A pertinent question. Having followed closely behind Virtua Fighter in technology stakes, the Dead or Alive fighting games have always proven to be enjoyable and accessible, if ultimately shallow and disposable in the grand scheme of the genre. Where Mortal Kombat’s gimmick appealed to our base love of violence, Tecmo’s series exploited our carnal instinct – sex.
It was transparent enough and anybody that wasn’t born with the name Tomonobu Itagaki could identify the series as a puerile yet playable distraction from real fighting games, but what if we strip away the layers of cutting-edge tech and responsive high-speed gameplay? What if we trim gameplay to such a reductive level that it makes a WarioWare minigame look in-depth? What if we centre the entire experience on the charade of interacting with Tecmo’s soulless Stepford Wives? We are left with the hell that is Dead or Alive Paradise.
Following a titillating FMV intro showing the DoA girls cavorting about in various states of undress and seductively going down on ice creams, the stage is set with Zack (the only male you see in the game and inarguably the most irritating character in the series) once again inviting DoA’s nine female participants and one irrelevant unlockable lady to his resurrected private island for two weeks where he trys to woo them through the medium of gift swimsuits, accessories and cabbages.
Your days are divided into morning, afternoon and evening where you will be able to indulge in activities as diverse as volleyball, pool hopping, butt battling and gambling. Volleyball is the activity that most resembles an actual video game, but it’s riddled with so many flaws it’s not even funny. Your point of view is a ridiculous angle that that pans around refusing to give you a full view of the arena and your partner is so devoid of common sense that she will regularly attempt to spike the ball from the back of the court, or even more amusingly, literally ignore it when it’s well within her range – not even a cursory dive to pretend she’s actually in the game with you. DoA: Xtreme 2 at least allowed you to control your partner’s movement with the second stick – a luxury that’s obviously impossible here but irritating none the less, and while the girls had individual stats in the last game, if they did make the transition they are nearly impossible to spot.
Pool hopping is a simple Guitar Hero-like button matching exercise that requires timing and observation but has even less depth than the shallow pool it takes place in. The butt battle makes its unwanted return as an unlockable after a lot of grief and even this sentence is giving it more recognition than it deserves. Finally we have gambling games which amount to poker, blackjack and the slots. Sure, they work, but if you needed a full-price UMD to play cards, you probably have bigger things to worry about. Cut from previous games in the series are the jet ski race, water slide, beach flag and tug of war games, leaving a severely undernourished gameplay experience.