The intro preceding the Dead or Alive: Paradise title screen is hilarious; a shameless montage of bikinis, bottoms and breasts. Mere seconds in, and an extreme close up of a glistening cleavage fills the screen, followed shortly by a 'stalker cam' showing a girl removing her jeans. At one point, Kokoro and Hitomi take it in turns to suggestively lick the same ice cream; presumably the island's ice creams are too expensive for the pair to afford one each. It's truly cringe-worthy stuff, and even if Tecmo's metaphorical tongue is placed firmly in its cheek - the embarrassing tone set in the intro is carried well into the main game.
In Tecmo's defence, the Dead or Alive girls are an attractive bunch, at least in the conventional sense. You'd think their bodies would be covered in bruises and scars; mementos of the countless fights they've been in over the years. But no, they're perfect, both in form and complexion. That said, the character models aren't fantastic, and the animations that accompany their more energetic actions are crude. Their breasts are so big that they should all be suffering horrendous back problems, and the physics that govern the way in which they move is questionable. If Newton were to sit down and play the game, the first thing he'd notice (aside from the wonder of modern technology) is how each breast acts independently of the other, making a mockery of gravity and the laws of motion.
Some of you may remember Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball on the original Xbox a few years back. While the game wasn't fantastic, the volleyball mechanics were solid enough, and it managed to get away with a bit of female objectification as a result. In Dead or Alive: Paradise, Tecmo has taken that objectification to obscene levels, and the experience feels less like a game and more like an interactive issue of Nuts or Zoo. I'm sure if the game were to get into the wrong hands, feminists and women's rights activists would have a field day tearing it to shreds in the media. If the gameplay had some substance, this wouldn't be quite so bad, but it has literally none to speak of. The game is painfully dull.
Essentially, it cobbles together a handful of mini-games under the pretence of a vacation. On New Zack Island, the busty beauties from the Dead or Alive series have two weeks to take their mind off fighting tournaments, and indulge in volleyball, pool hopping, and gambling. At the start of the game, players choose from one of ten characters to play with (I chose the lovely Helena), and are free to spend their time on the island however they see fit. You can't explore the island directly, but a selection of bold and colourful menu screens backed by cheesy techno beats allows players to cycle through activities and locations. Although this relaxed structure reflects the holiday theme nicely, there's no sense of progression, and the game feels incredibly aimless as a result.
Volleyball is the real meat of the experience, and uses a very similar engine to that of the aforementioned Extreme Beach Volleyball. It's not as in-depth as its console counterpart, however, and unresponsive controls ruin whatever fun the game once had to offer. There's no competitive element to play either; obviously the idea is to win, but there's no tournament, league or rivalry to make winning worthwhile - you just get money which can be spent on pointless bikinis and accessories.
The pool hopping mini-game is slightly more entertaining, for a few minutes at least, and tasks players with jumping across a pool by timing a sequence of button presses. In the evening, the girls can take themselves off to the casino, where they can be found wearing clothes - for a change. Using money won from volleyball and pool hopping, chips can be put down on Blackjack, Poker and Slots. This too feels pointless however, as winning big has no advantages. All you can do is head to the shop to buy a new bathing suit, which has no effect on anything apart from aesthetics.
You could choose to spend your money on gifts, which can be presented to other girls on the island in order to bribe their friendship. If you happen to choose an item or accessory they have a particular affinity towards, they'll shriek with joy, and will happily partner up with you should you pop the question. This is ultimately trivial though, as the difference from one character to another only really extends to the colour of their hair and the size of their bras.
The most intriguing (and seedy) feature the game has to offer equips players with a camera, and lets them live out their fantasies as a soft core porn director. As the girls entertain themselves with a range of different activities - perhaps swinging on a rope or playing in the sea - players are encouraged to take pictures which can be viewed later on in the game. The camera isn't even digital, and requires film which can be bought from the shop. Again, this activity has no effect on anything whatsoever, and only serves to satisfy the urges of horny teens.
While Dead or Alive: Paradise may appear exciting to a sex-starved 16-year-old, the game is insulting to all other audiences; a huge backwards step in an industry desperately trying to mature. Remember this, kids: ultimately you're getting yourself worked up over polygon meshes, skin coloured textures and clever algorithms. Unless you're really struggling for ways to entertain your libido, the game should be categorically avoided. A perverts Paradise it may be, but there's absolutely nothing heavenly on offer here.