Dead or Alive, an unusually "exotic" beat-em up series by Team Ninja, makes its way onto the PlayStation Portable for the first time in the form of Dead of Alive: Paradise. It's due to land in all regions on the 2nd of April, but the game is not going for its usual genre this time. Much like with the Dead or Alive Xtreme spin-off titles, this game is set to go against the grain.
The game is essentially rather mini-game focused, as players get to go on vacation at New Zack Island and unsurprisingly the game features the Dead or Alive female cast, complete with their very elaborate figures and swimsuits to match. Most of the mini-games are centred around beach or resort based activities, however, there is a Casino featuring Rio from another of Tecmo's products.
The Casino aspect of the game features common-place games such as Poker and Black Jack, as well as the more traditional slot machine. The other games focus more on getting the girls down onto the beach or making them fall into the water. Volleyball, of course, will be one of the main features returning, although with some changes the difficulty. It's been ramped up quite a bit, as the positioning of the girls is now done manually as opposed to automatically by the game. Other mini-games return such as hopping across floating platforms in a swimming pool by pressing button sequences. The other mini-game seen in the game is a duelling based and involves the girls attempting to bump each other off a circular platform. There is also 2 player online available for those wanting to compete against each other.
As well as this, the game takes a step at providing a more simulation-based experience whereby players are given the chance to mingle with the girls and give them gifts. One of these is the ability to change the swimming costume they wear, and the more revealing the costumes will be harder to get them to wear. Unlike in the Xtreme games, there is a new addition allowing players to follow girls around the island and take pictures of them with a camera. These pictures can then be organised into an album.
There is also a relationship level, and once a girl has reached an intimate level with a player they can provide video clips which can be edited at the players digression. The relationship side features very heavily in the game and can be affected by buying the girls gifts from the various stores, winning games and spending time together. It also affects whether or not two will be able to become partners in volleyball. Much like other simulation titles, once that level has been reached it also has to be sustained.
Graphically, for a PSP title it looks rather impressive and animations look fairly solid. A lot of the main work has gone into the characters and it's obvious to why that is "“ they're the main feature of the game. Some of the environments are also very detailed though, especially the casino which is rather elaborate.
Dead or Alive: Paradise looks like it's going to be quite a niche game, as it really has the potential to satisfy a certain audience. From a gaming perspective though, while the mini games are far from bad, the game isn't exactly brimming with depth and it might struggle to hold any real lasting appeal.