I think it’s time we got a serious Dead or Alive thread going here on SRK. Without all the bitching or complaints. Just straightforward conversations about the game, its system, and etc… I believe that the Dead or Alive series is quite solid and consistant, and worthy of competitive play. I have no trouble at all with proving it as I have several times. I’m personally tired of DOA being the odd man out all the time, just because of a stupid mass opinion of it from people that have never even played the game on a competitive level.
The base of DOA’s system starts with a nice friendly rock paper scissors system. A throw will beat a hold. An attack will beat a throw. A hold will beat an attack. But then it gets more interesting. Defensive Holds require correct timing to receive full damage. Poor timing will result in much lower damage. While this is true to defensive holds, it is not true to attacks or throws in the RPS system. If you throw a hold, it is 150% guaranteed. If you attack a throw, it is 150% revision guaranteed. Therefore, while Defensive Holds can conquer predictable strings, and easily predicted moves, they get punished badly on Hi Counter Throw, sometimes up to half a bar of health. This puts the scare into using Defensive Holds correctly, while Defensive Holds put the scare into poking correctly.
Another unique property of the Dead or Alive system is its free step system is not used for evasion, but environmental placement. Why is this? Because the environment in DOA is expansive, more than any other fighter. Just because you sidestepped correctly, the opponent may be going down a flight of stairs, or hit into a wall. There are several other environmental factors. Water. Partitions. Hops. Cliffs. Moving Dangerzones. Electric Walls. Electric Floors. Ceilings. If you want to get in or out of these environmental factors is a big thing in DOA. That’s why sidestepping is HUGE for this simple fact. Sidestep also has a secondary function that instun with crumples or deep stuns, you can sidestep to the opponent’s back. Mostly though, sidestepping a single inch away from those stairs so you don’t fall down can literally save you the match. This unique way of handling stepping meant there needed to be a different universal secondary defense against attacks. This is where the defensive hold came in.
Another thing DOA does differently is its stun system. On stun it’s pretty much DOA’s frame advantage with quite a few unique properties. Pretty much, when stunned the opponent still has their defensive holds and slow escape available, as well as all parts of the triangle system. But then it gets more interesting. On certain stuns you can get throws that are safe from the hi counter blow effect completely. Opponents can play with the recoverys of certain stuns and just defensive hold out of them. Low defensive holds duck, and therefore evade highs and standing throws. Fast Crumples allow for free ground game. Slow Crumples allow you to sidestep to the opponents back. Stun Resets allow you to force 50/50s onto the opponent in general, while full stuns give you both several more options to manipulate. Knowing your opponents and the best and most efficient ones to use becomes crucial. DOA4 also has a threshold of quarter stun, half stun, and full stun. The higher the threshold, the more damage and launch height, but the less efficient and more chances to get held. Efficiency vs. Risk becomes a huge factor here. But this also gives you more setups for different kinds of stuns, throw setups, and etc… Then of course there’s slow escape. You put in as many inputs as possible to get out of a stun without guessing. The deeper the stun, the more difficult it is to struggle out of.
On block, it’s pretty different. There’s no frame advantage on block. At all. There’s really safe, safe, semi safe, punishable, and really punishable. In DOA, strings are quite delayable, and everything can be free cancelled into something else. As such, everything leaves you at a disadvantage on block. Why is this? Because of the ability of Mid/Low/Throw from the opponent. Just because of PP mid, PP throw, PP low, or variants of such, people on the defense need to worry a lot more. If they’re sitting there blocking or trying to hold, they get Punch Grabbed all day long. Pressure in general comes from manipulating the opponent into defending incorrectly, instead of forcing them with frame advantage on block. This brings reactions and reading the opponent into play quite a bit. BUT - The result is that the defending player will still always have the advantage. It all results in the pace of the game being as fast as the most defensive player there. So, up close you’ve got some good poking, some good defending, and etc… since strings will be held and people waiting will get grabbed. Both players up close will be hunting for the counter blow through manipulation and guarding. Once they have that, they have got their stun, and can launch, setup, do different stun types, offensive hold, throw, etc… or if a counter blow launch, free damage. Unsafe moves get punished on normal hit with a knockdown and a small amount of damage. Obviously it was never meant to be a large amount of punishment, as the triangle system and environmental system are. It does in fact get its job done. The opponent techs and you’re at advantage, plus the small bit of guaranteed damage you got with the throw itself. The opponent wakeup kicks and it can be whiff punished easily because of the amount of space the throw left you from the opponent. This forces people to use the correct moves on block and play it safe. There are also other options on block after a safe move like crushes and evasions (especially with things like charge attacks).
At a range, you have all the usual shit. Backstepping with block. Dashing. Crouch Dashing. “Korean” Back Dash. Free Step Backdash. And other variants on the matter. There’s obviously different styles controlling the field. You’ve got people that always want to back up and wait for you to make a mistake and intercept. You’ve got people that rush you down correctly, especially on disadvantage. You’ve got going back and forth to get a good whiff punish. Etc etc… Of course, when you’re out of range you’re immune to some of the more stupid mixup up close like the mid/low/throws mixups like the punch grabs. Quite the benefit. Some characters can obviously do this better then others, while other characters are great for up close pressure and manipulation.
The ground game in DOA4 is simple. You tech and you’re at a disadvantage. You don’t tech, you’re in ground stun, and the opponent can get free moves to force you up. What’s different and key is that when you’re forced up, the opponent can do an uncounterable move on you if they know the correct way. Also, when forced up, several unsafe moves can become safe because of the circumstances. Whether to tech or not depends on the opponent’s character ability, and what they’re going to do in either situation. I mean, you could keep teching and attacking, and getting running punched by Ein, but I really wouldn’t suggest it.
Crushes are also quite interesting in DOA4. You have stance specific, frame specific, and full crushes. Then you have mids that also have 3 levels. Some high crushes can also crush high-mids on the correct frames. Some just crush high. There are sweeps crushes, stuns, launches, knockdowns and etc…
Characters in DOA are quite unique dispite having universal features like the offensive/defensive hold. For example: Ayane has all her evasion techniques (11, 7P, (BT) 8P, and some great crushes). Hayabusa has his Izunas (and punch hold izunas for that matter.) and teleports. Hayate has the wind dash mixups+teleport, Kasumi has pure speed. Helena has Bokuho and the ability to duck all mids with timing and crushes. Zack has pressure with his throws that keep you upwards, speed, and untechable loops. Tengu has his free stomps, Jann Lee has increased stepping ability, a dragon kick, and several knockback moves. Kokoro has several strings and safety at her disposal. Spartan has great punishment and insane throw damage. Bayman is the master of all holds. Lei Fang has all rounded defensive ability. Gen Fu has his powerful mids, coupled with a powerful launch throw, but without a lot of range. Eliot has range and string sets but lacks Gen Fu’s speed and safety. I could probably go on with examples like this, but it is quite fair to say that when you’re learning a character in DOA, you’re going in a specific and unique style with them.
And that’s pretty much how DOA4’s basic system is. Pretty nice and different, but quite solid in its own way.
I personally think it’s time for DOA players to unite in a hardcore manner. Actually talk about the game without shunning it like the mass public seems to do. It’s quite a great system.