|Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball|
|Developer: Tecmo (Team Ninja)
Release Date: Out Now
"ARE YOU READY FOR SOME EXTREME ACTION?" is the title for the synopsis on the back of the box for Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (DOAX from now on). Along with that, words such as stimulating, fantasy, and outrageous are used to describe what's inside. The latter of these sums the game up quite well. Re-released on Microsoft's Classics label, we can now give it a good look over, and compare it to some of the more recent volleyball games.
From the outset this is supposedly a volleyball game using the characters from the fighting series Dead or Alive. However, once you put the game on to play, you soon realize that this isn't the case. It appears that Zack (from DOA) owns an island, and has invited all the girls from the game to go there on holiday. You have to choose a character, which by the way, you won't be choosing based on their beach volleyball skills, as there aren't any to view. Instead you basically base your choice around whom you like the look of, and their vital statistics. However, you can read up on the girls' favourite hobbies and colours - obviously essential to the sport of beach volleyball…
After this point, it's pretty much up to you what you do with your day (which lasts around 20 minutes in real time). You can go and lay on a sun lounger and watch as the camera pans around your character, or you can play the "Hopping Game", which has you jumping across the swimming pool on floats. These vary in distance, and require you to use hard or soft jumps by using the analog face buttons on the controller.
You can then, if you wish, play beach volleyball. This is presented to you with no on-screen display, and as a result you have no idea of what the current score is or how powerful hits are etc., so it can be difficult to know what's going on. Control is awkward, making it hard to not just move the character efficiently, but also aiming and passing to your partner. In Beach Spikers (or any of the other numerous Volleyball games on the market) you get arrows and circles on screen showing your aim and where the ball is going to land. It does help get around common camera issues in 3D sports games. Sadly DOAX suffers from this problem. It all looks very pretty, but it just doesn't work very well and you end up feeling a bit cheated.
There are a couple of shops you can visit to buy various items for yourself or friends (characters within the game). As night draws in, you can either go to bed, or visit the casino to win some cash. There is a roulette wheel, poker, blackjack and slot machines, but it seems damn near impossible to win any significant amounts before the "house" starts clawing their money back. Roulette is of course a game of pure chance, but this game redefines the term "unlucky"! After you have finished here (and most likely lost all your money), you go to bed in your hotel room.
You wake up in the morning to discover your beach volleyball partner has split up with you (for no apparent reason), so you go and find another partner to play volleyball with (if you want to). Most characters seemed to reject my offers though. Were my legs not waxed enough for them, or maybe it was my bikini line?
I am not really sure what to think of DOAX. On one hand it's a totally unique and quite original game as regards its content, but on the other hand it's sometimes executed poorly, and most of the game is rather average. I don't really understand the point of the game. There is no goal to reach (apart from possibly collecting increasingly revealing swimming costumes) and there are no set rules or requirements to meet each day. You can spend the day looking at your character lying in the sun if you wish, which is where, I think, the game's appeal is - you aren't really supposed to play this game, you are supposed to look at modelled girls in bikinis. It's all fluffy and nice with bright textures and chilled music, but I find it slightly worrying that a developer would create a videogame like this. Perhaps it's just a £20 tech demo with breasts in then?
Tecmo are of course using sex and the titillating girls in the game to sell it, knowing young males will think it's really cool to have a game with near-nude characters in it, rather like the incredibly sad XXX BMX. In an industry where gameplay and innovation should be driving game development forward, a developer as well known and respected as Tecmo (DOA series, Project Zero and Ninja Gaiden) shouldn't have to sink to this rather smutty level (there can only be one reason for the zoom mode on the camera, after all) to sell a game. Or perhaps I am reading too much into it, and DOAX is in fact just a cheeky little item-collecting relationship sim that might hit a nerve with some people? How ever you feel about the theme and content of the game, it doesn't get around the fact that it truly is rather average, a poor attempt at simulating beach volleyball, and is nothing but a pretty looking but empty-headed experience with nothing substantial to draw you back to it.
- It's certainly different from the usual genres out there.
- Lots of items to collect.
- Graphically pretty.
- It has scantily-clad girlies.
- Seems to be little more than a tech-demo at times.
- The volleyball is awful.
- Is there really a point to the game?
- Your mates may never speak to you again if they catch you playing it.