Dead or Alive 2

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Dead or Alive 2
North American Dreamcast cover art featuring Ein (center), Kasumi (left), and Tina (right)
Developer(s)Team Ninja
Director(s)Tomonobu Itagaki
Producer(s)Tomonobu Itagaki
Yasushi Maeda
Designer(s)Hiroaki Matsui
Katsunori Ehara
Programmer(s)Takeshi Kawaguchi
Hiroaki Ozawa
Composer(s)Makoto Hosoi
SeriesDead or Alive
Platform(s)Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2
  • JP: October 16, 1999
  • JP: January 18, 2000
  • NA: February 29, 2000[3]
  • EU: April 28, 2000
  • JP: September 28, 2000 (Limited Edition)[4]
PlayStation 2
  • JP: March 30, 2000
  • NA: October 25, 2000 (Hardcore)
  • JP: December 14, 2000 (Hard*Core)
  • EU: December 15, 2000 (Hardcore)
Mode(s)Up to 2 players simultaneously (Arcade)
Up to 4 players simultaneously (Dreamcast/PlayStation 2)
Arcade systemSega NAOMI

Dead or Alive 2 (Japanese: デッドオアアライブ2, Hepburn: Deddo Oa Araibu To~ū, abbreviated as DOA2) is a fighting game developed by Team Ninja and published by Tecmo. It debuted in Arcades in 1999 and was later ported for the Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 in 2000. It is the second main entry in the Dead or Alive fighting series. Several enhanced editions of the game were released, including the updates Dead or Alive 2 Millennium[1][5] and Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore.

The game's plot focuses on the evil tengu, Gohyakumine Bankotsubo, who escaped from the tengu world into the human world, and the Dead or Alive tournament's change in purpose and significance after the murder of DOATEC's founder and CEO, Fame Douglas.

Dead or Alive 2 improved upon the graphics engine of its predecessor by using the Sega NAOMI hardware and on the gameplay system by including many new features, leading to universal acclaim, strong sales, and considered as one of the greatest fighting games of all time. In 2004, DOA2 was remade for the Xbox as part of Dead or Alive Ultimate. On August 22, 2012, DOA2: Hard*Core was made available as a downloadable game on the Japanese PlayStation Network. The North American version was released on the US PlayStation Network on March 24, 2015. The game was followed by Dead or Alive 3 in 2001.


A fight between Kasumi and Leifang in DOA2 on the Dreamcast

In Dead or Alive 2, the basis of the entire fighting system is the circular relationship between three types of moves: blows, throws, and holds; blows beating throws, throws beating holds, and holds beating blows. The other defining feature of the game, aside from blows/throws/holds, is its stun system. Many attacks can inflict a stun on the opponent; those stunned cannot attack or guard, however they can hold. If the attacker lands a non-knockdown, non-launching attack while the opponent is stunned, the opponent will be re-stunned in a new way, depending on what attack was landed.

A major difference between DOA2 and other fighters was in the safety and non-punishability of attacks, both upon hitting and upon being blocked. Most blows in DOA2 can be punished on hit and block by each character's faster throws, making blow-based offense very risky. In addition to the normal rules of juggling, each character also fits into a specific weight category, which affects how the character responds to being launched and being juggled.

In DOA2, fights can occur on either water or ice; when a character is on such a surface, all non-knockdown, non-launching attacks will induce a stun on any successful hit. Walls and falls in the middle of stages are everywhere in the game. Many stages are also multi-tiered: to get to other areas of the stage, one character must be knocked off a ledge and fall into the next area. These falls deal usually fairly high damage, but cannot knock the opponent out.

DOA2 offers a new mode called Tag Battle Mode which implements a Tag team fighting system that allows players to choose two fighters to form a team, and fight against another team controlled by either the computer, or by other players. Tag Battle Mode allows characters to switch back and forth instantaneously for combo attacks and even attack simultaneously when timed correctly. Everyone can be partnered to anyone and the mode allows for the participation of four players, something not common in the fighting game genre. DOA2's Tag Battle Mode offers Tag Throws which are special throws unique to pairs of characters. Tag partners perform throws together on their opponent and these special throws do a great amount of damage to the opponent.

