|This is NOT the version of the game to buy if you want to play it in English. I know that now.|
It's not looking likely that I'll draft an actual review for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune, the recent PlayStation 4 release from Tecmo. I bought the import version, and I waited through a delay or two, and today it finally arrived at my door. Then I discovered that although it will play in my PlayStation 4 just fine, I ordered the Japanese version and that doesn't include the English subtitles I was promised.
That's probably my fault. There were a few versions offered at Play-Asia, which was running a special campaign to get gamers such as myself to import the game once Koei Tecmo made news by announcing that it won't be bringing it to North America. I either ordered the wrong edition, or Play-Asia sent me the wrong edition. Either way, it's clear that I'm not going to be able to enjoy the game in my native language any time soon.
So let me tell you about the stuff I can experience, since this is the first game I've imported for PlayStation 4 and I might as well get something out of it besides a confusing play experience...
First of all, the packaging is very similar to North American packaging. The cases look almost identical in design, except the rating emblem is different and is also featured on the case spine. So it definitely stands out when sitting on the shelf between the various NTSC games I own. I kind of like it, but that's probably because it catches the eye, not because it's necessarily any better.
The game immediately required me to download an update, which was really quite small and took fewer than 30 seconds with a wireless connection. I want to say it was around 24 to 32MB. Not an issue at all. Then I was able to immediately start playing without any sort of additional install that I could see.
In Japan, button layouts are the same but the buttons do slightly different things. I knew that from playing the Yakuza import on PS2, way back in the day. So the X button doesn't confirm choices. It backs out of stuff, and the Circle button is your best option when you want to advance through menus. It's pretty easy to get going, at which point Zack offers a random spiel and then you get to pick the girl you want to take to his island. From there, you get to pick the girl you want to invite to serve as your avatar of sorts, and then you appear at the resort.
Days on the island pass quickly. You can choose a destination, which includes a fishing boat with gear, a poolside, and some beaches. Then you can choose activities. You can lounge in the sun and catch some rays, or play competitive events at the pool, or other such things. One game has you racing along a beach to be the first to reach a stake at the end. Another has you bouncing along floating platforms in the water, and yet another one has you bumping against another girl to try and knock her into the water without falling in yourself. Your performance is rated and you earn a prize. Some events you can select exist solely so you can watch as the lady you chose does something inane, like polish a statue with a rag.
In the evening, you can pose on the bed and swing the camera around to look at the best angle of your scantily-clad vixen. And you can go to the casino to gamble. I decided to try my hand at some poker, and I bluffed my way to a victory on my very first attempt, which earned me my second trophy (I got my first just for picking a girl and heading to the island). Trophies are integrated just fine and show up on my list along with the trophies from games I've played that were released here in North America. I read that if I want to pay for and download DLC--or even activate the free key that was included with my copy of the game--I'll need to create a Japanese PSN account. I think I'll pass.
In terms of general impressions, I would say that the DoAX series hasn't come very far since its very first installment. Maybe the volleyball is better, but I haven't yet figured out how to actually start a match. I've mostly spent my time giving gifts, playing the other mini-games, and relaxing to the calm vibes. Otherwise, this doesn't feel a lot different than the original Xbox release. The models do look better, but they're not outright amazing and they don't interact well with their environments. The girl lying on the bed and rolling around slightly doesn't mess up the blankets in a credible manner, for instance, and the girls wading through the sand don't seem to deform the terrain the way I would have expected. Sometimes, there's conversation and the girl who appears to be talking doesn't even move her lips, which is just odd. Insert a reference to the "uncanny valley," if you like.
All in all, I would say DoAX3 is a spotty project, and I don't think I'd love it even if I had cleverly purchased the version that includes actual English subtitles and menu navigation. There are parts of the game that look gorgeous and parts that look very last-gen. The mini-games lack any depth that might make them addictive. Most of the fun is going to come from dressing up the girls in different attire, and giving them gifts and winning over hearts. None of this, by the way, should outrage most potential players, and my conclusion is that DoAX3 isn't being made available here in North America not because "SJW" types couldn't stand it (though I'm sure you would have seen a few complaints), but because it's not actually all that good except as a way to wind down and relax after a stressful week of adulting.
Do I regret buying the game? Well, I do kind of wish I'd purchased the Asian version instead of the Japanese one. But it's too late for that, and honestly I'm not all that stressed. Who knows? Maybe Koei Tecmo will even do goofs like me a favor and release an update that patches in English language support at some point down the road, since it exists in other editions. A guy can dream, right?
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