Japan: September 28, 2000
North America: Feburary 29, 2000
Europe: July 19, 2000
Standard Controller, Arcade Stick
VGA Box (480p)
Dead or Alive 2 is a flagship fighter from publisher Tecmo. The brainchild of Japanese game designer Tomonobu Itagaki and his former development studio, Team Ninja. As the games title suggests, it is the sequel to the original DOA which interestingly enough was also created using SEGA hardware (Sega Model 2 for the arcade and released on the Sega Saturn). DOA 2 is more or less a faster, more edgy alternative to SEGA’s rather traditionally tame Virtua Fighter Series. As a result of its Virtua Fighter(esque) roots, gameplay is heavily centered in the traditional paper/rock/scissor branch fighting system of Attacks/Throws/Holds. The game further carves an identity for itself in the gameplay dept by way of its staple Danger Zone mechanic (given the respective battlegrounds that call for it) its stagger system (also known as Critical Hit), and a varying array of multi level/confined (via by walls or obstacles) battlegrounds that can drastically affect the flow of a match. DOA 2 also trenches new waters by providing an alternative Tag battle format, providing combat that’s heavily reliant on team synergy, tag throws, tag combos, extended juggle combo possibilities and the aforementioned Danger Zone system playing a more pivotal role in this mode. Standard Arcade default controls are elegantly mapped as Guard, Punch and Kick (much like VF series). Moving your character in 3D space requires holding the Guard button and moving the Dpad/Arcade Stick in whatever direction you want your character to traverse. This may seem like a more tedious method than say, Soul Calibur’s innovative and seamless 8-way run system of free movement, but DOA 2’s hand to hand fighting engine and more frontally driven method of attacking doesn’t rely so much on sidestepping and 3D movement the way a weapon based fighter such as Soul Calibur does.
!!!Exciter!!! That’s all you need to know and perhaps all you’ll ever understand. Moving on…
Another masterpiece of state the art visuals thanks no less to SEGA’s wondrous NAOMI hardware and Team Ninja’s ability to put said hardware to good use. DOA 2 was one VERY beautiful game for its time and still holds decently well even today especially on the Dreamcast. Character models rival those (and even in some respects slightly surpass) of the sublime Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast. Where the game truly surpassed all competition during its time are the Battlegrounds which have been meticulously crafted with as much detail as the Fighters themselves. These Backgrounds sport heavy detail and actually play a role in the gameplay thanks to their ambitious scope in size and non linear architecture like sloping foundations and different forms of terrain (Water, Snow, Ice) which effects how characters stagger from Critical State leading to some unpredictable situations. For anyone looking to play this game on their trusty Dreamcast, I HIGHY recommend playing with a VGA accessory for some Hi-res goodness.
Audio is perhaps the only category where the game feels like a letdown. Character dialogue during battles is loud and sometimes even obnoxious. Some of the game’s tunes feel forgettable at best or maybe it’s just me. If only Team Ninja had provided the game with an option to play with the more pleasant arcade NAOMI soundtrack. YO! RDC, make it happen… please?
DOA 2 was a pretty important title for the Dreamcast, almost in the same sense that the Original DOA was for SEGA’s previous system, the Saturn. The original DOA was further solid proof that the Saturn was indeed capable of high quality 3D graphics as well as being able to handle another conversion of a more powerful Model 2 production under the right talent to make it happen. DOA 2 on the Dreamcast further solidified the little white box’s claim as a true powerhouse in respects to Arcade to Home conversions with a very pure translation of the game that not even PS2 was capable of replicating. It was also a pretty significant release within its own series. Many of the innovations introduced in this game continue to linger in just about every sequel in the series. It was the last game in the franchise to be produced for the arcade market which in turn was the last in the series to be built using arcade SEGA hardware. Although in an interesting turn of (current) events, the most current installment of the series (DOA 5 Ultimate) is once again stepping into Arcade scene after a long absence with help from SEGA, their Ring Edge 2 Hardware and ALL Net P-ras MULTI digital platform. Hmm… rather interesting wouldn’t you agree? In any event, DOA 2 has been released on multiple competitive systems of the time and on multiple occasions no less… And yet Dead or Alive 2 feels truly alive and perfect on the system it was originally intended for.
I would last like to take this opportunity to cast my vote for Ayane’s “Tig O Bitties” as the best rack out of the cast in Dead or Alive 2.