Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 isn’t very good. It’s simplistic, tedious, and more importantly, not very fun to play.
Published by Koei Tecmo, it’s the latest title from Team Ninja that sees players venture to a paradise island for some fun in the sun. Exclusive to Japan and Asia, the game was denied a Western release despite its English localization for reasons the publisher has refused to disclose. A community manager for the company suggested that the reason was to avoid potential criticism over its portrayal of female video game characters. Regardless of the real reason, gamers worldwide can import the title from overseas retailers, and so they have.
The goal of the game, if you can call it one, is to unlock new swimsuits, lingerie and other accoutrements for one of the game’s nine playable characters. You do this by spending the game’s currency of “Zack bucks” at the shop, acquired as rewards for completing and winning the various activities and minigames.
At the start of each game session, you choose a girl to play as. Every session in the island paradise lasts 14 days, with 3 activities per day and can be as long as 2 hours of playtime. At the end of each day, you can spend as much time as you want in the Casino to gamble your Zack bucks in games of blackjack, poker and roulette.
Once the two weeks are up, you’re graded for your performance as the “Owner” and how satisfied you made the girls. I got a “C” rating my first time through, having only focused on a single girl. The game advises you to give equal time to all the other girls for a better rating, but the only way you can accomplish that is to play the game repeatedly. Their satisfaction rating carries over to future sessions. But honestly, it’s just not worth the effort.
DOAX3 gets long in the tooth by the time you reach the 14th and final day because the few activities it has are only tolerable for so long. Previous Dead or Alive Xtreme titles offered more things to do, including jetski races, water sliding, and some of these modes could even be played in multiplayer. Volleyball, butt battles (don’t ask why Team Ninja called it that), pool hopping, tug-of-war, and beach flags make a return.
Aside from dressing the girls up and taking their photos, one might expect for the minigames to be at the heart of the game. It’s the only gameplay DOAX3 offers. Unfortunately, the most engaging of these minigames– pool hopping and rock climbing–consist entirely of QTE sequences. I found them to be the only engaging ones. Even so, QTEs are usually designed to accompany skill-based action (God of War, Darksiders) or provide some interaction during a cutscene (Heavy Rain, Until Dawn). Entire minigames based on QTEs alone don’t make for compelling experiences.
Butt battles and tug-of-war are much worse. They’re almost identical variations of the same activity, in which the objective is to push (or pull) the other girl off the platform. The only highlight of these activities is that the bra strap of a girl might fall to the side—not that it makes any difference whatsoever, as the outfits leave little to the imagination as they are.
The most complex activity, volleyball, is easily the worst thing DOAX3 has to offer. It’s ironic that the one activity the DOA series is most known for also happens to be its least enjoyable. The camera is positioned at an odd angle that makes it difficult to determine where to move or when to block an attack. The whole activity felt like an exercise in futility—it’s much easier to earn both Zack bucks and raise satisfaction by partaking in any of the other activities, which also take less time to complete. It’s a beach volleyball game that can’t even get beach volleyball right.
DOAX3 carries a few aspects to make it more than just an average compilation of sports minigames. It tries to set itself apart with dating sim mechanics, offering a simplistic relationship system that’s even worse than Dragon Age: Origins. It’s like that but without any of the dialogue options. All you do is buy items that a girl likes (it’s so simple that the description flat out tells you who likes it) and gift it to her to raise her satisfaction.
Your reward for achieving a high rating with any of the girls is a sexy dance—not even a striptease. The routine wouldn’t be half bad if they were at least interactive in some form, but they aren’t.
Therein lies DOAX3’s greatest shortcoming. Titillating as it tries to be, the game offers nothing meaningful in the way of player interaction. As the “Owner,” you have no control apart from deciding how to photograph these characters. You have no agency or interaction with them. They’re girls under glass—mannequins in a store window. Look, but don’t touch.
Judged on the merits of its quality and content alone, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is a bad game.
Disclosure: A copy of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was provided by Play-Asia.com for the purpose of this review. The retailer holds zero influence over the content and conclusion of the review. The game is unavailable in North America, Europe, and many other parts of the world. The only way to acquire the English-language version of DOAX3 is to import it from an online retailer. You may purchase it from the link above.