Dead or Alive, Team Ninja‘s long-running fighting game franchise, is getting its first PS Vita installment today in the form of Dead or Alive 5 Plus. How does one pack a game of this magnitude into a portable form factor? Do any concessions need to be made to keep everything steady at 60FPS? What new features can we expect, given PS Vita’s unique capabilities? We synced up with Yohei Shimbori of Team Ninja, who graciously answered these questions and more.
PlayStation.Blog: What has been your experience in terms of developing Dead or Alive 5 Plus for PS Vita? Have you had to make many concessions, or were you able to port the entire PS3 game over with minimal changes?
Yohei Shimbori, Director, Team Ninja: Certain elements of Dead or Alive 5 Plus (DOA5+) were relatively smooth in porting it to the PS Vita from the PS3. However, as you may notice from games already on the market today, a complete port in terms of graphics and physics remains a challenge which was also the case for DOA5+. Fluid fighting motion and stellar graphics are all staples of the Dead or Alive franchise, so delivering anything less would be unacceptable to us. Therefore our main objective was to create the most beautiful-looking PS Vita fighting game within a 60fps environment. This was one of the reasons we had to drop the Tag Mode, but we can confidently say that the goals we had for DOA5+ we have achieved!
PSB: In terms of the visuals, how close are the PS Vita version’s character models and environments to their PS3 counterparts?
YS: You shouldn’t notice any difference while playing the game. Obviously, the hardware specs are different between the two platforms, so if you were to compare identical screens from both, yes, there is a visual difference. But what would be the fun in doing such a thing? Rather than spending the time doing comparisons, it is our hope that instead players will enjoy the detailed visuals and animations our team has managed to accomplish in DOA5+.
PSB: Where did the inspiration for the two new first-person Touch Play modes come from? Has the gameplay changed significantly in terms of combos and move sets? Are these modes compatible with another player, or just the computer opponent?
YS: PS Vita’s features clearly played a big role in thinking of the Touch Play modes. Combining two of the hardware’s unique points with one of its challenges ultimately led us to the creation of this mode. Meaning, both the touchscreen and gyro sensors led us to the idea of holding the hardware vertically to start with. We worked on the gameplay for this new approach but couldn’t achieve what we were after…it did, however, lead us to the idea of taking out the player character from the screen and focusing directly on one player only, which meant that this mode would only work when the player battles computer opponents. This had never been achieved in the fighting game genre, so we were certainly worried at the beginning, but the risk paid off for us as we implemented a completely new feel.
PSB: Will we see any other new or exclusive content on PS Vita, or is this functionally a mirror image of the PS3 version of DOA5?
YS: In addition to the dedicated Touch Battle, we have some additional features as well. For players new to Dead or Alive, we’ve included a Tutorial mode. By learning everything from the basics of walking, to the new gameplay mechanics, anyone will be able to practice within a variety of battle environments. Also, considering the portable nature of the hardware, we have added Combo Challenge and Skill Info Plus. Combo Challenge allows you to start practicing with an easy combo eventually leading to the big combo moves for maximum damage. Skill Info Plus gives access to quick practice sessions at all times. Skill Info Plus allows detailed analysis of the moves in real time and is not limited to damage and basic frame data, but more detailed movement analysis with the experts and pro players in mind.
Also, we have broadened the in-game music experience and created new ninja costumes as well. So in addition to the individual DOA5+ stage music, brand new character-specific music is now available for Mira and Rig so please check them out.
PSB: DOA5+ features full Cross-Play support with the PS3 version, and promises to hold at a steady 60 frames per second. This seems technically challenging – how difficult was it to integrate this?
YS: Yes, this was a big challenge. Some 2D fighting games have already achieved this but not within a 3D environment. The key here was to make the best use of the available CPU power… the challenge in the development of the original DOA5 was to achieve the maximum technological capabilities of the PS3, but the PS Vita version presented new challenges. We can’t talk in detail of the exact approach but a lot of effort and thinking has gone into overcoming this. I hope to see everyone surprised at how the detailed 3D fighting has been recreated and simply lose track of time as they FIGHT!
PSB: There are reports that the PS3 version of DOA5 will see new updates and enhancements later this year. Will you be updating the PS Vita version accordingly?
YS: Sorry as there is nothing I can confirm at this time. We will of course reveal any information with you as soon as we can. :)
PSB: PS Vita has seen quite a few fighting games and all have been well received. Is there a particular reason why PS Vita works especially well for fighting games?
YS: The ease of play is definitely one of the key reasons. Fighting games generally have fairly quick rounds and battles. So whether it be a case of playing with friends or brushing up your skills, we anticipate shorter gameplay sessions than in the past.
The genre of fighting games is entering an era where evolving is required to survive the ever-expanding competitive market. One may even say this era is already here. I have always seen the intuitive touchscreen mechanism and the cross-platform functions of PS Vita as being key features for us to focus on from the start. Cross play has opened the door for PS Vita players who can practice and play anywhere they want to compete against players who have been perfecting their skills on PS3. It is difficult to predict who will be the stronger but it definitely is an interesting situation. We felt the excitement in the cross platform feature from the beginning of development so hopefully everyone will get a chance to experience the evolution and enjoy the game.