It’s a good relationship sim, really.
I never thought I’d actually be in a position to defend Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Well, technically it was “Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2,” but that’s not really the point. It’s an absurd game structured around half-naked women playing volleyball, featuring…uh…those infamous “jiggle physics.” In an episode of The Bernie Mac Show, it’s represented strictly auditorily as women moaning. As many have said before (and I’m looking at some specific reviews, here) who would play these games if not just to ogle half-naked women?
Well, here I am, a woman who has no sexual desires toward other women, who played, and enjoyed, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 for dozens of hours with focused and naive fervor. Back then, I immediately went to its defense against my parents after that episode of Bernie Mac aired. It’s more than just moaning women, I told them. In fact, those sound effects were entirely contrived. I then went on a tirade, which I’m sure my parents appreciated /s, of what it actually entailed.
Granted, it was the early-ish 2000’s, so I must have been 15 or so. My boyfriend (at the time) and I were awash in a drought of boredom, and I believe a family member gifted him Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 for the 360.
So for one summer, we played a lot of Xtreme (Beach Volleyball) 2.
The Xtreme Beach Volleyball series is absurd. Its premise is that Zack, one of the more lecherous Dead or Alive characters, purchased a tropical island and subsequently asked many of the DOA girls to visit, some by nefarious means. I mean – he told Kasumi her presumably dead brother was waiting for her. What the actual hell, Zack?
But if you can somehow get past the absurdity and, admittedly slimy premise – Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball is a relationship (re: friendship) sim about a group of women on vacation. You play as one of the girls, and to “succeed,” per se, you must earn another girl’s friendship to the point she will accept any gift from you. To do this, time must be managed effectively, mini-games must be won, and gambling techniques must be acquired. Hell, thanks to DOA Xtreme 2, I began beating my poor grandmother at Blackjack – to the point where I won her entire heart-decorated bucket of pennies. (Sorry grandma, RIP.)
At the time, my boyfriend and I took notes so we could play as effectively as possible. Who liked what? What games made the most money in the least amount of time? Was Blackjack really the best? (I can see why I’m on the wikis team now).
We chose our favorite girls and earnestly checked the player’s handbook that used to be included with every game. It clued us in with hints on the character’s favorite colors, hobbies, food, and more. We celebrated when we were inadvertently gifted a blancmange by Hitomi, and knew Helena would love it. We carefully planned the time we had, and diligently learned how best to play Blackjack. How else would we earn enough money to purchase the Venus, the most expensive – and therefore, most desired – swimsuit, except by gambling?
Upon revisiting DOA Xtreme 2 – to make sure I wasn’t misremembering anything – I discovered, er, more unsavory activities I had entirely wiped from my memory. Candid photo-snapping and butt battling? No, that was just a waste of time, as taking photos cost a time slot for no monetary or relationship gain; and resources, because butt battles cost money to play. So, we never engaged – and were none the wiser to their existence.
Big Note: Not talking about Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in this article, at all! Xtreme 3 pretty much makes you do the weird, grosser things. No thanks.
Eventually, we accomplished the feat of playing as Helena and gifting disliked swimsuits to her mortal enemy, Christie. We learned that (spoilers) Christie was actually responsible for killing Helena’s mother, and was after her next. Because of this, obviously, they hated each other.
Developing a relationship between the two required somewhat calculated decision making and time management, or, at least it felt that way. We also managed to gift Venus swimsuits successfully to them, too, which was another fairly difficult feat. But, above all, Xtreme 2 was a fun, innocent challenge with mini-games set to a soundtrack of early 2000’s bubblegum pop music. It just also featured girls in bikinis.
When I booted up DOA Xtreme 2 in one of our glass-walled capture rooms here at IGN, I was, to be honest, uncomfortable. Here I was, able to be watched by my co-workers, playing a ridiculous game with T&A galore. But many of my office friends ended up joining and laughing with me at the ridiculousness. We made blackjack decisions together, handed off the controller in volleyball (it’s surprisingly fun), as well as some of the minigames. Yes, we all giggled like schoolgirls at the unrealistic “jiggle physics,” but we also shared in so much fun on a Wednesday evening that it felt like a Friday. And if a game, NSFW wrapping paper and all, can make a Wednesday feel like a Friday, can’t it be recognized of being, at the very least, fun?
Dead or Alive fan? Check out our Dead or Alive 6 Review!
Casey DeFreitas is an editor at IGN more commonly known for Monster Hunter and Pokemon-related coverage, but is apparently also easily amused outside of her preferred genres. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD