Dead Or Alive Paradise is a thigh-slappingly hilarious videogame. Over the course of its fourteen-year-old life, the Dead Or Alive series (or more specifically, its Xtreme Beach Volleyball offshoots) has earned more than its fair share of detractors, many of them unconvinced that the game’s makers have ever been in on the joke. But frankly, anyone with a sense of humour is going to have the law laid down to them pretty sternly by Paradise’s rambunctious and almost Pythonesque opening cutscene. You will never before have encountered a game so aware of itself and its inherent absurdity.
Anyone who may still be operating under the assumption that the Dead Or Alive franchise is composed of only one-on-one fighting games may be a bit surprised by what they find here, but then this particular series descendant has been thriving since it first appeared on the original Xbox back in 2003. That first title was rapturously received by much of the gaming press, largely for the strength of the mini-games included in it. Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2 on the Xbox 360 was a solid next-gen update, and fans have been eagerly awaiting a handheld iteration since it was first hinted at by developer Team Ninja way back in 2004.
The storylines of those earlier titles were so gleefully threadbare that you often wondered why they bothered to include one in the first place. But both of the previous Xtreme titles frequently poked fun at this fact too, which made up a substantial part of the game’s off-the-wall sense of humour. And Dead Or Alive Paradise is definitely no different. This time, you’re visiting the famous Zack Island for the purpose of taking a two week vacation. And that’s the plot.
As before, the game is composed largely of playing mini-games, the best of which is still (understandably) the simple-but-rewarding volleyball. Visuals have been scaled down and obviously the wealth of different activities has been scaled back as per the relative limitations of the hardware, but this still very much delivers what fans have been waiting for. Other games include the enjoyable Pool Hopping, and a handful that all take place in the island’s casino like Poker, Blackjack and the slot machines.
These casino distractions can (obviously) net you a bit of extra cash to spend on the island, and this can be used to assist in shmoozing with the babe of your choice. You are free to mingle with them constantly throughout the game, and by doing this you’ll come to learn certain facts about their personalities which will inevitably help you later on. When you’ve gotten friendly with them (which is usually a result of buying them underwear in their favourite colour, hilariously) you are free to move on to the next part of the DOA Paradise experience: taking photographs.
Once you’ve purchased your camera from the game’s gift shop, and built up a steady relationship with the gal of your choosing, you are given numerous opportunities to take as many pictures of them as you can, as they do things like prance around in forests or laze beside swimming pools. If all of this sounds leery and sleazy, it isn’t. It’s just plain funny. During each of the photo “shoots”, the girls will find a constant stream of presumably excellent excuses to bend over, roll around on the ground with their legs akimbo, or find a companion with whom to share an ice cream with.
And that is pretty much it. It may well be a small production in comparison to the earlier offshoot games (befitting the platform) but it is every bit as perfectly formed as those titles. Its daft and its lightweight, but fans know exactly what they’re going to get, and Dead Or Alive Paradise certainly delivers it to them. Just don’t try to suggest that it isn’t funny. Because it definitely is.
Watch the Dead or Alive Paradise trailer here…