Other notable features included introducing CG cutscenes in line with the plot, replacing the original "Danger Zone" areas in stages with fully interactive ones, allowing players to juggle each other into walls, propelling characters from landmarks for more damage (the first game to implement this feature was SNK's Samurai Shodown 64), and upon completing the game, presenting the player with (sometimes ambiguous) endings for each character using the game's standard engine.


Dead or Alive 2 features a total of 15 fighters, 14 playable fighters and the unplayable Kasumi X. Two of them are unlockable and cannot be used in story mode or in the arcade version. The ten returning veterans from the first DOA game are Ayane, Bass Armstrong, Bayman (unlockable), Gen Fu, Jann Lee, Kasumi, Leifang, Ryu Hayabusa, Tina Armstrong, and Zack. The four newcomers are Ein, Helena Douglas, Leon, and Tengu (unlockable boss).


  • Ein, a merciless karateka who was left to die in the esoteric Black forest of Germany. Now with serious amnesia, he cannot remember his past life and aims to find answers to his self-discovery through participation in the second tournament.
  • Helena Douglas, a French opera singer, piguaquan practitioner, and the illegitimate daughter of the founder and former DOATEC leader, Fame Douglas, whose recent assassination has pulled Helena into despair. Her mother, while accompanying her daughter on stage at the Opera House, took a bullet meant for Helena. Helena vowed to seek revenge on the assassin. Discovering that the murder of both her parents is somehow related to DOATEC, she joins the second tournament, determined to find the assassin.
  • Kasumi X a, a clone of Kasumi created by the DOATEC Super-human Development Project.
  • Leon, an Italian mercenary soldier and Russian martial arts practitioner who wanders all over the world. His lover Rolande, a thief who worked the Silk Road, died in his arms murmuring that he, the man she loves is the strongest man in the world. In order to fulfill the last words of Rolande, Leon enters the tournament, aspired to be the strongest man on earth.
  • Tengu b c d, real name Gohyakumine Bankotsubo; an evil tengu of the tengu world who murdered his leader, Kuramasan Maouson. He enters the human world to create chaos and make it reign over the world.


^a Unplayable
^b Boss character
^c Unlockable and playable only in the Hardcore version and Japanese Dreamcast version
^d Unplayable in Story Mode


Fame Douglas, founder and CEO of DOATEC was killed at the end of the 20th century. He was renowned as the sponsor of the legendary Dead or Alive World Combat Championship. After his death, the world began to become chaotic. In the middle of the chaos, it was announced that the second Dead or Alive World Combat Championship will be held.

The purpose and significance of the tournament changed after Douglas' death. The promoter of the second Dead or Alive Championship, who is fond of conflicts and jealous of the strong, is responsible for Douglas's death. The new promoter, Victor Donovan, is more than a corrupt mastermind, but a man of pure evil. His involvement in the tournament began to bring a sense of terror to the world, resulting in the infamous tengu disaster.

Set less than a year later after the original tournament, an evil tengu known as Gohyakumine Bankotsubo, or just Tengu, escapes from the tengu world and threatens the human world's peace and stability. Tengu considers all functions of the human world to be insignificant, and claims that all disasters are nothing more than illusions he has brought about. Kasumi, who won the first tournament was captured by the DOATEC Super-human Development Project and was unwillingly used in the organization's attempt to develop a physical body with superhuman abilities. Kasumi escapes, but her clone "Kasumi X" was created while she was being held captive. Kasumi's brother Hayate, previously injured by Raidou, was also captured and was unwillingly used as a subject of DOATEC's bio-weapon experiment, Epsilon. Modifications were made to Hayate's nervous system, but failed to produce an improvement in the project. As a result, the experiment became a failure.

