When Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
was announced at the Microsoft Xbox Press Conference at this year’s E3 it arrived amidst applause and hollers. You see, all of the pimply-faced fanboys of the big black box were finally getting themselves some thinly disguised softcore porn that they would be able to call a video game. I’ll admit it though, I was pretty anxious to see this one myself, not because I’m some sick horny bastard who likes to see well-endowed women prance around in skimpy outfits, but because…
I can imagine the pitch for this game right now: “In the highstakes world of big-breasted beach volleyball tournaments…”
What was I talking about again?
Oh yes, DOAXVB
, perhaps the most blatant false advertising on the new year, a game where the namesake actually takes a back seat to (of all things) collecting various items that are meant to be admired and not to be used. That’s right, regardless of what you’ve heard or read this game isn’t about playing volleyball, it’s about getting money and buying various trinkets for your character. In fact, the volleyball aspect of the game is nothing more than a roadblock that stands between you and the game’s true motivation, collecting useless trinkets! Do you like to collect recipes? Are you great at accessorizing? Are you tired of trying to become the best fighter in the global universe and would rather spend your time trying on skimpy bikinis? Then this is your bag. The only thing missing here is the obligatory Engrish phrase “Collection Get!”
But don’t worry, there’s no shortage of Engrish here. Phrases like “It’s a nice looking candles” populate this seemingly incomplete title. Most of the speech, with the exception of Dennis Rodman’s horrific performance, is in Japanese and is accompanied by English subtitles. The only English you get from the girls are the other girls’ names and horribly pronounced lines like “nice-a spiku!” and “nice-a servu!” Of course this game wouldn’t be complete without the prerequisite moaning and squealing. God I feel dirty.
There’s a storyline to the game but like the rest of the aspects, it’s pretty weak and half-assed. Zack, the black Thai kick boxer from DOA3
that no one actually cared to used, won the Dead or Alive prize money. In a nice touch the opening video actually continues from the end of Zack’s ending video from Dead or Alive 3
. He then proceeded to gamble with his winnings in order to garner more cash so that he could open his own island resort. Upon doing so, he suckers all of the female combatants of the Dead or Alive tournament to come to the island under the façade that it is the location of the next tournament. When they arrive the joke’s on them, there’s no tournament! Surprise! There’s not much volleyball either! To be honest, there really isn’t much to do on the island; it’s no wonder that the game only lets you stay on the island for 14 days at a time.
Those 14 days are broken up into three segments, daytime, afternoon and nighttime. Doing an activity such as lounging around the pool or engaging in a game of “volleyball” takes up a portion of the day. If you enter an unpopulated region of the island you’ll be treated to a short Gravure movie where you can candidly check out your girl while she does things like roll around in the sand and hump a tree branch. All of which is done in an innocent, non Mature rating deserving manner of course.
You’d think that with all the emphasis being placed on scoping out the characters that this system would be intuitive right? That you’d be able to do things like switch swimsuits on the fly and position your camera just as you’d like it? Wrong. For starters, you cannot physically see your character unless you enter one of the game’s vacant areas. This takes up a portion of your day and what’s worse; you’ll only be able to see them for about 20 seconds before the game sends you back to the map screen.
What makes this absolutely atrocious is the weak camera system. You have limited control over your vantage point, you can pan the camera and you can zoom the lens but that’s about it. You can’t place the camera where you please and often times you won’t even be able to get a decent angle on the action. It’s so poorly executed that you can’t help but wonder why more time wasn’t spent perfecting it.
She's the modest type.
Aside from checking out your girl you’ll be able to purchase various items to adorn her with. You’ll be able to go an accessory shop (or as the girls in the game say, “accessory shopu!”) to pick up essential items like shoes, nail polish, hats and various colored balls. Then there’s the sports shop which oddly enough, features bikes and other assorted gear on the outside but when entered only features swimsuits. Go figure. You’ll be able to purchase a ton of different suits, all of which can be worn by either girl. There are well over a hundred different suits for you to purchase and wear although many of them are actually just color swaps of each other with different names. Of course there’s another shop which sells trinkets of the non-interactive variety, you know, run of the mill things like pistols, nunchucks and the all-essential sushi recipes.
