By Joe Sigadel / March 28th, 2016
|Title||Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune|
|Release Date||March 24, 2016|
|Genre||Gravure Idol Sim, Gambling, Beach Sports|
|Age Rating||18+ (Multilingual Asia)|
Disclosure: The multilingual copy of Dead or Alive Xtreme: 3 that was used for this review was provided by Play-Asia.
Last year, the Dead or Alive series found itself once again in the crosshairs of controversy. The question of whether Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, the latest in the resort island themed spinoff to the mainline Dead or Alive series of fighting games, would be localized was a concern. For a long time we didn’t hear an answer, until a Team Ninja rep cited the West’s ongoing issues with portrayals of women in video games. Imagine yourself in the place of Koei Tecmo, and search for reviews of past Dead or Alive Xtreme/Paradise games from mainstream sites. The reactions aren’t too flattering, and some are quite damning. Would you be eager to sell the latest Dead or Alive beach bunny game to a hostile games press? Probably not.
I argued a while back that they should have released Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 anyway, to stand by their product and their brand. This is a bit off topic, but I’ve found it interesting that whenever a controversial game is brought up, people get curious and want to see what all the fuss is about. Sometimes that results in many more sales than you could expect otherwise. With DOAX3, there was a lot of intrigue, especially since buying it from an import retailer or with an Asian or Japanese PSN account is the only way you’ll get to experience it for yourself. Whether it’s worth the purchase is what this review will be putting a laser focus on. Please keep in mind that while I have played and enjoyed the Dead or Alive fighting games, this was my first time playing one of these spin-offs, so this is coming from a newbie.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 takes place on Zack Island, well… a new Zack Island after the old one got blown up. But that’s okay, because Zack is eccentric and rich, and even has his own currency: Zack dollars. As far as economics go, Zack Dollars seem to have a bad case of inflation, because everything costs thousands of them. Food and drinks are relatively cheap, but swimsuits are prized and highly valued, particularly the most exotic and revealing ones. The player plays the part of substituting for Zack as the owner, because he’s, uh… indisposed somehow. Your job is to make the DOA girls’ two week vacation on your resort as fun and enjoyable as possible. Easy, right? Mm, not quite.
You start the game by picking one of several DOA ladies to spend time with on the beach. Sadly, Tina didn’t make it in, but fan favorites Honoka and Marie Rose are here, and were lucky enough to grace the cover of the box. You’ll spend each day playing mini games on the beach, which are short affairs that only take a few minutes of your time. You can do these alone for practice, or get right into it with a chosen partner together to be competitive. This is how you earn Zack Dollars in Girls Mode. There’s pool hopping, rock climbing, tug-of-war, butt battle (amusing), a flag race, and of course, volleyball. Volleyball is the most fun and rewarding by far – winning gets you a lot of Zack Dollars compared to other activities, and it also increases both you and your partner’s satisfactions rates quite a bit if you win. The amount you win is also influenced by your opponents’ difficulty, which changes from time to time. Pool Hopping is probably the least fun and most frustrating, because the button presses to make it across are very sensitive and you will end up in the water and lose more often than not. When you’re all tuckered out, you can just relax at the pool before you’re ready to go back to your hotel room.
There’s another side to all of these activities that puts the player in the perspective of the owner as cameraman, taking photos of the girls as they’re having fun or just relaxing. Controlling the camera is a bit tricky, but you can get some really great shots if you’re good. As a reminder, you can pause the action at any time to look at the controls if you’re confused. L1 will allow you to focus on any one of the girls with the camera for solo shots. Now some of you might be thinking: “You just watch the girls bounce around in bikinis and take photos? That sounds a little disturbing and not much fun.” Believe it or not, this relates to “Gravure Idol” modeling, a type of female model in Japan who poses suggestively for photos, which naturally are aimed at male audiences. I suppose the closest thing we have might be looking at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, but it’s one of those concepts that may not be as understood or accepted here, depending on who you are.
It’s fitting that the main attraction here is the girls themselves. Team Ninja is using this game as a demonstration of the physics it can do with the SoftEngine 2.0. Breasts bounce more naturally, the girls sweat, get their skin wet, and can get tans the longer they spend out in the sun. On my first playthrough, I was getting a little alarmed that poor Honoka would go home with a really nasty sunburn all over her body. It’s just a shame that most of the mini-games besides volleyball aren’t all that fun or rewarding — well, at least Butt Battle is funny. You have to do these over and over for 14 days straight before you’re done. It’s Dead or Alive Xtreme 3′s most glaring, obvious and prevalent weakness. At least I can enjoy the gambling, which I’ll get to a bit later.
Now you’re free to do whatever you wish during your time on the island, but if you do the suggested missions and succeed, your chosen girl’s happiness will increase and you’ll gain experience and Zack Dollars. So there’s some incentive to complete missions unless they’re especially obnoxious, like trying to beat a time of 24 seconds in Pool Hopping. Sometimes you’ll be tasked with giving a girl one of their favorite items, but good luck guessing what those are with your limited choices and funds. There’s no way to tell what any of them like right off the bat. Even if you assume Helena is going to like those opera goggles, or Nyotengu is going to like that new fan, there’s a pretty good chance most of your gifts will be rejected. Especially the sunscreen you try to give them so they don’t get burned. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
At night you’ll be relaxing in your hotel room, and Zack will automatically give you one gift each night. Either Zack doesn’t understand what to get a lady, or he has a really strange idea of what a gift is. I got things like french fries and newspapers, and two ocarinas. It’s really silly, but you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of getting a gift wrapped box of french fries. Night time is also when the casino opens up, and you can play Blackjack, Poker and Roulette. These all follow pretty standard rules so I won’t go into them, but I will say that I’m really disappointed that you can’t actually see the girls as they’re gambling. Once you’re done you can go to sleep and start the next day, or sleep in and skip some of it, but I don’t know why in the world you’d do that.
The music in the background isn’t anything memorable, but certainly appropriate for a vacation resort. It gets upbeat when you’re dong activities, and slows down, getting a bit more sensual when you’re relaxing and laying about in your hotel room for the next day. As far as visuals go, it’s crystal clear that most of the time was spent on making sure the girls look good, the backgrounds play second fiddle and they aren’t all too impressive. What I can say though is that Fortune looks far better than Venus does, it lacks aliasing, the textures on the set pieces look more detailed and there are better lighting and shadows on PS4 compared to the Vita version of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3.
To sum up my thoughts, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 certainly succeeds when it comes to showing off Team Ninja’s new physics engine, but as another writer said, this isn’t a $60 technical demo, it’s a game. For that price, I don’t think you are getting your money’s worth. You’d think it’d be a Dead or Alive fan’s dream to spend your time relaxing and making these girls happy, but any interactions with them are short-lived and unfulfilling, unless you count the pole dancing you can unlock by obtaining a secret ticket in the casino. That’ll require a lot of time gambling, and I’m pretty sure you can get that in real life from a gentleman’s club stripper for less money. Get it on sale if you really must have it, if nothing else at least you’ll have lovely bikini babes to look at. I spent over 10 hours with this, but there’s lots of replay value since playthroughs are short.
Oh, and have a Nyotengu trailer.
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