|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Team Ninja||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 30, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Let's not mince words here: the Dead or Alive franchise may have started off as a decent fighting series, but outside of the numerical entries, any game that bears the DOA logo is basically a dating sim with lots of sexy ladies. Sure, the Xtreme series on the Xbox and Xbox 360 came with some beach-style mini-games, but the gameplay has never been the real focus. Dead or Alive Paradise is essentially a clone of the original DOA Xtreme on the Xbox, and it sees the girls returning to New Zack Island for a vacation. Although the game informs you early on that your character is having fun on vacation, Dead or Alive Paradise doesn't feel like a stroll on the beach.
The game starts off as you would expect any DOA game to - there's a cutscene with lots of lovely ladies in suggestive poses (bending over, climbing trees, eating ice cream, etc). However, once the cutscene ends, a giant text box appears, letting you know you have arrived on New Zack Island. You will then be given a short text-based tutorial on gift giving and photo taking. How exciting! After scrolling through blocks of text, your first day will end, and then it will be time to party, right? Nope!
When the next day starts, you will have a choice of exploring the island, playing a mini-game, or trying to form relationships with the other girls on the island. Unfortunately, all of these options are really disappointing. If you choose to explore the island, you'll just select an area from a list on a menu and then view a 5-6 second clip of your character sitting on a chair or walking around the selected area. You cannot control the character, move around, or interact with the area you are supposed to be "exploring". You can only watch, and pressing any buttons will end the seconds-long scene early. The only plus side to this mode is that exploring new areas enables the "Venus Clip" functionality.
Although the "Venus Clip" feature certainly sounds like it might be something exciting, it just makes the camera swing around the subject so you can take pictures. However, since you have no control over the character, it can be difficult to get a good picture, and can make it frustrating if you are trying to take a picture and your character suddenly walks the other way or sits down. The only real plus to the exploration mode is seeing your character bounce around for a few seconds. But, it is so short-lived that I doubt players will come back to this mode more than a handful of times.
If you want to do something a little more interactive than just looking at pre-rendered cutscenes, you can play one of Dead or Alive Paradise's mini-games. The mini-games in DOA Paradise are basically identical to the ones in the Xtreme series. There's beach volleyball and pool hopping mini-games to play during the day, and a blackjack game you can play during the nighttime. The three total mini-games really aren't that fun, and if you have played Xtreme, you'll be quite disappointed. The fact that there are so few mini-games is also a little confusing, as the mini-games are the only thing to "do" in the game besides stare at the girls. The rest of the game is almost completely devoid of interactivity, so it's a shame that the only mode with any potential is only entertaining for a few minutes.
Your third option for "activity" is probably the most ill-conceived element of the game: the relationship system. Since all the DOA girls on New Jack Island are on vacation at the same time, you can try to form relationships with other girls by "partnering up" with them. Unfortunately, girls are fickle, and you'll have to give them special presents wrapped in their favorite color wrapping paper for them to even consider hanging out with you. Fortunately, each girl has a "file" that you can look at which will help give you clues as to what to give the character so that they will be more likely to partner up with you. When you partner up with someone, they will play either of the daytime mini-games with you, and they will talk to you when you are on the main menu through text boxes.