Consider it an exercise in Darwinism. The “fighting game” is a genre in which a game’s survival depends entirely on its attractiveness to teenage males. Successful games quickly capitalized with a roster of increasingly muscular, powerful fighters, but somewhere in the primordial gaming soup a franchise called “Dead Or Alive” emerged with an extraordinary survival strategy: Tits. Big, bouncing tits.
With this basic concept, Team Ninja struck gold. In successive generations of “DOA” the tits got bigger, the cleavage got deeper and the throws grew ever-increasingly crotch-oriented. Soon, the geniuses at Team Ninja realized that the fighting had become nothing but vestigial, and they shed the superfluous combat in favor of an all out titfest disguised as a volleyball game, giving birth to “Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.”
Assuming that the market would remain interested in tits, Team Ninja went ahead with “Dead or Alive Xtreme 2,” an expanded version of the first game featuring new game modes and a bathing suit made only out of a strand of pearls. The premise of the game is formulaic enough: Zack (a character from DOA) discovers the sunken ruins of Zack Island while traveling with his girlfriend in his submarine, and so he fires a rocket into space, which summons a spaceship to raise the island out of the ocean and into our hearts. Then he invites a bunch of big-titted women to hang out there.
The player controls one of these women as they vacation on the island, play volleyball, race jet-skis, ride the waterslide or just hang out while you take pictures. Performing banal tasks is rewarded with Zack dollars, which are used to buy smaller and smaller swimsuits, which can be worn in the cut scenes and masturbated to. These swimsuits can also be bequeathed to other girls on the island as gifts, with the aim of coercing them to “be friendly” with you, which amounts to a video of them rolling around on the beach while you take pictures.
Often a game with an incredibly simple premise hides a surprisingly rewarding and nuanced gaming experience. “Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2” is notable because, behind its very simple premise lies an almost uniquely shallow gaming experience: The volleyball is utterly incomprehensible, the jetskiing bland and repetitive and the other mini games, even “butt battle,” are boring, frustrating and impossible to masturbate to effectively. The game is essentially an arms race for higher quality masturbation material, but the brevity of the “relax” sequences would challenge even the most talented 14 year old.
The menu-based system of moving around the island is completely inexcusable when free-roaming would clearly have been preferable, the limitation to three activities per game day is confusing, and the music is aggressively obnoxious. The soundtrack’s only highlight is the comparatively mild displeasure provided by the chorus of Hilary Duff’s cultural holocaust “Sweet Sixteen,” the lyrics of which sound identical to “Greek Sex Team.”
The game sometimes ends for no reason at all, offering no reward to the viewer save a bewildering cinematic in which the island is destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Triggered by a meteor. At this point Zack yells “Not again!” It is unclear if this is a reward or a punishment. “Xtreme 2” may have moments of addictive fun, but on the whole would fall flat on its face if the tits weren’t in the way.
And back to the tits. The tits are truly, truly spectacular. Each breast is controlled by an independent and nuanced system of physics, designed by some hapless team of designers who must have had to watch endless videos of “Baywatch,” grinding the bouncing orbs into their brains until they got could get to the real heart of the breast. The result is less like real tits, but, true to the neoclassical ideals of verisimilitude, an idealized representation of titness. The tits have a mind of their own, playfully waggling about even if the character is completely stationary. Though the hair and fabric may look a bit odd at times, the game hits those curves hard and doesn’t quit.
The island setting is beautifully realized in places, but over time the paucity of locations makes for a rather bland experience. There is a real style, and even a real game in here, but it gets masked by lazy development. Team Ninja appears to have decided that America’s teenagers can fall in love based on tits alone. They are correct.
The successes of “Xtreme 2” beg the question, “Why couldn’t there have been a game, too?” It may unabashedly lack sophistication, but that never stopped games in other genres such as “Serious Sam” or “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” from delivering gameplay as well. Sure, the game makes no pretensions about delivering what it promises, and will no doubt find a sizeable tit-loving market to sell to, but there’s promise for something more here. Maybe if the programmers could have stopped masturbating for long enough to make any of the aspects of the game actually fun, then they could have proved to hundreds of DOA fans that sex and disappointment don’t have to go hand in hand.