Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 promises 14 days of wet & wild fun in the sun. Sadly, the game never manages to leave the shallow end of the pool
If you are reading this review as a follower of the game series, you probably already know that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was never given a Western release, and there is good reason for it; Japanese markets differ from Western markets because Japanese tastes differ greatly from our own. Japanese people are different – and we say that with no malice or judgement implied. We get it. It was never meant to be. However, a purchase of the Asian version (that’s “Asian” version – not Japanese) of DOAX3 will yield you the ability to use the English subtitles to navigate your way through your two week holiday on the secluded Zack Island.
The basic premise of the game sees you select one of the following locales: Poolside, Pool, Tranquil Beach and Niki Beach, where you can partake in one of several games such as volleyball, rock climbing, tug-of-war, or my favorite – the Butt Battle where you try and knock your opponent off her Styrofoam float using a well-timed series of rump-to-rump attacks. You can also visit the “Zack Of All Trades” shop where you can buy frisbees, soft drinks and other odds and ends, as well as the Sports Shop, which is where you buy your bikinis, oh, and volleyballs – I think there are volleyballs in there too.
In terms of visuals, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is beautiful. The way the character models are rendered, the variety of animations and the physics of how each of the girls move is all painstakingly lifelike. Added details, such as the bikini top strings breaking during Butt Battles and the development of suntans – and even tan lines as the 14 days progress, are a nice touch. The casino simulator is solid but basic, the roulette, poker and blackjack give a welcome break from the depravity of giggling Japanese girls bouncing up and down on your screen.
The whole portrayal of women in video games is a hot topic right now, and this game is probably capable of dealing the biggest “I told you so!” of them all. If the description of the nine scantily-clad, bouncing, jiggling Japanese girls isn’t enough to have your hand firmly planted on your forehead already, it gets better. The game features an “Owner Mode” in which you can give gifts to the girls, buy them drinks and snacks, take voyeuristic photos of them playing with a hula hoop, relaxing by the pool or laying on their bed. Keep your head together for long enough to progress through the Owner Mode and you can eventually reach the games pinnacle – the pole dance show. No stripping here, mind you, just a pole dance in the featured bikinis.
Where the game really suffers is in its simplistic design. From the Flags level with its Track and Field-esque button-bashing to the Rock Climbing mode, which merely has the player tap a button when an on-screen prompt is displayed, none of these activities have any sense of weight to them. Each activity is almost a sub-game that should be within a larger experience that sadly doesn’t exist, and each of the 14 days on the island quickly becomes repetitive, and however well polished the game is, the visuals sadly don’t give Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 any sense of depth or challenge. The game’s only longevity lies within building up the 9 playable characters by adding to their bank balance, boosting their level of friendship, collecting gifts and developing a wardrobe of swimsuits that becomes almost a post-pubescent Pokedex of sorts. At the end of the game everything you have amassed carries over, so you can keep adding and collecting to your schoolboy heart’s content.
All in all, the Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is visually quite stunning. Zack Island is quite lovely – I want to go there. I do. However, if your 60 dollar investment in a game is something that needs to yield you some depth of gameplay and something to keep you compelled for every evening for the next month, it may be wise to look elsewhere.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PS4 (Reviewed), Vita ; Publisher: Koei Tecmo ; Developer: Team Ninja ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: March 24, 2016; Genre: “Sports” ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review was written based on a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.