Team Ninja is alive and kicking

“Dead or Alive,” Team Ninja’s long-running fighting game series is back. The first “Dead or Alive” came out in 1996, wowing players with its then-slick graphics and tight fighting game mechanics. This latest entry shows just how far such games have come.

It may look like a more grown-up “Dead or Alive,” but this sixth entry still delivers what longtime fans have come to expect. A big part of the game’s appeal has always been its curvy female and brawny male characters. They are still there. This time, however, there’s a more realistic focus on their fighting, with characters getting sweaty, bruised and scratched. “Dead or Alive 6” also introduces a character customization system, a first for the series, allowing players to dress characters in different outfits or have them wear specs or sunglasses. The game features two new characters, too: Diego, a tough street fighter who is ready to pound faces, and Nico, an 18-year-old “lightning technomancer” who can shock foes into submission.

The “Dead or Alive” games have always been fun fighters, but with the increasing importance on esports for the success of fighting games, Team Ninja appear to have put even more emphasis on those core mechanics and the way the characters move. Tweaks to the fighting system also include a new Fatal Rush attack to help new players pull off a simple combo with ease.

“Dead or Alive 6” is priced at ¥8,424 on PS4, Xbox One and Steam.


Jump right in


For years, fighting games have brought together a variety of characters from different games, movies and anime to see what happens when they duke it out. Weekly Shonen Jump, one of Japan’s longest-running manga publications, is now jumping into the fray.

“Jump Force,” priced at ¥8,856 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, features Goku from “Dragon Ball,” Luffy from “One Piece,” Naruto from “Naruto” and many others. It launched with over 40 playable characters, each with its own signature style and attributes.

The game is a three-on-three fighter. In most three-on-three fighters, each character has its own health bar, but here they all share the same bar — an interesting decision that could lead to some players preferring not to switch between characters but sticking to their main choice. Unlike “Smash Bros.,” which features Nintendo characters beating each other up on small stages, the gameplay here puts characters in large fields of battle, allowing them to run about and unleash a flurry of attacks.

Another thing that makes “Jump Force” interesting is how all these characters, which are rendered in different art styles, compare in the same in-game world. Each manga is set in a different “world,” which does a nice job of expanding the larger Weekly Shonen Jump universe. For the game, these worlds collide and even spill over into real-world settings like New York. It’s an inventive concept, which for manga fans makes “Jump Force” much more than simply a cross-character fighter.

ce-f-jump.bn-ent.net (Japanese), (English)

‘Nier’ perfect


One of the most memorable games of 2017 was “Nier: Automata,” which found itself in the top 10 lists of countless players. The game was the sequel to the 2010 title “Nier” and it far surpassed its prequel both artistically and critically. Now, the sequel is getting re-released as “Nier: Automata Game of the Yorha Edition,” which is packaged with the game’s expansion and bonus downloadable content, among other digital goodies.

“Nier: Automata” was an unexpected hit. Fans in particular fell in love with 2B, one of the game’s main androids who is trying to save the world from invaders hellbent on destruction. 2B inspired countless cosplay outfits and endless fan art. The game itself, an action role-playing game developed by PlatinumGames, was also a blast to play.

Game director of “Nier,” Taro Yoko is an unusual and beloved game maker. He only allows himself to be photographed while wearing his signature mask of a strange gray smiley face, and typically gives honest and humorous interviews. “Nier: Automata,” his most recent masterpiece, is a window into his world. For those who missed it the first time around, “Nier: Automata Game of the Yorha Edition,” priced at ¥5,184 for PS4, is a good excuse to correct that.

bit.ly/niereng (English), bit.ly/nierjpn (Japanese)

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