3 Best Games of all Time: Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter — A Comparative Analysis

By Wren - February 6, 2024
3 Best Games of all Time: Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter — A Comparative Analysis

A Throwback to the '90s: My Experience with Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter:

Growing up in the 1990s was synonymous with witnessing a golden era of fighting games. My fondest memories are tied to three titles that defined this genre for me: Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter. These games weren't just pastimes; they were gateways into a world of strategic combat, intricate storylines, and a camaraderie that only video games can foster.


In the world of 3D fighting games, few franchises command as much respect and fandom as Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter. Each has their distinct characteristics, from their unique storylines to their gameplay mechanics. Let's take an in-depth look at each of these critically acclaimed series.

Dead or Alive:

A Comparative Look: Why Dead or Alive 7 Struggles Against Rivals


Story: Dead or Alive is known for its engaging plot that balances drama, action, and humor. The narrative primarily revolves around the Dead or Alive tournament, organized by the sinister DOATEC Corporation for their nefarious purposes. Various fighters, each with their own personal motives, take part in these tournaments.

Gameplay Mechanics: Dead or Alive's gameplay is as exciting as its story. It employs a rock-paper-scissors mechanic, where strikes beat throws, throws beat holds, and holds beat strikes. This Triangle System demands quick reflexes and strategic thinking. The series is also known for its interactive stages, wherein fighters can use the environment to inflict damage.

While the fighting game genre boasts several heavyweight franchises, Dead or Alive has always carved out its unique niche. 

However, with the release of Dead or Alive 7, the series seems to face an uphill battle to contest with its prolific rivals like Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat. Let's investigate some reasons that might explain this struggle.

NOTE: At the time of writing this, Dead or Alive 7 has not yet been released or officially announced. The points listed below are based on speculation and the general trajectory of the Dead or Alive series.

1. Less Frequent Updates: One of the biggest challenges for Dead or Alive 7 could be the frequency, or lack thereof, of updates and new content. This could potentially decrease the game's long-term appeal, especially when compared to franchises that regularly introduce new characters, stages, and gameplay mechanics.

2. Controversy Over Content: The Dead or Alive series is infamous for its sexualized depiction of female characters, which has often sparked controversy. If Dead or Alive 7 continues this trend, it could potentially alienate a portion of their player base, reducing competitiveness.

3. Learning Curve: Dead or Alive's unique gameplay mechanics, such as the Triangle System, can be challenging for new or casual players to master. While complexity could be seen as depth for veteran players, it could act as a barrier for newcomers when compared to more accessible fighting games.

4. Marketing and Visibility: When compared to some of its competitors, Dead or Alive hasn't received the same level of marketing support or visibility. This lack of promotion can limit the reach of the game, hindering it from competing effectively with other popular fighting franchises.

5. eSports Scene: Dead or Alive historically has a smaller presence in the esports scene compared to games like Tekken or Street Fighter. This could impact the game's ability to attract a larger and more competitive player base.


While there could be challenges for Dead or Alive 7 to compete with other fighting game stalwarts, the franchise does possess a dedicated fanbase and a unique gameplay system. By addressing these concerns and capitalizing on their strengths, Dead or Alive has the potential to carve out its place in the competitive fighting game landscape.

I still remember the first time I booted up Dead or Alive. The game's Triangle System was a refreshing change from the traditional fighting mechanics I was used to. I recall spending countless hours mastering the delicate balance between strikes, throws, and holds. The interactive stages, complete with their hazards, added another layer of excitement. Every victory felt hard-earned and satisfying. The characters, especially Ryu Hayabusa, with his swift moves and ninja skills, were a joy to play.


A Comparative Look: Why Dead or Alive 7 Struggles Against Rivals

Story: The Tekken series focuses on the tumultuous Mishima clan. The Mishima Zaibatsu, their family corporation, is often at the core of global crises and wars. The narrative delves into themes of power, revenge, rivalry, and the supernatural, making it one of the darkest and most complex in fighting game lore.

Gameplay Mechanics: Tekken's combat system is renowned for its complexity and depth. Each character has a vast array of moves, with the game emphasizing high, mid, and low attacks. The series features a juggle system, where players can continue attacking their opponent while they're airborne. The introduction of features like Rage Arts, Power Crushes, and the Screw system in recent editions add even more depth and strategy to the fights.

Few reasons of Tekken franchise to be the King of the ring among my other picks.

1. **Popularity and Sales**: The Tekken series has consistently sold well since its inception in 1994, with Tekken 3 being one of the best-selling fighting games of all time. Tekken's sales figures have generally surpassed those of both Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter.

2. **Narrative Depth**: Tekken has been lauded for its deep and intricate storyline, particularly the ongoing saga of the Mishima family. This narrative depth makes it stand out from many other fighting games, including Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter.

3. **Character Variety and Depth**: With over 40 unique characters each with their own move sets and styles in Tekken 7, the Tekken series offers a level of variety and depth that is generally considered higher than that of Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter.

