Dead or Alive 2 Review

Dead or Alive 2 dreamcast box art

Arcade fighting game with ninjas, wrestlers, hot chicks and ultra-fast action.


Despite the death of the original sponsor of the legendary fighting tournament Dead or Alive World Combat Championship, a second tournament is starting up. Excited fighters from all over the world gather and engage in the fighting tournament, but it is soon reviled that the new sponsor is a corrupt one. For what reason has he gathered the greatest fighters from all around the world? Each participant must now face both their own dilemmas and the evil and corrupt promoter of the Dead or Alive tournament – it seems that only the strongest will make it alive.

The Game

Dead or Alive 2 is a 3D arcade fighting game. It has awesome visuals, fast paced button-mashing style fighting and a superior soundtrack to top it off.

The fights take place in varying locations, both indoors and outdoors. There are tons of attacks, grapples, throws and defensive moves you can do. In short; Dead or Alive 2 is filled with heavy kicks and intensive, hard hitting face bashing, and it does it good.


The controls are very friendly towards button-mashers. This basically means that you can win many battles by just randomly mashing away at the buttons. Of course, you can learn combos and special moves, but since most attacks are easy to counter, the game roughly assumes a type of “rock-paper-scissors” style approach. Punches and kicks can be countered by the counter move, throws can be countered with counter throws, or even better interrupt the opponent with a punch or kick, and blocking can be countered with throws. So to play tactically you need to be very calculating and keep an eye on your opponents moves at all times – and basically counter what ever she tries to do. In the long run, this means that the one player who reacts the fastest to what’s coming towards him will eventually walk off as the winner of the game.


There are twelve different fighters to choose from, each with their own fighting style, strengths and weaknesses. For example, there’s Jann Lee who uses Jeet Kune Do which is the martial art developed and used by the fighting legend Bruce Lee. The ninja Hayabusa from the Ninja Gaiden game series is also a recognized character here, as well as the female ninja Kasumi previously seen in the first iteration of Dead or Alive. The roster of playable characters is a very interesting one, as they all feel quite well-balanced gameplay wise and most of all they’re cool and empathic people.

deadoralive2-14The game is basically played like any other fighting game. The most outstanding features in Dead or Alive 2 involves fighting over extended arenas, tag team battles with up to four players and unlocking new costumes and outfits. On top of this you can side-step and utilize that to your advantage, you can counter your opponents attacks and there’s a bunch of unique special moves that can be executed with each character with various commands – that is to say the combinations of directional move-, kick-, punch- and throw-buttons.

There are nine (plus secrets) arenas to fight on, and these are more than mere backdrops for the battles – like mentioned above, there are breakable walls, windows, chasms and so on that can take the battle to new locations. This is a very cinematic event and undoubtedly creates that wow-effect that keeps the game fresh for a long time.

Dead or Alive 2 offers the following game modes;

  • Story Mode – Complete a series of battles and face the boss at the end. If you are victorious you’ll eventually unlock a new costume for the character you played as.

  • Versus Mode – Standard one vs. one fight.

  • Team Battle – Play an elimination battle with a set number of people on each team.

  • Tag Battle – Two vs. two battle – play either against a computer, other players or co-op with a friend.

  • Sparring – Practice moves.

  • Survival Mode – Fight against an endless stream of oncoming fighters and beat as many as possible.

  • Time Attack Mode – Beat the game in the best possible time.

The Tag Battles are awesome and fun to play with four people, as it requires tactics, skills, luck and reflexes. This is also the only part of the game where you’re able to do Tag Team moves, which are special moves that your team can perform as they switch in and out of combat with each other – and it’s very cool.

The game also lets you save statistics and records that can be viewed through the records mode that sits on the main menu. It’s pretty standard stuff, but nice to have nonetheless. There’s also a secret feature built into the game that lets you play in day or night conditions on some of the stages.

There is a very decent amount of replay value in this title much thanks to the unlockable costumes and the fact that every character has his or her unique fighting style. If you want to learn to use them all you’re in for the long haul. The Tag Battles also offer many hours of entertainment.

The game is an arcade conversion, but they’ve added lots of nice features in to keep the game lasting for quite some time. The CPU has an appropriate difficulty level that can be adjusted and with friends this game is a blast. The unlockable costumes are totally worth getting as they’re all more or less either cool or just plain awesome. If you’re out for a fun arcade fighter, it doesn’t really get any better than this on the Dreamcast.


The graphics in this game are incredible. It’s lightning fast, beautiful and runs flawlessly. The character models look great too – not to mention the hot chicks, which certainly is a selling point of this title. The design of the stages are solid, and there’s a lot to see in these stages – the level of detail in this game is simply impressing. The animations are close to perfect – you’ll have the pleasure to watch endless amounts of painful stuff, such as arms breaking, backs breaking, faces stomped to the ground, people falling from cliffs and so on. There simply aren’t many games on Dreamcast that reaches the visual standard of Dead or Alive 2.


The music in the intro is composed and performed by the Japanese punk rock band “Bomb Factory”, and it fits this game perfectly. But as awesome as that song is, let’s not forget about the other music in the game. There are some incredibly good songs here to ignite the fighting spirit in every each player – the genre of the music here typically has an Asian touch mixed up with a rock and/or techno style. The music will certainly be an instant appeal if you’re into this kind of “hardcore” attitude. The characters also have some voice acting and it’s all very well done. Needless to say the music and sound quickly becomes iconic to Dead or Alive and it very much adds to the overall impression of the game – it’s awesome!


Dead or Alive 2 really only has one flaw, and that is a rather serious one. The fighting can start to feel very shallow after a while, and the counter moves may just have too much focus in this game. Sure they look awesome but it causes much frustration as it’s a very cheap move to do, especially when the CPU does it with inhuman reflexes. But even so, this is a pretty much solid arcade fighting game. It basically covers what every fighting game should include – cool characters, fun gameplay, many special moves and ultra fast combat that hits you where it hurts!

Developed By: Team Ninja
Published By: Tecmo
Version Reviewed: Dreamcast
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-4
Also Available On: Arcade, Playstation 2
Released: 2000-07-14

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