There’s a gift system in place where you can give gifts to keep your partners satisfied but it’s entirely useless. Winning matches seems to make them happy making your desire to see other virtual women in skimpy outfits your only motivation for giving gifts. Although the trip expires at the end of the 14 days the collections will carry over to the next game that you start.
There’s a virtual casino that you can visit each night but it’s pretty poorly done. In fact I’ve played cheap online casino games that do a better job of replicating the real thing. These games are just cheap and archaic, slot machines feature only one pay line and the lowest winning hand in poker is two pair as opposed to the standard pair of jacks. The only reason to play these games? To check out the deck of cards, which feature various DOA
girls on them. Why Tecmo didn’t decide to actually make a real deck and distribute it with a game, we’ll never know.
All right so I’ve given the volleyball aspect some guff but it’s not unwarranted. Think of this as a heavily dumbed down version of Beach Spikers
, kind of like volleyball for dummies. Each match is of the two-on-two, first to 7 points wins, rally scoring variety. In fact there aren’t even any end lines in place, just hit the ball over the net and you’ve given yourself a chance to score. You control your character with the left analog stick with limited control of your partner via the right analog stick. You have two hit buttons; one sets the ball while the other sends the ball over the net. How hard the ball sails around is dependant on how hard you press down the pressure sensitive buttons. So far so good, until you actually end up playing the game.
You’ll soon realize that there’s very little strategy to the game. In fact you don’t even have to leap up in to the air to spike the ball; the computer handles that for you. All you’ll have to do is press the A button at the appropriate time to send it forcefully over the net. Successful digs can be performed by wildly tapping the B button, essentially turning the game’s defensive aspects into a mash fest. While volleyball is the best and fastest way to earn money it soon becomes a roadblock that stands in the way of your true goal, collecting more useless objects.
Let’s be honest here, the Dead or Alive
series has been and always will be a graphical showpiece. DOA3
was actually a rather subpar fighting title but received critical acclaim due to its visually appealing characters and environments. A year later and those impressive visuals are still pleasing to the eyes but don’t seem to carry the same wow factor that they used to. All of the female characters are rendered quite nicely, large endowments and all. In a piece of technology that pans out like the snow effects in DOA3
the sand becomes deformed under the player’s feet. Of course the water and lighting effects are still as mesmerizing as ever.
Uh hello, my eyes are up here!
The audio elements don’t fare quite as nicely as the visuals, for one the speech is all recorded in Japanese and is accompanied by English subtitles. The only lines recited in English come courtesy of Dennis Rodman, former Bulls/Lakers/Pistons/Mavericks Forward and perennial cross-dresser and much like his performance in the latter years, it’s absolutely atrocious. His lines literally sound like they were phoned in, the timing on his lines if off and they’re barely coherent. I can’t even begin to explain how bad his lines are, they are devoid of any emotion or feeling. This is pretty bad, considering that Tecmo took the time to advertise his presence on the back of game’s packaging.
The musical tracks may not be the best but they do well to fit in with the mood of the game. Tracks from B*Witched and Christina Aguilera do a decent job of accompanying the on-screen characters, problem is, the songs were chosen as if they were being heard by the game’s characters, not the target audience. How many horny 16 year-old boys would really like to listen to a song by B*Witched? Mercifully you can create your own custom soundtrack.
What’s this game really about then? It’s about buying swimsuits and accessories to dress up your characters with. Think of it as Barbie Fashion Designer
for boys age 13-17. You know, the ones who have yet to discover the free porn that awaits them on every nook and cranny of the internet. But then again, the game has a M for Mature rating so the buyer has to be at least 17 years of age in order to get their hands on it in the first place. Chances are, the person buying the game will be at least 18, why not just throw those hard-earned dollars towards some hardcore smut? At least they’ll be fully aware of what they’re getting.