The Dead or Alive series has seen some, how shall we put it, interesting spin-offs in recent years. In January 2003 Tecmo released Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball on the Xbox, which set tongues wagging for its bouncing breasts. In Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2, the 2006 follow-up, breast physics were taken to another level. Now, following the departure of series creator Tomonobu Itagaki, Tecmo is bringing Dead or Alive to the PSP with Dead or Alive Paradise, and it's bursting with more bouncing breasts than an episode of Baywatch. Here, producer Yoshinori Ueda, game designer Yohei Shinbori, and art director Yasushi Nakakura discuss the controversy surrounding the title, and whether they reckon fans masturbate to the game. Really.
Q: Tell me about your development background.
Yoshinori Ueda: I've been with Tecmo for over 10 years. I've been a planner and director on various projects, including the Gallop Racer series and the Fatal Frame series. For this title I have taken the role of producer.
Q: What does the role of producer involve?
YU: The producer oversees all of the development of the game. I'm looking at budgets and schedules and of course the quality of the game, dealing with QA issues as well. I'm the overseer of the project.
Q: The game includes a number of mini-games and activities players can do. What are they?
YU: There are a variety of things to do in the game. The overall point of the game is to enjoy the characters themselves, and to give the player the chance to spend some time in a Paradise with these characters. With that as a base, we have activities like beach volleyball and giving presents, and a variety of different places and activities where the player can enjoy some time with these ladies.
Yohei Shinbori: There are four activities and then there's the casino. Within the activities we have Beach Volleyball, Pool Hopping, Beach Flags, and what we call Butt Battle. Each of these games is its own self-contained game. We want to allow players to just play the games they want to play and have fun as they want to - give them the freedom to enjoy them as they want. The casino opens up at night. You can go into the casino and you can play Black Jack, Poker, or the slot machines. We added a new character at the casino, who we think is a nice addition.
Q: How does Butt Battle work?
YS: In Butt Battle the two contestants are standing on a floating platform in the middle of a pool. They have to thrust their rears at reach other to try and bump the other one off of the platform. It's a nice, fun, game.
Q: The ESRB ratings board recently described Dead or Alive Paradise as "creepy", with "bizarre, misguided notions of what women really want". What do you think of that description?
YU: We feel that the original text that went up was a subjective opinion. Of course everyone will have their own take on what the game is and what it means for them as they play it. For us the game is about providing a vacation, a resort, a place to have fun, and providing that experience to players. Part of that is taking pictures and having beautiful women in a beautiful locale. That's part of the fun in what we're trying to do with the title. We understand everybody will have their own opinions about it, but we would like people to take a look at the title, play it, and judge for themselves. We tried hard to make it a real paradise. We hope people will get that from the game.
Q: Describe the kind of person who is interested in playing Dead or Alive Paradise?
Yasushi Nakakura: Dead or Alive has a bit of a history. It's been around for a while and the fans have grown with the series. With this title, Dead or Alive Paradise, we're looking at resetting that. We're trying to get new fans, people who aren't familiar with the series, and cast the net wide for people who might be looking for something different.
Q: Paradise features scantily-clad women and heavily sexualised content. Do you reckon some of your fans have masturbated to the game?
YU: [Laughs] Everybody here is married now! Basically, if people can play the game however they want to play it, then that's fine with us.
Q: You must think that someone somewhere has been so turned on by the game that they bashed one out.
YU: You think so?
Q: I do, yeah. I reckon a few people will have had some fun with the last trailer you put out.
YN: [Laughs] Well maybe we could consider that a success.
Q: Ex-Team Ninja boss Tomonobu Itagaki left the company in 2008. How has his departure impacted upon the Dead or Alive series and the direction it's going in?
YU: The team as a whole, we understand that Mr. Itagaki made the Dead or Alive brand. But the staff here knows the game and knows the tradition, and wants to keep the tradition and the quality that has been established. But at the same time, we're looking from a game design aspect at things, and trying to listen more to users, and make things a little more user friendly. We want to listen to our fans, listen to our users a little more. Keep the good of what's been established, but reach out to more users, and make games that even more people can enjoy.
Q: There are many fans who are anxious to hear word on Dead or Alive 5. Do you plan to make Dead or Alive 5 more user-friendly?
YU: We can't really talk about anything right now. We've been concentrating on DOA Paradise.
Q: So fans will have to keep on waiting then?
YU: Yeah. Thank you. We really appreciate it.
Dead or Alive Paradise is due out on the PSP on April 2.