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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Team Ninja
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
January 24, 2003
Dead or Alive Code: Cronus

Dead or Alive: Paradise

Dead or Alive Xtreme 2

Dead or Alive 4

Dead or Alive Ultimate

More in this Series
 Written by Gavin Wright  on January 17, 2003

Updated Look: Tissues not included.

It's a well-known truth, and one that any advertising firm or movie producer would attest to ? sex sells. While the television and film industries may have adopted this concept long ago, the videogame market has only recently begun to catch on with this rather ?primitive' approach to marketing. But now, with their upcoming release of Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, Tecmo attempts to bring sex into to the forefront of our gaming culture. DOA: XBV takes the voluptuous Dead or Alive girls and whisks them away to a tropical island for some hardcore (volleyball) action. As a matter of fact, ever since its first public display back at E3 last year, the buzz surrounding Xtreme Beach Volleyball has never exactly been focused on its gameplay. Although the play mechanics have, for the most part, taken a backseat to the game's overly-exaggerated portrayal of the female physique, Tecmo assures us that their main concern has always been on creating a sound, well-structured volleyball simulation. You see, the girls in bikinis simply come with the territory.

The story is as follows ? Zack, after winning the last Dead or Alive tournament, takes his earnings to Las Vegas and hits it big with one lucky spin on the roulette wheel. So big, in fact, that he's made enough to purchase his very own island resort, which he predictably renames ?Zack Island'. He places all the amenities on the island that one could possibly want, including a hotel, casino, radio station, movie theater, and of course a huge golden statue in his own likeness. He then sends out invitations to all the Dead or Alive girls, and they show up expecting to compete in the next DOA tournament. But as soon as Zack lets them on to his little scheme, and informs them that the plane which flew them in to the island will not be returning for another two weeks, the ladies collectively resolve to hit the sands for a nice little game of beach volleyball.

The biggest question surrounding Xtreme Beach Volleyball (except for maybe the one about the boobies) has always had to do with how the game would be played. Although we still haven't heard any official word as of yet, we can now present you with at least a rough picture of how Tecmo internal developer Team Ninja will be handling the sport of volleyball. Matches in the game are played two-on-two, though it's unclear as to whether you have control over both members of your team or only one. The core control scheme consists of only two buttons. One button is used to ?set' the ball up in the air, which is the equivalent of a pass in volleyball, while the other button is used to serve or volley the ball over the net. Analog control is put to great use here ? give the button a small tap and your player will motion back as if to spike the ball, but then tip the ball just over the net in hopes of throwing off the other team. Timing is another important factor, as it can affect both the arc and velocity the ball. In many ways, the system is actually very similar to Sega's Virtua Tennis.

At the start of the game you'll be able to pick from a list eight girls, seven of which have made a return from Dead or Alive 3. The new recruit is Lisa, who just happens to be a former Olympic volleyball player. You control your lady of choice for the full two weeks that they're on the island, though you're limited to only three ?moves' per day. A move is basically any activity that you choose to take part in on the island, be it playing a game of volleyball, visiting the gift shop, or trying your hand at the casino. Actually, the casino is strictly a night activity, so you'll have only one chance per day to visit there. The game's ending is not clearly defined ? you simply have two weeks to make friends and enjoy your stay at the resort.

As I just touched on, there's a lot more happening on Zack Island than just volleyball. The casino is always a pleasant diversion, enticing players to try their hand at DOA-themed versions of poker, blackjack, roulette, and slots. The radio station gives you free reign over the music that's played in the game, allowing you to listen to the game's twenty-something licensed tracks or import your own using the Xbox's custom soundtrack feature. You'll also find an assortment of shops on the island, selling everything from bathing suits to clip-on lobster tails. There's a movie theater as well, showcasing various Tecmo products, both new and old. On top of these, we've heard of other mini-games, such as the beauty pageant, lifeguard drill, and a strange block-hopping game that may or may not make it into the final product.

The money you earn from the volleyball tournament can be spent customizing your character or buying gifts for a teammate at one of several shops on the island. There are over 100 swimsuits and more than 50 accessories available in the game, all of which are interchangeable between characters. You can even create your own custom-designed bikinis by picking from a list of colors and patterns. So now, not only will you be able to gawk at Hitomi in her new g-string, you'll also have the comfort of knowing that you designed it for her by hand.

Chemistry plays an important part in how well you and your teammate work together. If you pair up two characters that have clashed in the past, you'll have your hands full trying to shape them into a successful team. That's where gift-giving comes in to play ? any of the items purchased at the shop can also be wrapped up and given out as gifts to your teammate. If they like the gift, they'll show their appreciation by wearing it to the next game. Not only that, but a happy teammate also tends to play better on the court, so it's a good idea to try and always keep them pleased.

Like it or not, the main reason this game has gotten so much media attention is due largely to its graphic depiction of half-naked women bouncing around in bikinis. In fact, there has even been some serious discussion as to whether those bikinis will be coming off entirely. On one hand, Team Ninja head-honcho Tomonobu Itagaki has already claimed that the game will not include nudity of any kind. Yet on the other hand, the ESRB recently handed the game an ?M' rating for, among other things, nudity. And if you stroll on over to their website, you'll see that by their definition of the word, a game must contain ?graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity? in order to receive an M rating. So it's more or less anybody's guess.

Final Thoughts
With its January 24th release date fast approaching, the developers are keeping uncharacteristically tight-lipped in regards to many of the game's details. Normally, this would be taken as a sign that a game is incomplete and/or about to be delayed. But in this case, it seems more likely that they would rather simply keep all of the game's little hidden surprises under wraps until people have had a chance to play it. Although it'd be unrealistic to expect DOA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball to alter our perceptions on the sport as a viable videogame license, one can only hope that Tecmo will come through in delivering a product that lives up to the quality of the Dead or Alive name.

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