Review: Dead or Alive Paradise

DOAP Boxshot.jpg Pocket-sized girl ogling and beachside partying come to the PSP in Dead or Alive Paradise, a portable extension to the Dead or Alive Xtreme spin-off series previously exclusive to Xbox and Xbox 360. Part voyeuristic photography sim, part mini-game collection, Paradise is a game that has you taking a two-week vacation to New Zack Island as one of the 10 large-breasted hotties from Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive fighting franchise. But unfortunately this vacation isn’t all fun in the sun.

It’s actually kind of sad too, because Dead or Alive Paradise, as much as it shames me to admit, had some potential to be a kinky little guilty pleasure. However, lazy design, poor optimization and just plain pointless gameplay lead it astray.

Shockingly, the individual mini-games aren’t half bad. The casino games (poker, blackjack and slots) are serviceable, pool-hopping (a competitive game of hopscotch with an aquatic twist, basically) requires fast fingers and is a good challenge, and once you get used to the awkward side-view camera perspective the volleyball action is a simple delight.

In fact, had the game used volleyball as its focal point I’d be much kinder in my assessment here. However, silly relationship management forces you to jump through hoops just to get a partner to play with. A partner is given to you upon arrival to New Zack Island, but eventually you’ll find yourself alone and needing to buy just the right gift to bribe another girl into being your friend. A “Guide to the Girls” functions as a dumbed down Playmate data sheet listing each girl’s turn-ons and makes gift purchases easier, but the process is still an unnecessary barrier blocking you from the one part of the game that doesn’t completely suck.

When you aren’t buying gifts or playing one of the mini-games, the rest of your time is spent snapping photos of the DOA girls frolicking on the beach, taking showers, straddling trees, lathering up with suntan lotion or lounging poolside in the skimpiest bikinis imaginable. Problem is, the photography element – clearly positioned as the game’s primary feature – is the weakest part of the Paradise package, mainly because it is completely and utterly pointless.

Seriously, all’s you do is take photos for a few seconds while your chosen girl does her thing, and that’s it. There is no rating system grading your photography skills, and even though all pictures are automatically saved to your memory stick, you can only view small thumbnails from within the game. To view your photo collection in full, you have to exit the game and scroll to the Photo section of the PSP’s XMB. This lack of a true in-game photo album is an unforgivable oversight if you ask me.

From purely a technical perspective, the girls and tropical backgrounds are graphically attractive. But then, of course, the absurd, overly-jiggly boob physics come into play and turn what is supposed to be a sexy game into a silly one. Even when the ladies are standing still their boobs are bouncing to and fro uncontrollably, and completely independent of one another too – one will be bouncing up while the other goes down, defying the law of physics and just looking downright weird.

Paradise also just so happens to be one of the most poorly optimized games I’ve ever played on the PSP. Normally I’m not one to piss and moan about load times, but here it’s unavoidable. The transitions between each scene are painfully slow, and even the voice acting – which is painful enough already – takes a couple seconds to load in after the text has already appeared on screen. And no, you can’t simply read the text and skip through the dialogue at your own pace to avert the problem. I’m not sure if the PSN version runs any faster since it installs on a memory stick, but with the UMD version the disc-reading buzz is constant and the performance is lousy.

If all you care about is tits and ass – real or virtual – Dead or Alive Paradise may just be the game for you. Personally, though, just having this game in my PSP makes me feel like a dirty, creepy little perv, and, like watching porn, it’s something I’d be embarrassed to be caught playing. Obviously there is a market for this type of game – Tecmo surely must be selling enough copies to now be releasing this third installment – I’m just not part of it, nor do I understand the appeal.

I mean, why would you want to pay $30 to look at half-naked virtual girls when pictures and videos of fully-nude real women are only a Google search away? I just don’t get it…

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Volleyball mini-game is actually kinda fun

Cons:
– Dreadful load times
– Pointless photography mode
– No in-game photo album
– Ridiculous boob physics are weird, not sexy

Game Info:
Platform: PSP (UMD and PSN versions available)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: UMD – 3/30/2010, PSN – 4/1/2010
Genre: Simulation/Mini-games
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!