Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus Review

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Game Title: Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus
Developer: Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 1.8 GB + 766 MB (Patches)
Asia Availability: Retail | Digital Download

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 should bring up some pretty controversial thoughts when you hear it. I’m sure a lot of you handheld gamers remember the big buzz over the net when Koei Tecmo came out and announced that the newest DoA Xtreme game would not be localized due to the fear of sexism reaction from the public. It was a big downer for series fans, but also understandable from the developer’s perspective.

You may also know that English-speaking players were given the chance to play the game, even though it never officially released in Europe or North America. In the Asia region, a multi-language version was released with English subtitles and Japanese voice-acting. Importing still costs money, though, so how did anyone know if it was worth the extra cash to actually get it?

I went to find out. This is very late from the time I originally intended, but here is my review of Dead or Alive: Xtreme 3 Venus for PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV!

Story

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The basics of the story is that Zack from the DoA series once had a tropical island that he used to create a special vacation service for all of the girls of the series. The intro quickly recaps the events of Xtreme and Xtreme 2 / Paradise, and the disasters that befell the islands, requiring him to rebuild.

Xtreme 3 takes place on the third island he creates, dubbed New Zack Island, made after the previous was taken out by a meteor. And as the story starts, he puts you, the Player, in charge of the new island as many girls come to spend a vacation on the island. As the owner, you are tasked with making sure they have a pleasant stay.

Gameplay

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The DoA Xtreme series doesn’t really fit under a specified “genre”. As you go through the game, you’re going to be playing through a lot of mini-games as you go through each vacation. Some mini-games have you playing volleyball, while others have you doing various other activities with button-inputs like a rhythm game or an interactive cinematic from games like God of War or Resident Evil 5. If Mini-Games was a genre, that’s the closest we would get to this.

There is normally no point in a Dead or Alive Xtreme game. You go through a vacation, take part in activities, buy and give the girls new swimsuits to wear and gifts to raise their affinity with you, and keep going until the vacation is over. Many people view it as a Voyeur game because of how much detail is put into the butt and breast jiggle physics and the fact that Relaxing is essentially just the player watching the girls prance around on the beach in a skimpy bikini.

Now let’s talk about how this is different from the previous games, because as soon as you load the game and start playing, it’s going to feel almost exactly like playing Dead or Alive: Paradise, its predecessor. The way you move around the island, spend time relaxing, and many of the activities almost feel copied and pasted from the previous game.

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First off, I feel like I need to point out that the character roster is smaller in Xtreme 3 than it was in Paradise. While it would make sense for a sequel to have more character, it has less. Paradise had 10 characters total. Xtreme 3 only has 9. There are plenty of different characters that weren’t in Paradise, but it doesn’t make much sense for a sequel to have less content.

The game is different in that it adds a couple new activities and Owner Mode and Missions. The two new activities are Tug of War and Rock Climbing. In Tug of War, both characters are on floaties in the pool and your goal is to tug the rope to make the other girl fall in the water. In Rock Climbing, your character climbs a rock wall while you do button input as they climb.

Owner Mode is the significant change. In Owner Mode, you’re able to do different tasks like taking photos of the girls doing tasks or accessing the Owner Store for exclusive items. This mostly ties into Missions. The game has a ton of missions for you to accomplish, sometimes as easy as winning a game of Volleyball or as difficult as saving up the funds to purchase an item to finish a girl’s exclusive mission set.

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These tie into the Satisfaction feature built into the game. While the game can be played randomly, there is a method to the madness. Your main goal is going to be raising your girl’s Satisfaction rating to 100% to ensure she has as good a vacation as possible. Doing this will not only give you a lot of money when you complete it, but it will also unlock that girl’s special ending event and trophy, which is the main point of doing it in the first place.

Speaking of money, let’s talk about that. Let’s say you don’t want to play it to drool all over your handheld’s screen from seeing Marie Rose in a bikini. Maybe you want to just enjoy the mini-games with them wearing costumes from earlier games that aren’t 100% fanservice. You can do that. When I first played, I strove to get Momiji’s Ninja Suit to get her out of a bikini and I worked pretty hard to get there. And that’s where I’m going with this point.

Costumes exclusive to each character unlock as you spend time with them, and they cost a lot of money. And the game makes it so that getting that money is a bit of a grind. For example, let’s say you can get 150,000 Owner Dollars per vacation run. Unless you risk gambling in the casino or doing endless missions, it could take several runs through the game, possibly hours upon hours of time just to get one costume. It’s made to be very grindy. Now, you can spend real money on PSN for Premium Tickets to get these, but if you don’t want to dump cash into DLC, it’s repetitive.

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Or, you could do something known as “Save Scumming”. When I played and a costume unlocked, I used this method to get money faster. Basically, you back up your save data to the cloud via PlayStation Plus before playing in the casino. Bet all your money. If you win, save and back it up and do it again. If you lose, close the game, download your backup, and try again. Even with this, it’s a very repetitive and grindy process, but still faster than doing vacations over and over and over until you get enough money.

Not that you won’t be earning anything with all the time you take. As you continue to level up, you’re constantly being rewarded with new items and features, like extra options for your camera or the ability to make the girls look straight at you to make a better pose for a snapshot. There are also constant events with new items, so even players who started when it was released are still getting new content today. But even so, it’s going to feel like a grind with doing vacations over and over and over just to get a new ending or a new feature.

As far as time is concerned, it really depends on what you want to do in the game. A single vacation could take as little as 3 hours to complete, while learning the methods of satisfaction and how everything works will significantly increase that. By the time I unlocked my first “Ending” from 100% satisfaction, I had spend about 14 hours in the game. Whether this is worth the $50-60 and Import Shipping is up to you.

Controls

Controls are pretty simple, and the controls remain the same whether you’re using the Vita or the PlayStation TV. No special controls for the L2/R2 or L3/R3 buttons aside from resetting the camera during a relaxation activity.

You use the Left Analog Stick and D-Pad for navigating the menus or moving certain features of the camera. The L and R triggers are used for button input for some activities but also for using the camera. The R button can be used to take pictures, though I’d argue it’s easier to just use the PS Vita’s screenshot feature for that.

The face buttons are used for mini-games, but I think it’s worth noting that the Circle and X button are swapped from the normal Western configuration. This is an Asian game, so Circle is used to select options in menu instead of the X button, and X is used to cancel. If you’re used to the opposite, it’s going to be a little confusing to go back and forth, especially if you use that Save Scum method for money that I explained in the above section.

Oddly enough, for a voyeur game, Venus is void of touch controls. You don’t need to worry about using the touch screen for much of anything.

Presentation

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First of all, the visual presentation is one of the game’s best features. The character models and environments look great for a PS Vita title. The shadows are a little jaggy but the character models look like they were taken straight from a PS3 game. While Paradise was Jagged Edge City, this game looks really well-done and polished, and even moreso when it’s on the PlayStation TV.

The rest of the presentation I have no complaints about. Despite the high visual quality, load times are short and frame-drops are nearly non-existent. The only times I ever saw the frames drop during gameplay was during menus and not during actual activities. It was pretty impressive, to be honest.

 

Summary

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus is a game that should have come West, but didn’t. The roster is smaller and getting money is repetitive without cheating via save backups, but if you enjoyed the previous Xtreme games, it’s got enough added depth to be worth the Import Plunge.

8/10

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