After a few years of not touching a Dead or Alive game since Dead or Alive 2, I found myself starting up Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate on my PS3. While I feel like my fighting game knowledge and experience is extensive, I haven’t been a big fan of the DoA games and I am generally terrible at 3D fighters that aren’t Tekken. I’d played a bit of the original Dead or Alive 5 before at a friend’s house, though, so I already had prior experience coming into DoA5U.
Of all the new characters, personally, I was most excited to try out Momiji, a character from the Ninja Gaiden games. Instead of going straight for her, though, I opted to work my way through Combo Challenges with the other newcomers first instead. There are a total of 5 new characters in the game—Leon, Rachel, Ein, Jacky Bryant, and Momiji.
First, I began with Leon, a character stemming from the previous Dead or Alive entries. I started my first Combo Challenge and moved him around the training field a bit. Clearly, he was one of the slower and bulkier characters (like Bayman). I powered through his Combo Challenges with no problems, other than a certain Challenge that I made overly complicated for myself (just crouch and while you stand up hit the Kick button, duh!). I noticed Leon doesn’t have very long combos, and he is more of a grappler. Most of the combos I went through made a lot of use of his grapples, and much to my surprise he has an aerial grapple but it isn’t very useful when his juggling capabilities are not that great.
I found Leon’s down + forward + T (the key notation for Throw) to be useful when he knocks down his opponents and depending how your execution is, you can even combo the grapple into more grapples for some serious damage. This is further exemplified in one of his Combo Challenges where you are required to execute a Critical Burst Combo and if you land it properly you can diminish 50% of the opponent’s Life Bar.
Leon didn’t leave a bad impression on me, due how powerful his grapples are, but ultimately, he wasn’t the character for me, so I moved on to Rachel. I’d never really completed any of the Ninja Gaiden games, but I had seen and heard of Rachel before and was curious how Team Ninja would transition her from action game character to fighting game character. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, once I started my set of Combo Challenges with her, I found that she moved very slowly and felt very heavy. Progressing through her Combo Challenges, I noticed she was a capable juggler, but grapples weren’t necessarily her strong point.
While Rachel’s down + forward P (Punch) into an aerial grapple is pretty cool, unfortunately, much like Leon, I realized that Rachel was not for me. Rarely do I ever favor heavy characters. She seemed interesting but it was too difficult for me to adjust to her weight restrictions.
Next, I moved onto Ein who looked eerily familiar. He is in fact, the same character as Dead or Alive’s Hayate, but he isn’t Hayate in terms of fighting style. Ein is a character returning from Dead or Alive 4 with a completely different moveset compared to his alter-ego; Ein’s combat is Karate-based, while Hayate’s is based on Ninjitsu. As with the previous two characters, I flew through Ein’s Combo Challenges quickly, but I ran into some very difficult Challenges towards the end, so I called it quits after spending a good half an hour on one single Challenge.
Ein felt powerful. His strikes were quick, and I loved his ability to be able to launch characters easily, following up with decent combos. He reminded me a little of Lee from Tekken, but instead of being proficient at kicks, Ein is proficient at both kicks and punches. He’s also an extremely agile character, and overall, I think he’s rather well-rounded with a lot of potential for all sorts of combo setups. The downside is that, in comparison to other characters, his available moveset isn’t very large. To some that may seem as a positive, to others a negative.
Next up was Jacky Bryant, a guest character from the Virtua Fighter games. I was worried that Jacky would prove a bit too complicated for me, as I was never good at Virtua Fighter. However, My fears were quickly dispelled as I went through his Combo Challenges—he feels and plays juts like a DoA character, rather than a Virtua Fighter one. Jacky in particular didn’t move too slow or too fast, but just right for me, and had one move in particular that I felt rather partial to. Going through his Combo Challenges, I stumbled on challenge that gave me a little trouble. The Challenge required me to use a unique move he has called the Slide Shuffle (back + back + P+K). While the challenge was tough, the move has all kinds of uses in combat. Jacky can combo Slide Shuffle into a High Counter Hold, or alternatively bait an attack from his opponent by feigning a High Counter Hold, where he’ will immediately step back and dodge.
Alternatively, activating Slide Shuffle and quickly inputting df (down + forward) twice + Kick will allow Jacky to kick his opponent, then combo that kick into a Combo Throw, allowing for a free grab. The window of timing on the Combo Throw is very small, so you must be quick and precise, but with a little practice the move has its uses.
Finally, Jacky’s Slide Shuffle has one more use to it, as far as I am aware. Start his Slide Shuffle, input P+K and then one more Punch. This will initiate a juggle, allowing Jack to quickly go on the offensive and start a small juggle combo. All of the above make the Slide Shuffle seem like a very viable and useful move. It’s probably one of the most useful moves in Jacky’s moveset, and I was very impressed by the variations on it.Overall, Jacky has some great tools at his disposal and is an interesting, technical character. I liked him, so I considered using him in future Tag Team fights.
Finally, I got to Momiji, a new character making her debut in Dead or Alive, from the Ninja Gaiden series. She’s got a hint of Kasumi in her, being able to “teleport” and such, but she feels and plays almost completely differently from Kasumi. Momiji isn’t overly difficult to use, but like Jacky, she can be a little technical. I put quite a bit of time into Training mode and her Combo Challenges to help me understand her character better, and ultimately, I learned that she’s more complex than she initially lets on.
In particular, almost all of Momiji’s inputs in any given combo contain a fair number of directional inputs, which can get rather overwhelming. Despite the learning curve Momiji has, though, I did think she was extremely fun to use. Teleports, flame kicks, and all sorts of other ridiculous ninja moves you should expect from Ryu Hayabusa’s apprentice are all present and accounted for. Overall, she’s a very flashy character and I like that. She’s also very agile, with the downside being that her attacks are a bit on the weak side. Like Jacky, by the time I was done with Momiji, I felt like I had found another character worth investing my time in.