"The volleyball action itself can be pretty intense. Your opponents behave differently depending on their confidence level — "unwilling" foes are like those girls in Phys Ed class who always let the volleyball fall at their feet because they think hitting it might fracture their forearm. "Confident" opponents are like the Volleyball team captains — hyperkinetic, long-legged beauties who block even the jocks' spikes with ease. The nice bit is, you can actually predict the oppositions' attitude before a match based on their character portraits!"
I have to admit, I was skeptical. I played Dead or Alive on the Playstation. The fighting was fine, but what I remember most clearly are the bouncing breasts. How could I forget them? Those things were like superballs! At first, I just chalked the series' popularity up to the undeniable appeal of polygon boobs. Did you SEE those things? My god!
So I was pretty shocked when I played Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Now, before you accuse me of running out and buying the game for the chicks, remember this -- I didn't play by choice! I was pretty much coerced by my friends Adon and Samson at a slumber party. They refused to play anything else, so it was DOAX or bust. I didn't like Microsoft, but I made an exception for the one night...
...and that's the story of how I came to own an Xbox.
The girls are pretty hot, and they're dressed in skimpy bikinis, but this isn't like PSX Dead or Alive. The bounciness has been toned down to (more) realistic levels -- no longer am I forced to point and laugh at tide-inducing gazongas! I really have to wonder... maybe, just maybe, the whole series matured after that sophomoric fiasco on the PSX. Perhaps Dead or Alive 2 (and 3) garnered their high scores through quality, and not through bombastic sexual appeal?
It's true; the oceanic depth of gameplay in DOA Volleyball has forced me to question my former beliefs. Perhaps it's time for me to grow some legs and crawl my way out from the primordial swamp of skepticism. Because, really, this is one sweet game.
The volleyball action itself can be pretty intense. Your opponents behave differently depending on their confidence level -- "unwilling" foes are like those girls in Phys Ed class who always let the volleyball fall at their feet because they think hitting it might fracture their forearm. "Confident" opponents are like the Volleyball team captains -- hyperkinetic, long-legged beauties who block even the jocks' spikes with ease. The nice bit is, you can actually predict the oppositions' attitude before a match based on their character portraits! If former assassin Christie stares off into the distance... fear not, her mind is elsewhere. If she glares straight ahead, forcing your eyes to avert from her unwavering gaze -- watch out sukka, you've got a challenge on your hands!
Since I'm a wimp, I usually avoid the hardest matches entirely and play the pool-hopping game instead.
Strewn across the swimming pool (which, by the way, is absolutely gorgeous at night) are several puffy floats... and it's your chosen character has to cross the calm waters by way of these nylon rocks without falling! If you do happen to lose your footing, it's not soooo bad; after all, ninja mistress Kasumi looks so cute when she teeters on the edge. WhoOoAh WhoOoAh! You can even zoom in for a closeup... to examine the bump-mapped ripples on the water, of course. You could also zoom in for a better view of her rump, but you shouldn't do such a thing. That would be naughty.
Make it across the water and you earn some money. You can also earn money winning at volleyball or by playing games in the casino. And let me tell you, this is by far the coolest version of video blackjack I've ever played! Now, I suck at poker, so I can't comment on that one, but the blackjack is nicely laid out with each button representing a different command, the casino doesn't seem to cheat, and when you've got a situation where you can split, the game makes sure to ask if you want to do so. Plus, the cards are downright beautiful. They're actually the same set of cards that you can order from Tecmo's website, each one has a different picture of a hot girl on it.
In addition to blackjack, there's also a roulette game. It's a bit difficult to read the numbers on the board, so you might want to brush up on your table settings, but the slick presentation makes it it's fun listening to the other girls chattering away, placing their own bets. And then a voice calls out "NO MORE BETS!" and the wheel spins, the little silver ball circling around and around a golden statue of Zack before finding a resting place (and hopefully earning you loads of cash).
Now why is Zack so special? It's not because he's a Lego maniac, it's due to his Bloodsport-inspired performance in the Dead or Alive tournament, earning so much money that he was able to buy himself an entire island! Yes, that's right, he owns the whole damned island. You can even buy items like "Zack's Statue" or "Zack's Autograph" from the island's shops.
