Dead or Alive Xtreme 2

Mark this one up in the Ultimate Guilty Pleasure category.  The last thing I’m going to do is sit here and pretend that this “game” has some sort of complicated underlying message, or that one can get something deeply rewarding from it based on varying interpretations.  I have been known, at times, to take a philosophical viewpoint on games that other people find shallow…to decipher deeper meanings amongst what appears to be nonsense.  I usually do this because I feel like sometimes developers have a vision and I’d like to give them the opportunity to express it without any preconceived notions of what their game is about.  The vision of DOAX2 is as uncomplicated as it gets, boobies.  Boobies and the anime women attached to them traipsing around and getting all suggestive-like.  That’s all.  If you FOR ONE SECOND think that this game is about ANYTHING ELSE you have diluted yourself to a point where your opinion means nothing.  Shameless, yeah.  But you certainly can’t say that it hasn’t been at least mildly successful.

To that end, I’ve spent a good portion of my time here waxing philosophic and trying to explain how really intense games have made a huge personal impact on my life.  I won’t dare to say this game is great, but I happen to like boobies…and anime.  If you’re a male gamer in the main slice of the consumer pie (15-30) then I’m officially calling you out right now if you say that you’ve never wondered what this game or its predecessor is all about.  The difference between the deniers and myself is that I openly admit it, bought this game in a store in front of other people and am not embarrassed to say so.  Now, I’m able to sit here and tell you that my purchase that day was pretty much worth it ($20 purchase mind you).  I kinda like this stupid game that I spent my earned money on, but that doesn’t mean it’s in any way good.

Let’s be realistic, DOAX2 is basically a high-budget softcore hentai game…it even has complex dating sim thingy.  It’s perfect for people who straddle a line between trying out h-games secretly in their basement and sitting around playing Xbox with their friends.  DOAX2 is a nice middle ground where you don’t have to feel completely ashamed of owning it but you don’t exactly broadcast to the whole world that you do.  The title’s high budget origin ensures a level of polish that you just simply don’t get from other games of this shameless a nature…like OneChanbara or X-Blades, which is nice.  Being that Team Ninja is also fairly accomplished, the quality of the game itself is surprising.  The graphics are excellent (an absolute requirement for this game to succeed where it needs to).  The gameplay, or what’s there that you could even call gameplay, is extremely functional.  Let’s just say that everything works right…or more precisely, there is less than nothing wrong with DOAX2’s functionality or presentation.  In fact, a fair portion these two categories could be called superior to other games.  Team Ninja’s graphical competence shines nearly as bright here as it ever has in the past, and as shallow as the mini-games and volleyball are they’re surprisingly responsive and a decent amount of fun.

Since it’s obvious that DOAX2 isn’t a work of art, how do you judge a game like this?  I feel like this is one circumstance where you have to evaluate whether or not what’s actually there is enough to justify playing or buying it.  It’s obviously not going to rank very high on my list but for some reason I’ve poured enough hours into the damn thing to be able to tell myself that it was good enough to do so.

If I had to pick a singular thing about the game that made it worthwhile (aside from previously mentioned shamelessness) it would have to the the collect-a-thon aspect.  You see, the volleyball and mini-games you play all reward you with money.  Money that can buy things in the shops on the island.  Things that go into a large index in the menu once you have them.  An index that is all very clearly labeled even when you don’t have the item.  It’s very hard to describe in words what an empty yet labeled and awaiting to be filled master index of items does to me as a person.  If someone out on the street handed me a list of things to do and all the criteria were laid out in order and had little check mark boxes next to them I would have to fight myself to NOT impulsively go do those things.  It’s in my nature to complete lists and achieve 100% of any grouping of tasks.  I view things like that in games as a challenge and find myself obsessively and mechanically (and usually futilely) working to achieve EVERY SINGLE THING ON THE LIST just to say I did.  It’s not even about the reward really either.  So when I boot up DOAX2 and I see that each girl has a empty spot in their index for about 40 swimsuits each I gotta scratch that fucking itch, ya know?

The genius of it, at least for me specifically, is that the collectibles in this game are a variety or REVEALING SWIMSUITS than you can change your character in and out of at will.  Kudos to Team Ninja for appealing to two of my biggest weaknesses.  I strove for longer than I ever should have to get every girl’s swimsuit index filled out…which didn’t end well after I discovered just how long it would actually take.  The process of playing volleyball (the highest yielding game in terms of dollar amount) and going to the swimsuit shop to see what ones I needed to acquire yet for the girl I was using had become a monotonous task after I completed the first few characters.  Yeah, they all had different suits and that was nice and everything but JUST HOW MANY FUCKING GAMES OF VOLLEYBALL CAN YOU PLAY??? FUCK!!

So, the volleyball.  It’s actually a lot more challenging than you’d think.  You get fourteen days on the island per trip (you can repeat an endless amount of trips) and theoretically can play three v-ball matches a day if you so please.  That’s forty two games of volleyball in one full trip to the island…sigh.  So what I ended doing was playing two full trips to the island with one girl and that seemed to be just enough money to acquire every swimsuit in her library.  Rinse and repeat.  The volleyball game itself was advertised as something that you could “play one handed” and as funny as that fucking is, you really shouldn’t if you have any desire to win.  Much like a fighting game, the matches you play get progressively harder as the week wears on and it becomes a incredibly trying ordeal to just get a few points in a match that you’re getting blown out of in the later days.  You can see how this would put a serious damper on my ability to get money and swimsuits.  It’s actually quite frustrating when you’re trying to grind out the later matches of the week to get that last bit of cash to buy your last few suits.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why Team Ninja would implement such a huge learning curve and degree of difficulty to this silly of a fucking game.  I feel like I shouldn’t break into sweats and throw my controller around for a stupid beach volleyball thing.

All things said and done, the matches are well-made and more than enough to like, make a real game out of.  Not that they’d ever take that idea seriously.  DOAX2 suffers from a sever lack of driving content.  It’s ludicrous to expect that a lot of people are going to find the self-motivation in their hearts to play this game for more than five hours.  I might be crazy or some shit but if you toss in a tournament bracket, a win loss record, a level-up system and an explorable island instead of a point and click menu you then have yourself ten times the game!  It’s stupid of me to even go there  because obviously the intent of the creators was as far from making anything with integrity as you can get.  Still, the gamer and pervert in me together would love to see this idea taken seriously and turned into something rewarding on more than a “hey look, boobies” level.  Then again, I’m stupid and what the fuck do I know about anything?

In conclusion, DOAX2 is alright with me.  I like looking at it.  It was fun for about twelve of the twenty five hours I played it but I don’t think there’s any reason to go back and revisit it again.  I feel like there is some potential with this “franchise”, but that’ll obviously be ignored…which is probably for the best.  I don’t regret owning it, but it will certainly remain a slightly embarrassing discussion point for any new people who happen to look through my game collection.  Oh well!  To me it’s just another game I couldn’t 100%.

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