where you can actually lose health. ): The counter system is too much for me.

  • Cometsu

    Played this going in blind as my first DOA. I find it odd how we’ve gotten to the point where tutorials are overwhelming as its been shown that game manuals are becoming less relevant. The missions told you how to deal with EVERYTHING and what all the buttons did while giving you chances to keep at it until you got it right. I admit it took me a while to finish all of them simply because there were so many but 3d fighters have a few extra things going than 2D.

    I played this from the demo and went online right after I finished the missions with Tina and won 5 games straight against C+ players. More fighters should teach you how to actually play the game because I can assure you there are a hell of a lot of angry players online who rushed in and complains about how nothing goes their way and 9/10 its usually out of being uninformed.

  • Леонид Родин

    But what about a patch for NGS2+? Seriously, Platinum is impossible at the moment because of Ultimate Ninja missions.

  • DenjinJ

    It seems there are no accessible fighters anymore. I used to be a guy who would learn every move for every character in any fighter I played, but now that’s not even enough to cope – if you don’t know every hitbox, every frame, every combo-link, you’re a scrub. Too bad that’s not fun at all. Now in a lot of fighters, the tutorial is way harder than beating the game itself – how stupid is that? Sounds like DoA has the cancer too now – but without Itagaki, DoA is not DoA. If you want something easier, DoA Dimensions for 3DS plays like DoA2, but if you’re good at DoA2, there’s no way to make Dimensions challenging without fighting 100 opponents in one survival match – then it’s less about hard opponents and more about never making any mistakes, ever.

    Best just to stick with older fighters now, unless you’re training to be in the Evo tournament.

  • DoctorButler

    Don’t blame yourself; DoA is terrible.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos