It has been so long since I’ve talked about Dead or Alive on a blog, let alone the fact that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the franchise and I haven’t talked about it at all. I mean I did talk about the 20th Anniversary of DOA five years ago and it was on both here and another site, and the most recent time I’ve talked about DOA was speculation on DOA6. So now I get to talk about the franchise again, this time on Virtua Fighter Month.
Dead or Alive has had a lot of Virtua Fighter influence shown within the game since its debut back in 1996. In fact, it was the only third-party game released on the SEGA Model 2 hardware, taking some of its influence from VF2 with ring-outs while incorporating some of its own flair into their gameplay such as the likes of Danger Zones surrounding the fighting arena and a hold system that encouraged defensive gameplay. The first DOA game on Model 2 and Saturn versions had ring-outs, courtesy of the VF series.
When VF3 came out in 1996, it introduced undulation in their stages, such as stairs, slopes, walls, and uneven terrain. That game was considered the black sheep of the series, but we’ll get to that later. While the stages didn’t work well for VF3 due to how the stages were structured, Team NINJA took note of that and used it for DOA2, which worked well in their favor. DOA2 was the game that created its own identity while borrowing more of VF’s elements. The stages could be fought on water and ice, as well as multi-tiered stages that allows characters to continue the fight after being knocked off of a building or level.
DOA3 is a very interesting case to talk about because Virtua Fighter 4 played a very important part in the development process. Back in 2013, Yosuke Hayashi from Team NINJA was interviewed by Virtua Fighter 20th Anniversary about DOA’s influence with VF, as well as how some of their characters ended up in DOA5 (which we will get to in a moment). The one thing that stood out from the interview was how VF4 played a part in DOA3’s development.
When he joined Team NINJA back in 2001, they were currently developing DOA3 and around that time, VF4 was already out in arcades. Since there was no console version of that game yet, they had to go to an arcade to play VF4, and then report their findings back to the team. The reason for that is to create a new DOA game that will surpass VF while constantly referring back to said game. For every new version of VF, they analyzed the character’s movelist, stages, and gameplay so that they can update more of their research. The snow stage from DOA3 is also a homage to Aoi’s VF3 stage as well.
During the development process of DOA5, fans lost their collective minds when Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter appeared in the game as a guest character, opening up a collaboration that no one saw coming. Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant, and Pai Chan were the first three characters to join the roster for Dead or Alive 5, and then Jacky later joined the roster in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. All four characters transitioned well due to their VF gameplay and how it matched up with DOA’s gameplay. Team NINJA worked closely with SEGA AM2 on how the characters would be balanced. The biggest challenge was Jacky due to his neutral high punch parry, but it seemed the developers knew how to handle that situation.
I know people make comparisons with DOA and Tekken, but DOA and VF are closer compared to DOA and Tekken. Both DOA and VF share the same three-button controls and some of VF’s gameplay mechanics helped DOA such as sabakis for example.
Without Virtua Fighter, there would be no Dead or Alive. Happy 25th Anniversary, DOA!
Two down, three to go! Join us next time as we talk about the interesting case of Taka-Arashi and the explanation behind why he was left out from VF4-VF5 Vanilla.
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!