Ryu Hayabusa (from Ninja Gaiden) enters the tournament vowing to seek and destroy the evil tengu. Though a dangerous, suicidal task for any ordinary man, Hayabusa owes it to himself and to mankind to confront his fate. Hayabusa tries to warn other competitors like Jann Lee about the dangers of the tournament, but finds them unwilling to backdown, so he proceeds to knock them out of the tournament. He later meets a competitor named Ein, who is actually the missing Hayate suffering from amnesia. During their fight, Hayabusa defeats him and restores some semblance of his memory. Eventually, Hayabusa comes face to face with the evil Tengu. He defeats and kills Tengu, winning the tournament.

Development and release[edit]

Dead or Alive 2 arcade cabinet

The gameplay and graphics were enhanced and based on a better game engine than the one used in the first game, as all resources went into the characters and the stages. Running on the Sega NAOMI arcade board, it allowed the characters and stages to appear less angular and more detailed. Wanting to emulate gorgeous scenes of martial arts movies, Tomonobu Itagaki and Team Ninja went so far to invite professional martial artists to perform motion capture, making the characters' moves smoother, and developed multi-tired stages where opponents can be knocked off edges of landmarks down to lower levels where the fight continues.[6]

Dead or Alive 2 used the song "Exciter" by Bomb Factory in its opening sequence. Also used as a background track was "Deadly Silence Beach" and "Clumsy Bird". Both "Exciter" and "Deadly Silence Beach" can be found on the self-titled mini-album Bomb Factory and on the Dead or Alive 2 Soundtrack, and "Clumsy Bird" can be found on the album Break Up.

Two soundtrack CDs were released in 2000 by Wake Up in Japan: Dead or Alive 2 Original Sound Trax (KWCD-1001) and Dead or Alive 2 Original Sound Trax ~PlayStation 2 Version~ (KWCD-1004). Two guide books for the game were published in North America by Prima Games (Dead or Alive 2: Prima's Official Strategy Guide and DOA2: Hardcore: Prima's Official Strategy Guide). Several Japanese guide books for the game were also published by SoftBank (Dead or Alive 2 Perfect Guide, Dead or Alive 2 Perfect Guide Dreamcast Ban, Dead or Alive 2 Hard Core Perfect Guide) and Dengeki (Dead or Alive 2 Kōshiki Kōryaku Guide, Dead or Alive 2 Kōshiki Kōryaku & Girls, Dead or Alive 2 Hard Core Kōshiki Kōryaku Guide).[7]

Home versions[edit]

Nine different versions (excluding DOA2 Ultimate on Xbox and the two PSN releases) of Dead or Alive 2 were released: two for the arcade market, and the others were home versions. Tomonobu Itagaki and Team Ninja were constantly enhancing the game for both the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 as they worked towards their vision of the "ultimate fighting game".

The Dreamcast port was first released in North America on February 29, 2000.[3] It was identical to the arcade Millennium update release, but added the usual Versus and Sparring modes, as well as Team Battle Mode. This version also featured a simplified hold system compared to the one in the arcade versions. Unlike home ports of the first Dead or Alive game, there were no unlockables in this release. Team Ninja immediately started working on the console version as Tecmo planned to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in March 2000. Since the development environment for the Dreamcast was very convenient and the NAOMI hardware being the same as the Dreamcast, the team manage to complete the Dreamcast port in February 2000 as planned. Dead or Alive 2 was the only game that Tecmo published on the Dreamcast.[6]