You can also buy tons of bikinis (there are soooooo many different ones to choose from) or hundreds of other accessories: straw hats, nail polish, prototype Xboxes (that thing's even bigger than the final model), lobsters, ninja throwing stars, you can even buy a friggin GUN! And get this, you can wrap that GUN and deliver it to your sweetheart as a gift! How awesome is that?
The cool part is that all the girls actually have likes and dislikes. Hand a revolver to pro-wrestling cowgirl Tina, and she'll gush all over you (and perform better in action, if she's your volleyball partner). Give it to Lei-Fang, and you'll get an "uhhh... thanks".
Pretty much every item has a girl who loves it and a girl who hates it. Except for the Venus suit, an ingenious inclusion by the crafty devils at Tecmo. It's the most revealing bikini in the game, consisting of only a thong bottom and nipple covers. Furthermore, all the girls hate wearing it. Obtaining the Venus suit is actually pretty straightforward; just have Lisa (she's the only one who can buy it) pay ONE MILLION DOLLARS to the shopkeeper. Make Lisa put it on, then ooh and ahh over how nearly-naked she is! The difficult part is getting other girls to wear this skimpy outfit, but it's worth the hassle... who wouldn't want to dress lavender-haired Ayane (37 inch bust) in the Venus?
Well, guess what -- all the girls DESPISE the Venus suit. Give it to them and not only will they hate you forever, but more often than not, they'll throw it in the trash. Spending a million dollars and watching it go down the drain -- so exasperating! But, the trick is that if you can butter up a girl enough, then sometimes, just sometimes, she'll hate you forever... but keep the suit anyways. Discovering "the Venus-giving trick" is the holy grail of DOAX players, and Tecmo is to be applauded for including such a desirable and completely honorable secret.
If you fail at that task, don't worry. There are over 300 other swimsuits to pass around, sexy suits that the girls will readily accept -- just like giving candy to babies.
So with all of the casino talk, and the gift-giving (which sounds reminiscent of those wacky Japanese dating games), it almost makes the volleyball action seem like an afterthought. It's pretty easy to pop the disc into the DOAXbox and never play a match. But that doesn't mean the volleyball aspect ain't important. Unless I'm mistaken, didn't I already mention it's a damn sweet volleyball game?
Spike a girl off her feet, and earn an instant thousand dollars! Earn two grand if you can deliver a perfectly-timed, supercharged leaping serve. Rewarding the player for brutal, bone-crushing play with MONEY. Now that's enticement!
You can block, you can leap across the beach for a dig, you can set or bump, but it's not just about what you can do. There's even interaction with your partner! Watch a ball coming at you -- when you set it, if you do a 'hard' set, you'll actually call out your partner's name, and she'll turn to watch you -- which results in either a quicker setup (for your spike), or she might even spike it herself! Pull a softer set, and her response will be slower. Appropriate at times -- hit the ball too hard when it's slammed in your face and it'll fly to the boonies -- and less appropriate at others. Wow! I think I've described some actual in-game strategy! For the ultra-elite, ambidextrous supergamers, you can even control your partner's movement with the right thumbstick.
Also, the character animations during the matches are very amusing. When you spike a ball into the dirt, and it ricochets into a girl's shin and she cries "OW!" and leaps backwards, it's hilarious! Fortunately these ladies have the resilience of inflatable dolls -- knock 'em off their feet one minute, watch 'em jump (and jiggle) in joy the next.
Yeah, with such awesome action, a plethora of gifts to give (gotta collect 'em all!) and a really well-done Vegas casino, I can easily see myself spending another 30 hours with Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. An hour here and there, this game is like a virtual vacation, an escape from the stress of everyday life. Hell, you can even just spend an hour watching the girls relax in the sun, and let the work-weariness ooze from your pores. In short, the point of DOAX is to have fun. And isn't that what games are all about?
Staff review by Zigfried (October 14, 2005)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
If you enjoyed this Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!