Danger Zones refer to the interactive features that appear in certain fighting arenas in the Dead or Alive series. Fighters caught in a Danger Zone will take extra damage, giving the attacker a slight advantage. These environmental areas can be anything from falls to explosives. If a fighter has low heath, being trapped in a Danger Zone is more likely to knock them out than a normal attack, although in certain titles elements such as falls cannot do this, and instead just leave the fighter with very low health.
Type of Danger Zones
Outer Ring Area
In the first Dead or Alive, stages were simply fighting rings with no obstacles. The rings were designed with two different-colored areas: the centre and the outer rim around it.
The fighters can safely stand on all of the ring, but if a fighter falls onto the ground of the outer rim, this will create an explosion, throwing said fighter into the air and causing them to take massive damage. While being thrown, the fighter will be vulnerable, allowing their opponent to take a quick strike at them.
The fighters can also avoid being thrown by the explosion by pressing the three attack buttons simultaneously in the small time frame before the explosion begins. If successful they will take damage from the Danger Zone, but not from the explosion.
As the series started to use more varied stages and environments this type of Danger Zone was no longer used, but certain elements from it can be seeing in other Danger Zones, such as exploding floors.
Falls, or "Off The Edge", are a common type of Danger Zone, and are often a key element of multi-level stages. Falls are triggered when a fighter is thrown off the edge of a floor or level, and made to fall onto the next level below. Their opponent will then jump to the same floor in order to continue the round; these jumps will not cause damage.
Falls can often differ in height depending on the stage, from a couple of feet to several stories. Naturally, a longer fall tends to cause more damage than a simple drop. Some falls may be hidden by breakable walls or floors, so these may be a surprise to players who have yet to fight a battle in these types of stages.
In terms of style, there are two types of falls: one is a straight fall down to the lower level, such as falling off the edge of a cliff, which will remove a chunk of health as the fighter hits the ground, or a steady fall, in which the fighter tumbles down some kind of slope, such as a hill or a staircase, and gradually loses health all the way down.
It is possible in some games for falls to knock out fighters if their health is low enough. In other games, however, the fall cannot knock them out even if they have minimal health at the time of the fall, thus giving them the chance to continue fighting and potentially still win.
Dead or Alive 5 introduced an alternative to the fall Danger Zone called the Cliffhanger, in which the falling fighter will cling to the edge, and has the choice to take the fall and the resulting damage, or try and defend against their opponent's incoming attack, risking additional damage if unsuccessful or receiving no damage from the fall or the opponent's attack if successful.
Charged and Explosive Surfaces
With enclosed stages, it's common for certain surfaces - such as walls, floors and sometimes ceilings - to be electrically charged or to be fitted with explosives. Similar to the outer ring ground in Dead or Alive, when a fighter is struck or thrown against these surfaces, they will take extra damage from being electrocuted or from being caught in a explosion. Damage can differ depending on the stage.
In some stages, there will be breakable structures like furniture, statues and fire torches that will be destroyed when a fighter is thrown against them. The impact will cause some additional damage to the fighter and leave them stunned for a moment. In some games this can be used to extend critical status, allowing longer critical combos to be performed.
As said above, there are also breakable walls, windows, and floors that lead to hidden falls which can only be used if said structure is broken.
A rarely used type of Danger Zone, in some stage there will be moving obstacles which can hit fighters, causing damage and send them flying. For some of these obstacles, such as the wild cat in Savannah Safari, they travel in a set route. In Gambler's Paradise, fighters can be hit by cars, but these cars are not fixed to a set track, and for the most part will try to avoid the fighters if possible.
These obstacles can be avoided by using a hold against them at the right time, allowing the fighter to jump over them without taking damage.
Special Danger Zones
In the Geothermal Power Plant stage - an arena in Dead or Alive: Dimensions based on the title Metroid: Other M - Ridley, a pterodactyl-like creature and a recurring boss in the Metroid series, acts as a Danger Zone.
When a fighter is thrown off the edge of the stage, rather then fall, they will be caught mid-air by Ridley, who will then press them against the wall and breath fire on them, before throwing them back down onto the stage. All three moves will cause massive damage to the fighter.
Dead or Alive 5
Dead or Alive 5 introduces special Danger Zones that can be triggered by using Power Blow. When a Power Blow connects on certain stages (or in the case of Depth, meeting certain criteria by first triggering a lesser Danger Zone during the course of the fight), a highlighted object will appear and allow the attacking fighter to start a special Danger Zone from it. For instance on The Show, connecting a Power Blow will allow the fighter to smash their opponent into the mouth of the giant clown face. The clown will close its mouth then shoot the fighter out its cannon nose into a star-shaped target on the other side of the stage.
Dead or Alive 6
Dead or Alive 6 retains most of the danger zone elements from the previous games, although special danger zones don't truly exist anymore. The game introduces new danger zones element however, the first being called "Rumble Danger". This danger zone involves a crowd of spectators that line the walls of certain stages and if the opponent is sent flying into them from a combo, attack or throw, the onlookers will grab them and push them forward to get them back into the fight, leaving them vulnerable to further combo damage, a mix up, or a throw if they attempt to hold. This can be done multiple times in a row if the opponent keeps recklessly defending.
Another new element is "Mass-Destruction", which will cause additional damage if an opponent is sent into them with a break blow. If the player however used a combo and broke a previous breakable, using a break blow right after the opponent attempts to get up from their stun will cause even more damage from the next breakable. Sometimes it's also possible to execute an additional combo follow up if the breakable causes a launch.
Seaside Eden is another stage that introduces a special danger zone, in the form of the defeated player being sent flying into the water on the side of the stage if they are defeated with a break blow.
After an update to the game, a character sent into a breakable danger zone or a ceiling from an attack or throw that interacts with them, will no longer fully recover from the stun, instead falling to the ground after the stun ends.