Dead or Alive 2 was released as a launch title for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on March 30, 2000. This version added new stages (Crimson, Koku An and Prairie) and new unlockable costumes. The game engine ran using Field Rendering instead of Frame Rendering, thus it appeared much more aliased than the Dreamcast ports. This version was buggy and prone to lock up in Versus mode, leaving Japanese players disappointed. Itagaki and his team were only given two months initially to produce the first PlayStation 2 port. Itagaki was greatly disappointed in how the PlayStation 2's development environment was not as convenient as the Dreamcast's, and felt that he couldn't complete the PlayStation 2 version as planned in March 2000. Itagaki tried to postpone the game, but Tecmo executives insisted on releasing it on time. At the end of this, one of his managers asked to borrow a copy to play, but instead sent it to a production factory. Itagaki was upset by not being able to finish the game on his own terms and fell into a depression during which he briefly considered quitting the industry.[8][9][6]

The European Dreamcast version was released on April 28, 2000.[10] This version included the costumes from the Japanese PlayStation 2 version, but not the new stages. It also added new costumes for Zack and Tina, which pay homage to The Shadow Man and his love interest from the Shadow Man series. Acclaim developed the Shadow Man video game and published Dead or Alive 2 in Europe.

The Japanese Dreamcast version (known as the Limited Edition) was released on September 28, 2000. Cover art featured Kasumi and Ayane, along with a standard cover art version with Kasumi, Ayane and Leifang. The most notable addition was that Bankotsubo and Bayman were now unlockable, playable in all but Story Mode. The new stages from the PlayStation 2 version were not included, in favor of new versions of Burai Zenin and L's Castle stages from the first game. This version also added Sparring mode for Tag Battle, Watch Mode, the User Profile System, online play, more costumes to unlock, and a Gallery Mode with character renders.

On October 25, 2000, Tecmo released DOA2: Hardcore (DOA2: Dead or Alive 2 in Europe) as a launch title for the PlayStation 2 in America and Europe, which was based on the Japanese second update of Dead or Alive 2 for Dreamcast.[11] This version was featuring new playable characters, new stages, extra costumes and introduced the "Gallery" option. The Hardcore release was finally the complete game Itagaki had envisioned at the time, featuring many changes compared to its predecessor: Characters, pictures and moves were altered to appear more realistic, lessening the anime-look. Some fighting animations were elaborated upon, while others were cut. New stages were added (8 more than the Dreamcast update). More character outfits were added. Survival Mode now only took place in the "Danger Zone" arena. Overall gameplay speed was increased, and the entire game (including cutscenes) now ran at a full 60 frames-per-second (in the Dreamcast version, the game ran at 60fps, while cutscenes ran at 30).

A special "Items Collection" feature and menu section was added to appeal to video game collectors. New artworks were added, and a CG Gallery section featuring renders of the female characters was added. The player history files were enhanced, and now included statistics on how often the player used each character, and tag battle pairing. Several special moves were added, but left undocumented. English voice-overs (provided by Brian Vouglas, Donna Mae Wong, Gina Rose, Jeremy Hou, John Parsons, Lucy Kee, Roger Jackson, Sally Dana, Terry McGovern, Timothy Enos, and Zoe Galvez) were added in addition to the original Japanese voice-overs, making it the first game in the series to have English voice-overs.[12] Kasumi can be unlocked as a trainable 'monster' in Monster Rancher 4 by going to the Shrine, and inserting the DOA2: Hardcore disk in the PS2.

Tecmo followed up on the release of Hardcore in the US and Europe with the release of DOA2: Hard*Core in Japan. This last version saw some minor updates, including new cutscenes, a few new costumes, a new turbo speed option, and a second opening sequence which features an English version of the Bomb Factory song "How Do You Feel". This was the last Dead or Alive game to be released for a Sony system, as the series became exclusive to the Xbox until the release of Dead or Alive Paradise, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, and Dead or Alive 5 respectively.


On August 22, 2012, a software emulated version of DOA2: Hard*Core was made available as a downloadable game on the Japanese PlayStation Network. The North American version was released to the US PlayStation Network on March 24, 2015.


