The DOA series is designed by programmer Tomonobu Itagaki. Itagaki had recently become a programmer for Tecmo, which was in need of a hit to boost sagging game sales. In this vein, Itagaki made a wager with the head of the company, assuring the president he would create a video game that would garner a competent fan base.
Because of the wager, Itagaki named the series "Dead or Alive" to demonstrate the series' fail or succeed status and proceeded to form a division in the company named "Team Ninja". Itagaki's inspiration for the series derived from the Fatal Fury series in Japan and the Mortal Kombat series in America, with DOA's fast gameplay and sexual appeal drawn from the former series, and the its ability to knock opponents off landscapes from the latter.
Itagaki's reasoning was:
I wanted to do something that would attract people's attention as I worked on the DOA game. Of course, DOA is known for its bouncing breasts. Well, I didn't come up with that idea originally. I actually got the idea from one of SNK's 2D fighting games Garou Densetsu. Of course, when I applied it to a 3D game, it was almost too much for people. And of course, it hurts to fall off from high places in DOA,but the idea came from Mortal Kombat. In the case of Mortal Kombat, the 2D fighter, the character falls off and he simply dies. That ends the game. That's it. But we figured it would be more interesting to have the character continue to fight after the fall. And that's what we did.
On Itagaki's view on how he wished the series to contribute to the fighting
genre, he replied:
I want people to remember DOA as a game that was very aggressive and combative. As to ... how it contributed to the fighting genre I look at it as something similar to how sushi was released in this country and became mainstream. You know, like, some people like graphics, some people like animation, some like flashy character design and so forth. Through DOA, we want to reach out to those people and become somewhat of a mainstream game.
- The original version of Dead or Alive was released in arcades in 1996, utilizing Sega's Model 2 arcade board (it was also the first time Sega licensed their hardware to a third-party company; in this case, Tecmo). It was later ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan on October 9, 1997. The game was never released for the North American nor European Sega Saturn. It was released in the United States and Europe for the Xbox on October 26, 2004 and February 18, 2005, as part of Dead or Alive Ultimate.
- On March 12, 1998 in Japan, Tecmo released Dead or Alive for the PlayStation. This version included numerous differences compared to the arcade and Saturn versions, which included 2 new characters (Bass & Ayane), a different graphics engine, a slightly revamped fighting engine and new background music. The Play Station version was released in North America on March 31, 1998, and later in Europe on July 1998. An arcade version based on the Play Station revision was later released, titled Doa ++.
In 2004, Tecmo released a revamped version of the Sega Saturn version made to run on the Xbox along with an updated version of Dead or Alive 2. Named Dead or Alive Ultimate it was basically the original game ported to the Xbox, making graphics more colorful and smoother, sound from stereo to surround, and adding one key element boosting the replay value: Xbox Live Online Gaming. This game, along with Dead or Alive 2, became the second fighting game with online play.
It is important to note, that original game, which ran on the Model 2 arcade board, had fully 3D modeled backgrounds. The Sega Saturn conversion used bitmap tricks and overlapping layers in the same fashion as the Sega Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2 did. The original arcade used pure 3D on all the arenas. Much like in Virtua Fighter 2 case, it was impossible to achieve this kind of graphics on Sega Saturn hardware and both games were scaled down. The Xbox version was a ported version of what Sega Saturn owners experienced.
A girl catches her breath and stares down at the gathering of warrior gods below. What she feels is not light, but darkness. Her mind wanders with thought.
She's made it this far...
She's traveled this far...
On just a few clues...
To avenge her brother.
The chance for revenge is near.
The insatiable ambition of the human race has lead to the abuse of scientific knowledge. Foolishly setting up the stage for the extreme battle on the land. Now, a new Dead or Alive battle is about to begin.
A girl calmly closes her eyes.
She hears the vibration of the colliding power and the uncontrollable, violent melody.
She envisions numerous obstacles set ahead of her.
The shadow waves to the courageous men and the dignified women.
Kasumi, trusting herself...
Into the wind.
The only thing left,
the whistle noise of the wind.
Dead or Alive (DOA) is a 3D fighting game, designed by Tecmo. It is similar in many respects to Sega's Virtua Fighter 2. New features include:
- The hold button: In place of a block button, Dead or Alive has a hold button. This button is used to initiate grabs and holds, as well as to intercept incoming attacks and reverse them. To do this, the hold button must be tapped just before a blow lands. You cannot simply hold the button. To perform a more conventional block, tap back on the joystick. As before, merely holding this will not protect you for long.
- Attack types: There are three basic attack types in Dead or Alive, namely blows, throws and holds. Blows override throws, throws override holds, and holds override blows. Using the correct type of attack will allow you to bypass your opponent's attacks.
- The danger zone: Like Virtua Fighter, Dead or Alive has finite rings and ring-outs. Around the edges of each ring is an area called the danger zone. Characters can walk across the danger zone, but if they fall onto it, it explodes under them, causing a extra damage and blasting them into the air, where they can be floated by their opponent(this is the first time bounce and bounce combos was in a 3d fighter). You can avoid being blasted into the air by hitting just before you land on the danger zone(the first time techrolling was in a 3d fighter). However, in the newer releases of the game(doa-ps1 and Doa++), the square ring is now flat with no ring out, but once you move out of the square, you are now in an infinite danger zone
- defensive holding high/mid blows
- defensive holding low blows
- advanced holds
- a stronger punch
- a stronger kick
- *note a direction command with the above can perform various different blows
- Jump back
- move back
- backward crouch walk.
- back crouchdash
- forward crouch walk
- forward crouch dash
- move forward
- dash forward
- Run forward
- jump forward.
Some attacks, such as Bayman's
, launch on certain successful hit types (in this case, counter and hi-counter hits). Once the opponent is in the air, it is possible to juggle the opponent by continuing to hit them until they fall to the ground. In addition to the rules of juggling, each character also fits into a specific weight category, which affects how the character responds to being launched and being juggled. The heavier a character is, the lower the character is launched, the less the character bounces up when juggled, the faster the character falls.
- Light Weight Class: Ayane and Kasumi
- Medium Weight Class: Jann Lee, Lei Fang, Hayabusa, Tina , Zack
- Medium-Heavy Weight Class: Gen Fu, Raidu
- Heavy Weight Class: Bass , Bayman, Leon