Dead or Alive Arcade Machine is a 1-on-1 fighting video game which employs a system like rock, scissors, paper where a blow beats a throw, a throw beats a hold, and a hold beats a blow.
Dead or Alive ran on the Sega Model 2 hardware and was known for its advanced graphics at the time of release, which created fast-paced gameplay in a three-dimensional playing field.
In comparison to others in the fighting game genre, such as Virtua Fighter, the series places emphasis on striking characters quickly and efficiently. There is an emphasis on quick combos and air-juggles since the game's countering system and fast recovery times prevent slow, technical sets of moves in most instances.
One of the series' most innovative additions to the genre is its countering system. Beginning with the original Dead or Alive, players could tap the guard button and a direction corresponding with the anticipated attack, which would do a powerful counterattack. Counter holds must be timed correctly and match the direction of the attack being countered.
The Dead or Alive series depicts several skilled martial artists in a worldwide competition named the "Dead or Alive tournament". DOATEC (Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee), a massive corporation with unknown motives, holds the fighting competition in arenas ranging from the North Pole to the Amazon rain forest.
Dead or Alive, the first game in the series, introduces the characters and their reasons for entering the tournament. For example, Zack enters for profit. Kasumi, a runaway female ninja, enters the tournament to seek revenge against Raidou who crippled her brother Hayate. In the end, the strict laws of ninja society prevent Kasumi from returning to her village, and she became a hunted fugitive.
Characters introduced in this original game are Bayman, Gen Fu, Jann Lee, Lei Fang, Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa, Tina Armstrong, Bass Armstrong, Ayane, and Zack.