Dead or Alive 2 was "universally acclaimed", scoring 91% and 91/100 on GameRankings and Metacritic.[13][15] In Japan, Famitsu scored the game a 34 out of 40.[22]

Dead or Alive 2 brought more than $2 million profit in sales.[42] Dead or Alive 2 is considered one of the best Fighting games in the genre in terms of gameplay and expanded game modes.[citation needed] In Japan, Game Machine listed Dead or Alive 2 on their December 15, 1999 issue as being the second most-successful arcade game of the month.[43] The PlayStation 2 version would top the Japanese charts on release, coming in number 2 during Week 14 in 2000.[44] The Dreamcast version also top the Japanese charts on release, coming in number 2 during Week 40 in 2000.[44] On GameRankings, the Dreamcast version was met with universal acclaim, while the PS2 version was very well received. Famitsu scored the Dreamcast version 32/40 and the PS2 version 34/40. Both versions were praised for its graphics, cutscenes and gameplay. Main criticism was the poor English voice dub used in the updated version for the PS2 titled DOA2: Hardcore, much like other English dub Japanese video games.

Greg Orlando reviewed the Dreamcast version of the game for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "You'd have to be Dead and Buried not be enjoy Dead or Alive 2. Gorgeous graphics, excellent gameplay, and some beautiful characters put this square in the running against Namco's Soul Calibur as the best Dreamcast fighting game."[33]

Jeff Lundrigan reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "This is a tremendous game and a must-have, but if you can choose between the two versions, PS2 enjoys an edge thanks to all the extras – just get used to squinting at the too-bright lights and nasty jaggies.":[34] Jeff Lundrigan also reviewed the PS2 re-release, DOA2: Hardcore, for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "This is the best-looking, most full-featured, most packed-with-extras version of one of the best fighting games ever made. Buy it, period."[45]


During the AIAS' 4th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, Dead or Alive 2 was honored with the "Console Fighting Game of the Year" award, and also received a nomination in the "Animation" category.[40] IGN awarded it "Best PS2 Fighting Game of 2000" during their Best of 2000 Awards.[41] The game was nominated for "Best Fighting Game" at E3's Game Critics Awards. Hardcore was a runner-up for GameSpot's annual "Best Graphics, Technical" and "Best Fighting Game" awards among console games, but lost respectively to Shenmue and Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.[46]


Dead or Alive 2 was notable for improving and popularizing the concept of multi-tiered environments. Dead or Alive 2's interactive multi-tiered environments offered all kinds of features that made the game feel so alive. The way the intensity of the action triples when knocking opponents off of edges such as cliffs or out of windows, then leaping down after them and continue fighting down below made the experience feel very rewarding.[47] GamesRadar+ included the game on their list of best Dreamcast games, stating that "Dead or Alive's first sequel used separate graphics engines for its fighting and cut-scenes, allowing for unprecedented graphical fidelity."[48] In 2010, ranked it as the ninth top fighting game of all time, "perhaps most important for introducing Itagaki's famous breast physics engine."[49]

Dead or Alive 2 appears in the 2002 film Run Ronnie Run, where the character, Jerry Trellis (portrayed by E.J. De la Pena), is shown playing the game as Kasumi in two different scenes and as Gen Fu in one scene. Near the end of the film, Jerry uses some of Kasumi's moves in a real fight. The game also appears in the 2002 film One Hour Photo, where the character, Jake Yorkin (portrayed by Dylan Smith), is playing the game in his bedroom.


Dead or Alive Ultimate is a remake of DOA and DOA2 for the Xbox with a greatly improved graphics engine. As it was created after Dead or Alive 3, it takes elements and mechanics from both its original iteration and successor. The action of 3D-axis movement is as free-formatted as DOA3, and Hitomi, as well as Tengu are now playable characters (albeit outside story mode), but other elements have been kept intact from DOA2. The biggest set of changes instituted in Dead or Alive Ultimate are online play over Xbox Live and the inclusion of slopes, which are a type of environmental hazard.


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