Zack Island > Island of Dr. Moreau
The Dead or Alive series has never been known as a superb fighter, but more of a T&A showcase. The ladies of DOA have always been the main focus of the series (there aren’t many fighting games where people want a nude code), so it’s a no brainer that Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball was made. No longer do you have to look at the lame male characters (except Zack, but he can be skipped), or worry about getting “button mashed” to death. In DOAX, it is all about having a nice relaxing time.
Team Ninja has created the perfect pick up and play game. There are only 2 buttons, but they are pressure sensitive.As the ball comes over the net the player has three options. One option is to attempt to block the ball with the A button, the other is to set the ball using a light tap of the B button or a firm press to set up a “two attack” to send the ball over the net with only 2 hits instead of the usual 3. If the player opts to set the ball then the cpu will set it back to the player setting the player up to spike the ball. The spike is also pressure sensitive. A light tap of the A button will feint the ball over. This tactic is especially good for when the opponent goes up for a block. A hard press of the A button will spike the ball hard, if the ball is hit hard enough the force may even knock the opponent over. The controls are easy to pick up yet hard to master, perfect in every way.
The game takes place on Zack Island, over the course of 14 days, and there can be 3 volleyball matches a day. The games difficulty gets progressively harder as the vacation goes on. The more volleyball matches the player wins the more money they get. Volleyball isn’t the only thing you have to do on Zack Island (although it is the most addictive thing to do). There is a hopping mini-game. The hopping game is a pressure sensitive targeting exercise. The better the player does on this exercise the more money they get. In addition to the hopping game the player can visit the casino and play Blackjack, Slot machines, Roulette, and poker. All of these give the player another way to make more money. If the player chooses to not play volleyball on a certain part of the day, they can go to an empty part of the beach and chill out. This chilling out process brings up a gravure showcasing the players character doing a number of things from lying on the ground to riding a bike. The gravure movie is a nice way to view your favorite bikini as well as the gorgeous environments. Regardless, the most fun is had in the volleyball game, and is probably why the game is titled Dead or alive Xtreme beach volleyball.
So, money can be made in this game, but what is it used for? Well, there is another aspect of this game, its finding a partner to team up with, but it is easier said than done. The player must buy gifts for their partner, to keep them happy. The happier the partner the more nice points that can be earned during a match. “Nice points” are like a bonus, and at the end of the match the nice points equate to money. The player can buy a variety of things for themselves or their partners . They can buy accessories, swimsuits, or just a bunch of random objects from “Zack of all trades.” Each character in the game has their own likes and dislikes, so pleasing them is harder to do, and they won’t accept all gifts that are given to them. This brings another challenge into the game, not only does the player have to collect things for themselves, they also have the option of trying to have their favorite bikini accepted by their partner. There are over 304 swimsuits to collects so there is something for everyone.
The graphics in DOAX are simply stunning. The environments look great, and each part of the day lights each environment and character differently. The sand shifts under the feet of the character and creates a trail further immersing the player into the DOAX environment. The character models loo k good. The characters are animated very nicely, each character has the appropriate jiggle (a minor jiggle though.) Emotion is visible as each character shows their amount of pleasure (or displeasure) that has just occurred. Characters even wink! The characters will get tanned if the player applies suntan lotion to them, and their skin will get lighter if sun block lotion is used. It would be nice to see some tan lines in this game, but that is what sequels are for. Also, not all environments are created equal, most look good, but some the character sticks out too much, and almost looks as if its just a body floating around instead of stepping around playing volleyball. Think of them as a highlight on a piece of paper, it just sticks out.A minor complaint. The swimsuits in the game look amazing! Even the lamer looking swimsuits even have something to set them apart from the rest. The swimsuits come in 2 forms, shiny, and fabric. The shiny ones are fun to look at but the fabric ones are so detailed individual threads can bee seen (look hard)
Sadly the sound is not as great as the rest of the game. There aren’t many sound effects, most are of the DOA girls screaming and grunting. The girls exclaim “Nice shot!” or other “nice,” things during the appropriate times. The rest of the voices are in Japanese, which is OK since the English voices in DOA2: Hardcore were very, very, horrible. The other sound effects are the ball getting hit around and the ocean waves crashing. The games soundtrack is very laid back, and fits the game perfectly. Normally I wouldn’t listen to these trendy pop tunes, but when playing this game it only seems appropriate. DOAX also supports custom soundtracks, which gave me an incentive to purchase the game, and to play it so long. Overall the sound is adequate but the soundtracks are as good as you make them.
DOAX is a beautiful game fun game. The volleyball and bikini collecting is addicting and since the game is never ending, it has infinite replay value. The more I played the more I thought that they could improve on this, or we could have more of this, which isn’t a bad thing, it just means that the sequel will be that much better.