Dead or Alive 5+ Demo Impressions + Team Ninja Can’t Have It Both Ways

So I downloaded the demo for Dead or Alive 5+, the upgraded Vita port for DOA5, a few days back. A few thoughts:

– This has the best combat in the series by a mile. The combat feels much more polished and fluid; the arbitrary and overpowered counter system from older games has been overhauled, making it more difficult to utilize and less broken. Team Ninja did bang up work here.

– They also did an amazing job with the conversion to the Vita. Character models look great, the game runs at a smooth 60FPS, and the controls are tight and responsive. The only real problem is the lowered detail on the backgrounds, but that’s not a huge deal–and the destructible environments are still as over-the-top as the PS3/360 versions.

– The amount of training options they give you is truly impressive, and puts most fighters to shame. Like Virtua Fighter, the game offers command tutorials for each character, and the basic tutorial mode goes through all of the system mechanics in detail. Capcom, take note; THIS is how you allow people to get into the gameplay, not by charging them for handholding pay-to-win mechanics or throwing some useless combo trials at them.

Hats off to Temco for stepping up to the plate and delivering a very satisfying experience. I’ll definitely be picking this up one of these days. There is one thing about the game that I found kind of irritating, though.

In most of the promotional material for the game, Temco Koei and Team Ninja has been working to dispel the series’ softcore porn reputation–one that the loudmouth previous head of the team, Tomonobu Itagaki, shamelessly played into. The main slogan, “I’m A Fighter”, has been plastered all over the games ads and trailers; they even showcased various athletes and martial artists in one promo.

Then, at the same time, they’ve been promoting any number of DLC costume packs with bikinis and the like with trailers like this. And the Vita version has a first person mode, which has you using the touch controls to tap all over your favorite DOA girl. None of which is surprising, considering that when the team said they’d shrink the series’ iconic titties the fans pushed back hard.

Temco clearly wants the game to be seen in the same light as the likes of Tekken and Street Fighter. Indeed, the game itself is crafted just as well as any other fighter that’s come out of the latest boom. But all the glossy promos in the world aren’t going to convince me  they’re willing to cast off the bouncy legacy left behind by Itagaki, lest they risk leaving money on the table and pissing off their core fans.

I’d say they either go all in on leaving the tits and fanservice behind, or just stop with the “I’m A Fighter” claptrap. They can’t have it both ways–and the schizophrenic promotion isn’t fooling anyone. Nor does it have to, seeing as the game is great regardless.

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