Whenever a cutting-edge piece of gaming technology shows up on the scene, you can be sure that the Dead Or Alive series will be first in line to pick a fight.
Although their resolve has weakened slightly since the departure of franchise creator Tomonobu Itagaki, Team Ninja have always been graphical power-mongers, interested only in developing for the most powerful hardware available. With a track record like theirs, it's only natural that the studio would see the world's first spec-less 3D console as an ideal sparring partner.
True to form, Dead Or Alive: Dimensions doesn't disappoint on a technological level. This is a game hell-bent on pushing and stretching the 3DS to its limit, both technically (the graphics are crisp and bold and run at a smooth 60 frames per second with the 3D turned off) and structurally (the potential of both SpotPass and StreetPass is explored in full).
There's just one thing that stops Dead Or Alive: Dimensions from dropping jaws unconditionally, though - and that's that Street Fighter IV 3D has beaten it to the punch...
FLESHING IT OUT
But before we begin the world's most inevitable comparison, let's briefly recap what the Dead Or Alive series is all about, because although it's been around since 1996, this is Kasumi and co's debut on a Nintendo console.
Now, DOA's appearance is deceiving. To an outsider, it might seem like a load of Japanese fluff because its reputation, like its heroines' ample bosoms, precedes it by miles. The series is notorious for its, ahem, 'optimistic' depictions of the female form, with laughably inauthentic 'breast physics' and skimpy costumes that appear to be custom-made to expose as much undercracker as is physically possible.
But when the action begins, Dead Or Alive is serious business. Of all the major fighting game series, it's probably the one most grounded in reality, with fantastical fireballs and screen-spanning Blanka rolls spurned in favour of an emphasis on close-quarters combat. At its most competitive, Dead Or Alive is about faking your opponent out and going in for the kill when their guard is down.
Matches can pass in the blink of an eye - recovery times are quick, so the key to success is to chain together combos at the right time to keep your opponent on the back foot - but clumsy positioning or predictable attacks can leave you wide open for a reversal at any given moment.
The inner intricacies of the fighting system are explained at length in the Chronicles Story mode (which takes a 'no person left behind' approach to teaching - it begins by telling you the difference between punches and kicks), and since the controls are more concerned with precision of timing than precision of input, it all works perfectly with the 3DS's ultra-comfy circle pad.
A CLOSE SECOND
Whether or not it's a better game than Street Fighter IV, however, is a matter of personal preference. The earthy movesets mean that the fights feel more like you're in an actual scrap than Street Fighter's OTT theatrics manage to convey, but it also has a bit of flair about it, too - watching your opponent bounce down a flight of stairs is unutterably satisfying (and we have to give a special shout-out to the Metroid themed stage - the punishment for getting kicked off the edge here is having your head scraped against a craggy rock wall by special guest star Ridley).
On the downside though, matches are lightning-quick and don't leave much room to tell a story, which is probably why Dead Or Alive doesn't share Street Fighter's mainstream appeal.