Somewhat often, quirky or weird games come along that cause many of us to do a double take when we first see them, sort of similar to how many people undeniably do a double take when passing a particularly pretty or handsome person on the street. Tecmo Koei have developed one of the very few games that's combined both of those circumstances, of whom's marketing run has caused many to perform the very rare, triple take, at least for us guys. That game (for lack of a better word) is Dead or Alive: Paradise for the PSP. Featuring plenty of eye candy relaxing on a tropical island, wearing next to nothing, with gameplay principally focused on starring at said eye candy, this isn't quite the game many people would be caught picking up. However, it is exactly the type of game certain shameless gamers will likely thoroughly enjoy.
The Dead or Alive franchise has featured overly busty babes since the beginning, but until now the series has either focused on fighting gameplay, or volleyball, with sight seeing the selection of busty beach babes as a side feature. Now, with Dead or Alive: Paradise, the sight seeing is just about the entire point of the game. Starting up the game, players choose from the selection of girls, ten altogether, and head out as one of the girls for 14 days in paradise, all under the prying eyes of the player.
There isn't much more of a premise to it than that. While yes shallow, Paradise has no shame in it, and hides next to nothing, quite literally. The game is largely menu driven, with each day broken into morning, daytime, and evening, which in turn allows players to do three activities of their choosing before they hit the hay for the night. There are only a few different activities, but they more or less cut to the chase, including relaxing while the player takes photos, giving gifts, asking other girls to be your partner, playing volleyball, and pool hopping. On top of this, players also earn money throughout the game, allowing them to go shopping for bikinis or accessories they've been eyeballing to customize their girl with, as well as buy gifts in order to build friendships with the other girls.
Before going to sleep, players can also hit the casino for games of Blackjack, Poker, and Slots. The final key feature of the game is putting together short films of the girls, wherein players piece together various clips of the girls relaxing that they've unlocked throughout the game. That's just about the entire game in a nut shell, surprisingly. The game really leaves it up to the player to choose what they want to experience, and doesn't force them into any corners before allowing them to proceed.
Players can observe their girl relaxing in each of the six vacation island locations, where the girls do various different things for a minute or so, like laying on a beach lounge chair, swinging on a swing, putting on lotion, and literally straddling a log. Yes, the puns write themselves constantly in Paradise. While watching the girls relax, players have the option of taking photos with their very own in-game camera and film. The controls for the camera are quite awkward on the PSP, but they do allow players to get just about any angle or close-up they want, and furthermore, save them to their PSP memory card as a jpeg image.
As bizarre as saving images of game girls to a memory card is, considering the graphical limits of the PSP, the girls aren't any where near as attractive as the real thing. The Dead or Alive games for the Xbox 360 have high definition graphics, where the girls can look much more life-like (though that's a stretch considering the average bust of these girls). On the PSP, while the girls do look just about as good as in-game characters get on the PSP, they are still what's expected on PSP. Simply put they're just not great graphics. Furthermore, the game emphasizes the girls' huge bouncing breasts just about every second they can, and the physicals make it look plain silly. In keeping with the unrealistic-ness of the game at large, the physics basically make breasts look like mounds of jello bouncing around in zero-gravity.
The gift giving and shopping aspect of the game are quite extensive. Estimating, there must be over 100 different forms of swimwear in the entire game, with the selection going from shoulder-to-leg coverage, to outfits that are basically beads and strings. By giving gifts players can partner with another girl, for the purposes of having a team mate in volleyball, and to also give their partners bikinis as gifts to wear. Volleyball and pool hopping are just about as close as Paradise gets to gameplay, although both are very basic. Volleyball in particular is at an annoying viewing angle to actually see where a spiked volleyball is heading, and while the controls are good in volleyball, the angle simply makes it frustrating at times. It's obvious the angle is the best viewing angle for seeing the girls, rather than winning at volleyball.
Dozens and dozens of hours can be sunk into Dead or Alive: Paradise, as using all the menus, working on building friendships, constantly checking the store for new items, and the various activities players can do, is quite time consuming. There's only 14 in-game days before the credit roll, but it takes playing as more and more girls to unlock all the outfits and movie clips, and the friendship system works really well. The load times between everything aren't overly long, but they are present between almost every click of the menu.
Dead or Alive: Paradise leaves as little to the imagination as possible without hitting an adults-only rating, but is limited by the graphical ability of the PSP. It's a game that can't be taken seriously, and the designers show that they know that quite well. There's tons of replayability to be had in Paradise, and for gamers looking for this kind of experience, the game delivers almost as best a PSP game possibly can in that regard. Although extremely shallow, it's evident that a focused effort went into designing the game for its target audience. For that reason, this game is specifically for those who like the idea of staring at and playing with digital babes on their PSP, and mobility attached to that. If you fall into that demographic, Dead or Alive: Paradise is recommended for you. For all other gamers, Paradise is not for you by a long shot.