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I understand and love a lot about Japanese culture. There’s a rich history of class systems and heritage. Anime is a mostly respectable medium to tell philosophical stories about the human condition and motivation. Without Japan, gaming as we know it today would have died out with the North American video game crash of 1983. But one thing I don’t get is how a game mostly about fan service that sold little more than 500K copies worldwide and did little for gaming as a whole, aside from embarassing gamers, gets to see a sequel.
Welcome to our Review a Bad Game Day coverage on Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2.
Warning: This article is for mature(ish) audiences and has both pictures and references to the female form. Parents strongly cautioned.
DOA when it was fully respectable…
The Dead or Alive series began respectably as a fighting game, created by Tecmo’s Team Ninja development team an headed by Itagaki Tomonobu in 1996. Featuring faster fighting and an innovative counterattack system unseen at the time, DOA was seen as a respectable alternative to the Tekken series. With the second installment the game was becoming known as much for the fighters’ bust size and “breast physics” as much as its speed of combat. DOA 3, a launch title for the original Xbox in 2001, was my first exposure to the series. The game was mostly well received and brought me back to fighting games after disappointment with the Mortal Kombat series past MK3.
Hard to remember being young enough to buy this without shame.
Then came Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball in 2003. Sure it wasn’t a fighting game, and Sports games aside from Midway Games’ arcade offerings never kept me interested, but I figured with badass characters and the rivalries that I had been enjoying for two years would be enough to make it great. And there were bikinis and that was pretty awesome. Did I mention I was fifteen years old at the time? Regardless, I did enjoy the great graphics, volleyball mechanics and casino games, but there wasn’t much else to do than just watching the characters sit by the pool. Doing nothing but occasionally stretching. And tanning. Seriously, an American fifteen-year-old gamer geek with glasses and red hair, who would rather play Dungeons and Dragons with the guys than socialize with girls I was too shy to even look at for too long. Do the math… *sob*
Sometimes nostalgia wins…and you lose
But as time went on, games grew in their depth of story and I got some maturity. I found myself more interested in developed characters than their…assets. So when DOA: Xtreme 2 was released in late 2006, nostalgia won out over maturity and regret was soon to follow.
If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering why it took so long to cover the original DOAX and not just jump into this game. I justify this by simply stating it’s the same game. The same game with minor improvements, a bigger price tag and a whole lot of devolving in the other areas.
Say what you will, these graphics are incredible.
First the upsides, because a broken game is broken from the start and a truly bad game lets you think it’s good before the disappointment bullrushes you. The graphics are absolutely stunning for games of the time. Team Ninja has always impressed in this department and this game is no exception. The environments, the settings and with no shame the character models (with one scary side note to come) are all breathtaking to look at. Even against more current games, this one holds up well for a seven year old game, though characters retain an anime influence that may not be appreciated by some players. Also, some new mini games, a new character and more manual control in the still fun volleyball this spin-off features.
And that’s it for the good. Onto the rest of the game.
As much fun as the volleyball is, it’s a mini game. It’s short, lacks the depth to make it great and doesn’t carry the game built around it. The rest of the mini games, like Butt Bumping, Pool Hopping and the pale Wave Race imitation take minutes to play and don’t even come close to being fun or worth being played over the volleyball in the time, fun or monetary reward departments. And the money is good for mostly cosmetic changes: new bikinis, accessories like shoes and hats and new jet skis that minimally improve an already boring mini game. Selection of character is also mostly cosmetic. Despite ratings being assigned to strength and speed, the difference is negligible.
One of the more conservative outfits of the game.
Also of note is the shallow storyline. The story involves Zack from the main DOA series raising the island that was destroyed by a volcano in the first game. When the women arrive to the island again, suddenly the violent rivalries from the main series, like Kasumi being targeted for assassination by Ayane and Christie killing Helena’s mother, all subside as they enjoy a wonderful, luxurious two week vacation with the others, who would beat the crap out of each other if this was any other DOA title. As volleyball is played two-on-two, finding a partner is required. However the only way to gain and maintain such teams is to consistently perform well in the volleyball, which can be difficult when the AI ramps up in ways that seem cheap, or by superficially giving gifts, but make sure the wrapping paper is the right color and the gift is straight from the character’s given list or she’ll return it to you or throw it out, making the relationship worse in the process!
The Easy Buck
There’s no sex in the game, but isn’t this suggestive enough?
This game is, and has always been, about the sex appeal. No other feature is as prominent as this. It’s about big boobs in swimwear, the skimpier the more expensive. Oh, and the breast physics. Yes, you read that right. Each one has its own independent physics, and this was touted as a feature. Of course this feature is bugged. Sometimes they freeze in one position and stay there. Even when the physics are working properly it just looks awkward…
I won’t even mention the way the game portrays its women. Needless to say, what you see on the cover of the game is pretty much is what you get.
If pretty girls with big cha-chas is all you want out of a game, I fear for you but to each their own. If you’re looking for gameplay out of your game, which I imagine we all do, there are too many games out there that are better.
Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 is Rated M for Mature for Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Simulated Gambling. Parents should probably not get this game for their kids. Ever.
A solemn thank you to 1MoreCastle.com for hosting Review a Bad Game Day. These events are always fun to write for and anyone who hasn’t already checked them out, please do so at your earliest convenience!