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Dead or Alive (video game)

Dead or Alive

European arcade flyer

Developer(s) Team Ninja
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Director(s) Tomonobu Itagaki
Katsunori Ehara
Takeshi Kawaguchi
Producer(s) Tomonobu Itagaki
Yujin Rikimaru
Yutaka Koga
Designer(s) Motohiro Shiga
Artist(s) Hideyuki Kato
Shinichiro Komori
Yasushi Nakakura
Writer(s) "ASAMIN"
Composer(s) Makoto Hosoi
Series Dead or Alive
Platform(s) Arcade, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
Release date(s) Arcade
November 26, 1996[1]
October 16, 1998 (++)[2]
Sega Saturn
  • JP October 9, 1997
  • JP March 12, 1998
  • NA March 31, 1998
  • EU July 1, 1998
PlayStation Network
  • JP December 10, 2008
Genre(s) Fighting game
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Sega Model 2
Display Raster, 496 x 384 pixels (Horizontal), 8192 colors

Dead or Alive (Japanese: デッドオアアライブ Hepburn: Deddo Oa Araibu) is a 1996 fighting game by Tecmo and the first entry in Team Ninja's long-running Dead or Alive series. It was released first in arcades, followed by home ports for the Sega Saturn in Japan, and later for the Sony PlayStation in all regions.


  • Gameplay 1
  • Plot 2
  • Characters 3
  • Development 4
  • Release 5
  • Reception 6
  • Remake 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The gameplay of Dead or Alive was unique at the time of its debut because it featured different choices in gameplay than other 3D fighting games.

Its most defining features were its speed and countering system. Dead or Alive put an emphasis on speed, and relied more on simplistic commands and reaction time. Furthermore, its countering system was the first in the fighting genre to utilize different commands that corresponded to each type of attack. There are two kinds of holds, an Offensive Hold (OH) and a Defensive Hold (DH). The latter are executed by holding back or forward on the directional pad along with the guard input to either force away or counter-damage an opponent.

The game also introduced an environmental system of the "Danger Zones" that surround the outer edges of the fighting arena (depending on the options, it can also completely consume it) and can send a character in the air so the opposing player can execute a juggling air combo. However, this can be avoided with a Ukemi (defensive roll).



The game's playable characters are Ayane (PlayStation version only, Kasumi's half-sister), Bass Armstrong (PlayStation version only, Tina's father), Bayman, Gen Fu, Jann Lee, Kasumi, Leifang, Raidou (boss character, unlockable, Ayane's father), Ryu Hayabusa, Tina Armstrong, and Zack.


According to Tomonobu Itagaki, he was dissatisfied with the way modern fighting games were presented at the time, he missed the old arcade style of play and had another vision for the fighting game genre. Having worked for Tecmo for a long time, Itagaki was eventually given the opportunity to develop a fighting game. The game, the first Dead or Alive, was released in 1996 as an arcade game for the Japanese market. It had been a success in Japan, but not in the West.

The original game, which ran on the Sega Model 2 arcade board, had polygonal modeled backgrounds. The Sega Saturn conversion uses bitmaps and parallax scrolling in the same fashion as the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2.


The original version of Dead or Alive was released in arcades in 1996. The game utilized Sega's Model 2 arcade board,[3] and was also the first time Sega licensed their hardware to a third-party company; in this case, Tecmo. A Nintendo 64 port was rumored, but did not come to fruition.[4] It was later ported to the Sega Saturn in 1997, but only for Japan. The Saturn version would eventually be released in the United States and Europe for the Xbox as part of Dead or Alive Ultimate.

In 1998, Tecmo released Dead or Alive for the Sony PlayStation in all regions. This version included two new characters (Ayane and Bass), a different graphics engine, and a slightly revamped fighting engine and new background music (BGM). Series Director Tomonobu Itagaki was not too keen on the PlayStation version, and believed the quality of the Saturn version to be superior.[5]

Tecmo also released Dead or Alive++ for the arcades in Japan. This version was based on the PlayStation version with an even slight updated gameplay that later expanded for the sequel, Dead or Alive 2.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 83.92% (Saturn)[6]
84% (PS1)[7]
Metacritic 84/100 (PS1)[8]
MobyRank 88% (Saturn)[9]
81% (PS1)[10]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame (Arcade)[11]
CVG (Saturn)[14]
EGM 30.5/40 (PS1)[16]
Famitsu 31/40 (PS1)[17]
GameFan 280/300 (Saturn)[18]
Game Informer 7.75/10 (PS1)[19]
GamePro 19/20 (Saturn)[20]
17/20 (PS1)[21]
GameSpot 6.8/10 (Saturn)[22]
7.3/10 (PS1)[23]
IGN 8.5/10 (PS1)[24]
Consoles + 95% (Saturn)[25]
Sega Saturn Magazine 92% (Saturn)[26]

Dead or Alive was met with a positive critical reception.

In 2011, Complex ranked it as the seventh best fighting game of all time.[27]


In 2004, Tecmo released Dead or Alive Ultimate, a revamped version of the Sega Saturn version on the Xbox along with an updated version of Dead or Alive 2 in the same package. It was basically the original game ported to the Xbox, making graphics smoother, sound from stereo to surround, and adding Xbox Live online gaming. This game along with Dead or Alive 2, Ultimate became the second fighting game with online play.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The History of Dead or Alive". IGN. 2004-08-02. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Dead or Alive for Saturn". GameRankings. 1997-09-10. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  7. ^ "Dead or Alive for PlayStation". GameRankings. 1998-03-31. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  8. ^ "Dead or Alive for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. 1998-03-31. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ House, Michael L. "Dead or Alive - Review".  
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Electronic Gaming Monthly, 1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide, page 122
  17. ^
  18. ^ GameFan, volume 5, issue 12 (December 1997), pages 24 & 112-113
  19. ^
  20. ^ GamePro, issue 114 (March 1998), page 100
  21. ^ GamePro, issue 116 (May 1998), page 82
  22. ^ Jeff Gerstmann (2013-10-10). "Dead or Alive (1997) Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  23. ^ MacDonald, Ryan. "Dead or Alive Review". GameSpot. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Dead or Alive - IGN". 1998-03-27. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  25. ^ Consoles +, issue 71, pages 180-181
  26. ^ Sega Saturn Magazine, issue 30, page 67
  27. ^ Peter Rubin, The 50 Best Fighting Games of All Time,, March 15, 2011

External links

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