4. **eSports Presence**: Tekken has a notably strong presence in the esports scene, with Tekken 7 being a mainstay in many major tournaments. While Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter also have esports followings, they are generally not as large or widespread as Tekken's.

5. **Critical Reception**: The Tekken series has generally received more consistent critical acclaim compared to Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter. This includes higher average review scores and numerous awards.

6. **Innovation**: Tekken has been praised for its innovation in the fighting game genre, such as the introduction of 3D arenas and a focus on combo-based combat. While Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter have also brought innovations, Tekken's have had a larger impact on the genre overall.


while all three franchises have their unique strengths and appeals, in terms of overall success - measured by sales, critical reception, and influence - the Tekken series stands out.

Tekken was a game-changer. The Mishima family saga, filled with betrayal and power struggles, was incredibly enthralling. Trying to master each character's vast move list was a challenging yet rewarding experience. I spent endless nights with friends, engaged in intense local multiplayer matches. I will never forget the thrill of executing my first ten-hit combo with Law, or the satisfaction of landing King's chain throws.

Virtua Fighter:

Evaluating Virtua Fighter's Journey in the Fighting Game Arena


Virtua Fighter, a franchise beloved by many, is a pioneer in the 3D fighting game genre. Its authentic martial arts techniques and realistic gameplay thrilled gamers in the '90s. 

Story: Virtua Fighter's story revolves around the World Fighting Tournament hosted by the mysterious multinational conglomerate, Judgement 6. Each character, from martial artist Akira Yuki to wrestler Wolf Hawkfield, has personal reasons to participate in the tournament, providing a diverse range of narratives.

Gameplay Mechanics: Virtua Fighter is recognized as one of the pioneers of 3D fighting games. The game is famous for its realistic approach, with each character's moveset based on authentic martial arts. It uses a three-button control system (block, kick, and punch) that is simple to learn but challenging to master. A defining feature of Virtua Fighter is its Ring Out mechanic, where players can win a match by forcing their opponent out of the ring.

However, over time, Virtua Fighter's prominence has waned compared to rival franchises like Tekken and Dead or Alive. Let's explore a few potential reasons why this may have happened.

1. Less Frequent Releases: Unlike its competitors, Virtua Fighter has had fewer iterations. The gap between each release has been significant, with Virtua Fighter 5 being the last major installment in 2006. This lack of new content over extended periods may have resulted in a decline in the franchise's popularity.

2. Complexity of Gameplay: Virtua Fighter is known for its realistic and complex gameplay, deriving techniques from various martial arts styles. While this authenticity is beloved by hardcore fans, it may be overwhelming for casual players or newcomers, limiting the game's broader appeal.

3. Lack of Character Diversity: While Virtua Fighter's characters are meticulously designed with unique fighting styles, some critics argue that they lack the flamboyant personalities and variety seen in other fighting games. This might have affected the game's ability to captivate a wider audience.

4. Marketing and Promotion: Top-tier fighting franchises like Street Fighter and Tekken have effectively used marketing and cross-promotions with other games, movies, and merchandise to maintain their popularity. In comparison, Virtua Fighter hasn’t received the same level of marketing support, which may have resulted in fewer new players discovering the series.

5. Shift in Player Preferences: The gaming landscape has evolved significantly since Virtua Fighter's debut. The rise of esports has seen a demand for flashier, combo-heavy games that are exciting to watch as well as play. Virtua Fighter's realistic and strategic gameplay, while deep, might not offer the same level of spectacle as some of its competitors.


While Virtua Fighter may not have maintained the same level of competition with other fighting games, it's worth noting that it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of many fans. Its authenticity, strategic depth, and commitment to realistic martial arts make it a unique offering in the genre. The recent release of Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown suggests that there's still a place for this classic franchise in today's gaming landscape.

Virtua Fighter was unlike any other fighting game I had played. Its emphasis on realistic martial arts techniques made every match feel like a true test of skill. I remember being fascinated by its ring-out mechanic, which added a whole new strategic element to the matches. Jacky Bryant & Akira Yuki were my go-to character, with his balanced moveset and powerful punches. The game taught me patience, precision, and the importance of timing.

Conclusion for my top 3 Favorite Games:

Looking back, I realize that Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter taught me more than just how to win a virtual fight. They taught me about strategy, perseverance, and the joy of competition. More than anything, these games were a source of great fun and countless memories. As gaming continues to evolve, I'll always cherish the experiences these 90s' gems provided me.

Dead or Alive, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter – each of these series offers a unique blend of story and gameplay mechanics, providing distinct experiences for the players. Whether it's the strategic depth of Tekken, the interactive stages of Dead or Alive, or the realistic martial arts techniques of Virtua Fighter, there's a wealth of enjoyment to be found in each of these iconic franchises. Regardless of your preference, one thing is certain - the world of 3D fighting games is richer for having these series in its ranks.